Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beck's guest, Larry Schweikart, makes bizarre claim

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The Glenn Beck Show on Fox yesterday, July 9th, was entitled "Restoring History." Beck's guests were two history professors including Larry Schweikart from Dayton University, author of several books including Seven Events That Made America America. The first statement made by Schweikart was a bizarre claim:

Schweibart: It's what Progressives do. They reshape the past in order to make policies for the present. That's the definition of historicism ... brought over from Germany. Let's change history, so we can justify what we want to do in the present. 
dishonest or mistaken?

Once again, Professor Ross' Lesson 8 (see What is the truth about Glenn Beck) kicked in:  "...I think we can tell errors where we cannot tell what is true (too complex, too subtle, too controversial)."

If Professor Schweikart had made that claim about the definition of historical revisionism, he would have been on quicksand. To claim that historicism is somehow about changing history to help rationalize policy proposals in the present has no basis whatsoever in history or philosophy on this planet. This was determined after extensive research of historicism. From Your Dictionary.comhis·tori·cism (his tôri siz′əm)
  1. a theory of history holding that the course of events is determined by unchangeable laws or cyclic patterns
  2. the theory that the only true understanding of a person, society, historical period, etc. comes about through knowledge of its history
There is no understanding available that renders historicism as a reshaping of history for the purpose of justifying policies in the present. Just the opposite is the case; a deep understanding of history is sought to better understand our world, culture, society, era or individuals.

For readers with a philosophical bent interested in a deep understanding of historicism as it's understood and defended today, see "Defining Historicism" by Claes Ryn, professor of politics and ethics, constitutionalism and democracy at Catholic University of America. In this essay, Ryn  acknowledges the work of Professor Roberts' review of historicism and the more radical post-modernism and then writes: 
Ryn: Roberts wants to be constructive. Wishing to preserve coherence and meaning, he shows himself willing in the end to make concessions to a "conservative" position. Intellectual openness requires, he argues, that in questioning what we have become we leave open the possibility that the actual may have something to recommend it. We do not have to assume that what has come to exist is illegitimate. As if concerned not to damage a radical image, Roberts introduces these concerns unobtrusively and tentatively, brings them in by the back door, as it were, but towards the end of the book he states them more affirmatively:affirmatively:Roberts: Radical historical questions can yield answers with conservative implications, suggesting, to put it simply, that some actual state of affairs is not so bad after all. To uncover the contingencies and preclusions entailed in the coming to be of the actual does not in itself demonstrate its illegitimacy but simply affords a rational basis for moral response. Insofar as the range of historical answers is restricted a priori, precluding those that seem conservative in implication, the enterprise slides from historical inquiry to edification or propaganda (p.315). [Emphasis added]
First, it's clear that even someone like Roberts writing for a radical historicism understands that there can be "conservative implications" in the very essence of historicism. Furthermore, change the word "conservative" in Robert's argument with "progressive," and this is exactly what Professor Schweibart is engaged in along with Beck: propaganda! To paraphrase Roberts: Insofar as the range of historical answers is restricted a priori, precluding those that seem progressive in implication, the enterprise slides from historical inquiry to propaganda.

Professor Schweikart has been contacted and asked for clarification. Should he respond, this post will be updated.

The Glenn Beck Review has shown Beck to be engaged in a distorted and deceitful war of propaganda deemed yellow propaganda, but to hear a university professor come on his show and make a bizarre and deceitful (or ignorant) claim as Schweibart did, demonstrates once again - to paraphrase Glenn Beck - that nothing heard or seen on The Glenn Beck Show is as it seems. That foremost includes the title of the program, Restoring History, an unexplained turn away from Founders Friday. That in itself is interesting since Beck has yet to focus exclusively on Thomas Jefferson. Smart money is on Beck avoiding a detailed review of Jefferson's ideas and ideals that support the separation of church and state, something Beck opposes. 

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1 comment:

Lisa Houserman said...

I swear, we think so much alike that you should be frightened! LOL. I was just thinking the other day about how Beck avoids Jefferson totally. He used to go on and on about Paine as well and has stopped that suddenly. I think he finally read the Age of Reason and realized that he was not a religious nut like Beck. As for Jefferson, I don't know about you but, if I were to play word association and someone said, "founding father," the FIRST person who would come to my mind WOULD be Jefferson. Keep up the terrific work here. Bravo as always!

Lisa H.