History professors are stuck in the past. I know that statement sounds kind of silly but bear with me because I swear it makes sense. As a history major in college I have taken more than my share of history classes. And in these classes you are going to be exposed to a number of different historical interpretations. At your standard public school you are most likely going to be exposed to a Marxist interpretation. I’m not a proponent of that interpretation but I don’t mind exposure to it as long as the instructor also gives other interpretations or doesn’t automatically shut down or dismiss anyone who gives an alternative one. The problem I mentioned about history professors being stuck in the past, are primarily the ones who do not tolerate alternate opinions.
Recently I took a history class at my local community college. It was about an area that I was less familiar with so I gave the instructor allot of lee way. What bothered me about this professor is how they portrayed everyone they disagreed with. Rather than just saying they disagreed with an alternate interpretation they go on a rant on how that alternate interpretation is intellectually harmful and damaging to society.
Why do I say they are stuck in the past? Modern professors, especially ones that focus on a Marxist interpretation of history, are very meta in their teaching styles. They talk about how they teach and how things used to be taught. This most recent professor of mine always goes on about how history classes used to be little more than pro-American propaganda. And this professor assumed that we were all taught the same way. Now this professor was pretty young, somewhere in their mid 30s, meaning they are only about decade older than I am. Meaning they graduated high school in the late 90s. I started high school just a few years later. History was my best and favorite subject and I remember very distinctly that is was also a Marxist interpretation. Thanks to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States (Published in 1980) the Marxist interpretation has become the standard in education.
Despite their preferred interpretation being the one endorsed by Academic Establishment they still act like they are the ones being persecuted and that they are the minority opinion that needs special protection. These professors seem to be in complete denial of their actual situation. They want to have the power and authority and retain the moral high ground, having their cake and eating it too. To understand this problem fully we need to go back to the 1960s.
At UC Berkeley students protested for free speech on college campuses, where at the time there was a conservative establishment. Being the height of the Cold War there were fears that professors expressing any kind of Marxist thought would lose their job and be labeled a Soviet sympathizer. Over the course of the 60s these students and faculty fought for and won freedom of speech. However once these students became the professors they began doing to those with opposing views exactly what was done to them. This experience of the academic left has given them a sense of moral superiority. “I fought for freedom of speech before you were born, how can I be abridging your speech.”
A large number of professors from this time period tend to have this bit of hypocrisy but history professors are especially susceptible to it. I’m curious as to how this professor I recently had is so indoctrinated by this idea that they are still persecuted while also having the power. Or better yet, who was still teaching a non-Marxist interpretation during her school years? I can count the number of non-Marxist focussed history classes I’ve had on one hand. At the end of the day I guess people just want to be David and Goliath.