Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The United Races, Classes, and Genders of America?

This article by Peter Berkowitz comments on a recent study by the National Association of Scholars, indicating that history departments at American Universities now concentrate so much on the themes of "race, class, and gender" that it becomes almost "impossible to grasp the larger political conflicts, institutional frameworks, and philosophic ideals that have  governed the course of American history."  It is increasingly rare for university students to read key documents like the Mayflower Compact or Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.  This is true even in the relatively few states, like Texas, that mandate courses in American history.  No one argues that race, class, and gender are unimportant, but there is a big problem in a liberal democracy when the people, who are ultimately the source of legitimate power, are not "well-acquainted with the principles on which our political order is based."  You won't find this problem in the Department of History and Political Science at AU, and the University's Ashbrook Center is doing good work to correct it.

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