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Ignorance in the Name of Nationalism
By Cheyenne Glenn
They say that history is written by the victors. As far as I can tell, that is definitely a true statement. Despite concrete facts and actions, many schools teach things incredibly different. Take World War II for example, in any American history class, they would tell you that the ultimate turning point in the victory of that war came after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when the United States became an active ally. If you asked my former co-worker Cydney, an American girl with a British born mother, she would argue you into the ground that it was the British who won the war against the Germans.
According to Doranna Tindle, the principal of Friendship Tech Academy in Washington DC, “It isn't always as black and white as lies versus truth. History is told from a perspective. American History--British history-- is told from a narrative perspective that omits, justifies, or interprets American actions as protective of democracy, freedom, and the merit of the individual.” It would appear that there are multiple sides of the story; his, hers, the truth, and what’s taught in the average American textbook.
This isn’t a new phenomenon; in fact, people have been doctoring, censoring, and just outright lying about the past since almost the beginning of time. It’s where our ancient myths and fables come from and sometimes these stories can benefit us by teaching us valuable lessons. The question becomes, who gets to determine what is acceptable to change and why? Should they be able to pass lies off as the truth or just as cautionary tales? “[It is] absolutely unnecessary to lie. In the end it sets students up to be further behind the worldwide curve that we are already lagging behind,” says Seana McDuffie, a film student in Oceanside, California. Cap Hill, a rapper stationed out of Washington DC, echoed her sentiment, stating, “If patriotism can only be crafted with lies, is it even worth having? Is it even real or just brainwash[ing]? It's like we decide that something is wrong as a whole, [and] then our governing bodies search for loopholes and wiggle room that allow us to bend the rules when it's convenient.”
This was a big issue just last year, when students and teachers in Jefferson County, Colorado, walked out of their classrooms in protest of the idea their school board had to make A.P. History classes “more patriotic” by omitting information from the curriculum. It lasted 10 days and 4 schools were shutdown as a result. At one point, the Republican National Committee even passed a resolution against the College Board, citing a “consistently negative view of American history.” Can that really be the case if they’re simply stating the facts? Even renowned neuroscientist Dr. Ben Carson expressed that he thought “most people, when they finished that course, they’d be ready to sign up for ISIS.”
This is our history, and like the history of other countries, it’s a checkered past, but should we be so afraid of it that we erase it and fill its space with something more favorable?
“We sometimes assume students aren’t ready to hear diverse perspectives and decide for themselves for various reasons, and I think that we are incorrect,” says Tindle.
The problem with that logic is “those who don’t know their past are doomed to repeat it.” When we gloss over the civil rights movement of the 60s, people begin to think that racism is no longer an issue. Cops aren’t using German Shepherds and fire hoses on people of color, instead they’re pulling guns on them and body slamming them to the ground, and as a result we hear “that’s not what racism looks like, he’s just doing his job.” We no longer believe the women’s rights movements of the 20s and 70s are valid, because women can vote and we no longer have ads encouraging domestic violence. Instead, we have ads that mimic and glamorize bus rapes, and fetishize waif models eating burgers in a hyper sexualized manner, and “that’s sexy.”
We are spending so much time and effort trying to hide our grim past and wrap a bow around it that we fail to realize that it continues today. It is the equivalent of putting a metaphorical band-aid on the hemorrhaging gash that is American history.
We need to do better, and we definitely can.
#Real #Nationalism #History #DoomedToRepeatIt #Understanding #Racism #Sexism #CurrentEvents
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