Learn Some Real History

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by Paul Gottfried by Paul Gottfried

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I’ve just finished two books written by promising young scholars, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution by Kevin A. C. Gutzman and 33 Questions about American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Neither of the authors seems interested in sounding like the staff of the Republican National Committee or getting invited to address plenary gatherings of the American Historical Association. Indeed Woods, who works as a resident scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, has engaged in heated disputes with establishment left American historian David Greenberg and neocon fixture Max Boot, shoot-outs in which he has given far better than he has taken. A Harvard honors graduate, who earned his doctorate at Columbia under Alan Brinkley, and who while still in his thirties has published multiple historical and theological works, Woods is one of the brightest and most studious figures on the contemporary American Right. And despite his courteous manner and contemplative Catholic piety, he has no compunctions about taking apart the senile sixties leftovers who dominate his field.

The 33 questions about American history that he tackles touch upon a wide range of taboos, including what Martin Luther King really thought about racial quotas (he loved them), the fictitious character of the “war-making powers” that American presidents have claimed and the disastrous economic effects of New Deal programs, which actually reached back into the Hoover administration. Although I have heard Tom discourse on many of these academically and journalistically approved distortions, I was nonetheless surprised by how much evidence he cites in proving his case. He never lets his opponents off the hook by ascribing their errors to well-meaning oversights. He properly notices that the falsehoods he underlines are usually connected to the same goal, justifying the increase of power at the center which is intended to reconstruct our consciousness and to project armed might beyond our borders. A less dangerous but equally despicable motive that one can find for certain misrepresentations is the zeal of victim lobbies, abetted by their academic enablers, to rip off the public by exploiting a widespread but misguided sense of guilt.

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September 14, 2007

Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College and author of Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, The Strange Death of Marxism, and Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right.

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