When politically correct pundits and journalists defended the censorship of Mark Twain's novel 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,' I watched in disappointed disbelief. At that moment, I predicted propaganda to entirely whitewash this country's history.
I didn't realize it would be only a matter of days.
After GOP members felt inspired to read the clean version of the Constitution on the House floor last week, conveniently ignoring such seismic events as slavery and prohibition, the theatrical buffoonery gave their tea-drinking stepchildren in Tennessee a brilliant idea:
Why not erase any and all mention of slavery and genocide from United States textbooks all together?
Envision it, America!
Textbooks scrubbed free of slaves' blood and government-sanctioned murder, ensuring that history books are palatable for generations of bright-eyed schoolchildren for generations to come.Tweet
After a news conference on Wednesday, about two dozen members of the Tea Party of Tennessee presented lawmakers with a list of "priorities and "demands" for the 2011 legislative session. According to the Party, it would "besmirch the image of the Founding Fathers" to be honest about this nation's history.
In material distributed to the legislators, they demanded that state laws governing textbook criteria ensure 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."
Party spokesman and 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 thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn't existed, to everybody -- not all equally instantly -- and it was their progress that we need to look at."
It was their progress we need to look at?
When Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, the "mecca of racism and bigotry," signed into law a bill that prohibits ethnic studies from being taught in public schools because it teaches "ethnic chauvinism" and leads minority students to believe they had been "oppressed," I didn't think the ignorance would be contagious, but I was wrong.
As it stands, African Americans rarely get mentioned in any historical context at all if not that of the slave or loyal sidekick. Only the most passive of us managed to escape unscathed into the history books and now this bastion of bigotry from "the Volunteer State" wants to exclude even that so we don't "besmirch" our founding fathers' legacy?
If they were to get their self-serving wish, little white children would look at their black classmates in puzzlement attempting to figure out what planet they landed from, since history would make no mention of our more turbulent arrival to "the land of the free."
When the Huck Finn controversy erupted, I was disturbed that otherwise intelligent people deemed "slave" a more child appropriate word "than n**ger." The n-word is what slave masters called their slaves, making them both sides of the same coin.
Our children need to know their history. They deserve to understand what we've overcome, so that they know what they can become.
That this blatant attempt at revisionism is actually being submitted as a feasible option for the education of our youth speaks volumes about the depths of desperation some conservatives have reached: They are attempting to hypnotize our children into a mindless state of groupthink in hopes of erasing what continuously exists, even if in different forms.
If they can re-create history in a way that minimizes slavery, then it will be easier for all the subsequent inequalities to be deemed an exaggeration. Americans will perceive the judicial, educational, occupational and health care disparities facing minorities not as remnants of slavery and Jim Crow, but a testament to the laziness and apathy of African Americans.
If that shift occurs, it will be easier to implement their radical call for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, bringing this country back to square one as it pertains to race relations.
Some may think my assertions are far-fetched, and last week I would have agreed with them.
Until I witnessed a resurgence of Dixiecrats joining with educated scholars to successfully change the words of a dead man.
So to the Tea Party of Tennessee: Maybe you all should strive to genuinely erase prejudice and injustice in this country instead of perpetuating division, violence and historical myths. Then maybe your legacy won't need to be whitewashed to absolve your descendants of guilt as you're pathetically trying to do now.
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