Re-writing history, eliminating what they call “liberal bias” – in other words, “facts” – has become a Republican passion, one David Barton is hardly alone in pursuing. Just yesterday we saw the example of reality TV star Jessa Duggar, who blamed Charles Darwin for the Holocaust.
The Colorado Independent reported the other day that Pam Mazanec, “a Larkspur businesswoman who sits on Colorado’s Board of Education, posted on a Facebook discussion thread her concerns that questions asked on the Advanced Placement U.S. history test ‘portray the negative viewpoint as the correct answer.'”
The correct answer to what question, you ask?
“As an example, I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today!
“Shouldn’t our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. Does our APUSH (AP U.S. History) framework support or denigrate that position?”
Well, we could teach them that viewpoint – if it was accurate. But it is not.
There is the little issue of the American Civil War, in which some 750,000 men on both sides died. Yes, three-quarters of a million men died in the war that settled the issue of slavery. And that total does not include civilian deaths.
Then there is the little issue of the Emancipation Proclamation, which would have hardly been necessary had the South voluntarily given up slavery.
The frightening part of all this is that, as The Colorado Independent points out, “Mazanec took office in January 2013 as one of the state’s seven education board members. She represents the 4th U.S. Congressional District – all of eastern Colorado.”
Conservatives like to claim that the Civil War was about states’ rights. The only problem for their claim is that the “right” in question was slavery. For years the country had been torn apart along free or slave-state lines.
Abraham Lincoln, when he ran for president in 1860, opposed the expansion of slavery, which had already spread to Missouri in 1820 and Texas in 1845, while the slave-owning states worried that as the country’s borders expanded westward that they would come to be under-represented in Congress, which would ultimately decide which new states were slave and which were free.
While Lincoln may have been fighting to restore the Union rather than to free the slaves, we must remember that Lincoln had called for the “extinction” of slavery, and that the reason he had to fight at all was because of slavery. Far from relinquishing slavery, the Southern states wanted to expand the institution to other states, and were willing to fight a war to keep their slaves.
Should there be any remaining doubt why a war was fought, Alexander Stephens, the Confederacy’s Vice President, in the Cornerstone Address of March 21, 1861, told his audience that,
[T]he new [Confederate] Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.
To applause, he went on to say,
Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.
Right. That’s really voluntarily ending slavery, Pam Mazanec! Far from ending it, Stephens’ speech was a re-affirmation not only of the institution of slavery but the alleged justifications for it.
If the importance of history lies in the fact that we can better understand where we are and where we’re bound from the facts of where we’ve been, it is clear that Republicans would just as soon not learn from the past, but rather invent one as it is needed to justify whatever agenda they happen to be pushing at the time.
We have already seen how John Aman at World Net Daily, is aghast that anyone would consider teaching something other than David Barton’s whitewashed version of American history. Unsurprisingly, but tellingly, Aman calls College Board’s AP United States History Curriculum Framework 2014-2015 a “dark retelling of U.S. history.”
History, for Republicans, should only be about white Europeans, not the darker-skinned peoples they bullied with guns and religion.
This re-writing of history has already attacked children in Texas and Ohio, thanks to pseudo-historian David Barton. We have seen Barton’s wishful thinking re-invent secularist Thomas Jefferson as a modern-day pro-theocracy Evangelical, and we have seen gun-rights quotes put into Jefferson’s mouth in order to combat gun-control.
You would think Mazanec might want to tout the fact that Lincoln, the guy who freed the slaves, was a Republican, but then she might have to admit that the slavery debate had already destroyed the Whig Party, and therefore that slavery was not voluntarily done away with.
And remember that things are not so cut and dried in the party of crazy, where we find many neo-Confederates, and at least one one neo-Confederate pro-slavery secessionist, saying Lincoln was a “commie.”
After all, slaves were property and Lincoln redistributed the wealth.
When you start re-writing history, one insanity leads to another, as we see in the modern Greek claim Alexander of Macedon as a Greek, when their ancestors denied him that appellation and called him instead a barbarian, which was their word for anything that was not Greek. And they were right: Alexander’s native language was Macedonian.
And of course, we’re all well aware by now that Barack Obama is to blame for Bush’s Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, that 9/11 did not occur on George W. Bush’s watch, and that Obama is to blame for Bush’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina.
The Soviet Union tried to destroy the memory of the nations of Eastern Europe. The Republicans are willing to do that to their own country, without the need for a foreign conqueror. What need of enemies when you have Republicans?
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.