Roger D. McGrath

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What Really Happened on Hotrocks

Little did I know that when I entered junior high I would be confronting red-diaper babies.  These kids were intellectually sophisticated and well educated.  They told me many things that were contrary to my instincts.  Having little knowledge of the

Paradise Lost
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Paradise Lost

“Whatever starts in California unfortunately has an inclination to spread.”

—President Jimmy Carter

On a Sunday afternoon late in June, Tony Bologna was driving home with his sons, Michael and Matthew, from a family barbecue.  In San Francisco’s Excelsior district

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Fastest Jewish Gun in the West

Frank Gallop’s 1966 spoof recording, “The Ballad of Irving,” left most people laughing heartily.  (“He came from the old Bar Mitzvah spread, / With a 10-gallon yarmulke on his head. / He always followed his mother’s wishes. / Even on

The Dean of Western Historians
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The Dean of Western Historians

It is usually difficult to choose only one author who is essential to the study of a particular subject.  When it comes to the history of the frontier West, however, the choice is easy.  Ray Allen Billington stands alone above

Videites
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Videites

You may have riches and wealth untold; / Caskets of jewels and baskets of gold.

But richer than I you will never be— / For I had a mother who read to me.

—Strickland Gillilan

Perhaps more than most I

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Lieutenant Ramsey’s War

Ed Ramsey never aspired to be a hero.  He was only 12 years old when his father committed suicide.  He was a natural-born hell-raiser; bootleg whiskey and fighting were his passions.  His mother thought the Oklahoma Military Academy might salvage

Federales, Gringo Style
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Federales, Gringo Style

For most of American history, federal law enforcement consisted only of U.S. marshals serving in the territories of the West.  Their legacy is decidedly mixed.  Many were appointed purely for their political connections, and graft and corruption were not unusual. 

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Payback for Pearl Harbor

I was recently visiting with an old Marine Corps buddy, Ralph Willis, at his home on California’s central coast.  At 86, he is one of the fortunate few who are still alive to describe their experiences fighting the Japanese in

The Loss of American Identity
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The Loss of American Identity

I have never been able to get it through my thick skull that one’s identity, culture, and national sovereignty should not stand in the way of making money.  For whatever reasons, I have always had a real attachment to my

Westerns: America’s Homeric Era on the Silver Screen
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Westerns: America’s Homeric Era on the Silver Screen

Some time around 800 b.c., Homer put the heroic tales of the Achaeans into lyric form: battles, expeditions, adventures, conquests.  The tales were inspiring, heroic, tragic, triumphal.  Greeks recited Homer’s iambic pentameter for centuries; so, too, did we as schoolchildren—as

The Skin of Their Teeth
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The Skin of Their Teeth

John Ferling, professor emeritus from the University of West Georgia and author of several other books on politics and political figures in the Revolutionary and New Nation eras, has produced a work of mature scholarship that reflects a lifetime of

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The Fighting Irish

Before a new documentary series on World War II by Ken Burns even aired on PBS, there was controversy.  Mexican-American organizations complained that there was no episode that focused solely on their people.  Burns responded by adding a segment devoted

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Submarine Ace of Aces

Now that the youngest of our World War II veterans, with but a few exceptions, are in their 80’s, I fear that, as they die, memory of them will die also.  While teaching history in college for more than 30

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White Sprinters

Roger D. McGrathFor several years now, professional baseball has been pouring millions of dollars into developing black players. Evidently, the number of black players, at least American blacks, has been in decline. NASCAR is funding programs to develop black drivers after fielding …

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White Sprinters

For several years now, professional baseball has been pouring millions of dollars into developing black players.  Evidently, the number of black players, at least American blacks, has been in decline.  NASCAR is funding programs to develop black drivers after fielding

Americans Don’t Die!
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Americans Don’t Die!

Americans do not believe in death.  At least, they live as if they will never die.  This has been the case from colonial times.  It is a consequence of seemingly limitless opportunity and a drive for upward mobility, denied to

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Sex Slaves

Roger D. McGrathBy the 1950’s, professors at our universities were teaching American history, “warts and all.” By the late 60’s, it was mostly warts. Now, it is all warts, all the time.

The Japanese have taken a different tack. They have sanitized …

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Sex Slaves

By the 1950’s, professors at our universities were teaching American history, “warts and all.”  By the late 60’s, it was mostly warts.  Now, it is all warts, all the time.

The Japanese have taken a different tack.  They have

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Strange as it may seem today, once upon a time, Hollywood respected Christianity.  Many movies had biblical themes—some were box-office blockbusters—but, more importantly, many others had scenes depicting religion as an integral part of American culture.  The public demanded

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Clint Eastwood and Moral Equivalency

Since at least the late 60’s, there has been an effort in academe and in Hollywood to make all cultures morally equivalent.  More recently, there has been an effort to make “indigenous cultures”—whatever that means—morally superior to Western civilization. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Flags of Our Fathers
Produced by Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, and Steven Spielberg
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by William Broyles, Jr., and Paul Haggis, from the book by James Bradley and Ron Powers
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures and Warner

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“Scratch One Flattop”

It was America’s first naval battle of World War II, Japan’s first loss at sea in the war, the battle that saved Australia from a Japanese invasion, the greatest naval battle in Australian waters, the first carrier battle, and the

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Atrocities Azteca

Nearly every celebration of Mexican heritage by Mexicans in the United States now features references to the Aztecs and some form of traditional Aztec dance, called La Danza Azteca.  This would be something like the Irish celebrating Oliver Cromwell

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The Saint of the Sourdoughs

More than 20 years ago, I presented a paper on the Old West at an historical conference and was surprised to find that I upset several female professors in the audience.  I had not disparaged their frontier sisters.  Quite

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Black Sheep One

“Thou shalt not honor a white man,” says the first commandment of the politically correct—unless, of course, the white man in question is hastening the destruction of Western civilization or, perhaps, preserving the habitat of the pupfish.  A recent example

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Zebra Killings

Whenever whites commit crimes against blacks, the dastardly deeds make headlines and are featured on nightly news programs.  The president wrings his hands and makes speeches about racism.  The Promise Keepers hug one another, cry, and confess to a newly

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Foss’s Flying Circus

In the early 1960’s, I was introduced to a fellow motorcycle rider by the name of Steve Foss. Before I could say anything, he quickly offered, “No relation to Joe Foss.” He had anticipated my question and that of nearly

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Japan’s Wars of Aggression

“Japan didn’t fight wars of aggression.  Only China now says so,” declared Yuko Tojo, the granddaughter of Japan’s wartime prime minister, Gen. Hideki Tojo, in an interview with the Japan Times in late June.  Yuko was half right.  Although Japan

Cowboy Heroes
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Cowboy Heroes


Whatever happened to Randolph Scott

ridin’ the range alone?

Whatever happened to Gene and Tex

And Roy and Rex, the Durango Kid?

Whatever happened to Randolph Scott

His horse plain, as can be?

Whatever happened to Randolph Scott

Has happened

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Firebombing the Fatherland

While teaching at UCLA, I heard a student ask one of my teaching assistants why the United States dropped The Bomb on Japan and not on Germany.  The T.A. immediately responded, “Another example of racist America.”  A doctoral student, he

The Real Fight Is Here at Home
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The Real Fight Is Here at Home

On our refrigerator door, we have posted photos and stories of Marines who have lost their lives in the Iraq war.  Among them are Cpl. Jason Dunham and Lance Cpl. Aaron Austin.  Dunham was 22 when he dived onto a

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A Hero Among Heroes

Ever since the late 1960’s, the cultural Marxists of academe have worked assiduously to destroy American heroes or simply to omit them from textbooks—and they have been largely successful.  As we approach the 60th anniversary of VE Day and VJ

Celtic Thunder
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Celtic Thunder

“The Celts fear neither earthquakes nor the waves.”

—Aristotle

Nearly six years ago, Chronicles published “Death Before Dishonor,” an article I wrote about the westward march of the American pioneer.  Much of the time, I was writing about the Scotch-Irish—or

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Red Over Black

For hundreds of years, perhaps thousands, the Indians of North America practiced slavery.  Until the 18th century, those enslaved, for the most part, were other Indians.  The tribes of the Pacific Northwest, for example, raided constantly, principally to secure slaves. 

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Remember the Texas Revolution

“Chicano Studies” departments at American universities portray the Battle of the Alamo as the triumph of the lawful rulers of Texas over a rowdy, drunken band of illegal aliens.  Such a portrayal has a delicious irony to it, though it

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The Star Chamber

In 1975, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) launched a campaign for reparations for those Japanese who had been forced to evacuate the West Coast during World War II.  A heavily financed lobbying effort came to fruition five years later

Boys Will Be Boys
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Boys Will Be Boys

When my daughter, Katie, was in the fifth grade, her grammar school conducted a week-long series of tests inspired by the White House to promote physical fitness for schoolchildren.  Children who completed the tests with passing marks—the standards for passing

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Whose Atrocities?

The Last Samurai is the latest movie to treat us to the spectacle of the U.S. Army slaughtering American Indian women and children.  Playing a disillusioned captain, Tom Cruise suffers from nightmares for his role in the dastardly deed.  He

Mexifornicating the Californicated
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Mexifornicating the Californicated

Victor Davis Hanson, a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, writes often and writes well.  I have two of his books on ancient Greece.  He is the only author who has ever explained to me how difficult it

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California’s Mythologized Bandido

On the wintry morning of February 20, 1853, more than a hundred Chinese miners were working their claims near Rich Gulch.  Without warning, five mounted and gun-brandishing bandidos swept down upon the Chinese.  Taken by surprise and without arms themselves,

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A God-Given Natural Right

I do not believe in unilateral disarmament: not for the nation;  not for our citizens.  Neither did the Founding Fathers.  They were students of history, especially of classical antiquity.  They knew the history of the Greek city-states and Rome as

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Unit 731

Every time I ask my college students if they are familiar with Nazi atrocities, the collective reply is “Of course.”  Nearly all of them have also heard of Dr. Josef Mengele and his horrific medical experiments conducted at Auschwitz.  The

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Fire-Breathing Cowards

In 1963, when I was a junior in high school, Saturday-night dances were held at an old beach club near the Santa Monica pier.  The club had once been exclusive and elegant but had long fallen on hard times,

Republic or Empire?
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Republic or Empire?

“Remember Pearl Harbor” was a phrase familiar to everyone I knew growing up.  In a sneak attack, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor!  This was a dastardly, despicable act.  A sneak attack!  The politically correct today like to say “surprise attack,”

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Bury the Facts at Wounded Knee

At Wounded Knee Creek, on December 29, 1890, the last fight of any size or significance between the U.S. Army and American Indians occurred.  Although a terrible tragedy involving the loss of Indian women and children, the battle has been

“You Have To Commit!”
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“You Have To Commit!”

We were on the practice field preparing for a team that ran the option.  Our scout team was running the upcoming opponent’s offense.  To our surprise, the scouts executed the option perfectly, which left our outside linebacker frozen halfway between

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The Myth of Red Brotherhood

Second only to the myth of Indian as ecologist is that of red brotherhood.  Although physically similar, the Indian peoples of what is today the United States were a diverse lot.  There was no common language, culture, or identity.  A