Bellesiles Resigns, Gun Book Disgraced – But Still In Print
One by one, the superstitions of liberalism are
crumbling into the sea like the towers of lost Atlantis.
Last month anthropologist
Franz Boas, a patron saint of the liberal view of
race, bit the deep waters when one of his major studies
turned out to be a fraud. So did
Margaret Mead, one of Boas`s major disciples and
also a pillar of liberal views of sexual liberation.
Then there are all the
apologists for characters like
Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs, J. Robert Oppenheimer,
and others, all of whom are now known to have been
secret communists and
spies to boot, despite
decades of yelling and screaming by their defenders
that they were just saintly progressives
hounded by McCarthyite fascists.
Now, just last week, yet another liberal myth, one
barely a couple of years old, as well as the mythologist
who fabricated it gurgled down into the oceanic depths.
The latest liberal fraud was the claim of Emory
University “historian” Michael A. Bellesiles in his 2000
Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture,
that most people in early American history really didn`t
own many guns. The reason the left swallowed this
preposterous on its face by
real experts on firearms history—was that it
appeared to bolster the enemies of the right to
keep and bear arms. If gun ownership is a fairly
recent habit in our culture, then it could not have been
considered necessary to a free republic by the
Founding Fathers and the authors of the
Mr. Bellesiles` book at once became a holy relic in the
temples of the left. Columbia University
awarded it the
Bancroft Prize, probably the country`s most
prestigious award for historical scholarship, and such
bigwig academics and writers as
Edmund S. Morgan and
Garry Wills hailed the book as a marvel of learning.
But to anyone with a balanced mind, there was something
fishy. When critics clobbered Mr. Bellesiles` book, it
turned out that the Emory professor was unable to
substantiate several of the major claims his “research”
was supposed to have proved. Unable to identify the
sources for some of his conclusions, he claimed his data
had been destroyed in a
flood in his office. Scholars couldn`t locate
records on which he was supposed to have relied. It
turned out they had been destroyed decades before he
claimed to have examined them.
Aside from hostile reviews by skeptical scholars,
[See James Lindgren`s Yale Law Review piece here.] the
William and Mary Quarterly in January published a
symposium that cast even further doubt, not just on
the truth of Mr. Bellesiles` conclusions but on his very
honesty as a historian.
Finally last week the last remaining pillar crumbled. A
committee of scholars composed of three major academics
from Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Chicago
reported that the Bellesiles book showed “evidence of
falsification,” “egregious misrepresentation,” and
“exaggeration of data.” The Emory professor`s “scholarly
integrity is seriously in question,” they concluded. Mr.
Bellesiles submitted his
resignation from the university faculty
the next day. [Full
report in PDF format]
Yet die-hard defenders of the frauds of the left were
still swinging in Mr. Bellesiles` defense. The Nation
magazine, which defended the innocence of convicted
perjurer Alger Hiss for decades after two trials and a
mass of new scholarship showed him to be guilty, carried
article by editor Jon Wiener that
tried to make out that Mr. Bellesiles was merely the
innocent victim of the omnipotent and mysterious “gun
lobby”—mainly because NRA president Charlton Heston was
outraged by the book`s foolish claims when he first read
Presumably, Mr. Wiener will soon try to prove the NRA
bribed the three scholars at Harvard, Princeton and
Chicago to issue their damning report.
for Mr. Bellesiles, he has shown himself more than
willing to play the role of martyr as what Mr. Wiener
calls “the target of a campaign to destroy your work.”
defiant statement last week,[PDF]
he compared himself to those attacked by “Holocaust
When you`ve got the entire establishment on your side,
why shouldn`t you be defiant?
Mr. Wiener points put that Mr. Bellesiles is preparing a
second edition of his worthless book for Vintage, the
prestigious paperback arm of Random House.
And so far there`s no breath of retraction or apology
from the reviewers whose shameless trumpeting raised the
book to glory in the first place.
Nor is there any suggestion from Columbia that it plans
reconsider the Bancroft Prize.
Email Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, firstname.lastname@example.org,
and ask him if he`s planning to rescind the Bancroft
prize awarded to Michael Bellesiles. Bollinger has
previously featured in VDARE.COM as a
Christmas-abolishing P.C. Grinch.
has this blurb on its website:
“Painstakingly examining the historical record,
Bellesiles shatters the myth of our gun-toting
forefathers. Most early settlers were indifferent or
hostile toward guns, which until the middle of the
But sooner or later, despite all the cover-ups and
denials by the elite that relies on the big lies
liberalism pushes, the truth will out, and the powers
and policies that liberal lies support will crash with
November 04, 2002