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Van Gosse
Van Gosse is a historian and author specializing in American political development, the African-American struggle for citizenship and American society in the Cold War era and since. He is author of Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America, and the Making of a New Left, The Movements of the New Left 1950-1975, and the forthcoming We Are Americans: Black Politics and the Origins of Black Power in Antebellum America. His book Rethinking the New Left: An Interpretative History was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book for 2006 and will be published in translation in the People's Republic of China.

In November 2011, Gosse's thoughts regarding the debate over black troops in the Civil War were featured on the New York Times' "Disunion" blog. This essay is based on my research into African American politics between 1790 and 1860."

His scholarship covers the social movements of the United States after World War II, the so-called New Left, with a particular focus on the movements "in solidarity" with social change in Latin America, from the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s through the Central American wars of the 1980s. He has studied the long-term political evolution of American democracy and Black Power in America. A music critic for the Village Voice from 1979-1984, he also has a special interest in cultural history, focusing on popular music and Hollywood film.

Gosse is a former Fulbright Lecturer at University College in Cork, Ireland, and a former fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has spent thirty years working for democracy and peace, most recently as a member of the steering committees for Historians Against the War and for United for Peace and Justice, the main anti-Iraq war coalition. He has been a member of the Task Force on Terrorism at the Foreign Policy in Focus Project of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., organizing director for Peace Action, and executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas

Van Gosse is associate professor of history at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.

Entries by Van Gosse

What's in a Name? Bernie Sanders, the Socialist Candidate

(0) Comments | Posted October 27, 2015 | 6:19 PM

It's a fine irony that after years of allegations President Obama was a covert "socialist," we now have the genuine article in Senator Bernard Sanders, and no one knows what to make of his unblushing socialism. In part this is due to the anti-intellectualism endemic to America, and the provincialism...

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Another Chance at Fair Play for Cuba

(1) Comments | Posted July 17, 2015 | 5:11 PM

Stake out a corner in Miami's Little Havana, and you can observe Luis Posada Carriles walking around freely, despite his blowing up a Cuban airliner in mid-air in 1976 and killing 73 people, according to declassified CIA and FBI documents. And Posada is only one of dozens of old men...

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A New Internationalism

(0) Comments | Posted June 15, 2015 | 3:50 PM

For well over a century, a shared commitment to internationalism has defined what it means to be Left. Even when we do not use that particular word, rooted in the "proletarian internationalism" of the Marxist tradition, an internationalist sensibility has animated a range of anti-colonial, anti-racist, feminist, anti-militarist, and working-class...

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The Forgotten History of U.S.-Cuba Friendship

(0) Comments | Posted December 29, 2014 | 12:17 PM

It is not as absurd as many people think that there would be a rapprochement between the United States and revolutionary Cuba. Once upon a time, Fidel Castro received the keys of the City of New York in Central Park, and was welcomed on Capital Hill, even by conservatives. He...

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Jim Crow Justice--As Usual

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2014 | 4:50 PM

Most white people brought up on the antiseptic version of American history think of racial injustice in the South (always in "the South," not anywhere else) as enacted by "the Klan" via lynching: black men dragged out of jail to be murdered. But the more constant version was entirely inside...

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Frederick Douglass Meets the Queen (a historical fiction)

(1) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 11:29 AM

"I saw that colored man, Frederick Douglass," said Victoria to Albert in the spring of 1860, "and he was not what I expected at all."

"How do you mean, my dear?" said the consort.

"He seemed rather genteel," said the Queen, musing. "He has a marvelous head, leonine. He...

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The 'Armed Struggle' Vindicated in El Salvador

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 5:02 PM

My, how things change. On March 9, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, former commander of the most formidable Marxist guerrilla force in Latin America's history, El Salvador's Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), will almost certainly be elected president of his country. While a few of the neoconservative old guard have taken...

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Remembering Amiri Baraka

(1) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 2:33 PM

The belated hullaballoo over Norman Mailer is instructive when compared to the muted, quizzical response to the January 9 death of an equally prodigious, notorious man of letters, Amiri Baraka. They had a lot in common, as lower-middle-class youth shown the world by military service, and exploding into the abundance...

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Empathy for Whom?

(1) Comments | Posted May 13, 2013 | 10:53 AM

The range of opinions about what to do with (or to) Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the "little brother" in the Boston Marathon bombing, says a lot about the exceptionally perverse character of American culture right now, our addled confusion about violence. Sitting at a table with people who know each other very...

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An Open Letter to Tony Kushner

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2013 | 4:16 PM

Dear Mr. Kushner,

This historian tips his cap to you. In The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures you captured with remarkable empathy the language, cultural references, and worldview of the Old (as in Communist) American Left, still persisting after the Cold War....

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Realigning American Politics: Towards a Mass Party of the Center

(67) Comments | Posted December 23, 2012 | 3:05 PM

Like a fog slowly clearing, we can perceive the slow-motion realignment of American politics towards a mass party of the center. This emerging formation, the Clinton-Obama remaking of the Democratic Party, will almost certainly dominate politics and policy at the federal level and in most major states for the long-term....

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Getting 'Romney the Bully' Wrong

(30) Comments | Posted May 23, 2012 | 12:46 PM

It is striking how off-base liberals are about Mitt Romney's bullying a boy with long, dyed hair back in 1964, leading a gang to shear him like a lamb. From The New Yorker to MoveOn.Org, it's a given that this was gay-bashing, if only because the victim, John Lauber, lived...

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Today's Other 'Jim Crow'

(2) Comments | Posted March 29, 2012 | 1:19 PM

Recently, Michelle Alexander's brilliant legal history, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has exposed the insidious politics of today's drug laws, which have been used to lock up millions of African American and Latino boys and men, always in a "race-neutral" fashion but with extremely...

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A Modest Proposal (to Help Fix American Education)

(14) Comments | Posted December 21, 2011 | 5:26 PM

In 1729, Jonathan Swift penned his notorious "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to the Public," to mock English complaints about the "burden" of the Irish people on the British...

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What Is a Democracy?

(5) Comments | Posted February 1, 2011 | 2:30 PM

A recent blog by The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg ("What If Israel Ceases to Be a Democracy?") led to my pondering a basic question: what is a democracy? Can we define it by a single, simple standard that will rebut the self-justifying assertions by rulers who pay cynical homage...

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Birthright Citizenship Is Bedrock Americanism

(4) Comments | Posted September 27, 2010 | 4:17 PM

We need to get clear: birthright citizenship was a core principle at the founding of the Republic in 1776. Yet now, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina wants to hold Senate hearings on the bedrock constitutional precept that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to...

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American Democracy (the Lack Thereof)

(93) Comments | Posted August 26, 2010 | 5:39 PM

[I've re-run my numbers, to make them all from the same year, and corrected an egregious error re Lancaster County, PA]

For more than two hundred years, the rest of the world has listened to Americans boast about our "freedom," our "liberty," and, most of all, how we are the...

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Thank You, Rand Paul (From a Historian)

(19) Comments | Posted June 30, 2010 | 3:41 PM

Rand Paul is a gift to historians. As a candidate he embodies some of the longest-lasting, most picturesque -- and most reactionary and dangerous -- elements of the American political tradition: contempt for government; veneration of personal property over all else; freedom defined as the absence of restraint, meaning the...

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Black Republicans' Problem with History

(0) Comments | Posted June 14, 2010 | 1:25 PM

The Republican Party is trumpeting its unprecedented number of African-American congressional candidates -- 32 in all. But serious political analysts know that it's going to take a lot more than long-shot candidates in Democratic districts, or the occasional election of a black representative from a white district like J. C....

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Why President Obama Is Not (and Is) a Socialist

(101) Comments | Posted May 27, 2010 | 4:39 PM

Almost every day I get a message from Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele denouncing President Obama's "radical socialist" policies. Fox News relentlessly sounds this chorus, and some Americans agree, rallying with posters featuring hammer-and-sickle drawings and pictures of Stalin next to our elected leader.

For the rest of the...

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