Monday, January 17, 2011

The Great yet humble State of Arkansas wished all of her citizens a very happy Dr. Martin Luther King/General Robert E. Lee Day today on her Facebook page. The comments that followed stretched the entire political spectrum. Some argue that the Confederate cause was just and had nothing to do with slavery, others are offended by the pairing of a fallen civil rights leader and a Confederate general. It's obvious that the battle to spin history has never ended, even 150 years after the "War of Northern Aggression." You can find a day by day history of the war here.

I was never especially interested in the Civil War in my social studies classes in the seventies. I remember during one class discussion being surprised when one of my classmates complained about "white niggers" and the teacher said nothing. In another class, I remember one of my favorite instructors guiding the class through a textbook, pointing at a bucolic illustration of the Antebellum South, saying "the slaves didn't have it that bad. Look at that character on the wagon!" Another favorite teacher remarked that the Indians were a defeated people and that he had no time for liberal hand-wringing over their near genocide.

The tradition of minimizing the history of non-white males lives on in Tennessee, where the local tea parties held a news conference urging state legislators to educate students about "the truth about America.” The "truth" apparently is highlighting the experiences of white males and ignoring the more negative experiences of everyone else. Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another."

The group demands that no "portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

In other words, historical events that do not match the right wing spin of the tea party should not be taught or appear in textbooks, even if they "actually occurred."

The full article can be found here.

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