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COLLEGIALITY AND CHINA STUDIES By Edward Friedman Political Science Department University of Wisconsin-Madison Almost a quarter century ago Professor John Fairbank advised students in Harvard University's East Asian program to transfer to the Business School. Fairbank warned that there were great personal dangers in trying to understand China. Specialists would be expected to help Americans comprehend an alien place with a hostile ideology. In telling complex truths specialists might say things many Americans did not want to hear. Consequently, specialists would be blamed for calling attention to unpalatable facts. Lives, names and careers could be ruined. At that time, the Fairbank and Benjamin I. late 1950s and early 1960s, Professors Schwartz (and sometimes Conrad Brandt and eventually Stuart Schram) were attacked for finding that Maoism was not merely Stalinism, for spelling out how Maoism had a Chinese national content_ which permitted a foreign policy line distinct from the Soviet Union's. These ideas were anathema to some American academic friends of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang (KMT) Party on Taiwan. Schwartz and Fairbank were accused of being dishonest fellow-travelers, of acting as dupes. In contrast, the friends of Chiang insisted that Marxism-Leninism was monistic, that Moscow's bloc was monolithic, and that the only repository of genuine Chinese culture was on Taiwan. Vituperative critics of Schwartz and Fairbank misleadingly urged us not to believe that a Sino-Soviet split was possible. In retrospect, Fairbank was correct and the vituperative critics were dangerously misleading. The political impact of that McCarthyite era, in which the I.P.R. was dragged through Congressional investigations, lost its preferred U.S. tax status and moved to Canada, led scholars to found the A.A.S. Owen Lattimore was attacked by Senator Joseph McCarthy and eventually lost his institutional backing at Jobns Hopkins University. U.S. Government careers were also ruined. Fred Coe who had worked for Harry Dexter White decided to leave the U.S. and live out his days quietly in China. The plight of the three Johns Vincent, Service and Davies - during that earlier era of vituperation is well known. Today I wonder if we have not entered another era of vituperation. It is not, however, a McCarthyite era. The legitimate political debate is much broader than a quarter century ago. Nonetheless, this vituperation again threatens to shred collegiality in our scholarly communi}:y. 17 The New Vituperation was legitimated by the uncritical acceptance of Chinese Shadows, Simon Leys' book blaming John Fairbank, in particular, and the profession, in general, for terrors suffered, especially during the Cultural Revoiution, by the Chinese people. [1] The Hyers-Metzger (hereafter M & M) essay denigrating "The State of Modern China Studies in the U.S.," explicitly places itself in this vituperative tradition. They title their essay •sinological Shadows,• miming Leys' book title, Chinese Shadows. Nonetheless, M and M, in contending that our profession does not produce high quality scholarship, seldom use the abusive terms which Leys prefers. He wrongly equates Professor Fairbank with Han Suyin and calls Fairbank a flatterer and an advocate of Maoism. [1] Leys even equates the argument of Merle Goldman's solid and scholarly book, China's Intellectuals (2], with apologetics for Hitler and calls Professor Goldman's approach "grotesque; if not obscene•. M and M, in contrast, usually invoke less offensive labels in dismissing scholars of China, terms like simplistic, inadequate, ,glib, naive, pathology, narcissism, fashionable, etc. Yet, in a throwback to that McCarthyite era of seeking •comm-symps" in the Department of State, M and M declare that "the u.s. Department of State continues to encourage the Communists in their efforts to demoralize and take over Taiwan". [4] No evidence is offered - and none exists,- to buttress such a claim. It is uncalled for abuse of a dedicated corps of professional U.S. Foreign Service Officers and echoes a call in the extreme right wing journal Human Events for the heads of a number of F.S.O.'s. It is all too reminiscent of the witch-hunting style which did in the three Johns a generation ago, a style which scapegoats Washington for the failures of Chiang's extreme right. M and M seem completely unaware...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 17-28
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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