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From the Archives: History Has a Liberal Bias

Freshman: "I'm not a Democrat! I don't think I should have to listen to this stuff!"

History News Network: JAMES C. COBB

PARTISAN HISTORY: A FRESHMAN'S PERSPECTIVE: After 34 years of college teaching, I thought I had heard just about every imaginable student complaint. Last week, however, a freshman in my 300-seat US History Since 1865 course came in to discuss her exam with one of the graders and proceeded to work herself into a semi-hissy over the fact that we had spent four class periods (one of them consisting of a visit from Taylor Branch) discussing the civil rights movement.

"I don't know where he's getting all of this," she complained,"we never discussed any of this in high school." One might have let the matter rest here as simply an example of a high school history teacher's sins of omission being visited on the hapless old history prof. had the student not informed the TA in an indignant postcript, "I'm not a Democrat! I don't think I should have to listen to this stuff!"

Given the current student and,in some places, administrative, pressures to put absolutely everything-- notes, study guides, all potential exam questions and answers, etc.-- on the Web, I can envision the day when the Web pages for our classes might read: " In order to insure that the professor's lectures will not offend your political sensibilities or challenge any of your other beliefs and perceptions in any way, please indicate by clicking the appropriate box below whether you prefer the Republican or Democratic version of this course."

Jim Cobb
University of Georgia