The National Association of Scholars (NAS) found the history courses in two flagship universities in Texas—the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and Texas A&M University at College Station (A&M)— to be racially biased, but not in the manner in which the Left understands the term. “We found that all too often the course readings gave strong emphasis to race, class, or gender (RCG) social history, an emphasis so strong that it diminished the attention given to other subjects in American history (such as military, diplomatic, religious, intellectual history),” the NAS concluded. “The result is that these institutions frequently offered students a less-than-comprehensive picture of U.S. history.”
“Despite its denunciation of ‘ideologically partisan approaches,’ the report itself is based on an idiosyncratic and ideologically driven taxonomy of the books, articles, and syllabi of historians, compiled with little knowledge of the scholarly literature and even less inclination to engage historians in serious conversation about our work,” James Grossman and Elaine Carey wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Although ostensibly analyzing how American history is taught at two universities, the authors neither attended classes nor spoke with instructors.”
“They did not examine lectures, in-class activities, or audiovisual presentations; their report signals no knowledge of digital materials or discussions, assignments, or examinations.” Grossman is executive director of the American Historical Association. Carey is vice president for the Teaching Division of the association and chair of the history department at St. John’s University, in New York.
Whatever the merits of their critique, a veteran of the Lone Star State’s institutions of higher learning claims that NAS hit bullseye. “I am neither a conservative nor a member of the association,” Richard Pells writes in a rebuttal to Grossman and Carey. “But I am an American historian who taught at the University of Texas for 40 years, from 1971 to 2011.”
“And based on my own experiences there, I believe the report’s main arguments are largely correct.” Pells is the author of four books on modern American culture, most recently Modernist America: Art, Music, Movies, and the Globalization of American Culture (Yale University Press, 2011).
“Nevertheless, what has developed at the University of Texas over the past 20 years is an almost oppressive orthodoxy and a lack of intellectual diversity among the history faculty,” Pells avers. “The result is that (with a few notable exceptions, like the work of the presidential historian H.W. Brands) very few courses are taught or books written by the current faculty on the history of American government, economic development, or culture and the arts, or on America’s strategic and tactical participation in wars, particularly in the 20th century.”
“Indeed, the Texas department has not employed a military historian since the 1970s.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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