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Debating Democracy 9780940666795

Debating Democracy

Native American Legacy of Freedom

ISBN-10: 0940666790
ISBN-13: 9780940666795
PUBLISHER: Clear Light Publishers
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Note: Not guaranteed to come with supplemental materials (access codes, CDs, DVDs)
Product Description: There is substantial evidence that, in drawing up the documents and creating the institutions that are the foundation of the American republic, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Rutledge, and other founding fathers were influenced by the long-established democratic traditions of the Iroquois Confederacy. In recent decades this idea has created a heated controversy that has spilled out from academic circles into school policy and the media. For its opponents, the "influence theory," as it is called, is a perverse attack on American identity -- an attempt to deny the foundations of the European intellectual, cultural, and racial "credentials" that Americans have claimed from colonial times onward. This book gives a history of the highlights of the controversy and examines some important issues that it raises. This controversy is not merely "academic". It brings up very serious questions about the ability of the intellectual elite to "manage"-- that is, to censor and distort -- the pool of information from which public and educational policies, media coverage, and public opinion itself are drawn. Bruce Johansen, one of the historians who has been at the centre of this storm, follows the controversy from its early beginnings, providing highlights of the battle -- both attacks and responses. Exposing the machinations of the academic establishment, he makes it clear that academic "gatekeepers" deliberately suppressed works favouring the theory of Iroquois influence. When such works were eventually published, outraged establishment critics misrepresented the theory and labelled it "a new barbarism", "a fantasy", "a neo-Marxist ideology", and "a horror story of political correctness" -- without examining any of the historical evidence provided by the founding fathers. Johansen notes that the historical evidence has become known to a wider audience, and in a small way the "influence theory" has begun to filter into textbooks. The controversy, however, has been taken up by right wing media, which have linked non-European "influence" to every dysfunction of contemporary American society from "truly totalitarian impulses" exercised by "thought police," to the rise in teenage pregnancies, to the fall in Scholastic Aptitude Test scores. Barbara Mann's epilogue traces the philosophic roots of European assumptions of racial, cultural, and intellectual superiority, which remain the foundation of education and scholarship in the arts and sciences -- despite tokenism and lip service to multicultural values. She discusses the inevitable result: the continuing exclusion of all but a handful of non-Europeans from truly meaningful participation in our society.

Additional Details

PAGES: 221
CATEGORY: History, Social Science

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