The situation for Iraq’s ancient Christian community, and for Iraq’s other persecuted religious minorities, is pretty dire, so much so that it’s easy to assume ordinary folks like us can’t do anything about it. But if you’ve got a few dollars to spare, here’s a way to pitch in:
The Knights of Columbus announced today that is establishing a fund to assist those – particularly Christians as well as other religious minorities – facing a horrific and violent persecution and possible extinction in Iraq and the surrounding regions.
The Knights has pledged an initial $500,000 and will match an additional $500,000 in donations from the public.
“The unprovoked and systematic persecution and violent elimination of Middle East Christians, as well as other minority groups, especially in Iraq, has created an enormous humanitarian crisis,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Pope Francis has asked the world for prayers and support for those affected by this terrible persecution, and we are asking our members, and all people of good will, to pray for those persecuted and support efforts to assist them by donating to this fund.”
Anderson added: “It has shocked the conscience of the world that people are systematically being purged from the region where their families have lived for millennia – simply for their faith. It is imperative that we stand in solidarity with them in defense of the freedom of conscience, and provide them with whatever relief we can.”
Those seeking to assist with the relief efforts can donate to K of C Christian Refugee Relief by visiting www.kofc.org/Iraq or by sending checks or money orders to: K of C Christian Refugee Relief, Knights of Columbus Charities, P.O. Box 1966, New Haven, CT 06509-1966.
Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, and 100 percent of all donations collected by Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., will be used for humanitarian assistance for those Christians – as well as other religious minorities –being persecuted or displaced in Iraq and the surrounding region.
A Boston Globe article on the precarious state of historic house museums has been making the rounds:
Although some well-known house museums are thriving, many smaller and more obscure places are struggling. Their plight is so drastic that some preservationists are now making an argument that sounds downright blasphemous to defenders of these charming repositories of local history: There are simply too many house museums, and many of them would be better off closing.
The argument has reached a surpisingly fevered pitch. Since the turn of the millennium, high-profile preservationists have published articles in scholarly journals and professional publications with incendiary titles like “Are There Too Many House Museums?” and “America Doesn’t Need Another House Museum.” They have held conferences and panel discussions on the so-called crisis with titles like “After the House Museum.” Stephanie Meeks, the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is among the critics, even though her own organization maintains 20 house museums of its own. Turning old homes into museums has long been “the go-to preservation strategy,” she said. “But there are only a handful I can think of that are really thriving with that model.” Last fall, Meeks delivered a pointed keynote speech at the National Preservation Conference titled “House Museums: A 20th-Century Paradigm,” in which she argued that the traditional house museum model is often financially unsustainable and has been drastically overused, and preservationists must look beyond it. “The time for talk has ended,” she announced, “and the time for action is upon us.”
I’m probably not the most impartial observer here, because I used to run a historic house museum and now I’m on the board of another one. But I think we need plenty of small HHMs, and here are a few reasons why.
- HHMs give small communities access to the museum experience. People in urban areas shouldn’t be the only ones whose lives are enriched by having a cultural institution in the neighborhood.
- They help instill a sense of local pride in small communities, a feeling of ownership of one’s past and one’s own place in the world.
- Small HHMs help nurture a well-rounded view of the past by reminding us that history isn’t always about great men, grand buildings, and dramatic battles. Critics who wonder why anybody would spend money maintaining the home of Joe Schmoe, an ordinary nineteenth-century lawyer from Podunk, are missing an important point. HHMs of that sort are important precisely because Joe Schmoe’s life was ordinary and unexceptional. The palatial homes of the rich and famous tend to be the ones that endure, but most of our ancestors weren’t living at Tara. It’s the mundane aspects of the past that tend to get lost in the shuffle.
- HHMs are still one of the beast means to keep historic structures intact. The Globe article notes that you can keep a historic house standing even if it’s no longer functioning as a museum. That’s true, but I can’t think of many alternate uses where the integrity of these buildings is such a priority, and where preservation is done so well.
- HHMs are training grounds for the employees of other cultural institutions. A lot of the people who are running the bigger museums, historical societies, and preservation organizations first got their start in some small HHM. When young folks looking for a career in public history ask me for advice, I always tell them to find some small institution in their own neck of the woods and start volunteering or doing part-time work there. Just about every public history job posting is going to require one thing of applicants, and that’s experience. There’s no better place to get your feet wet than at a small site where you can wear a lot of hats.
A lot of small historic house museums are teetering on the brink of closure, and no doubt many of them are beyond saving. But the answer to the precarious state of small HHMs isn’t to cull the herd. What we need is to foster close cooperation among smaller house museums, to make sure that historical and museum organizations keep these smaller sites on their radar, and to encourage professionalism and dedication among the people who oversee small HHMs so that the directors, curators, and site managers have what they need to do their jobs and keep the doors open.
When a historic home closes and a community loses access to a piece of its own past, it’s not a Darwinian winnowing out of the public history profession. It’s a small tragedy.
No, it isn’t. But they might put one there anyway.
The proximity of a proposed dog run in Van Cortlandt Park to the site of a Revolutionary War massacre has sparked criticism from a group of Bronx historians.
The dog run — set to be built in the park’s Northeast Forest section — will replace the current makeshift dog run that occupies a space approximately 50 feet to the north of a memorial commemorating the site of the Stockbridge Indian Massacre of 1778. Wording on the memorial states that during the battle, British troops killed 17 Stockbridge Native Americans allied with Revolutionary soldiers, though historians say that enlistment records and reports from those who fled put the number closer to 40.
Members of the Kingsbridge Historical Society (KHS) liken the placement to putting a dog run next to the Vietnam Memorial or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
As if this whole proposal wasn’t cringe-worthy enough already, let me add that the bodies of the men killed that day were scavenged by dogs before being buried in a common grave. Yeah. Really not the most appropriate place for a canine playground, is it?
On a side note, a Hessian officer who saw the bodies of the Stockbridge militiamen killed in the attack produced this image of their clothing and arms, giving us a firsthand glimpse of these Patriot-allied Indians. Note that he’s carrying a bow and arrows as well as a musket.
When asked to name the Rev War’s most underrated battle and participant, Ferling put in a good word for King’s Mountain and Nathanael Greene. My kind of guy…and also a darn good historian.
Robert Inman, who wrote the script for the new King’s Mountain play I mentioned a few days ago, has a guest post about the campaign over at Appalachian History.
The play has its premiere this October, and after that it’s going to be an annual summer production. Inman has evidently done quite a bit of writing for both theater and TV. I’m hoping I get a chance to see the show.
In case you haven’t heard, it’s Batman Day. I’ve been a fan since I was about eight; the Tim Burton film was probably the first major movie that I went nuts over, and I accumulated a pretty good stash of Bat-collectibles over the course of my childhood. I still think Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns is one of the greatest works of modern fiction. Seriously, if you’ve never read it, get yourself a copy.
It’s an unlikely concept for an enduring cultural icon, when you think about it—a vigilante who dresses like a flying rodent. What accounts for a career that’s lasted more than seven decades? I think it’s a combination of factors. The character has attracted good writers and artists, and he has the best rogue’s gallery in comics. Most important of all, I think, is the fact that underneath that cowl is a man of flesh and blood instead of steel.
Anyway, happy 75th, Mr. Wayne. Here’s to another three quarters of a century.