Macmillan textbook upends Middle East history, rationalizes terrorism

Many social scientists have a virulent disdain for geographers. Some, so much so that whenever there was a need to take the equivalent of Occam’s razor to the declining college budget, the geography department was enthusiastically offered for sacrifice.

Geographers were regarded as posers who dabbled in sociology, cultural anthropology, social psychology, history, and of course, political science – specialties that in and of themselves require years of training and intellectual immersion.

Since retiring, I haven’t given much thought to this academic infighting. Then, to my horror, I saw severaarticles on Macmillan’s (W. H. Freeman division) World Regional Geography, fourth edition, by Lydia Pulsipher, Alex Pulsipher and Conrad M. Goodwin.

The articles, with extensive reprinting, focused on the authors’ rendition of the politics of the Middle East.

“Terrorism is the use, or threat of violence, intended to create a climate of fear in a given population,” the authors tell us.

Although there is no universally agreed upon definition of terrorism, nearly all such definitions, especially those used by the US government, include a political and ideological component. Terrorism is generally recognized as the use, or threat of violence, to achieve political or ideological (including religious) change.

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