Pearl Harbor Day at the NEH

In July 2010 the National Endowment for the Humanities sponsored a workshop for college professors at the East-West Center, University of Hawaii. The title of the conference was “History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific War.” As one of the 25 American scholars chosen to attend the workshop, Professor Penelope Blake anticipated an opportunity to visit hallowed sites such as Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial and the Punchbowl Cemetery and engage with scholars who share her interest in studying this often neglected part of World War II history. Instead, Professor Blake was treated to the most disturbing experience of her academic career, a conference which she found to be driven by an overt political bias and a blatant anti-American agenda.

We published Professor Blake’s letter protesting the conference and followed related developments in a series of posts collected here. This past January we published Professor Blake’s letter to Leach here.

Now comes word that the NEH has just approved funding a $380,000 proposal from the East-West Center for a program titled “Thinking through Cultural Diversity: Bridging Cultural Differences in Asian Traditions.” This is the same Center that was responsible for the botched workshop of two summers ago, which NEH promised it would investigate.

But there is no indication that the NEH has investigated it fully, and if it has, none of its findings have been made available to the public. Instead it has funded this new project, and this suspect Center, without in any way clearing up the public controversy over the East-West Center’s sponsorship of the egregious conference involving Professor Blake two summers ago.

In other words, in spite of having failed to deal forthrightly with the controversy that arose as a result of Professor Blake’s complaints, the NEH is going right ahead and doing as it pleases. Chairman Jim, where is that report? We have now filed a Freedom of Information Act request for it and will update this story as appropriate.

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