In 1963, James Baldwin published “A Talk to Teachers” in Saturday Review. (When he gave the speech, Baldwin called it “The Negro Child–His Self-Image.”) As many of his essays did, this piece showed America as it was, not as it was imagined or mythologized. Sadly, his reminders remain relevant half a century later. Continue reading
I always picture him struggling with the oil painting as he made his way through the lobby of New York’s Biltmore Hotel. But the physician thought it important to bring a bit of home with him, a proxy for the actual wilderness he left behind. After all, he traveled all that way–from the flat-bottomed floor of Skagit Valley to the skyscrapered heights of Manhattan–to protest on the mountains’ behalf, to tell Kennecott Copper that the heart of Glacier Peak Wilderness Area was no place for a mine. Continue reading
Republicans in Congress are enthusiastically using the Congressional Review Act to overturn regulations finalized during the last weeks of the Obama administration. One measure on their list is the Bureau of Land Management’s new Planning 2.0 rule, which is designed to improve BLM’s process for making decisions about ranching, energy development and other uses of public lands. The House has already voted to repeal the rule, and the Senate is likely to follow. Continue reading
[NB: I wrote this letter to the editor about ten days ago and sent it to the Spokesman-Review. They contacted me, seeking permission to publish it, but it hasn’t appeared yet. So, I’m sharing here. If it appears on the newspaper’s website, I’ll link it.]
In her recent appearance on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers pleaded for unity. It is a common call. President Bush pledged to be a “uniter, not a divider,” and President Obama followed suit. The bipartisan public is weary of the deeply divided, dysfunctional political system. Continue reading
“The historical sciences in the universities are the guardians of truths of fact,” according to Hannah Arendt. Although Arendt considered herself a political theorist and not a historian, she recognized the essential role historians play for keeping truths sacrosanct. This is an essential task. Continue reading
Legacies produce all places. As a historian, I am perhaps more sensitive to that than most. I see multiple pasts, multiple narratives everywhere I turn, stretching from the immediate present back through years, decades, even millennia. The evidence is all around us if we bother to look and listen. Yet, reconciling the successive, overlapping, or competing pasts in one place can confound the historically inclined. It did me on a visit to the University of Victoria.