Friday, December 23, 2005

Carnival of Bad History, Winter 2005 edition

Number four of Carnival of Bad History is up over at Neural Gourmet. This is the biggest and baddest Bad History yet. It has Nazis (how can you do bad history on the internet without Nazis?). It has current events. It has Ninjas. It has woolly mammoths (okay, I sent that one). It even has annoying e-mail from your in-laws. I'm still reading my way through the choice offerings, but I haven't found a bad post yet. Go visit the Neural Gourmet and check out the bad holiday smorgasborg.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bad History Number Four is on the Way

We have a host for the next Carnival of Bad History. As we were rapidly approaching to the date for the winter CoBH and still lacked a host I was debating whether to give up on the whole carnival idea or resign myself to permanent hosthood. I was actually in the process of writing a post on the subject when I got a note from Coturnix saying that he had located a host volunteer. The Neural Gourmet has stepped up to the plate to, uh, punt a basket, or whatever it is you do at the plate--I never was very good at the sports metaphor thing. The next CoBH will be held on December 22. That means you have lots of time to write a post, post a post, and submit said post to The Neural Gourmet for inclusion. Have a myth you want to bust? Heard someone say something astonishingly ahistorical? Discovered a great conspiracy theory? Just want to review a bad movie? If it has anything to do with history, this is your chance.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A new record

Sadly No! discovered this gem while digging through the comments on
An earlier post said that New Orleans is 400+ years old. If our country is 229 years old, how is this possible? The Indians had a city here?

For once, my sarcasm fails me.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bad History? Yes, Bad History!

The Carnival of Bad History # 3 is here. Horatio at Dodecahedron has the latest edition for your reading pleasure. He's made it a very special Michael Jackson edition. Michael Jackson? Yes Michael Jackson! Horatio has something for everyone. He has Nazis. He has terrorists. He has Intelligent design. He has Paul Harvey. Paul Harvey? Yes, Paul Harvey! History isn't just that highschool class taught by coaches (badly), history is everything. Culture, politics, movies, the good, the bad, and, yes, the ugly. Bad history is mostly the ugly. Go, read up, get inspired, and track down your own bad history for the next carnival.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Prepare for bad history

We're just three weeks away from the next Carnival of Bad History. Horatio at Dodecahedron has volunteered to be the host. We have some submissions, but we can always use more. Want to review a bad historical movie? Know of a nonsensical conspiracy that needs debunking? Heard a politician or pudit make a really silly analogy? This is your chance to set the record straight. Send your submissions to John at archy, or to CoBH, or to Horatio at Dodecahedron.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Help Wanted

We've been collecting submissions for the next Carnival of Bad History due the first of September. We will have plenty of content, but we're still looking for a host. If you want to break into the big world of carnivals, this is your chance. Drop us a line.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Time for bad history

The second full-fledged issue of the Carnival of Bad History is up over at Science and Politics. It's bigger and badder than ever before. Coturnix has gathered fourteen posts from twelve writers. What are you waiting for? Go. Read. Comment. Get inspired and write a contribution to the next carnival.

P.S. - We're looking for a host to publish issue three at the end of August. If you are interested in hosting, drop us a line at the Bad History mailbox.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Call for bad history

Coturnix at Science and Politics will be hosting the next Carnival of Bad History. It's been a while since the last one and I was on the verge of giving it up whaen Coturnix volunteered to start it back up and give me the benefit of his vast experience hosting carnivals.
Have you seen lately an egregious example of misunderstanding or misuse of history? Was history botched in a movie or TV show you just saw? Was a book or article trying to rewrite history for artistic or political purposes? Does watching History Channel drive you crazy? If so, write about it on your blog, and send me the permalink by late May 30th (midnight EST) to be included in the carnival. You may also want to recommend someone else's blog post.

Based on Coturnix's advice, we'll try running Carnival of Bad History on a quaterly basis. That means anything you've written since early March is fair game for inclusion. Send your links to Coturnix at his place, to me here, or to archy.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Bad History Around the Globe

This month's issue is devoted to Bad History in other countries -- Britain and China -- as well as the ongoing distortions by the Bush Administration. In some ways, the Bushites seem to be somewhat clumsy and inexperienced at this sort of thing, but then, they have a few more years to hone their skills.

Here in the USA:
Condi Rice continues to mangle or suppress accounts of the Bush Administration's handling of the Al Qaeda threat. Scott Shane's piece in the February 12 New York Times emphasized Rice's contention that a new "Al Qaeda plan" was never submitted to the new administration. In hindsight, we can see that Richard Clarke's sketchy ideas for countering Al Qaeda -- support for the Northern Alliance, destruction of terrorist training camps, covert operations, and scouting by Predator drones -- hardly compares with the masterful strategy that was actually employed after 9/11 -- support for the Northern Alliance, destruction of terrorist training camps, covert operations, and scouting by Predator drones.

Subscribers can get (buy) the whole article at , and the text also appeared in, .

The United Kingdom:
In Britain, that other Eden, historians have both the advantage and the disadvantage of living right next to a complex, culturally vibrant Continent. How much must one know about doings in France, say, if one specializes in 17th-century social history? A whole lot? Enough to get by? Or what? Our honored guest, Sharon Howard, takes another Briton to task for minimal Continental awareness on the Early Modern Web at .

And remember, politically-motivated cross-dressing is NOT just something that Englishmen do. American rebels, true to form, changed the pattern when they rose up against their British cousins. Instead of donning skirts and bonnets, they wore feathers and war-paint. It was probably an effective form of disguise, even if the real Native Americans found it offensive.

In China:
Welcome to the Major Leagues! Here in the People's Republic, truth serves the State, or is quietly eliminated. Once again, the NYT is my source (yeah, I know, a typical latte-sucking East Coast liberal). It seems that the border war between China and Vietnam, which dragged on from 1979 to the late 1980's, is not a pleasant topic to remember. So the memories are neglected. Library materials that covered it have been mysteriously removed. No monuments been raised for the veterans, except for tombstones.

Some theorize that the war was begun to punish Vietnam for overthrowing Pol Pot, whose Khmer Rouge movement was allied with China. At any rate, the Vietnamese gave a good account of themselves (again), and the Chinese offensive soon bogged down.

Howard French's article can be found (as of March 13, 2005) at the International Herald Tribune site, .

My esteemed colleague, John McKay, brought up a great Bad History topic in a recent Archy posting. What are we to make of the "ancient animosities" argument? In the former Yugoslavia, the local-apparatchik line that Serbs have always oppressed Croats, and vice versa, became a self-fulfilling prophecy. What about American news coverage, or even historical accounts, of the Middle East? They say that Jews and Arabs have hated each other for centuries -- except that they haven't. Islam was far more hospitable to the Jews than was Christian Europe. Hostilities over Jewish resettlement in Palestine go back to the mid-20th century, but this hardly adds up to the "centuries of hatred" that we often hear about. Anyone out there for pointing out other Bad History of this type? If allowed to flourish unchecked, it fosters either racism (these people are irrational, and will never stop fighting among themselves), or hopeless determinism (humans are irrational, and will never stop fighting among themselves). I oppose racism, and try to avoid hopeless determinism.

But sometimes I wonder.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month. I'm sure some enterprising bloggers out there can find something to say about that. There must be some myth about women in history that you think needs to be debunked, some well-known woman who has gotten undeserved bad press, or someone unjustly overlooked. This is your chance to set the record straight and gain for yourself the prestige (and traffic) of a major carnival appearance.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Carnival Number One

The Carnival of Bad History number one is now available for your reading pleasure over at archy. Though the selection is samll it covers the spectrun of bad history from Holocaust denial to popular myths to the silly things our leaders tell us. Go and read them all.

If you are inspired to write something or remember an old post that you think fits, send it to us. It's never too soon to plan the next issue. Carnival number two will also be hosted at archy, but this time Alan gets to write it. The date is March 15.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Carnival of Carnivals

It was inevitable that eventually someone would do this. It was also inevitable that that someone would be Coturnix. If you want to better understand the carnival phenomenon, if you just want to find something good to read, or if you are looking for the right venue for your writing, this is the post to check out. Coturnix has managed to round up four dozen carnivals and link to their most current issue. This kind of labor deserves a reward.

Call for Bad History

I'll be posting the first Carnival of Bad History over at archy next Tuesday. We still have plenty of room for contributions and I'll be accepting till about noon on Monday.

Since this is the first Carnival, I'm very fluid on how old the contributions can be. If you've written anything you think might be relevant since the first of the year or so, send it in.

Also, since this is the first carnival, we're still fine-tuning the concept. Anything even remotely related is acceptable. If you want to correct a bad historical parallel that some talking head pulls out to support their position, send it in. If you have a pet peeve about historical movies, send it in. If you've been doing battle with holocaust deniers, internment apologists, or slavery romanticizers, definately send it in. If you want to debunk a favorite conspiracy theory, send it in. If you just want to bash on The DaVinci Code, send that in too.

Lastly, we need volunteers to be future hosts. The whole point of a carnival is to share the glory.

Send your article links and hosting volunteerances (or whatever you call that) to archy or to Bad History.

PS - Over the next day or so I'll be sending reminders to everyone who contributed, so you'll know you're in.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Bad History in the Social Security Debate

I think we can expect a lot more of this in the coming months.
In an attempt to promote President Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security, nationally syndicated radio host and former Reagan administration official William J. Bennett and FOX News managing editor and anchor Brit Hume falsely claimed that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt advocated replacing Social Security with private accounts. In fact, while Roosevelt advocated "voluntary contributory annuities" to supplement guaranteed Social Security benefits, he never proposed replacing those benefits with private accounts.


Former Social Security associate commissioner James Roosevelt Jr., Roosevelt's grandson, noted in a January 31 Boston Globe op-ed piece: "The implication that FDR would support privatization of America's greatest national program is an attempt to deceive the American people and an outrage."

As a debate tactic, what Bennett and Hume are attempting is as old as written language and probably older. They are attempting to make their ideas unassailable by claiming that they spring from ancient revered authorities. This argument is especially effective with conservative audiences, so it's no wonder that conservative pundits would use it to push forward the agenda of an ultra-conservative president.

As history, Bennett and Hume are committing two sins. The first is misrepresentation or just plain lying. The second is trying to draw an ahistorical parallel. This is the act of pulling historical examples and saying they are relevant to present day issues because of some similarity. There is nothing wrong with using historical examples in debate, but the issues have to match.

In this case, the real problem is the misrepresentation. If the Roosevelt program had been what Bennett and Hume claimed it was, then they would have had a valid parallel. But it wasn't, so they don't. This then undermines the debate tactic. They appealed to a revered authority for support and the authority didn't support them. They lose this round.

Cross posted at archy.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Bad History Rudely Noticed

The Rude Pundit noticed some faulty memory at work in the state of the union address and in some people's coverage of the audience reaction.
Let's get one thing straight right here, right now, for every right-wing fuck doll in the media who gets up in arms about how "rude" the Democrats were for shouting "No" when Bush stood up last night and said, "Fuck your Social Security. I piss on your retirement": From the Buffalo News on Bill Clinton's 1995 State of the Union speech: "At one point, Republicans even booed. About 20 of them left before Clinton finished talking." What did the Republicans boo for? Because Clinton dared to say that there were some things that government must do.


Bush ended "his" speech with a quote from Franklin Roosevelt's 1937 Inaugural Address, where Roosevelt included the famous words of poet Arthur O'Shaughnessy, "Each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth." Of course, the Republicans are desperately trying to co-opt FDR to justify their destruction of his works. But one wonders if Bush has read the entirety of Roosevelt's Second Inaugural. See, because in the rest of it, Roosevelt said, "We of the Republic sensed the truth that democratic government has innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable. We would not admit that we could not find a way to master economic epidemics just as, after centuries of fatalistic suffering, we had found a way to master epidemics of disease. We refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster." Huh. Just the thing that the Republicans booed when Clinton invoked such ideas in 1995.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

It's Black History Month

There has to be some good material inherent in that. Off the top of my head, I think this might be a good time to look at some of the recent Neo-Confederate revisionist literature on master-slave relations in the Old South. Neither Alan nor I specialized in American history, so we aren't the best candidates to write the posts on that. However, I bet someone out there could take care of it.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Condi Rice and Kabul

One of the alleged qualifications that Condoleeza Rice brings to her job as Secretary of State is expertise on the history and politics of Russia and the former Soviet Union. But in Bob Woodward's Bush At War (Simon & Schuster, 2002; p.219), Rice is quoted as telling the President and the NSC that the Russians never occupied Kabul. Well, the Russians did just that -- in December, 1979. Someone in Rice's position at that time (the President's national security advisor) should have known better. And it is even more disturbing that the American military strategy in Afghanistan, pursuing a simplistic "let's do the opposite of what the Russians did" approach, started with completely inaccurate information. This is political misuse of history.

For accounts of the Soviet invasion occupation of Kabul, see M. Hassan Kakar, Afghanistan : the Soviet invasion and the Afghan response, 1979-1982 (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1995), pp. 21-31, or J. Bruce Amstutz, Afghanistan : the first five years of Soviet occupation (Washington, D.C. : National Defense University Press, 1986), pp. 46-49. The Soviets flew about 5,000 men into Kabul; some of these stormed the Presidential Palace and killed President Amin.

Or, see .

They like us! They really like us!

We'd like to thank everyone who's linked or written to us during our first day of business. The response has been amazing. It seems everybody has a favorite historical urban legend or conspiracy theory that they would like to see debunked.

I've already received three contributions for the first issue. Being fairly cautious, I had announced the date of the first issue (over at archy) as March 1 with subsequent issues on a monthly basis. If this level of interest keeps up, we will probably move the date forward.

Beyond the carnival itself, Alan and I are still working out how we will be using this site. We will be occassionally posting on bad history in in the news. If you want to contribute to the carnival, but can't decide on a topic, ckeck back here for suggestions.

Once again, thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

We're Live

I'm sending out the announcements that we're up and accepting posts.

We'll work on making the template pretty later.