Right-wing organizations love to suggest that radicals have taken over universities and are undermining students’ love of country. The latest expression of concern about this threat came from the National Association of Scholars and its Texas chapter in the report “Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?” The report warns:

all too often the course readings gave strong emphasis to race, class, or gender (RCG) social history, an emphasis so strong that it diminished the attention given to other subjects in American history (such as military, diplomatic, religious, intellectual history). The result is that these institutions frequently offered students a less-than-comprehensive picture of U.S. history.

In an essay on the Academe Blog, “We all politicize history,” Robert Jensen writes:

I share the NAS’ concern that research and teaching have become so specialized that insufficient attention is paid to the big picture. But the key question is, what kind of big picture should be painted? Here I part company with the conservative politics of the group—the mythology of American greatness is, in fact, mythology, and good research and teaching should challenge myths. As is the case with all imperial powers, the United States’ record includes not only examples of greatness but some of the most barbaric crimes in recorded human history.

Jensen’s essay concludes:

I don’t know if NAS scholars actually believe there is an “American story” that can be told from a neutral point of view, or whether this is merely a cynical debating tactic. But if we are going to address the very real problems facing the contemporary university, attempts at imposing ideology by claiming to be beyond ideology aren’t likely to help clarify problems or help generate solutions.

For further reflections on teaching, check out “Living your life honestly,” a tribute to Jensen’s teaching mentor, Jim Koplin.