Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Governor Blagojevich - Joins the History Major Wall of Shame

I like to keep track of the famous history majors - I figure it can be a recruiting tool for undergrads. It is a way of demonstrating that history majors can do more than teach. Someone with a major in history can go on to be a diplomat, business person, lawyer, sports star, or politician.

Of course, some history majors I'd rather not claim. Like the coach in my last post, who really misunderstood his professors' lectures on historical significance.

Even more shameful, however, is the fact that current Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was a history major. I think trying to 'auction' off a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder is enough to earn him a spot of the 'History Major Wall of Shame', especially because his actions don't indicate that he learned much from his historical studies.

Some of you may want to quibble with me on this point. After all, Illinois and Chicago (in particular) has a long history of corrupt politicians and aldermen being bought by men like Al Capone. Many of these politicians, moreover, escaped justice. So it wouldn't be unimaginable for a student of history to assume that he too could get away with accepting and even soliciting bribes. But to demonstrate the importance continual revision of our historical knowledge and how paradigms shift in historiography, one of the more recent Governors of Illinois, George Ryan (who was a pharmacist - not a history major), was brought down by a corruption scandal.

So maybe, Blagojevich's problem was not that he didn't learn anything as a history major at Northwestern University, but rather that he stopped reading 20th century history after he got his B.A.