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Evaluating a website as a source for learning history - Essay Example

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Should history websites be boring? This is the question that comes to mind after reading Lisa Richardson’s article. In attempt to be humorous, one can lose the traits of neutrality and objectivity that are crucial to academic work. …
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Evaluating a website as a source for learning history
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Evaluating a website as a source for learning history

Download file to see previous pages... Should history websites be boring? This is the question that comes to mind after reading Lisa Richardson’s article. In attempt to be humorous, one can lose the traits of neutrality and objectivity that are crucial to academic work. The website chosen for analysis is http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2009/10/glenn-beck-hilarity.html and it was visited on the 24th of October 2013. It was particularly interesting because it focuses on one of the most controversial but continual aspects of US history; slavery. Not only is this piece deficient in terms of historical evidence, it largely focuses on the opinions of a media personality. Therefore, it is an unsuitable website for learning history because it prioritizes political shaming over historical accuracy. Website analysis Instead of dwelling on historical information first, the author starts with someone’s untruths and then uses some historical events to back them. This article mocks media personality, Glenn Beck, by asserting that he was trying to make a spin on a historical issue that was known to all. According to the author, Glenn Beck alluded to the fact that liberals in the 19th century were slave supporters. She then adds that this was totally unfounded because conservatives were slave-owners. They had much to lose from the abolition of this practice, so they fought against the liberals in order to have their way. From the spin on this topic, one can deduce that the writer’s agenda is to portray conservatives as irrational people. The target audience also consists of liberals who would find an attack against conservatives quite palatable. This site, which is known as Opinion L.A. belongs to a number of bloggers with liberal leanings. If the writer of the piece was interested in disseminating historical truths, she would have started with facts and then alluded to someone’s rant about the same. Useful information is hard to find and buried in a plethora of attacks, but it still exists. As a historian, one would still find something useful in the site. The story highlights the political disagreements that were sparked by debates on slavery. It sheds light on why the institution was able to persist for a relatively long time. Consensus on the matter was simply not forthcoming. At least the website mentions the relationships between the state and its constituents especially when it wanted to restrict certain practices. This website thus highlights the nature of controversies that stemmed from political disagreements. It is possible to know these facts because a civil war arose from the differences. However, one would require a thorough knowledge of the events in American history to discovery these hidden truths. This article is slanted on one side to make it appear as though democrats were the progressive thinkers of their time. A number of persons disagree with this view because they believe that democrats only acquired a progressive incline after the 1960s when it was necessary to do so. Furthermore, the author is bent on labeling historians either as liberal or conservatives. The following statement illustrates one of the assumptions made by the writer: “Conservatives, of course, were slave-owners and liberals were not. Conservatives in the 19th century believed in the tyranny of state government and liberals did not.  Everyone with a shred of understanding about American history knows that. We had a whole war over it.” (Richardson, 2009) In the matter of slavery, this dichotomy does not work well because several individuals had liberal views but did not support slavery. Conversely religious activists fought for abolition of slave trade even when most of their views were regarded as conservative. It is for this reasons that one would question the comments of the writer. She seems too intent on painting one side of the political divide as a change agent and the other as a forestaller. It would have been better for the writer to focus on events as they were rather than ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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