Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Keep History True

Not too long ago, the Texas State Board of Education passed a group of amendments to the social studies curriculum for their state. The changes were seen by many as a white-washing of American history, including glossing over (and in some cases celebrating) slavery, criticizing affirmative action, and generally ignoring the genocide of the Native Americans by the US government.

Now, a group in Tennessee wants to do the same thing, but to a greater degree. Specifically, they want to remove any mention of the fact that the founding fathers were slave owners, that they lived in a nation that used slave labor, and again removing mentions of American-orchestrated genocide.

The reason the Texas changes were so important is that Texas is one of the largest purchasers of textbooks, and many states buy the same editions as Texas. Some publishers only offer editions that Texas approves, limiting the availability for other states.

There is something profoundly disturbing about trying to erase parts of American history. In my view, the dark, corrupt parts of American history are some of the most important to preserve, so that we can remember what we came from and remind ourselves not to go back.

shouldn't America's children be taught the truth? Or is it something that promotes the wrong ideas? It seems to me that these groups want to promote American exceptionalism to the point of insanity. America may be exceptional, but that's not to say it has always been perfect. To cut the darker parts of our history, to gloss over what happened here, is a slap in the face to our nation. Students need to know the truth, no matter what. You may not go into detail about slavery with 1st grade students, but it should be openly discussed in, say, high school. By censoring history, we are letting a part of our nation die, the part that helped us to establish empathy. We as a nation have done some monstrous things. It's sad, but it is the truth, and we must preserve that, no matter what.

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