Monthly Archives: November 2018

by Reid Fitzsimons

Note: The below is an (edited) e-mail I sent to a very accomplished young man (early 30s) who is successful in the higher levels of academia but also in the “real” world, including the military. As I’m writing this the “migrant caravan, largely from Honduras, is a hot topic. I think the e-mail is fairly self-explanatory:

I have a semi-serious question about academics and Dr. XXX, EdD. He and I had a happy and meaningful time together without too much emphasis on politics. While I think it’s bad form to discuss politics in general social settings, I realize leftists especially have a difficult time constraining themselves, and I generally accept this. Hence I’m disinclined to respond to references to “that mad man in the White House” or derogatory references to Trump overall. I see a number of similarities between the most obnoxious of Christians and progressive leftists. Have you ever know someone who constantly says “praise the Lord,” or “thank you Jesus (not including XXX when winning at a casino!)?” If I’m attending the XXX Baptist Church it’s to be expected, but outside such a venue it’s impolite and inappropriate, especially if you don’t know the beliefs of the people you are with or know them to not be Christians.

Anyway, can an uneducated ignoramus such as me have a reasonable expectation that a highly credentialed academic possess the ability to view things dispassionately and objectively? Poor Dr. XXX, EdD, in considering Honduras, seems unable to discuss the topic without mentioning the Standard Fruit Company with great angst. I’m not sure what you know about this but it was an absolutely proto-typical scenario of a capitalist international corporation lining the pockets of willing petty dictators in exchange for favors, sometimes to the detriment of the “masses.” I said to him, “It’s been 120 years, you’ve got to get over it!” So the question is, can a PhD/EdD historian look at the record, however distasteful, and not be overwhelmed with anger and emotion. If not, can the scholarship be trusted?

You probably know some 13 years ago he received a $100,000 grant from the US Dept. of Interior to investigate the feasibility of processing coffee in an environmentally friendly manner in Central America. Ultimately nothing came of it and the money was for naught, but it did finance a two-week trip for him to Honduras and Costa Rica. I think this brief experience profoundly affected him, somehow legitimizing his already established leftist inclinations in his own mind. He said something like, “I did go to a non-tourist village, and they were really welcoming,” as this was of great significance. Despite his being a truly decent and caring person, I see such a strange contrast between him, the academic leftist whose outrage at the injustice of Central America (for example) suffices for action, and the uneducated ignoramus (i.e. conservative) that I am who has spent years, quite a bit of personal effort, and 10s of thousands of dollars down there in hopes of bettering the lives of the impoverished. I fear in the elite worlds of academia and wealth, a sense of righteous indignation offers much greater prestige than actually doing something!