Internet links are capital.This past weekend and continuing into this week, the celebration of Blogroll Amnesty Day endures. We’re told that originally this term referred to a purging of links so as to start anew with only those actually read. But, the anniversary has flipped the idea into an open policy of down-linking to grab the bootstraps of new bloggers still emerging from the primordial slime and pulling up.
Several of the celebrants have noted patterns of linking only to like-minded compadres. Liberals links to others on the Left, and Conservatives to others on the Right, while those in the middle lean one way or the other.
In a email a few months ago, I told Larry Schweikart, whose conservative A Patriot’s History provided the impetus for my entry into Blogging, that:
I have made it my lifelong practice to read, study, and even teach texts that I might otherwise ignore if I acted on my first impulse.
The comment you passed along from a critical reader of Zinn that "opinions are like armpits..." clearly reflects a naive acceptance of a conventional approach to history that privileges the writings of dead white men in power, rather than the masses of people that endured the consequences of their actions; this sort of history was what Zinn had in mind in his criticism of Kissinger's statement that "history in the memory of states." It is notable that the long email you passed along puts forth ideas with banal humor, but refuses to engage Zinn's own theory of what he is doing, almost as if the author of the email thinks that he or she is saying something that Zinn hasn't thought about. Yet, Zinn specifically addresses why he considers rejection of that view necessary.
Patriots and Peoples is more concerned for the past than the partisanship of the present. But no one on earth looks at the history of human life here from a neutral point of view. My focus is not dissimilar to that of Spinning Clio, where the politics of history meets the history of politics. I am reading two histories with which I disagree in part and agree in part—the conservative A Patriot’s History and the liberal A People’s History. Just as recent elections have shown that not all the people are liberal, and precious few are genuine Marxists, so we learn that not all patriots are Republicans, despite efforts to claim otherwise.
I advocate reading The Nation alongside The National Review; Andrew Sullivan and Doghouse Riley, and even Ann Coulter along with Historiann. Truth always comes with a slant, commonly the one that cuts across our assumptions.
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---Link down and link up, but link across too. While you’re linking, read those with which you disagree.
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---