Right-wing Celebrities Play Fast and Loose With History

In the “notorious Tuskegee syphilis experiment,” fascist Democrats committed a true atrocity when “poor black men were allegedly infected with syphilis without their knowledge.” No such experiment ever occurred, as David explains: “Rather men, who already had syphilis were deceived into thinking they were being treated for their illness.” If President Trump sometimes blurts out questionable facts, one comes away from Gordon’s review believing that next to Goldberg, the Donald is a practitioner of scientific method.

Let me note that such inexcusably sloppy editorializing posing as scholarship has becoming increasingly characteristic of the conservative movement as a media phenomenon.

.. Sometimes the errors can be easily corrected, for example, when Weekly Standard and National Review ascribe almost exclusive responsibility for World War I to a premeditated German plan to conquer Europe. The Craft of International History by the distinguished diplomatic historian Marc Trachtenberg shreds this utterly unfounded view. Not insignificantly, Trachtenberg’s learned tome was published by Princeton University.

.. an exchange of equally uninformed views by talk show host Dennis Prager and Dinesh D’Souza, on the subject of the fascist worldview. The question was whether one could prove that fascism was a leftist ideology by examining the thought of Mussolini’s court philosopher Giovanni Gentile (1875-1944). Gentile defined the “fascist idea” in his political writings while serving as minister of education in fascist Italy.

.. Hey, but that’s no big deal for such priests of the GOP church as Prager and D’Souza. They zoom to the heart of Gentile’s neo-Hegelian worldview in thirty seconds and state with absolute certainty that he was a “leftist.” We have to assume that Prager, D’Souza and the rest of their crowd know this intuitively, inasmuch they give no indication of having ever read a word of Gentile’s thought, perhaps outside of a few phrases that they extracted from his Doctrine of Fascism.

.. Gentile proves that “fascism bears a deep kinship to today’s Left.” After all, “Democrat progressives, in full agreement with Gentile, love and push for a centralized state, which manifests itself in stuff like recent state expansion into the private sector.” Among the questions that are left begging are these: “Do the modern Left and Gentile agree on the purpose and functions of the state?” “Would Gentile and Mussolini, who glorified Roman manliness, have rallied to the present Left in its support of feminism and gay marriage?” Did Gentile back in the 1920s favor the kind of “the stuff’ the administrative state is pushing right now?” The answer to all these questions, which of course wouldn’t be acceptable at Prager University, is an emphatic “no.” Control of the national economy by the Italian fascist state, down until its German-puppet version was established as the Italian Social Republic in September 1943, was about the equivalent of that of New Deal America.

..  He then went on to compare the Catholic counterrevolutionary Joseph de Maistre to a black feminist advocate of affirmative action, because both associated human beings with the national identities into which they were born. Apparently anyone who views others in terms of their ethnic origin, no matter at what point in history, is a certified leftist.

.. Goldberg had no idea that political camps in 1800 were different from what they are now.

 

A New History of the Second World War

Although it was a high-tech conflict with newly lethal weapons, he writes, it still followed patterns established over millennia: “British, American, Italian, and German soldiers often found themselves fortifying or destroying the Mediterranean stonework of the Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, and Ottomans.” In many instances, military planners on both sides ignored the lessons of the past. Some lessons were local: it’s always been hard to “campaign northward up the narrow backbone of the Italian peninsula,” for example, which is exactly what the Allies struggled to do.

.. History shows that the only way to win a total war is to occupy your enemy’s capital with infantrymen, with whom you can force regime change. Hitler should have paused to ask how, with such a weak navy, he planned to cross the oceans and sack London and, later,Washington. At a fundamental level, it was a mistake for him to attack countries whose capitals he had no way to reach.

.. Before the war, the United States produced a little more than half of the world’s oil; Axis leaders should have known this would be a decisive factor in a mechanized conflict involving tanks, planes, and other vehicles. (The Nazis may have underestimated the importance of fuel because—even though they planned to quickly conquer vast amounts of territory through blitzkrieg—many of their supply lines remained dependent upon horses for the duration of the war.)

.. Axis leaders believed that Fascism could make up the difference by producing more fanatical soldiers with more “élan.”

For a brief time at the beginning of the war, Allied countries believed this, too. (There was widespread fear, especially, of Japanese soldiers.) They soon realized that defending one’s homeland against invaders turns pretty much everyone into a fanatic.

.. the Allies had bigger, faster factories and could produce more guns and shells. “The most significant statistic of the war is the ten-to-one advantage in aggregate artillery production (in total over a million large guns) enjoyed by the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the United States over the three Axis powers.”

Russia, meanwhile, excelled at manufacturing cheap, easily serviceable, and quickly manufactured tanks, which, by the end of the war, were better than the tanks the Nazis fielded.

.. had Hitler chosen not to invade Russia, or not to declare war on the United States, he might have kept his Continental gains.

.. But temperance and Fascism do not mix, and the outsized ambitions of the Axis powers put them on a collision course with the massive geographical, managerial, and logistical advantages possessed by the Allies

.. The Axis powers fell prey to their own mythmaking: they were adept at creating narratives that made exceedingly unlikely victories seem not just plausible but inevitable. When the Allies perceived just how far Fascist fantasy diverged from reality, they concluded that Axis leaders had brainwashed their citizens and themselves.

.. The Axis countries lived in a fantasy world—they believed their own propaganda, which argued that, for reasons of race and ideology, they were unbeatable. The Allies, meanwhile, underestimated their own economic might in the wake of the Great Depression. They allowed themselves to be intimidated by Fascist rhetoric; justifiably horrified by the First World War, they wanted to give pacifism a chance, and so refrained from the flag-waving displays of aggression that might have revealed their true strength, while hoping, despite his proclamations to the contrary, that Hitler might be satisfied with smaller, regional conquests.

“Most wars since antiquity can be defined as the result of such flawed prewar assessments of relative military and economic strength as well as strategic objectives,”

The First Women in Tech Didn’t Leave—Men Pushed Them Out

In computing’s early years, when it was considered women’s work, all six programmers of America’s first digital computer, Eniac, were women

 in 1959, an unnamed British female computer programmer was given an assignment to train two men.
The memos said the woman had “a good brain and a special flair” for working with computers. Nevertheless, a year later the men became her managers. Since she was a different class of government worker, she had no chance of ever rising to their pay grade.

.. At its genesis, computer programming faced a double stigma—it was thought of as menial labor, like factory work, and it was feminized, a kind of “women’s work” that wasn’t considered intellectual. Though part of the U.K. government’s low-paid “Machine Operator Class,” women performed knowledge work including programming systems for everything from tax collection and social services to code-breaking and scientific research, using punch cards on a vacuum-tube computer.

.. But replacing experienced women with male novices didn’t go as government bureaucrats planned, according to Dr. Hicks. “They were just hemorrhaging money and time to try and train and recruit this ideal young man

.. Not only were the male recruits often less qualified, they frequently left the field because they viewed it as an unmanly profession. A shortage of programmers forced the U.K. government to consolidate its computers in a handful of centers with the remaining coders. It also meant the government demanded gigantic mainframes and ignored more distributed systems of midsize and mini computers ..

.. Some women who were pushed out of government and corporations started their own companies of women programmers.

.. All six of the first programmers of America’s first digital computer, Eniac, were women

.. One of the earliest and most-respected coding programs was at Princeton University, which didn’t admit women at the time

 

‘No Such Thing as Rohingya’: Myanmar Erases a History

.. The United Nations report also said that the crackdown in Rakhine had “targeted teachers, the cultural and religious leadership, and other people of influence in the Rohingya community in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge.”

.. Five years ago, Sittwe, nestled in an estuary in the Bay of Bengal, was a mixed city, divided between an ethnic Rakhine Buddhist majority and the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Walking Sittwe’s crowded bazaar in 2009, I saw Rohingya fishermen selling seafood to Rakhine women. Rohingya professionals practiced law and medicine. The main street in town was dominated by the Jama mosque, an Arabesque confection built in the mid-19th century. The imam spoke proudly of Sittwe’s multicultural heritage.

.. every Rakhine resident I talked to claimed, falsely, that no Muslims had ever owned shops there.

.. Mr. Kyaw Min used to teach in Sittwe, where most of his students were Rakhine Buddhists. Now, he said, even Buddhist acquaintances in Yangon are embarrassed to talk with him.

“They want the conversation to end quickly because they don’t want to think about who I am or where I came from,” he said.

.. their Bengali dialect and South Asian features often distinguishing them from Rakhine Buddhists.

.. Later attempts by a Rohingya insurgent group to exit Burma and attach northern Rakhine to East Pakistan, as Bangladesh was then known, further strained relations.

.. By the 1980s, the military junta had stripped most Rohingya of citizenship.

.. Today, far more Rohingya live outside of Myanmar — mostly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia — than remain in what they consider their homeland.

.. Even under Ne Win, the general, Burmese national radio aired broadcasts in the Rohingya language. Rohingya, women among them, were represented in Parliament.

.. “They want every Rohingya to be considered a terrorist or an illegal immigrant,” he said. “We are much more than that.”