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We the People: The reasoning behind the Vietnam War was not as simple as stopping the spread of communism

Each week, The Spokesman-Review examines one question from the Naturalization Test immigrants must pass to become United States citizens.

Today’s question: Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War?

Matthew Avery Sutton.

“It was about communism, but it was also about capitalism,” said Matthew Sutton, a professor of modern U.S. history at Washington State University.

Sutton, chair of the Washington State University History Department and Berry Family Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts, said the roots of America’s involvement in Vietnam go back to the era of European colonialism.

Harry Truman was blamed as the president who “lost China,” Sutton said. None of his predecessors wanted to be labeled as the one who lost South Vietnam. Eisenhower sent advisers and assistance with the condition that the South Vietnamese government lived up to certain standards which it failed to meet.

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Opinion: Evangelicals are one step closer to the ultimate prize: ending abortion in America

Matthew Avery Sutton.

By Matthew Avery Sutton, professor and chair of history at WSU

Thanks to the supreme court’s refusal to act on a new Texas law, American evangelicals are now one step closer to achieving a goal they have pursued for generations: the end of legal abortion in the United States. They believe that stopping abortion is central to keeping the United States a holy and righteous nation, staving off the judgments of God, and surviving the coming apocalypse.

Abortion has not always been controversial among American Protestants. Since colonial times, most Protestants in the United States saw abortion as a legitimate form of birth control. They did not make a clear distinction between terminating a pregnancy and preventing one. Those who believed that contraception was an appropriate practice often had few qualms about abortion when the procedure was performed before “quickening” (the time when a woman begins to feel the fetus move).

This theology cultivates in believers a sense of urgency and certainty and a vision of the world defined in absolute terms. They believe that they are engaged in a zero-sum game of good-versus-evil. Anticipation of the end of time gives evangelicals motivation to act – to preach, to evangelize and to wage culture war.

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The Guardian

Group honors queer heroes, rewriting Oregon and Washington history with truth

A local group is celebrating 10 years of trailblazers who have helped uplift the LGBTQ+ community in the Pacific Northwest.

“It’s important to tell all of the stories,” said Robin Will, president of the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN). “That old saying that winners write history… If you get into the historical record where you can’t be ignored, then you are a winner.”

Peter Boag.

“I was told early on in my career that this kind of research would end my career,” Washington State University queer historian Peter Boag said.

Boag was named a Queer Hero in 2018.

As other states enact anti-LGBTQ laws in 2021, he noted this reminder: “Some things have changed, and unfortunately some things haven’t.”

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Trailblazing Transgender Doctor Saved Countless Lives

In February 1918 Alan L. Hart was a talented, up-and-coming 27-year-old intern at San Francisco Hospital. Hart, who stood at 5’4″ and weighed about 120 pounds, mixed well with his colleagues at work and afterward—smoking, drinking, swearing and playing cards. His round glasses hemmed in his pensive eyes, a high white collar often flanked his dark tie, and his short hair was slicked neatly to the right. Though the young doctor’s alabaster face was smooth, he could deftly go through the motions of shaving with a safety razor. A photograph of a woman, who he had told colleagues was his wife, hung on his boarding-room wall.

Hart grew up female but, since childhood, had secretly identified as male and was attracted to women. Though she covertly dated several women throughout college, she largely kept her feelings hidden. Then one day, plagued by a phobia that was unrelated to her gender identity or sexual orientation, she sought help from her University of Oregon Medical School professor. After two weeks of deliberation, Hart revealed her entire life story.

Peter Boag.

“When uncovering the story of someone from the past, especially someone from the early 20th century—someone who, today, we would identify as transgender,” says Peter Boag, a history professor at Washington State University and an award-winning LGBT historian, “we have to remember that, although the trans identity is recent in history, people often forget that trans people lived in the past. Uncovering the story of any trans person is not just something that affirms trans people’s existence today. It rewrites our history.”

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Scientific American

Historian researching secret investigation of radioactive fallout

After years of polluting Earth’s atmosphere and ecosystems with nuclear material from atomic bomb tests, the U.S. government in 1953 launched “Project Sunshine,” a secret, international program to study the amount of radioactive fallout in the environment. The cheery-sounding program sought particularly to understand the impact of strontium 90, an unstable, radioactive version of a naturally occurring element which threatened to riddle people and animals with cancer.

Jeffrey Sanders.

Now, novel research by Jeffrey Sanders, associate professor of history at Washington State University, is shedding new light on Project Sunshine and the intersection of environmental history, Cold War culture and the production of scientific knowledge.

“Just as radioactive strontium moved through ecological systems, this project follows the twists and turns of strontium 90 through different atomic cultures between 1945 and 2000,” Sanders said.

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WSU Insider