05 February 2008

Blogrolls, Amnesty, Bipartisanship

Internet links are capital.
---Jon Swift
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.

In another email, I offered some comments to Eddie Carson regarding his posting of a criticism of A People’s History.

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---
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---
---Emily Dickinson
Link down and link up, but link across too. While you’re linking, read those with which you disagree.

Thanks to Jon Swift, Buck Naked Politics, Doghouse Riley, and Dancing with Myself for being the first to take notice of this notebook of ramblings and readings in history.


Historiann said...

Thanks for the shout-out, James--but really, ANN COULTER? (Although many of us may relent on that if she makes good on her promise to campaign for HRC if McCain is the Republican nominee!)

Strange bedfellows, indeed!

James Stripes said...

Well, I don't actually read her drivel every day, but I think that she's an important reminder of just how clear and cogent are the philosophical and ideological underpinnings of the current regime. Moreover, Rush Limbaugh is yesterday's news. Ann is the Mind of Radical Republicanism.

Matt W said...

Thanks for the link!

Cheezmaestro said...

Hey, great blog, I love it! It's very important to get people out of thinking just in terms of whether they're republican or democrat and get them to look at the wider picture that history gives us. My site,, is a collection of history's most important speeches(more being added everyday) and how they relate to our world now. I just started it recently so it's not amazing yet but yeah, I'm going to be adding speeches and writing or gathering reviews on them about how they apply to today. I know that not everyone has the time or actually wants to read a long speech but I feel it is important to have it available for those who want to educate themselves further. Anyways, I added a link to your blog because I think that you have some good things to say and I think that my readers would benefit by checking it out. Keep up the good work, I love the blog!

P.S. as I said, my blog is pretty new so any advice/ideas are welcome!

Edward Carson said...

This is tough. On one hand historians should be objective, but on the other hand it is difficult to discern our ideology from interpretational matters. Zinn faces this as does a number of others. With that said, I am not sure there is a true middle; I think we lean to the right or the left.

Anonymous said...

Hi James

Insightful post. Thanks for mentioning me in it. :-)

I hope to read more of your posts in my spare time.

Keep at it!

Later days
Take care
Kind Regards

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