FACT-CHECKING #2: article in “Fighting Words and Images” (2012).

Faux-scholarship supreme. How many errata will be perpetuated/proliferated by other authors?

Jennifer C. James, “Blessed Are the Warmakers: Martin Luther King, Vietnam, and the Black Prophetic Tradition,” in Elena V. Baraban, Stephan Jaeger, and Adam Muller, eds., Fighting Words and Images: Representing War Across the Disciplines (University of Toronto Press, 2012): 165-184.

FINDINGS: 31+ factual errors in 19 pages.

ITEMS #7 and 25: Fabrications?

fighting  [click to enlarge]

OVERVIEW: This “theological” article in an anthology is hugely erroneous from its opening sentence. The biography/views of the article’s main subject MLK are greatly distorted. Myriad supporting data are incorrect. Leading theologians, churches, and organizations are misnamed while standard orations and publications are mistitled. The article mistranscribes (sometimes inanely…) dozens of literary quotations–from the Bible to W.E.B. DuBois and even MLK himself (e.g. “All men are bothers…”). One wonders if the anthology chapter was even edited–much less proof-read–since several sentences lack subject/verb agreement.



NOTE: In a familiar pattern the factual errors start out immediately. The opening two sentences manage to: (1) misname speech-maker MLK; (2) mistitle his speech; (3) misidentify the speech’s sponsoring organization; and (4) misrepresent the speech’s historical significance.

1. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 165 (first page). JAMES WRITES: [Article’s subtitle:] “…Martin Luther King [sic], Vietnam, and the Black Prophetic Tradition.”

CORRECTION: Not once–not in the title, first page, bibliography, or anywhere else–in an article about Martin Luther King, Jr., and mentioning him constantly, does the article ever give his full and proper name: Martin Luther King, Jr. Is there any other publication–scholarly or otherwise–on MLK with this glaring omission?

mlkThree Martin Luther King’s–Sr., Jr., and III.

2. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 165. JAMES WRITES: [Opening sentence:] “On 4 April 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City, Martin Luther King delivered his first [sic] public indictment of the Vietnam War.”

CORRECTION: The article’s very first sentence is greatly erroneous–and suggests gross ignorance of the topic. By no means was this MLK’s “first” public indictment of the Vietnam War; by that date MLK had already been publicly indicting the war for two full years–in fact since the very start of formal U.S. engagement in the spring of 1965. Below are some standard historical facts–ignored and negated by this article–regarding MLK’s public antiwar-advocacy prior to the Riverside Church speech:

  • March 2, 1965: Martin Luther King, Jr., at Howard University in Washington, D.C., issued his first public statement on the Vietnam War, saying it was ‘‘accomplishing nothing’’ and calling for a negotiated settlement.
  • August 12, 1965: MLK at the annual SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) convention, in Chicago, urged an end to bombing in North Vietnam, and United Nations mediation.
  • November 11, 1965: MLK in the ‘New York Times’ decried the war in moral terms: ‘‘…as a minister of the gospel, I consider war an evil. I must cry out when I see war escalated at any point.”
  • 1966: MLK in various sermons and media interviews, and even to U.S. Congress, spoke out against the ever-escalating Vietnam War.
  • March 25, 1967: Two weeks prior to his speech at NYC’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, MLK in Chicago led and addressed an anti-war rally with some 5,000 marchers….

chicago 1967 photo: Chicago, March 25, 1967.

Thus the Riverside Church speech’s title “Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence” reflects not MLK’s own breaking of silence on the topic, but MLK’s urging an audience to break silence. In the introduction to his speech (even read by the article’s author?), MLK even states: “Over the past two years…as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path.” [Full speech at: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.ht ]

3. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 165. JAMES WRITES: [Second sentence:] “Standing before the Clergy and Laity Concerned about the Vietnam War…”

CORRECTION: The group’s accurate name was “Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam” (CALCAV) [see below banner]; and…

mlk-calcavMLK at the pulpit of NYC’s Riverside Church, April 4, 1967. [click to enlarge]

4. …”standing before [CALCAV]” is misleading and misses the point. The speech’s small sponsoring organization CALCAV was already antiwar. MLK stood before an audience that–filling the huge Riverside Church–largely included non-supporters or even opponents of antiwar activism.

5. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 165. JAMES WRITES: [MLK speech title:] “A Time to Break Silence.” 

CORRECTION: “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” is the title of MLK’s famous speech–featured in this article–at NYC’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967. [See above link.]

speech2 [click to enlarge]

6. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 167. JAMES WRITES: “[Prominent black theologian] Dwight Hopkins [writes:] ‘slave religion provides the first source for a contemporary of black theology.'”

CORRECTION: This is gibberish. Dwight N. Hopkins writes: “slave religion provides the first source for a contemporary statement on black theology.” http://www.amazon.com/Cut-Loose-Your-Stammering-Tongue/dp/0664225217

7. FABRICATION? page 167. JAMES WRITES: “Hopkins’ succinct assessment summarizes scholarly consensus.”

CORRECTION: Hopkins’s assessment is by no means a scholarly consensus. Myriad theologians say “the black church” has always retained/incorporated elements of indigenous (i.e. non-Christian) African religious views/practices easily surviving the Middle Passage. Claiming a scholarly “consensus” shows the incompetence of the “theological” article–which purports to “probe” 1960s African American religious currents but never even mentions Islam, the Nation of Islam, minister Malcolm X, etc.

8. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 168. JAMES WRITES: [MLK oration:] “[President] Johnson speaks eloquently about peace…”

CORRECTION: “…Johnson talks eloquently about peace….” Few quotations in this article lack some kind of transcription error. http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/quotes_contents

9. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 168. JAMES WRITES: [MLK oration:] “…peace is not a [sic] merely a distant goal we seek.”

CORRECTION: “…peace is not [no ‘a’] merely…”

10. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 168. JAMES WRITES: [MLK oration:] “…the very destructive power of modern weapons of warfare has eliminated the possibility that war may any longer serve as a negative good.”

CORRECTION: Seven added or missing words mar this single sentence from MLK’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech (1964). The eloquent Rev. King said: “…the very destructive power of modern weapons of warfare has eliminated *even* the possibility that war may any longer serve as a negative good.” http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-acceptance.html

11. LITERARY ERROR, page 169. JAMES WRITES: “…Christ’s message to ‘turn the other cheek’… (Mat 53:9).”

CORRECTION: The famous Bible passage is Matthew 5:39–i.e. Chapter 5, verse 39 (not Chapter 53, verse 9).

christ [click to enlarge]

12. LITERARY ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: [Bible verse (Mat 24: 6-8):] “And you will hear of wars….all thus is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”

CORRECTION: “…all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”

13. LITERARY ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: [Bible verse (Act 2:18):] “Even upon my slaves…they will prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mists.” ‘

CORRECTION: “…they shall prophesy…and smoky mist.” See: http://biblia.com/books/nrsv/Ac2.18

14. LITERARY ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: “…thirty-nine books of the Hebrew Bible mention war.”

CORRECTION: That’s interesting, because the Hebrew Bible contains a total of twenty-four books. http://www.torah.org/learning/basics/primer/torah/bible.html

hebrew [click to enlarge]

15. LITERARY ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: “…the distinction between sacred and secular wars in the Old Testament are non-existent…The graphic depictions of conflict in the Old Testament ensures that war is presented as terrifying…”

CORRECTION: In one paragraph are two subject-verb disagreements: “distinction are” and “depictions ensures.”

16. LITERARY ERROR, page 171. JAMES WRITES: [Thomas W. Higginson passage:] “[Negro spirituals are ‘militant’] and readily available for camp purposes with very little strain on their symbolism.”

CORRECTION: “…and [no ‘readily’] available for camp purposes with very little strain upon their symbolism.”  http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/twh/twh_front.html

17. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 171. JAMES WRITES: “According to [W.E.B.] DuBois, ‘Negro religion’ and the ‘dream of Abolition’ had become so ‘indentified’…”

CORRECTION: “….‘identified’…”  http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/dubois/ch10.html

18. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: [MLK oration:] “They are saying, consciously, as we say in one of our freedom songs, ‘Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.'”

CORRECTION: “They are saying, unconsciously…” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article16183.htm

19. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: [MLK oration:] “Western nations who had initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit…”

CORRECTION: “Western nations that initiated…” A master orator knew nations are not a “who.”

20. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: [MLK sermon:] “All men are made in the image of God. All men are bothers [sic].”

CORRECTION: “…All men are brothers.” [!]

21. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: [Famous Civil Rights movement lyrics:]  ‘Ain’t nobody [sic] gonna let nobody turn me around…'” 

CORRECTION: “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around”–with only one “nobody.”

nobody [click to enlarge]

22. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 174. JAMES WRITES: “As Wilson notes…”

CORRECTION: “As Moses notes…” Being quoted is the famous black historian Wilson Jeremiah Moses.

23. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 179. JAMES WRITES: “In 1843 [Rev. Henry Highland] Garnet delivered [his address] before an abolitionist convention…”

CORRECTION: It was not an abolitionist convention. Part of the “colored convention” movement, the 1843 “National Convention of Colored Citizens” in Buffalo, N.Y., had a diverse agenda that included many economic, political, and social concerns particular to “free people of color.”  http://wblk.com/negro-movement-historicial-convention-in-buffalo/

24. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 180. JAMES WRITES: “Eleven years earlier…”

CORRECTION: Twelve years earlier (1831 Nat Turner Rebellion vis-à-vis 1843 speech by Henry Highland Garnet).

25. FABRICATION? page 180. JAMES WRITES: “…one black Southern church [went] so far as to censure slaves who ran away.”

CORRECTION: This huge, provocative, and highly specific historical claim is glaringly uncited. Which black Southern church did this? Is the claim veracious…or more fiction serving a “literary theory”?

26. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 182. JAMES WRITES: “Pacifica mistakenly names Riverside Church as the location for the speech [on Dec. 24, 1967].”

CORRECTION: A sentence correcting a Pacifica webpage introduces yet another error into a printed book, “Fighting Words and Images.” MLK’s referenced oration at Ebenezer Baptist Church is not a speech but a sermon.

27. LITERARY ERROR, page 182. JAMES WRITES: “[My article’s] scriptural quotations are from the New Standard Revised Version of the ‘Holy Bible.'”

CORRECTION: “New Revised Standard Version” [NRSV].

bible   bible   wjk

28. LITERARY ERROR, page 182. JAMES WRITES: “John Knox Press…”

CORRECTION: The major religious publisher is “Westminster John Knox Press.”

29. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 182. JAMES WRITES: [Citation:] “Martin Luther King, ‘A Christmas Sermon on Peace,’ 24 Dec. 1967, Riverside Church.”

CORRECTION: Here the article commits the error it just corrected (see #26)–the venue was Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist.

ebenezer  [click to enlarge]

30. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 184. JAMES WRITES: [Citation:] “Henry Highland Garnet, ‘An Address to the Slaves of the United States,’ Buffalo,  New York, 21 Aug. 1843.” 

CORRECTION: Garnet’s famous oration was August 16–part of the “colored convention” held August 15-19.  http://wblk.com/negro-movement-historicial-convention-in-buffalo/

31. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 184. JAMES WRITES: [Citation:] “Black Culture, Black Consciousness: Afro American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom.”

CORRECTION: The title of Lawrence W. Levine’s classic 1977 text is: “Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American [hyphen] Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom.”


[FORTHCOMING: approx. 5 more items from p. 183, etc.]


FACT-CHECKING #3: article in “Feminist Disability Studies” (2011).

Literary/historical errata lace another “academic” publication by Dr. James:

Jennifer C. James, “Gwendolyn Brooks, World War II, and the Politics of Rehabilitation,” in Kim Q. Hall, ed., Feminist Disability Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011): 136-158.

FINDINGS: 35+ factual errors in 22 pages.

ITEMS #9, 10, 11, 12: Fabrications (not just false but falsified)?

femini [click to enlarge]

OVERVIEW: This article purports to be an informed and insightful close-reading of poetry and prose by Gwendolyn Brooks–the first African-American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize (1950). Instead, the article turns out to be a wholesale distortion of Brooks’s writings–while also introducing numerous gross falsehoods about Brooks’s biography as well as American literature and history in general. Included in an anthology called “Feminist Disability Studies,” the article even has a few disability-studies blunders.



1. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 138. JAMES WRITES: [Historic French agency:] “National Office of the War Maimed.”

CORRECTION: “National Office of the War Maimed and Reformed” (“Office national des mutilés et réformés de la guerre”).


2. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 140. JAMES WRITES: [Gwendolyn Brooks passage:] “…undergoing the smoke and tire of a semi-revolution.”

CORRECTION: “…the smoke and fire of a semi-revolution.” http://books.google.com/books/about/Maud_Martha.html?id=Kk5aAAAAMAAJ

3. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 143. JAMES WRITES: “During a manpower crisis during the Revolutionary War, states such as New England and Maryland allowed…”

CORRECTION: As schoolchildren know, at that time there were no states–only colonies; and….

4. …New England is not a “state” but a region.

5. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 143. JAMES WRITES: “During the Revolution, the Continental Congress decided not to enlist ‘Negroes, Boys unable to bear Arms nor Old men unfit to endure the Fatigues of the Campaign.'”

CORRECTION: This is a huge historical error. As the cited source clearly explains, this decision was instead by the Continental Army in an emergency war-council meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 8, 1775. Alternately the term Continental Congress denotes the annual “founding-father” conventions held in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York to forge the government for a new nation. Big picture: The article leads us to believe a whites-only military policy was part of America’s federal foundations–instead of an independent ad hoc army decision that was soon (expediently) reversed.  http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/cgi-bin/amarch/getdoc.pl?/var/lib/philologic/databases/amarch/.8870

broadsides_homevalley-forge-3“Continental Congress” vs. “Continental Army

6. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 143. JAMES WRITES: “…before black men were officially allowed to join the Union Army, Frederick Douglass published [his] editorial [‘Men of Color, to Arms!’]…”

CORRECTION: More major–and inane–historical errors. Famously, Douglass wrote/published the editorial in March 1863–not “before” but two months after the U.S. Army began recruiting black men for the Civil War in January 1863. The very title–“Men of Color, to Arms!”–indicates the editorial was for recruiting purposes [!].


7. FABRICATION? page 143. JAMES WRITES: “[Douglass’s editorial] assert[ed] that the powerful bodies of black men were needed to win the war.”

CORRECTION: Embellishment serves a literary theory. Douglass never said black men’s bodies were intrinsically “powerful”; his point was simply that recruiting black soldiers would increase the size and collective power of the Union Army.

8. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 143. JAMES WRITES: “…undergirded by Western ‘scientific racialism’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries….”

CORRECTION: Nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The text credited with starting the “scientific racialism” movement was from the 1850s: the Count de Gobineau’s “Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races.” The movement continued strongly into the 20th century with major writings by Madison Grant, Adolph Hitler, et al.  

9. FABRICATION? page 143. JAMES WRITES: “White abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who commanded the first African American regiment officially raised for the Civil War, issued this progress report about his black subordinates: they ‘were growing more like white men–less grotesque.'”

CORRECTION: This is not a “progress report”; it is from Higginson’s 1869 memoir–published four years after the Civil War; and…

10. …this is a grossly unwarranted positing that (“dead white male”) Higginson–one of the foremost champions of anti-racism in U.S. history–was a bigot. A misquoting by eliminating words without inserting an ellipsis changes Higginson’s meaning. The accurate quotation is: “they are growing more like white men,—less naive and less grotesque.” Removing “less naïve” creates the impression Higginson is denigrating black physicality in classic racist fashion. The “literary historian” also overlooks how word-meanings can change over time; the context shows Higginson means “grotesque” in a common Victorian sense: “rustic/uncouth.” The black recruits under the colonel’s command were ex-slaves out of the notoriously brutal slavery of the Sea Islands, and after some military regimentation these men in manner became “more like white men.” Indeed the literary passage says the opposite of what the article claims; startlingly progressive for his era, Higginson is insisting any differences between blacks and whites are due to enculturation. The full text of “Army Life in a Black Regiment” can be easily seen/searched online at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6764   higginson

11. FABRICATION? page 144. JAMES WRITES: “[The] military was…a space where boys were made men and men made more manly—and, as Higginson declares, blacks could be made men.”

CORRECTION: This time the article’s would-be maligning of Higginson is a logical fallacy. Higginson’s saying the black troops were “becoming more like white men” is hardly the same thing as saying the black troops were not already men to begin with.

12. FABRICATION? page 144. JAMES WRITES: “Documents of African American military service abound [sic] with ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs of black soldiers attesting to this radical reformation. Serving as observable evidence of a rigorous and disciplined body, these photographs suggest that…”

CORRECTION: This is egregiousnot only a major falsehood–but two false references for it. Propping up a literary theory, the article alleges the U.S. Military had a long and common practice of photographing black soldiers “before and after” enlistment to document the African-Americans’ “radical reformation.” As confirmed by a prominent black-military scholar and a prominent black-photography scholar consulted for this website, this is pure malarkey–there was no such practice. Now for the article’s spurious sourcing. Ever-so-broadly, the endnote for such a major/specific claim says only: “Marcus Wood (1991) and Maurice O. Wallace (2002) discuss these images.” But when the fact-checkers laboriously located/inspected the two cited scholarly books, it turned out neither says anything about the alleged “‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs”–which after all, not only do not “abound” but do not exist. In effect there is a double-roadblock between the reader and the truth.

woodswallace Neither of these cited “sources” even mentions the claimed topic.

13. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 144. JAMES WRITES: “In 1944, when [Gwendolyn] Brooks published her sonnets…”

CORRECTION: 1945 was the publication date of Brooks’s famous debut book, “A Street in Bronzeville.”

14. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 144. JAMES WRITES: [Brooks passage:] “Congenital inequities that cause…”

CORRECTION: “Congenital iniquities…” The mistranscription changes the poet’s meaning considerably: “iniquity” means wickedness and “inequity” means unfairness. http://www.nbu.bg/webs/amb/american/5/brooks/troops.htm

15. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 145. JAMES WRITES: “[Doris ‘Dorie’ Miller] the famous black sailor who, during the attack on Pearl Harbor, gunned down at least two Japanese war planes as his ship was sinking and rescued his wounded captain.”

CORRECTION: A “scholarly” article perpetuates a romantic myth. A modicum of research reveals the facts: The injured captain (Mervyn S. Bennion) of the “U.S.S. West Virginia” refused to be moved from the bridge (dying at his post); and…

miller3 [click to enlarge][click to enlarge]

16. …an investigation concluded the machine-gunning of Miller among others only superficially damaged the Japanese planes which likely crashed on their own. When decorated for going “above and beyond the call of duty,” messman Miller said “…I think I  got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us.” http://books.google.com/books?id=5ufJEa6u3BcC&pg=PA440&lpg=PA440&dq=captain+bennion+refused+to+leave+bridge&source=bl&ots=Gn_ie7javy&sig=Ij9QC-Ok3eE27n3wOdt8u4Fkqbo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=idqoUvzhCKPwyQGwxoDIBQ&ved=0CFQQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=captain%20bennion%20refused%20to%20leave%20bridge&f=false

17. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 146. JAMES WRITES: “[Brooks’s] sonnet ‘still do I keep my look, my identity’ demonstrates how…”

CORRECTION: To suggest unfinished dialogue the title has interior quotation marks and an ellipsis:still do I keep my look, my identity…’

18. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 146. JAMES WRITES: [Brooks verses:] “Passions droll contortions…when grief has stabbed….”

CORRECTION: Passion’s [possessive] droll contortions…when a grief has stabbed.” Transcription mistakes obscure the poet’s meaning and throw off the sonnet’s strict meter. http://books.google.com/books?id=wbElip8Kat0C&pg=PA236&lpg=PA236&dq=%22lilyless+hasty+pall%22&source=bl&ots=kHfK7Clhk0&sig=SXFtHcQf5dlMldM9eJDi67WZgN0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uueeUrF2juKwBMGJgdAD&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22lilyless%20hasty%20pall%22&f=false

19. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 147. JAMES WRITES: [Brooks verses:] “Through good, nothing or ill….The lilyless pall….It showed in baseball.”

CORRECTION: Three more transcription mistakes in the same sonnet (see #18) which reads: “Through good, nothing, [comma] or ill….The lilyless hasty pall….It showed at baseball.”  http://books.google.com/books?id=wbElip8Kat0C&pg=PA236&lpg=PA236&dq=%22lilyless+hasty+pall% 22&source=bl&ots=kHfK7Clhk0&sig=SXFtHcQf5dlMldM9eJDi67WZgN0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uueeUrF2juKwBMGJgdAD&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22lilyless%20hasty%20pall%22&f=false

20. LITERARY ERROR, page 148. JAMES WRITES: [David Gerber passage:] “…[the media’s] policy against publishing images of severely wounded combat forces.”

CORRECTION: “…American combat forces.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/14/books/review/Elkins.t.html?_r=0

21. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 149. JAMES WRITES: “…one of the most prominent African American newspapers, ‘Pittsburg Courier’…”

CORRECTION: Of course the spelling is Pittsburgh.

22. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 149. JAMES WRITES: [Brooks title:] “my dreams, my works must wait till after hell.”

CORRECTION: The poem’s accurate title is “my dreams, my works, [comma] must wait till after hell,” and missing punctuation changes Brooks’s meaning.  http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/my-dreams-my-works-must-wait-till-after-hell/

23. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 149. JAMES WRITES: [Brooks verses:] “On such legs are left me…My taste will not turned insensitive.”

CORRECTION: “On such legs as are left me…My taste will not have turned insensitive.” http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/my-dreams-my-works-must-wait-till-after-hell/

24. LITERARY ERROR, page 150. JAMES WRITES: “…the vocalization of a radically opposing idea: the is body made ‘wild’ by warfare, a being not ‘iron’ at all, but who devolves into a state of utter savagery.”

CORRECTION: This is gibberish–what does “the is body” mean, etc.?

25. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 151. JAMES WRITES: “…three [Brooks] poems, grouped under the title ‘loose leaves from a loose-leaf war diary’…”

CORRECTION: The ending poems of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Annie Allen” are titled “leaves [no ‘loose’] from a loose-leaf war diary.”  http://www.poets.org/m/dsp_poem.php?prmMID=15914

26. LITERARY ERROR, page 154. JAMES WRITES: [Jacques Lacan passage:] “…what in France we call a ‘trotte-bebe’…”

CORRECTION: The French word for infant has two accent marks: bébé.

27. DISABILITY-STUDIES ERROR, page 154. JAMES WRITES: “…the unlikely appeal of the [armless ancient statue] Venus de Milo. As a representation of an amputated figure…”

CORRECTION: This is a startling word-misusage in a disability-studies reader. The sentence should say amputee figure. “Amputated” means severed/cut off; thus bodies are not amputated–their appendages are.

28. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 155. JAMES WRITES: [Brooks passage:] “…the men with two arms off and two legs off, then men with the parts of faces.”

CORRECTION: “…two legs off, the men with the parts of faces.” Brooks means one group of men but the article makes it two. http://books.google.com/books/about/Maud_Martha.html?id=Kk5aAAAAMAAJ

29. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 156. JAMES WRITES: [Brooks passage:] “…’in a hush, infallible and sincere.'”

CORRECTION: Even the famous Brooks line chosen to be the article’s prominent last sentence is botched. It is: “…in that hush [no comma] infallible and sincere.”  http://books.google.com/books/about/Maud_Martha.html?id=Kk5aAAAAMAAJ

30. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 157. JAMES WRITES: “Brooks’s [1953] novel ‘Maud Martha’ was originally published in New York by Harper and Row.”

CORRECTION: The publisher of three of Brooks’s books was “Harper and Brothers.”

31. LITERARY ERROR, page 157. JAMES WRITES: “[Brooks in 1945 published] ‘Five Poems’ [in] ‘Harper’s Weekly.'”

CORRECTION: “Harper’s Magazine.” The famous 19th-century publication “Harper’s Weekly” was long-defunct.

harpers-tom-thumb   harp

32. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 157. JAMES WRITES: “… the ‘Venus Hottentot,’ the name given to Saartjie Baartman, a South African woman whose genitals and buttocks were allegedly oversized.”

CORRECTION: “Hottentot Venus”; and….

33. Sarah [or Sara] “Saartjie” [nickname] Baartman.  sara   Baartman2 [click to enlarge]

34. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 157. JAMES WRITES: “Baartman was exhibited in American freak shows during the second decade of the nineteenth century.”

CORRECTION: This is an atrocious claim in a book titled “Feminist Disability Studies.” The legendary “Hottentot Venus” toured Europe but never stepped foot in America. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/14/books/review/Elkins.t.html?_r=0

35. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 157. JAMES WRITES: [Citation:] “[William Wells Brown’s] ‘Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter’ (1852).”

CORRECTION: A milestone in black literary history, the publication date of the first African-American novel was, rather, 1853.



Amputees Helping Amputees

FACT-CHECKING #4: article in “American Literary History” (2012).

Faux-scholarship supreme…

Jennifer C. James, “‘Buried in Guano’: Race, Labor and Sustainability,” in American Literary History 24.1 (Spring 2012): 115-142. (This article can be accessed online at: http://alh.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/01/04/alh.ajr050.extract)

FINDINGS: 50 factual errors in 27 pages. 

ITEMS #5, 7, 16, 23, 36, 49: Fabrications (not just false but falsified)?

alh [click to enlarge]

OVERVIEW: This article is quite aptly titled–from beginning to end it buries the reader in  &#^%! There are ten (10) major factual errors on the opening page alone. The blunders with one “featured” literary text (Alice Walker’s novel “Meridian”) suggest the author may never have read the text at all. Indeed the fact-checkers again uncovered rife apparent fabrication. Startlingly, as the report shows, even the article’s title and thesis turn out to be historically fallacious–and based on an elaborate misrepresentation of cited sources.



1. FABRICATION? page 115. [Article’s author bio:] “Jennifer C. James is…the author of [the 2007 book] ‘A Freedom Bought with Blood’…and numerous essays on war, the environment, and disability.”

CORRECTION: “Numerous” essays is unwarranted. Prior to this essay the author (in a profession where dozens of published essays is customary) had published a total of three essays.  

2. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 115 (first page). JAMES WRITES: [First sentence:] “Alice Walker’s debut novel ‘Meridian’ (1976) opens with an African-American photographer, Truman, searching for his former lover from the days of the Movement.”

CORRECTION: The article’s opening sentence contains two glaring errors. The debut novel of the famous author is instead “The Third Life of Grange Copeland,” published six years earlier (1970); and…


3. …the novel “Meridian”‘s main male character Truman Held is not a photographer but a painterhttp://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Alice-Walker/dp/0156028344 

4. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 115. JAMES WRITES: “Pulling his [Truman’s] Volvo into the gas station of a tiny Mississippi town…”

CORRECTION: The article’s second sentence is also mistaken! “Meridian” clearly states the tiny town (“Chicokema”) is in Georgiathe main setting of the novel by Walker, who is famously from Georgia and sets many of her writings there.  

5. FABRICATION? page 115. JAMES WRITES: “[‘Meridian”s character Marilene O’Shay,] once a faithful wife, had begun to prostitute herself to satisfy a desire for ‘furs’ and ‘washing machines.'”

CORRECTION: This alleged plot-summary bears almost no resemblance to Walker’s literary text. While the article explains Marilene is an *impoverished wife who prostitutes herself to get luxury goods,* the novel explains Marilene is an *affluent wife who, lavished with luxuries by her husband, is ungrateful and carries on extra-marital affairs.* The original Alice Walker passage (“Meridian” page 5) is:

“Marilene had been an ideal woman, a ‘goddess,’ who had been given ‘everything she thought she wanted’ [by her husband, Henry]. She had owned a washing machine, furs, her own car and a full-time housekeeper-cook. All she had to do, wrote Henry, was ‘lay back and be pleasured.’ But she…had gone outside the home to seek her ‘pleasuring,’ while still expecting him to foot the bills.”   http://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Alice-Walker/dp/0156028344 

Question: In light of the article’s blunders exposed above (Items #2-5), is it possible the author, purporting to be an expert on Walker’s “Meridian,” in fact never read the novel at all?

6. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 115. JAMES WRITES: [“Meridian” dialogue:] “…guano plant outside of town. Po’ folks…The folks who don’t have to work…”

CORRECTION: Walker writes: “…guano plant outside [no “of”] town. Po’ [italics] folks…The people who don’t have to work…”  http://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Alice-Walker/dp/0156028344

7. FABRICATION? pages 115-116. JAMES WRITES: [“Meridian” dialogue:] “‘But you know what guano is made out of. Whew.'”

CORRECTION: Glaringly, the novel’s important next line of dialogue–“You’d smell worse than a dead fish, too!”–is missing from the article. Is this de-contextualization hiding something? That is, while the article’s main topic is guano–i.e. a kind of dung used as fertilizer–Walker’s novel uses “guano” only loosely to mean fertilizer made from ground-up fish. Thus “Meridian” doesn’t fit the excrement-themed article–until a textual excision lets the prestigious novel be featured, anyway.  http://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Alice-Walker/dp/0156028344

8. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 116. JAMES WRITES: “…it is safe to venture that many twenty-first-century readers do not know what guano is, no less what it is made of. They may find themselves…wondering [what] guano—animal excrement used as fertilizer—[is].”

CORRECTION: Evidently even the article’s author doesn’t know what guano is… It is not, generically, “animal excrement used as fertilizer”–but seabird (or bat/seal) dung whose unique concentration of phosphates make it by far the richest organic fertilizer. [See definition at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/guano.] Famously, the bright-white (unlike manure…) substance covers entire oceanic islands where, in the 19th century before synthetic fertilizers, there were extensive and lucrative guano-mining operations.

guano 4 guano [click to enlarge]

9. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 116. JAMES WRITES: “…using animal and human guano…” 

CORRECTION: “Human guano” is absurd. Human waste when used for fertilizer is designated as “human manure” or “night soil,” etc.–but never as “guano” and has far less nutrients than guano.

10. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 116. JAMES WRITES: “In the case of the South, planters hoped that procuring sufficient supplies of bird guano, the richest natural guano…” 

CORRECTION: “Bird guano” is redundant–and further suggests authorial ignorance of the article’s main topic.

11. LITERARY ERROR, page 116. JAMES WRITES: “…Shell Oil’s 2001 handbook ‘people, planet, profit’…”

CORRECTION: Another batch of errors. The publication year is 1997;…

12. …it is a corporate report (a “handbook” is a how-to reference guide); and…

13. …the title is “People, planet & profits” [capitalization, ampersand, plural].

shellreport   olmsted [click to enlarge]

14. LITERARY ERROR, page 116. JAMES WRITES: “…landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s [1856 book] ‘A Journey into the Seaboard States’….”

CORRECTION: “A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States.” Although a featured text in this article, it is never titled correctly.

15. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 117. JAMES WRITES: “…a secretive African-American benevolent organization, The Grand Order of the Galilean Fisherman….”

CORRECTION: The historic organization was “The Grand United Order of [no “the”] Galilean Fishermen [plural].”  http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F50E17F63D5A127B93C7A91783D85F438784F9

16. FABRICATION? page 117. JAMES WRITES: “It [the guano trade] sparked…violent labor struggles. The most bloody worker resistance occurred when black guano miners on the U.S. Caribbean island of Navassa staged a revolt against their employers in 1889.”

CORRECTION: Glaringly uncited, the main but highly dubious claim “most bloody” inflates the importance of the article’s subtopic (i.e. the so-called Navassa Riot). Since the emergence of the guano-mining industry in the early-19th century there were numerous bloody incidents, including in Peru’s Chincha Islands, stemming from the notorious exploitation of guano-miners in their already, er, crappy jobs; the death-toll (four or five) in the “Navassa Riot” could have easily been matched or surpassed.

17. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 117. JAMES WRITES: “…a book further publicizing the plight of the workers, ‘The Navassa Island Riot. Illustrated’ (1889).”

CORRECTION: The slim 10-cent text is not a book but a pamphlet; and…

18. the title does not include the word “Illustrated”–which in a nineteenth-century literary convention appeared on the title-page of countless publications.   pamphlet [click to enlarge]

19. LITERARY ERROR, page 119. JAMES WRITES: “…[Peruvian seabird dung] which the indigenous collected to fertilize lands and hillsides.”

CORRECTION: Ungrammatical–“indigenous” is an adjective only. This should say “indigenous people.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indigenous

20. LITERARY ERROR, page 119. JAMES WRITES: “…traders hocked it [guano] everywhere they could.”

CORRECTION: The malapropism “hocked” means to leave with a pawnbroker. The appropriate word is “hawked.”   http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hock

21. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 119. JAMES WRITES: “…the U.S. would acquire some sixty Pacific and Caribbean islands under that law.”

CORRECTION: America acquired at least 100 islands under the Guano Islands Act of 1856. Entrepreneurs/dp/0312103166

22. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 120. JAMES WRITES: “[The] Haitian Emperor…sent a flotilla to take Navassa in 1858.”

CORRECTION: More hyperbole about the Navassa affair; “flotilla” means a fleet of warships–and the impoverished Haiti sent two ships.  http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Guano-Rush-Entrepreneurs/dp/0312103166

23. FABRICATION? page 121. JAMES WRITES: “[Today commercial guano is] often bolstered with petroleum nitrogen.”

CORRECTION: “Petroleum nitrogen” is a chemical misnomer–and indeed appears nowhere in the cited reference (Marshall Sittig’s ‘Fertilizer Industry,’ 1979).

24. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 122. JAMES WRITES: “…Northern Democrat Olmsted’s anti-slavery feeling matured…”

CORRECTION: Featured writer Frederick Law Olmsted was famously and ardently in the Republican party.  http://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/olmsted-parks

25. LITERARY ERROR, page 123. JAMES WRITES: “[Frederick Law] Olmsted explains, ‘ the greatest advantage had been the ground again guanoed.’”

CORRECTION: This is gibberish–and indeed there’s no such quotation. There should be an ellipsis to indicate this (nonsensical) “sentence” is spliced-together from a longer Olmsted passage–in fact more than seven whole sentences are missing from between the words “been” and “the ground.”  http://books.google.com/books?id=jFVCAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=%22the+ground+again+guanoed.%E2%80%99%E2%80%9D&source=bl&ots=FPN0giMp8F&sig=Bc8wvgO1EqFKztkcTWAKSjanQOs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ka2kUvinO8yMkAfFjYDgBQ&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22the%20ground%20again%20guanoed.%E2%80%99%E2%80%9D&f=false

26. LITERARY ERROR, page 124. JAMES WRITES: “… a pamphlet Peruvian sellers funded, ‘A Treatise of Practical Information for Farmers’ [1853].”

CORRECTION: “Guano a Treatise of Practical Information for Farmers” is the title by Solon Robinson.


27. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 126. JAMES WRITES: “The men [i.e. guano-miners on Navassa Island] were subjected to brutal, arbitrary punishments [such as] ‘trycing’: tied up and hoisted by rope, with feet dangling barely above ground.”

CORRECTION: The historic naval punishment (from the standard nautical term “tricing”) is “tricing up.”  http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50916F73E5F10738DDDA10994DC405B8085F0D3

28. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 126. JAMES WRITES: “…the Baltimore-based Navassa Phosphate Company…”

CORRECTION: Significantly it was a New York City-based company representing Northern capital.    http://books.google.com/books/about/Navassa_Phosphate_Company_Owners_and_Imp.html?id=gLdnGwAACAAJ

29. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 127. JAMES WRITES: “In a battle lasting the entire day, they attacked their supervisors with everything available: axes, hammers, stones, sticks, pistols, and even dynamite.”

CORRECTION: Still more dramatic exaggeration about the “Navassa Riot”–whose total length, according to the cited source, was several hours.  http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Guano-Rush-Entrepreneurs/dp/0312103166

30. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 127. JAMES WRITES: “With no U.S. vessel available, the British sent the brig ‘Romance.’ ”

CORRECTION: The British sent the “HMS Forward”–a man-of-war. “Romance” was the company barque (freighter) of the Navassa Phosphate Company.   http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Guano-Rush-Entrepreneurs/dp/0312103166

31. HISTORICAL ERROR page 127. JAMES WRITES: “[News coverage] reached as far as Australia, with one paper sensationalizing it as ‘A Battle With West Indian Negroes.'”

CORRECTION: The cited newspaper (“The Bush Advocate”) headline was from New Zealand.

bush [click to enlarge]

32. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 128. JAMES WRITES: “They [Navassa defendants] gained advocates from black civic and religious organizations, including T. Thomas Fortune’s Afro American League [as well as] The Grand Order of Galilean Fishermen and The Mutual Brotherhood of Liberty…

CORRECTION: All three historic organizations are misnamed. They were: “Afro-American [hyphen] League”;…

33. …”The Grand United Order of Galilean Fishermen”; and…

34. …”The Mutual United Brotherhood of Liberty.” http://www.pennsylvaniaavenuebaltimore.com/introduction/civilrights.html

35. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 128. JAMES WRITES: “In five trials beginning in November 1889 and lasting over a year…”

CORRECTION: More baseless sensationalizing of the Navassa Riot! The trials’ total combined time (ending February 15, 1890) was three monthshttp://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Guano-Rush-Entrepreneurs/dp/0312103166

36. FABRICATION? pages 129-130. JAMES WRITES: “…capitalism’s attempt to ‘naturalize’ the [Navassa guano] miners into decomposing detritus…..the end rumored of other guano workers: that they had been buried alive in the stuff, ’embalmed’ in guano, permanently preserved in the matter that had killed them.” 

CORRECTION: As it turns out, all of the above is an elaborate “historical” invention–and both the article’s dramatic title [“Buried in Guano”] and thesis are utterly baseless. Since the claims sounded historically suspect (what “rumors” of guano-miners “being buried alive” and “embalmed” in guano…?), the fact-checkers laboriously tracked down the two cited sources: both obscure antique newspaper articles. The revelation: Neither [!] “citation”–as explained below–corroborates the major claims.  

The first supposedly supporting citation is “Falling of a Warehouse Floor: Thirteen Colored Men Buried in Guano,” which appeared in a Savannah, Georgia, newspaper in 1869. Dr. James’s article implies it documents black miners who were buried alive in guano as they were digging it, and left to die. Quite differently, these men were not even miners–but warehouse-stockers who, after the partial collapse of a warehouse in downtown Savannah, were trapped under debris but quickly rescued. Indeed “guano” is inherently immaterial to the incident: the “thirteen colored men” were briefly covered by bags of guano but also other warehouse goods and it’s not apparent guano even touched the men’s skin. Clearly, the all-but-irrelevant “guano” (the bags might just as well have contained rice…) is in the newspaper headline for scatological humor. [See Appendix–bottom of this webpage–for the full text.]

The second arcane citation allegedly supporting central claims of the “scholarly” article “Buried in Guano” is “Embalmed,” which appeared in a Barre, Massachusetts, newspaper in 1845. Dr. James’s article implies it’s further documentation of guano-miners being buried alive in guano–but this time having their corpses chemically preserved by the substance. Yet the implication is again counterfeit. In sharp contrast, “Embalmed” proves to be about the discovery of the well-preserved body of a British sailor who died at sea in the 1790s–several decades before the guano-mining industry began–and was interred on a seabird-dung-covered island. (See Appendix–bottom of this webpage–for the full text.)

Question: Is this elaborate data misrepresentation–and obfuscation?–not academic fraud?

37. LITERARY ERROR, page 130. JAMES WRITES: “Although [Victor] Hugo slyly asserts that he is not relying on metaphor, he does: the sewers are…”

CORRECTION: Ungrammatical–the construction “although Hugo asserts that he is not, he does,” is gibberish.

38. LITERARY ERROR, page 131. JAMES WRITES: “In [Pierre Leroux’s] manifesto published a year after ‘Les Misérables’ appeared…”

CORRECTION: French philosopher Leroux’s “Aux Etats de Jersey” was published in 1853—nearly a decade before the appearance of Hugo’s “Les Misérables” in 1862; and…

leroux    hugo [click to enlarge]

39. …while the article asserts Hugo’s work influenced Leroux’s work, the opposite is true.

40. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 132. JAMES WRITES: “[Aimé Césaire’s] searing indictment of imperialist ideology, ‘Discourses of Colonialism’ (1955)…”

CORRECTION: 1950 was the year of publication of this classic text.  http://monthlyreview.org/1999/11/01/a-poetics-of-anticolonialism

41. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 133. JAMES WRITES: “[In] Act II of ‘The Tempest’…”

CORRECTION: “A Tempest”—i.e. Aimé Césaire’s play, not William Shakespeare’s.

42. LITERARY ERROR, page 134. JAMES WRITES: “Césaire’s intended readership [for ‘A Tempest’]…”

CORRECTION: Intended audience since “A Tempest” as a play was written for performance.

43. LITERARY ERROR, page 135. JAMES WRITES: “[Victor] Hugo’s early novel about the 1791 slave revolts in [the French colony of] Saint-Domingue, ‘Bug-Jargal’ (1826)…”

CORRECTION: “Bug-jargal, 1791” is the novel’s true title. jargal [click to enlarge]

44. LITERARY ERROR, page 136. JAMES WRITES: “…financially ravaged nations who might consider…”

CORRECTION: Ungrammatical–a nation is not a “who.”

45. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 136. JAMES WRITES: [Césaire dialogue:] “The day I begin to feel…just let me get a hold of a few barrels…as you fly around up there you’ll see this island…”

CORRECTION: Césaire’s character says: “The day when I begin to feel…just let me get hold of a few barrels…as you fly around up there in your blue skies you’ll see this island…”  http://www.amazon.com/Tempest-Based-Shakespeares-Adaptation-Theatre/dp/1559362103

46. LITERARY ERROR, page 137. JAMES WRITES: “…[environmental scholar] Andre Prieto explains…”

CORRECTION: He is Eric Prieto.

prieto   weis [click to enlarge]

47. LITERARY ERROR, page 138. JAMES WRITES: [Historic U.S. publisher:] “J.F. Weisshhampel.”

CORRECTION: Surname Weishampel.

48. LITERARY ERROR, page 139. JAMES WRITES: “Engels [suggested ‘Putnam’s Magazine’ as] a venue for Marx’s writing on militarism.”

CORRECTION: “Venue” means a place; a magazine is not a locale.

49. LITERARY ERROR, page 139. JAMES WRITES: “Rush, Skaggs, and [other historians] have repeated this factual error.”

CORRECTION: In a sentence accusing others [!] of a (small) factual error, the author makes…yet another error of her own. There’s no guano historian named “Rush”–which evidently refers to a book: Skaggs’s “The Great Guano Rush.”  rush



(SEE ITEM #36)

[Full and verbatim, here are the two antique newspaper articles cited but grossly misrepresented in Jennifer C. James’s “Buried in Guano” in false support of major “scholarly” claims.]

(1.) “Falling of a Warehouse Floor; Thirteen Colored Men Buried in Guano,” in The Savannah Republican [Georgia], Nov. 7, 1869, page 1.

“Mr. Alfred Poindexter, commission merchant and general agent for the Gallego Fertilizer Company, of Virginia, has been engaged for some time in storing Peruvian guano and other fertilizers on the second floor of the warehouse of Mr. Hill Gowdy, at the foot of Jefferson street [here in Savannah, Georgia]. The guano is in bags, and we believe the other fertilizers in barrels. The barrels were stored on one side of the room and the bags on the other. They were piled on each side of the room nearly to the ceiling, leaving a passage, which was being filled with bags of guano. At about five o’clock yesterday afternoon some twelve or thirteen colored men were engaged in this work, when the floor gave way, and the entire mass of guano, the barrels of fertilizers and the men were precipitated to the bottom of the story below, a distance of some twenty-two feet. The men were covered with the bags and the barrels, and Mr. Poindexter, who had left the room but a moment before the catastrophe, set to work at once to disinter the men, and, although several hundred negroes were on the ground in a few minutes, not one of them could be prevailed upon to enter the building to assist in saving the lives of their colored brethren. A number of white men volunteered their services, and in a very short time the colored men were rescued from their perilous situation. One man named Simon Scott had his leg broken, his ribs crushed in, and received internal injuries from which he is not expected to recover. Another man’s leg was badly sprained, and three others were severely bruised, but none of them, with the exception of Scott, are supposed to be dangerously injured. Painful rumors were in circulation that several other colored men were buried beneath bags of guano, but Mr. Poindexter used every means in his power to ascertain the truth of these reports, and he is perfectly satisfied that all the men have been rescued.”

(2.) “Embalmed,” in The Barre Patriot [Massachusetts], April 4, 1845, page 2.  

“The body of a sailor who had been buried fifty-four years, in guano on Possession Island, coast of Africa [modern-day Namibia], was dug up last January, and looked as natural as though it had been interred only a fortnight. With the exception of a splendid tomb, the poor sailor was as thoroughly embalmed as old Cheops of Egypt.”   



FACT-CHECKING #5: article in “Environmental Criticism for the 21st Century” (2011).

Falsehoods fill another “academic” article by Jennifer C. James, Ph.D.:

“Ecomelancholia: Slavery, War, and Black Ecological Imaginings,” in Environmental Criticism for the 21st Century, editors Stephanie LeMenager, Teresa Shewry, and Ken Hiltner (Routledge Press, 2011): 163-178.

FINDINGS: 22+ factual errors in 15 pages.

ITEMS #1 and 3: Fabrications?

enviro  [click to enlarge]

OVERVIEW: In this (edited?) article there is the usual disregard for accuracy/authenticity–with most errata in the author’s claimed areas of expertise. This time the misquoted/misrepresented literary greats include Alice Walker, Lucille Clifton, Virgil, Marvin Gaye, and Sigmund Freud.



1. FABRICATION? page 163 (first page). JAMES WRITES: “A WPA worker collecting narratives from living slaves in the 1930s noted that an elderly man in Mississippi insisted that even bucket [sic] had a spirit.”

CORRECTION: No citation is provided for this very specific/establishing claim in the opening paragraph; is the claim veracious? It would be nearly impossible to find the source–if one exists–since the 1930s Federal Writers’ Project collected more than 2,000 first-person accounts of former slaves.

2. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 164. JAMES WRITES: [Lucille Clifton verses:] “being property once myself/i think I [sic] have a feeling for it.”

CORRECTION: The couplet’s full second line is: “i have a feeling for it.” Throwing in “think I” ruins the poet’s meaning and meter.  http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2012/10/lucille_clifton_s_collected_poems_reviewed_.html

3. FABRICATION? page 165. JAMES WRITES: [Cassandra Y. Johnson and Josh McDaniel passage:] “If African Americans are to return to the land en masse…”

CORRECTION: It turns out the quoted academic essay says “return to the woods en masse” and refers to blacks hiking/camping. Making it read “return to the land” broadens the meaning considerably–and serves a literary theory.  http://boo,ks.google.com/books?id=r9aYPKtP0EgC&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=%22If+African+Americans+are+to+return+to+the+woods+en+masse…%22&source=bl&ots=JwW-jmpKXe&sig=kl71kOj367JwKVPUZfhYA6zlWMg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=aB2fUrPJJLOmsQSR-YCQBg&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22If%20African%20Americans%20are%20to%20return%20to%20the%20woods%20en%20masse…%22&f=false

4. LITERARY ERROR, page 165. JAMES WRITES: [Sigmund Freud passage:] “Once the ego has successfully ‘renounced everything that has been lost,’ the mourner can ‘once more…'” 

CORRECTION: “Mourner” should be libido.  www.freuds-requiem.com/transience.html

5. LITERARY ERROR, page 165. JAMES WRITES: [Freud passage:] “The disposition to fall ill of melancholia lies in the predominance of the narcissistic type of object-choice.”

CORRECTION: “…melancholia or some part of that disposition lies in the predominance…” Yet again a literary passage is adjusted without indication.  http://books.google.com/books?id=3QtZ6gC7QC4C&pg=PA587&lpg=PA587&dq=The+disposition+to+fall+ill+of+melancholia+lies+i&source=bl&ots=E57pHBXatl&sig=BL9oQHfq00L3PMdTvxGTuDqIJAg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Fh6fUqT6A_PMsQSOyYCABQ&ved=0CEEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=The%20disposition%20to%20fall%20ill%20of%20melancholia%20lies%20i&f=false

6. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 168. JAMES WRITES: “…a magnolia tree planted by Louvine, a female slave on a Mississippi plantation.”

CORRECTION: These faulty plot details about Alice Walker’s “Meridian” easily raise further doubts the author even read the novel (see Report #4). The major character is Louvinie; and…  

7. …she lives on a Georgia plantation–as well-established by author Walker, who is famously from Georgia and sets many stories there.  http://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Alice-Walker/dp/0156028344 and http://www.georgiawritershalloffame.org/honorees/biography.php?authorID=38

8. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 168. JAMES WRITES: [Walker passage:] “…an old map, yellow and cracked with frayed edge, what showed the ancient settlements of Indians….”

CORRECTION: “…frayed edges that showed…”  http://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Alice-Walker/dp/0156028344

9. LITERARY ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: “…Virgil’s influential but understudied pastoral ‘Eclogues’ (37 BCE) [whose main characters are] the shepherd Titryus [and] another shepherd, Melibeous…”

CORRECTION: The article misnames both characters from the “understudied” [!] classic; they are Tityrus and…

10. Meliboeus.  http://www.jstor.org/stable/642359

11. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: “[Lucille] Clifton published her first book of poetry, ‘good times,’ in 1969…”

CORRECTION: The title is capitalized: “Good Times.”

clifton1   clifton2

12. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 170. JAMES WRITES: “[Clifton’s] second book, ‘good news about the earth’ (1972)…” 

CORRECTION: The title is again capitalized: “Good News About the Earth.”

13. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 172. JAMES WRITES: “…the iconic Marvin Gaye song from the 1970s, ‘Mercy, Mercy, Me (The Ecology)’…”

CORRECTION: The title “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” has no commas.

gaye2   gaye3  [click to enlarge]

14. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: [Another famous Gaye song:] “Inner-City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler).”

CORRECTION: The title is “Inner [no hyphen] City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).” It’s all one sentence with agreeing subject/verb: “Inner city blues make me wanna holler.”

15. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: [Gaye lyrics:] “From the North and south and east…Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our sea.”

CORRECTION: Why capitalize “North” but not “south” and “east”?; and…

16. …”upon our seas [plural].”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9BA6fFGMjI

17. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 173. JAMES WRITES: “…[Gaye’s] concept album, ‘What’s Going On,’ titled after his powerful indictment of the Vietnam War.”

CORRECTION: Rather, famously, the title reflects various major timely concerns–thus the album’s individual songs about war, ecology, poverty, etc.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What’s_Going_On_(Marvin_Gaye_album)

18. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 174. JAMES WRITES: “…Booker T. Washington, who infamously propagandized a black future in the South and farming (a position which secured his reputation as a black neo-plantationist)….”

CORRECTION: “Infamously propagandized”? “Neo-plantationist”? BTW worked hard to spread the irrefutable message that land is capital–and ex-slaves’ owning/maximizing Southern lands for agriculture, light-industry, and businesses could be a rare strategy for Black America to achieve independent economic and (eventually) sociopolitical power. The article’s characterizations of the preeminent late-19th-century African-American are unwarranted, unfortunate, and, well, ignorant.

19. LITERARY ERROR, page 175. JAMES WRITES: “[Prominent TV journalist] Jeff Zelney…”

CORRECTION: Surname Zelenyhttp://abcnews.go.com/Politics/jeff-zeleny-abc-news-official

20. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 177. JAMES WRITES: “…’Civilization: The Primal Need of the Race.’ ‘The American Academy Occasional Papers 3.’ Washington, DC: The Academy.”

CORRECTION: In one citation are three errata; the title of the historic essay by Alexander Crummell is “Civilization [no colon] the Primal Need of the Race”;…

21. …the journal is “The American Negro Academy Occasional Papers”; and…

22. …the publisher is “The American Negro Academy.”  http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/31268


FACT-CHECKING #6: article in “African American Review” (2005).

This time the mangling of black literature/history by a self-claimed expert in black literature/history is in a journal devoted to black literature/history…

Jennifer C. James,Civil’ War Wounds: William Wells Brown, Violence, and the Domestic Narrative,” in African American Review, Vol. 39, No. 1/2 (Spring-Summer 2005): 39-54. 

FINDINGS: 32+ factual errors in 15 pages.

ITEMS #5, 12, 18, and 28: Fabrications?

aar [click to enlarge]



1. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 39 (first page). JAMES WRITES: “…the Louisiana ‘Native Guards,’ one of the first black regiments raised to fight in the war….”

CORRECTION: Here the article is discussing African-Americans’ alacrity to fight for the Union. Famously, the Louisiana Native Guards–in a Deep-South state–was a militia first raised by free-black mercenaries willing to fight for the pro-slavery Confederacy.  http://www.historynet.com/americas-civil-war-louisiana-native-guards.\htm

2. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 39. JAMES WRITES: “…a non-commissioned black officer, Captain Andre Cailloux…”

CORRECTION: The black Civil War hero from Louisiana was André.

andre     slaveholders  [click to enlarge]

3. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 40. JAMES WRITES: “…the Slaveholder’s Rebellion.”

CORRECTION: The alternate name for the Civil War was the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (plural possessive).  http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/the-slaveholders-rebellion/

4. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 41. JAMES WRITES: “Long before the abolition of slavery was declared an official war aim…”

CORRECTION: This “scholarly” article perpetuates a grade-school myth. Abolition was never an official Civil War aim. Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” applied only to slave-holding areas “in rebellion” and was a war strategy (to undermine the Confederacy’s slave economy and get ex-slave troops). Of course, the “Border States” for their Union support were allowed to keep slavery throughout the war.

5. FABRICATION? page 42. JAMES WRITES: “[Leading abolitionist William C. Nell] resigned his [government] post in 1864 in anger at the Union’s refusal to grant adequate wages to black soldiers.”

CORRECTION: There’s no citation for this major Nell claim which supports a literary theory–but could not be found in an extensive biographical search.

6. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 42. JAMES WRITES: “At the end of 1865, the Congress…enacted legislation establishing the Freedman’s Bureau.”

CORRECTION: The Freedmen’s Bureau; and…

7. …it was established at the beginning of 1865 (March).  http://www.freedmen.umd.edu/fbact.htm

free    Jonathan_Leavitt_paupers [click to enlarge]

8. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 42. JAMES WRITES: “…’Black Codes’ in the South….Blacks in South Carolina, for instance…could not marry if ‘paupers’…”

CORRECTION: South Carolina’s “Pauper Law” was not a “black code”–i.e. post-Emancipation legislation specifically to hinder ex-slaves. Like pauper-laws (a generic category) in other areas including the North, it dated back to colonial times (seamlessly imported from Europe) and targeted (more numerous) poor whites.

9. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 42. JAMES WRITES: “…’The Growth of Slave Power,’ a chapter characterizing…”

CORRECTION: The actual title of William Wells Brown’s chapter–“Growth of the Slave-Power“–has an opposite meaning. https://books.google.com/books?id=4-cLAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA37&lpg=PA37&dq=william+wells+brown+growth+of+the+slave+power&source=bl&ots=QmbG0QobPW&sig=0XH4wQFF0-HiHdgry4YruDwVxKg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qjKfVNTqC82ANom1gYAH&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=william%20wells%20brown%20growth%20of%20the%20slave%20power&f=false


10. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 42. JAMES WRITES: “…[laws designed] to keep contra-band [sic] from securing employment.”

CORRECTION: Contraband has no hyphen; and…

11. …the term is also misused. It means ex-slaves personally liberated by the U.S. military–technically as (human) spoils of war. The sentence calls for “ex-slaves” or “freedmen.”  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contraband

12. FABRICATION? page 42. JAMES WRITES: “…Crispus Attucks, the fugitive slave who was the first to fall in the Boston Massacre.”

CORRECTION: Serving a literary theory, the article avers definitively that Attucks was a “fugitive slave”–when, famously, historians know little about the “mulatto’s” background. While it’s probable Attucks was formerly enslaved, a runaway/illegal status is pure (romantic) speculation.

13. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 43. JAMES WRITES: “…the slave revolution in Santo Domingo and its leader Toussaint L’Ouverture…”

CORRECTION: Saint-Domingue was Haiti’s name as a French colony–“Santo Domingo” was the neighboring Spanish colony, today’s Dominican Republic; and…

14. Louverture has no apostrophe.

saint-domingue  toussaint  Toussaint-Louverture-Medal

15. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 43. JAMES WRITES: [William Wells Brown passage:] “…the God of Justice would be on their side.”

CORRECTION: “…the God of Justice would be on the side of the oppressed blacks.” http://whitmanarchive.org/resources/teaching/dickinson/analogue9.html

16. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 43. JAMES WRITES: “…a conflict over ‘state’s rights’…”

CORRECTION: States’ rights (plural possessive).

17. LITERARY ERROR, page 43. JAMES WRITES: “…the Civil War begins thereafter, with black men heeding (albeit unsuccessfully) Lincoln’s call for 75,000 Union volunteers.”

CORRECTION: Ungrammatical–black men heeding Lincoln’s call was successful; what was “unsuccessful” was their enlisting.

18. FABRICATION? page 44. JAMES WRITES: “…what [Martin R.] Delany called the ‘New negro’ black male in his serialized novel ‘Blake, or the Huts of America’…”

CORRECTION: Another counterfeit literary claim–“supporting” a literary theory. It turns out Delany’s 1860s novel “Blake” does not contain the famous phrase “new negro”–first popularized during the 1920s Negro Renaissance, and according to historians, first used in the 1890s (after Delany’s death). An electronic search of “Blake, or the Huts of America” can be easily done at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/DelBlak.html

19. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 45. JAMES WRITES: “… Andrew Jackson’s 1814 address that recommends commendations for blacks who participated in the War of 1812.”

CORRECTION: Contrary to the article’s explanation, the three-year “War of 1812″ (1812-1815) was still in progress and Jackson was not praising veterans but recruiting soldiers.

1812    ft-pillow-hl [click to enlarge]

20. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 46. JAMES WRITES: “On April 13, 1864, a group of [Confederate] soldiers led by Nathan Bedford Forrest [committed the Fort Pillow Massacre.]” 

CORRECTION: The infamous event was the day before, April 12. http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/abpp/battles/tn030.htm

21. HISTORICAL ERROR, page 46. JAMES WRITES: “Although it [Fort Pillow] had been captured already, blacks did not have the option to surrender and were summarily shot…”

CORRECTION: Yet again serving a literary theory, the article greatly distorts the Fort Pillow Massacre–one of history’s worst war crimes. On April 12, 1864, when Confederates captured the Union stronghold in Tennessee, no one had the option to surrender–in military parlance, there was “no quarter given”–and many whites including women and children were also killed in cold blood. The article makes it a purely “racial” incident.

22. LITERARY ERROR, page 46. JAMES WRITES: “As an anti-slavery polemicist, Brown’s mission…”

CORRECTION: Ungrammatical–the anti-slavery polemicist was not “Brown’s mission” but Brown himself.

23. LITERARY ERROR, page 47. JAMES WRITES: “…though not a President nor a senator…”

CORRECTION: Ungrammatical–“not” and “nor” are never paired.

24. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 47. JAMES WRITES: “[The first published African-American novel, William Wells Brown’s] ‘Clotel’ was serialized in ‘The Weekly Anglo African’…”

CORRECTION: The famous abolitionist magazine published at various intervals was “The [no ‘Weekly’] Anglo-African [hyphen].” 

anglo-african   antislavery     slavery1 [click to enlarge]

25. BLACK-HISTORY ERROR, page 48. JAMES WRITES: “[William Wells Brown addressed] the Anti-Slavery Society….”

CORRECTION: On this occasion abolitionist Brown addressed the “American Anti-Slavery Society”–one of numerous anti-slavery societies in antebellum times.

26. LITERARY ERROR, page 49. JAMES WRITES: [Bible verse (Acts 17:26):] “God hath made one blood of all nations for men to dwell on the face of the earth.”

CORRECTION: “…to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

actsssss    torso [click to enlarge]

27. LITERARY ERROR, page 50. JAMES WRITES: “[William Wells Brown’s ‘Clotel’ character] Jerome…is transformed into a decapitated torso….”

CORRECTION: This greatly misuses “torso” which is a synonym for trunk–by definition headless. Also, the cannonball blows off soldier Jerome’s head but leaves his arms and legs intact–and a “torso” by definition also lacks limbs.

28. FABRICATION? page 50. JAMES WRITES: “…before the destructive capabilities of the modern weapons used in the Civil War had made such an injury [sic] far too common, a head blown from a body was a relatively unfamiliar form of wounding [sic]. ”

CORRECTION: This uncited and patently false “military history” appears concocted to serve a literary theory. Cannon–and flying heads–were battlefield staples since the 1300s, five hundred years before the Civil War (1861-1865).

cannons   14thcenturycannon

30. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 53. JAMES WRITES: “…John Oliver Killens’s 1962 epic ‘And Then We Heard the Thunder’…”

CORRECTION: The novel was published in 1963http://www.unz.org/Pub/KillensJohn-1963

31. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 53. JAMES WRITES: “…J.L. Greene’s brief analysis…”

CORRECTION: The prominent black-studies scholar is J. Lee Greene.

greene   fabi [click to enlarge]

32. BLACK-LITERATURE ERROR, page 54. JAMES WRITES: [Another prominent black-studies scholar:] “M. Guilia Fabi.”

CORRECTION: She is M. Giulia Fabi.


Thank you for your interest in this website.

All serious comments/inquiries are welcome, and

any/all warranted amendments to the

six fact-checkings will be made immediately.


–The Fact-checkers