“They’re green,” says Fordham University history professor Asif Siddiqi of the first group of cosmonauts. “You essentially have the space program mold and shape them.”
The author Jay Bennett continues, “As the U.S. and U.S.S.R. gained experience flying people in space, they began to attempt more complicated missions, such as docking in orbit and sending astronauts outside their spacecraft. In the astronaut selection process, the two space programs put more emphasis on engineering education, and the Soviet program raised its standards for flight time, making the second group of astronauts older and more experienced than the first, Siddiqui says. Buzz Aldrin, selected in the third group of NASA astronauts in 1963, was the first person to join the corps with a doctoral degree (in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology).”
You can follow Prof. Asif Siddiqi on Twitter @historyasif.
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She begins the article by writing: “The pioneering sex-discrimination law casebook that Ruth Bader Ginsburg published with two of her colleagues in 1974 closes, after nine-hundred and twenty-seven pages, with a brief chapter of “Comparative Side-Glances.” Ginsburg and her colleagues avowed a “modest purpose” for the pages that followed. They sought merely “to suggest the breadth of the movement toward equal rights for men and women” that went well beyond the borders of the United States. The side-glances, however, had a rather surprising focus: Sweden.”
Stoll writes: “At a time when some predict that the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic could leave many unemployed for months or years, and when the working-class already endures the worst of everything, in a rolling crisis of despair, Modern Times doesn’t look like an excavated relic but a message from the dawn of the American Century to its dusk. The story of the Worker, played by Chaplin, and his homeless partner, the Gamin, played by Paulette Goddard, depicts alienation and disillusionment with capitalism, law enforcement, and the world of industrial work that had failed the working class.”
On Saturday, August 3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas, a 21 year old white male brandishing a semi-automatic rifle walked into a Walmart known to be popular with Americans and a convenient destination for Mexicans crossing the nearby border for their weekly shopping excursion into the United States. He began to shoot, deliberately targeting people of apparent Mexican and Latin American descent. Twenty three people died in the shooting (the last dying in April of 2020), and another twenty three were injured. News organizations identified the dead as thirteen United States Americans, eight Mexicans, and one German citizen. A deeper look, though, reveals that of the thirteen Americans killed, eleven were of Latinx descent. As a result, the El Paso Walmart shooting was the worst mass murder of Latino people in modern American history.
The murderer has been identified as a white supremacist with a deep hatred of Latinos, someone who consumed white supremacist literature and wrote a manifesto at the time of the shooting. This is not a surprise, as in the last five years the United States also has suffered mass shootings of African Americans (Charleston, June 17, 2015) and Jews (October 27, 2018). In his manifesto, the shooter argued that Mexicans specifically, and Latinxs generally, are invading the United States, taking jobs away from U.S. citizens, and endangering the white majority populace. This rhetoric reveals anti-Latinx sentiments with roots deep in United States history. It also calls attention to the historical and continuous race-based and structural violence that affects minority communities in the U.S. and at the border.
Father McShane has suggested that the Fordham community commemorate and discuss these tragedies in November. For now, though, it is important to mourn the victims of August 3 and to remember how and why they died:
Andre Anchondo, 23
Jordan Anchondo, 24
Arturo Benavides, 60
Leonard Cipeda Campos, 41
Angelina Englisbee, 86
Maria Flores, 77
Raul Flores, 77
Guillermo Garcia, 36
Jorge Calvillo García, 61
Maribel Hernandez, 56
Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, 68
Alexander Gerhard Hoffman, 66
David Alvah Johnson, 63
Luis Alfonso Juarez, 90
Ivan Hilierto Manzano, 46
Gloria Irma Marquez
Elsa Mendoza Márquez, 57
Margie Reckard, 63
Sara Esther Regalado, 66
Javier Rodriguez, 15
María Eugenia Legarreta Rothe, 58
Teresa Sánchez de Freitas, 82
Juan Velázquez, 77
Father McShane asked the University Church to offer the Sunday (August 2) Mass on behalf of the victims and the El Paso community, an appropriate gesture for a community and a people very serious about their religious faith.
For our part, we mourn the dead and summon the living to reflect on what we can do to support our own communities. The El Paso Museum of History will display a digital memorial in remembrance of August 3. The public can join virtually by submitting pictures and memories on Digital El Paso at http://www.digie.org. We invite you to take part and encourage everyone to become active in supporting some of those organizations working on behalf of our communities in El Paso, the Southwest, and in New York. We can best honor the dead by fighting for and supporting justice at home and around the nation:
Westenley Alcenat, an assistant professor of History, Urban & American Studies at Fordham University, says black history curriculums in all schools are either “inadequate, inaccurate, or simply non-existent.”
“I went to high school in Minneapolis, actually, exactly in the same areas that were deeply affected by the George Floyd incident,” Alcenat told CBS News. “I can confidently tell you that much of what I know regarding American history within the context of what contributions or roles black people made to it… was not something that I really learned as much about in high school as something I learned in adulthood.”
Alcenat said African American history is often sequestered from the larger narrative of American history. Instead, children at all education levels should be learning about the contributions African Americans made throughout history.
“We are not taught enough about how black men and women put their lives on the line to create what we know today as the multiracial vision of American democracy,” Alcenat said.
“Given the type of society we’re striving towards, the type of society we’d like to be, let’s let our kids know very early on what [African Americans’] particular contributions really are,” he said.
In the wake of nationwide protests against racial injustice, new efforts are being made by many American institutions to advance diversity and equality and address longstanding biases. Companies are suddenly recognizing the need to rebrand products like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s due to their racist imagery, the country band Lady Antebellumchanged its name, and NASCAR banned the Confederate flag.
While these changes may be welcome, some believe real progress can only be made if a fuller version of history is taught in schools.
“Without knowledge of history, how do you put together an empathetic, humane response to horrible situations like the George Floyd murder, which we know is a symptom of the larger historical forces of racism in this country?” Alcenat said. “It’s incredibly important that we try to provide a correctness to how it’s all being taught at the moment. Or else we risk not necessarily repeating history, we risk not knowing how to deal with ourselves when these moments of history come upon us.”
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We would like to congratulate Dr. James Smith on passing his dissertation defense on April 29, 2020. He becomes only the second person in the history of the Fordham’s History Department to pass his dissertation virtually.
Dr. Smith’s dissertation is titled, “A Clash of Ideals: Human Rights and Non-Intervention in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1977-1988.”
Below is his dissertation abstract:
The dissertation argues that Carter, Reagan, and other domestic and international actors deployed the ideals of universal human rights and state sovereignty as a political language. The protean meanings they assigned to the terms of that language were contingent upon calculations of political and strategic interests. The discourse of rights and sovereignty in domestic and international politics served as a means to justify or check political change, rather than as nonideological, moral, and legal imperatives. In short, Carter, Reagan, and others used morality and law as political strategy. The study proceeds from an analysis of records from the Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan presidential libraries. The personal papers of Patricia Derian, Barry Goldwater, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, and Donald Fraser provide additional context for the political uses of rights and sovereignty. So too, the papers of William Casey, Warren Christopher, and many of their contemporaries archived at the Hoover Institute enriched this analysis. The author also analyzed digital and other published collections of primary documents, interviewed and corresponded with former public officials, and reviewed memoirs, diaries, interview transcripts, and Congressional hearings and reports. While the dissertation probes the official mind of Washington in the manner of traditional diplomatic history, it also broadens that perspective by assessing how competing domestic and international actors deployed the conflicting ideals of rights and sovereignty. The dissertation builds upon the secondary literature by examining how Carter and others deployed human rights and non-intervention in the 1970s and 1980s. It connects that discourse to the history of U.S. foreign relations, domestic politics, international law, and the movement for economic decolonization. Then, after examining Carter’s embrace of rights and non-intervention as a campaign strategy and the contentious transformation of that rhetoric into policy, the dissertation employs as case studies U.S. relations with Panama, Nicaragua, and Iran. Finally, the dissertation assesses continuity and change in Reagan’s use of the ideals of rights and sovereignty in a foreign policy marked by anti-communism and democracy promotion.
You can reach Dr. James Smith at email@example.com if you are interested in learning more about this fabulous dissertation.
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