Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How To Win Any Historical Argument, Even When The Facts Are Completely Against You

The Hazards of Telling the Truth:
Like other postmodernists, [Afro-centric scholars] believed that truth is impossible to know -- that all "narratives" are socially constructed and thus possess an equal claim to legitimacy.
I remember one of the first courses I took in graduate school was a piece of well-intentioned-but-ultimately-useless fluff about "finding your voice as a historian." I didn't do well in it, largely because a) my voice wasn't as well-developed as it is now; and b) my voice was right-of-center, which made me an Untouchable to many in that department. (A dead giveaway: the professor teaching the course loved the Sandinistas.)

Now I recognize that this all-important search for "voice" was reinforcement of the dominant postmodern paradigm in liberal arts academia: the facts aren't nearly as important as the narrative, even to the point that facts can be safely ignored --particularly when those facts go against the grain of leftist ideology. "Deconstruction of the dominant narrative" is a fancy way of injecting the non-sequitur "you're a racist/sexist/conservative" and winning aplomb in the eyes of one's peers.

I wonder if I'm going to have to rethink my underground poker research in terms of its effects on race/class/gender to get it published. (I don't, I know already I'll have to have that hook.)

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