(this originally ran on a now-defunct site called Modern Humorist)
by Keith Pille
Feedback on Midterm Paper
US History, 10th Grade
I find it very painful to say this, but your midterm project is unsatisfactory in virtually every way an academic paper can be. I can only hope that this is a one-time occurrence and not a sign of deeper problems that could compromise what promises to be a fine scholarly career.
I must say that it was rather unorthodox to open your paper with what I can only characterize as a personal attack on me and my so-called “revisionist history.” While I grant you it is academically healthy to question the veracity of the information you are given in your textbooks, it is hardly constructive to couple your claims with crude statements about my family life, moral character, and mental capacities. I did my best to prevent my evaluation of your work from being colored by your opening remarks.
So, then, on to your central thesis. I certainly can’t dispute your assertion that the presence of ninjas at Gettysburg would have altered the outcome of the U.S. Civil War. However, it is one thing to make this statement and quite another to claim that a clan of ninjas indeed was present and was, in fact, the force that tipped the balance of power in the war to the Union. Your evidence is… scanty. Even if it is true (and I don’t pretend to know either way) that ninjas ceased their activities in Japan in the early 1860s, this hardly constitutes a “smoking gun” indicating their recruitment by Abraham Lincoln. And your contention that Lincoln’s assassination could only have been carried out by ninjas angry over a payment dispute is baseless speculation.
To be quite honest, I would describe your Booth-as-a-patsy-in-a-ninja-cover-up theory with the exact same words you use to describe me in your opening paragraph.
One other matter—your inquiry into whether ninjas make love with their masks on or off was prurient, overly graphic, and, frankly, of no consequence with regard to the presence (or absence) of ninjas at Gettysburg. Those three pages certainly do not count towards the assignment’s 10-page minimum.
Richard, in light of your past achievements, I am giving you three days to hand in a more reasonable research project. I trust you will find a different topic, or, if not, at least use more primary sources.