Category Archives: Useful Historical Knowledge

April 16, 2014, 10:00 am

Never Forget: On the Centenary of the Ludlow Massacre

220px-Ludlow_Monument_Cropped

The monument at the site of the Ludlow Massacre, located on County Road 44, about 1.5 km west of Interstate 25 in Colorado

On Sunday, April 20, celebrations of Easter will coincide with the centenary of the Ludlow Massacre, a bloody attack on workers for which John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was entirely responsible. On this day in 1914, Rockefeller unleashed Colorado Fuel and Iron Company thugs, professional strikebreakers hired from the Baldwin-Felts Detective agency and members of the Colorado National Guard on over 1,000 workers and their families.

Hired strikebreakers wore the uniforms of the state militia, and together these domestic terrorists launched a day of murder, looting and death by fire. The Ludlow Massacre launched retaliatory attacks against the mining industry all over the state; men, women and…

Read More

September 11, 2013, 9:29 am

History Lesson: What Is Civilized Warfare?

Louis FieserLast night’s editorial by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell was one of the most powerful and riveting indictments of American war crimes I have ever seen on television (video below the jump.) In under nine minutes, O’Donnell gave the public a history lesson about napalm that nearly made me weep with envy. He began with the invention of napalm at Harvard University by chemistry professor Louis Fieser (whose proposal to develop jellied gasoline got him off a poison gas project) during World War II, and described its deliberate and extensive deployment against German and Japanese civilians in World War II. O’Donnell ended with the banning of this horrific weapon, manufactured in the United States by Dow Chemical, following domestic and global condemnation of its extensive use by the United States in Vietnam. The United Nations passed the ban in 1980; the United States did not sign it until…

Read More

May 21, 2013, 1:52 pm

Annals of Recent History: The Book of Rumsfeld

Don’t you think Donald Rumsfeld should be tried as a war criminal? I do. Or maybe he could be imprisoned for a decade or more, with no access to constitutional rights, while we sort the evidence against him and decide whether to bring him to trial.

But no. That’s not how we do things in the Land of the Free.

Like Henry Kissinger, Robert MacNamara and other architects of mass destruction, Rumsfeld has settled into the golden years of milking profits from his crimes. Instead of being interrogated with a wet washcloth over his face, he has authored a book that blends his life experiences into a few simple truths that we can all live by as we wait for the next lethal incident of blowback somewhere in America. (more…)

March 14, 2012, 1:38 pm

Ernest Hemingway and the Promise of Popular History

Ernest Hemingway, perhaps in Key West with cotsies at feet

If there is anything better than spring break, it’s spring break in a warm place.  And if there is anything better than shaking off the gloom of our Northeastern non-winter with a little southern sunshine, it is visiting places that you have imagined through the study of literature and history.

Wait — being an adult means not being dragged around to museums, national landmark homes and other edifying places whenever you go on vacation?  Aw, c’mon.

This year’s break is in the Florida Keys, where I have never been but have always wanted to go as I am a fan of Everything Ernest Hemingway.  For those of you who have only gone to resort-y places in Florida, or whose visits are confined to relatives living in planned communities, it is a truly…

Read More

January 5, 2011, 10:34 pm

It’s Safe To Go Back To the Annual Meeting; A Radical Guide To Days 1 and 2 of The 2011 AHA

I just want to say:  gays were not involved in logo design or color choice.

Last year there was quite a hullabaloo about the American Historical Annual Meeting out in San Diego. Doug Manchester, who owns the hotel the AHA chose, had given gobs of money to Prop 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative.  He also got a lot of that money by running a union-free work place.  It was what you would call a lose-lose choice for the AHA, and resulted in a lot of people flying out there to picket, and a lot of other people having to give their papers by sneaking in and out hidden in laundry trucks.  (No, not Really!  That was a joke!)  This year there are no worries: you can come into the hotel without worrying that you will have to cross a queer picket line, or worse, that the hotel bar is off limits to Good People.  We historians are meeting in the People’s Republic of Boston, a city that is unionized …

Read More

January 2, 2011, 3:47 pm

I Killed My Book: And Other Highly Personal Thoughts On Writing To Begin the New Year

What would life be like if you started over again?

Sometime last fall I made decision to kill a book that I had worked on for a long, long time, a book that people still ask me about.  This is how it went.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I began Tenured Radical back in 2006 because I was in a Bad Way and trying to Work Out $ome $hit.  At the time,  I had gone through a major institutional trauma and survived it, just barely, and at a high cost to those close to me.   Central to this institutional trauma was a rather profound and vicious trashing of The Book.  Blogging became a way of returning to the book, a project that had become so utterly soiled by its use as a vehicle for expressing contempt for me that I couldn’t look at it without becoming enraged or suffering a profound sense of loss.

For a time, blogging worked to jump start what constituted a rescue operation rather than …

Read More

November 10, 2009, 2:18 am

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today


I walked into the second section of my U.S. History survey (1865 to the present, don’tcha know) at Baruch College on November 9, 1989. I taught two sections in a row for $2,000 each which, with the $5,000 I made from the New School, and an occasional donation from my new girlfriend was enough money to live on for a semester. And I was hoping to God that I would get one of the jobs I had applied for.

I didn’t get the big tenure-track job (note to my public: the Tenured Radical has the distinction of losing more jobs to more interesting and highly successful people than anyone else I know.) I did get the one-year job, which was actually supposed to be a three year job, which catapulted me into my current post with Zenith University. But that’s another story for another day.

So I was standing at the lectern in the second section of my U.S. History survey that night after completing my no…

Read More

June 14, 2009, 2:35 pm

What, Exactly, Is The Gay Agenda? And What Part Should Repeal Of The Defense of Marriage Act Play In It?

I had missed it that the federal Department of Justice (DoJ) had filed a brief supporting the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) until my Facebook friends went berserk over it on Friday. DoMA, for those of you who have been living under a rock, withholds federal recognition from any marriage contract not enacted between a man and a woman (read Jennifer Finney Boylan here on the application of that idea to transpeople), and licenses states to void gay marriages contracted in other states that are illegal under their own laws.

Many queers see Obama backpedaling on GLBT issues, and point to a campaign statement where he explicitly objected to the provisions of DoMA. I suppose it isn’t worth it it to point out that Attorney General Eric Holder is not the President: he is only the President’s right hand. My capacity for outrage is currently taken up with other things, such as: why paying …

Read More

October 16, 2008, 12:28 pm

Whatever We Can Do To Help Department

Yesterday all of us in the Zenith Community received a message from (Not So) New President saying that the economic situation is grave in our part of the world, and will be for a while. Personally, I like it when someone will just admit that things are bad. It also increases my capacity for trust in the Authorities to be reassured that the people in charge feel that they know what they are doing. The message states directly that any budgets cuts, difficult as they may be to swallow, will be across the board; no part of the university will be spared or favored. “All of us,” (Not So) New President notes in this email, “will be asked to make sacrifices.”

This, of course, strikes me as a brilliant solution, one that neither the Obama or the McCain campaign came up with in last night’s debate. But we historians in the Center for the Americas, given our hemispheric perspective, are…

Read More