Adjunct professor of history Tim Furnish writes in The Stream:
If this [agreement to withdraw troops from Afghanistan] holds, the U.S. military will have been at war in a country 7,000 miles away for just shy of 20 years (October 2001 to May 2021). That’s equal to the time previous generations fought in the Revolutionary, Civil, Korean, and both World Wars combined. And some 6,400 Americans (2,400 military, 4,000 contractors) have died there. True, the Taliban no longer control the majority of the country, as they did before the U.S. invasion. But still over one-third of that nation of 38 million has significant Taliban presence.
The U.S. has clearly failed to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan. And this despite spending about $1 trillion there to build roads, schools and mosques. (The latter violating our Constitution.) The money even included idiocy like $8 million to get Sesame Street on Afghan TV….
Contra Bolton, Nunes and much of the Washington establishment, the Taliban are not extremist, and they are very much legitimate, in south Asian Islam. They are in fact mainstream Afghan representatives of the hugely influential Deobandi movement. This began in the mid-19th century among Indian Muslims under British rule. Deobandis believe in strict adherence to Islamic precedence, revere the hadiths (alleged sayings of Muhammad), and dislike Sufis. Although similar to Saudi Wahhabis, Deobandis are intrinsically south Asian Sunni and number several hundred million people in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. So the Taliban’s Islamic fundamentalism goes back long before the U.S. or even Soviet invasion (1979-89). Cookie Monster didn’t stand a chance against Muhammad.
Read the whole thing.
Very pleased to have attended the presentation ceremony this evening for the John Inscoe Award, which recognizes the best article published in the Georgia Historical Quarterly in the previous year. As reported, that article is entitled “Black Student Experiences in the Racial Integration of Reinhardt College, 1966-1972,” and was composed by Dr. Kenneth Wheeler and nine of his students in the fall of 2017. Seven of the co-authors were present tonight to receive certificates from W. Todd Groce, president of the Georgia Historical Society, in the Ken White Atrium in Reinhardt’s Falany Performing Arts Center.
This is a great honor and a testament to the opportunities available at Reinhardt, where professors can work closely with students to produce genuinely original scholarship. Props to the African-American students who integrated Reinhardt in the late 1960s and early 1970s, such as Stanley Porter and Jay Jordan, for their courage and for their willingness to contribute to this project.
Adjunct professor of history Clay Anderson has published his first book, a novel entitled The Palms.
Sixty-eight-year-old Ronnie Wells has recently been paroled for a murder he committed thirty-six years before. He lives in a run-down trailer park outside Pensacola, Florida, and busies himself by maintaining his trailer—it’s the nicest in the park—and never being late for work. Daily life for Ronnie changes when he befriends Mary, the seven-year-old girl who lives next door with her mother, Clara, a drug-addicted prostitute. The Palms weaves the stories and points-of-view of Ronnie, Clara, and Mary as they form a blended family and try to build a new existence. In Mary, Ronnie finds the daughter he never got to raise.
My English program colleague Donna Coffey Little has published a piece in Story South about the local Pine Log Mountain:
Mining Pine Log Mountain: Place and Memory in a Southern Landscape
I’ve just harvested 250 bushels of corn, Bob tells me. I’m sitting in the passenger seat of a gigantic red combine with Bob Neel, CEO of Aubrey Corporation, which owns half of Georgia’s Pine Log Mountain and leases 14,134 acres to the Department of Natural Resources as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Aubrey Corporation grows hundreds of acres of corn and cotton at Pine Log and near the Etowah River in Kingston. Bob is the CEO, but he still harvests his own crops.
The combine is two stories tall and two normal vehicles long. You have to climb a ladder on the side to get in. In the front there are eight large prongs that look like upside down canoes. As we approach each corn field, Bob aims the upside down canoes into the spaces between the rows, forcing the corn into the giant blades that pluck and shred the stalks, sending the corn into a storage compartment in the back. Each time it fills, we drive over to a shipping container and a giant hose spits out a cascade of corn.
This is the first time I’ve met Bob, who is a reedy and handsome man, as athletic 68, with a sardonic wit and a distrust of college professors. There is something Clint Eastwood-ish about him, as if he is waiting for me to say or do something stupid and make his day. It’s clear that he prides himself on being a no-bullshit kind of guy.
He won’t let me write anything down and at one point asks me pointblank if I am recording him.
“No,” I protest. He shifts his sunglasses and peers at me with penetrating blue eyes, always the skeptic.
“I’ve got a good memory, though,” I say. I can spar, I can hold my own. My curiosity outweighs my shyness.
“You’re not going to portray us as a bunch of ignorant hillbillies, are you?” he asks. “People look down on farmers.”
“I don’t,” I say. “Why do you think we just bought a 15-acre farm?”
That seems to satisfy him. He knows my neighbors Jim and Cathy, who sold me and my husband the farm we bought this summer. He and Jim are both part of the Euharlee Farmers Club, the oldest and most prestigious institution in Bartow County. Jim vouching for me is probably the only reason Bob has agreed to let me interview him about the history of Pine Log Mountain.
Read the whole thing.
Dr. Kenneth Wheeler has illuminated another aspect of north Georgia’s past: his article “Universalism and the Dissenting Tradition in the Deep South” has just been published in the Journal of Unitarian Universalist History 42 (2018-19). It begins:
Congratulations, Dr. Wheeler!
Congratulations to Prof. Kenneth Wheeler and his students in IDS 317, whose article, “Black Student Experiences in the Racial Integration of Reinhardt College, 1966-1972,” published this spring in the Georgia Historical Quarterly, has won the 2019 John C. Inscoe Award. From Reinhardt’s Jordan Beach:
“I am surprised and thrilled to hear the news that I and my students have been awarded the John Inscoe Award by the Georgia Historical Society for the best article to appear in the Georgia Historical Quarterly in 2018,” said Wheeler, professor of history. “I’m so proud of my hard-working students. The award is a happy reminder of how talented our Reinhardt students are, and what a wonderful course we had together that led to the article.”
The award honors the legacy of Dr. John Inscoe, an editor of GHQ from 1989-2000, a professor at the University of Georgia and a mentor for historians in the South. The award presents the authors with a framed certificate and a $500 cash prize.
Wheeler previously co-authored articles published in GHQ in 2009 and 2013, however, this is the first time an article received an award.
“We were delighted to have that article accepted by and, after review by a number of historians, published in the Georgia Historical Quarterly. Winning this award from the Georgia Historical Society is the cherry on top,” Wheeler said.
The publication and award are just several of many examples that showcases the benefits of Reinhardt University’s low student-professor ratio.
“In a multitude of ways, Reinhardt professors provide opportunities for our students to go above and beyond,” said Wheeler. “This article and the John Inscoe Award are just one manifestation of how our students seek excellent educational experiences at Reinhardt.”
Friday at noon, Profs. Judith Irvine, Peter Bromstad, Graham Johnson, and Jonathan Good, the four Canadians by birth on the Reinhardt faculty, talked about their homeland at the International Coffee Hour. My own contribution went something like this:
When you go to Canada, you’ll find that it’s just like the United States, but different enough to be disconcerting – like the characters in the Simpsons having only four digits. Someone once said that Canada sits in the uncanny valley. It looks and feels the same as the US, but there will be a bunch of little differences.* For example, in Ontario at any rate, you’ll notice a plethora of British place-names, and the Union Jack on the provincial flag. But you’ll also see French everywhere. There will be no billboards along the freeway, or those corporate logos atop tall poles at highway interchanges. You’ll be excited to see that the speed limit is 100, and gas only 1.53, before you realize that the first number designates kilometres per hour, and the second the cost per litre. When you go in to pay for your gas you’ll be curious about the coloured, polymer notes, the dollar and two dollar coins, and the lack of pennies. You also might want to try some of the exotic candy bars or, if you smoke, a pack of “Players” or “DuMaurier.” The locals will have a slightly different accent and use the occasional Canadianism, like “hydro,” “chesterfield,” or “grade two.” And so on.
But really, you’d experience much the same thing if you went to Texas. The money and units of measurement might be the same, but you’d hear a different accent, see Spanish all over the place, and see regional brands that you might not find in your own state. In other words, if Texas is just a state, then how does Canada presume to be its own country? Why did this place, which is by rights just another American region, escape being annexed?
To answer that question you have to look to history, of course. And when you do you realize there are a couple of pretty big differences between Canada and the United States that are not immediately apparent. In the eighteenth century, as you are probably aware, there were two rival European colonial empires in North America: the British and the French. As a result of the Seven Years’ War, the British annexed French Canada, and for a brief while pretty much all of eastern North America was under British suzerainty. But that war sowed the seeds of the American revolution, as the British colonists did not want to help pay for it, and were offended by how solicitous the British government was of the French colonists, who were allowed to keep their religion and their civil law, and of the Indians, who were protected from settlement by the Proclamation line of 1763.
Anger at these things, plus some inept moves by the British government, eventually led to the American Revolution, which the colonists won by 1783. But not everyone in the colonies supported the Revolution, as Canadians are fond of pointing out – some people even refer to the Revolution as America’s First Civil War. Certainly the French Canadians, invited to join the American Revolution, refused, preferring instead to take their chances with British rule. And up to a third of the English colonists actively opposed the Revolution, on the principle that independence was not the only solution to any colonial grievances (and suspecting that it was all a project of the cool kids, who stood to benefit the most from it). What to do with these types? Well, you expel them, of course, and the period immediately after 1783 saw a great exodus of Loyalists from the American colonies. Some went to the Caribbean, others back to Great Britain, but the vast majority of them went to the other British colony in North America, i.e. Quebec! The British kindly split Quebec in two, giving “Upper Canada” to the Loyalists, and reserving “Lower Canada” for the French. These two colonies were reunited in 1841, and then granted independence in 1867.
This is the fundamental fact of Canadian history. English Canada was founded by refugees from the American revolution who were happy to remain part of the British Empire. They ended up dominating Canada, which means that they reduced the French to a second-class status. This has given us Canada’s National Obsession: the issue of Language, and the Constitutional place of Quebec in Canadian confederation. (In America, the national obsession is race, but in Canada it is language.) The Loyalism of the early Anglophone settlers has had another long-term political effect. English Canada might not be as oriented to Britain as it once was, but those settlers simply trusted the government in a way that the American revolutionaries did not. As a consequence Canada has always been more “statist” than the United States. This has given us our prized national health care system… and an economy that is not as dynamic as America’s and a docile population that tends to do what it’s told. (Q: How do you get 42 Canadians out of a swimming pool? A: “OK, 42 Canadians, out of the swimming pool”)
* UPDATE: from the Internet:
Congratulations to Ken Wheeler and the students of his IDS 317: Town and Gown course in the fall of 2017, whose research on the racial integration of Reinhardt College in the late 1960s has been published in the most recent number of the Georgia Historical Quarterly, and which provided the cover illustration to boot:
When I arrived at Reinhardt in 2004, religion professor Curt Lindquist was serving as dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, and was very welcoming and supportive of me. I was especially pleased that he accepted me as a member of the Fulbright-Hays seminar that he organized, “Examining China’s Great Western Development Program: the Social and Cultural Effects upon Ethnic Minorities and the Han Majority” – a topic that remains relevant.
Ken Wheeler organized a get-together for Curt this Tuesday in the Lawson-Tarpley atrium, when people shared their memories of his time here.
I have enjoyed Curt’s presence across the hall these many years and am sad that he will no longer be teaching at Reinhardt. But I wish him and Mary all the best in the years to come.