Standing up to ‘the man’ – Penelope Blake

It appears the U.S. denigrating ethos of academic historians now has a whistle blower. Dr. Blake took umbrage at the political stink of the conference on the Pacific War held at the East-West Center in Hawaii in August 2010 and decided something should be done. Scott posts the latest on this in A letter to Jim Leach.

We have followed the story of Professor Penelope Blake and the program on the Pacific theater in World War II in a series of posts beginning with “Investigate this” (the letter to Rep. Manzullo that is referred to below is in that post). The program in issue was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, of which Jim Leach is the chairman. Yesterday Professor Blake wrote Leach …

What shows here is a rather typical tactic when the dishonest are caught out: they try to ignore it, pretend that all is OK, and deny any problem exists. The logical fallacies include the ‘vox populi’ as in:

In November 2010, I received a letter from you which essentially dismissed my report by claiming that this is a freedom of speech issue and observing that most of the other participants responded favorably to the conference. As I stated at the time, neither point addresses the real issue at hand: whether the NEH should be permitted to support, with American tax dollars, a biased, agenda-based conference, no matter how well-received the conference may be. To date, you have yet to acknowledge publicly that what occurred at the East-West Center conference was an indisputable violation of the NEH funding guidelines, nor have you addressed the process within the NEH which made this violation possible.

That, of course, is the problem. As with the recent brouhaha about violence inspiring rhetoric, a reasoned and honest approach to the debate has little impact with the primary perpetrators. What has to happen is elsewhere. By gathering together those who do value a reasoned and honest approach, sufficient mass can be accumulated to create something that cannot be ignored or set aside. This is the ‘Tea Party’ approach. It requires patience and fortitude but folks like Dr. Blake standing up against the deceit and dishonesty are gaining traction. In that there is hope.

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