Friday, 20 February 2015

Living In [Accurate] History

I came across a perfectly horrifying post on FaceBook today, which - if you prefer to take part in this discussion, will need to read - so, sit down, make your butt comfy and here we go:

Since the College Board released a new course framework for U.S. history in October 2012, conservative backlash against the course has grown significantly. The Republican National Committee condemned the course and its "consistently negative view of American history" in August. Numerous states and school districts have now taken action to denounce the exam.
Fisher said Monday that the AP U.S. History course emphasizes "what is bad about America" and complained that the framework eliminated the concept of "American exceptionalism,"according to the Tulsa World.

The House Common Education Committee voted for the bill 11-4, with all Republicans voting for the legislation and all Democrats voting against it.

During the hearing on the bill, state lawmakers also questioned the legality of all AP courses, comparing them to Common Core, which Oklahoma has repealed. According to the Tulsa World, lawmakers were concerned that College Board courses could be seen as an effort to create a national curriculum.

Rep. Sally Kern (R) said that she asked the state attorney general to review whether AP courses violate the legislation that repealed Common Core."

Now, how is this okay? How can anyone suggest to lie, to make history a whole bag of bullshit? And then to teach this in an accredited school? Any school that teaches this should lose its accrediting. Am I wrong? And yet... I have a friend who will not - NOT - let this go. So here is a snapshot into this fight...

These things have a way of snowballing, which is one of those funny things - it could be very good or could go very, very poorly. In this case, it sparked a hell of a debate. For myself, I cannot fathom why this would have den so. Who in their right mind would fight honesty in teaching any subject?

I will start with how I introduced it, then how George posted it and the comments that ensued as a result. Please understand first: I love George greatly - we have been friends, very close friends - since I was 17, which is 30 years ago this year. Ignore his biased thinking as regards potically; just read what he said. I have so much trouble understanding any argument for not teaching AP History as it is, I find it boggling.

My comment when I posted it was this: "Republicans: unutterably ridiculous. They would rather make our history portray us as saints instead of teaching the truth. No one can learn the lessons of the past if students are cuckolded into thinking we did everything right."

George saw this and shared it (I assume), but he wrote the following with it: "OK time to go on an anti liberal rant; Listen up all of you apologetic liberals who cry over the bad things America has done to get to this stage. None of what you have now, from the smartphone/tablet/pc/laptop and internet, to fights over global warming would be around, if America did not do what it did to get to where it is now. As a matter of fact, there is a good chance that without America, your life choices (if you were even born) would be two. Dead or living as a serf in some European God Approved Monarchy.

So get over it, stop crying about what bad things were done in the name of progress and enjoy the fruits of that said progress you complain about."

This is a specious quibble, and not at all what I was getting at, when debuting his above statement. It is also my originating argument. This is important. History teaches us--- well, anyway - 

So I wrote back: "None of this means I don’t love this country or are making plans to move to a different one. But mistakes of the past needs be brought to the fore to keep from repetition. You know this as much as I do.

Also, a country as big, as forward-thinking as this ranks 98 out of the 196 countries extant. Did you stop to consider that this, as well as numerous other factors, may very well by the reason for this? 98th - honestly, that is not just a wee embarrassing, it is appalling."

Walter came in with "George, you do realize that it is not liberals, but Republican conservatives trying to get this bill through, right? I mean, it's in the first paragraph...."

Michael: "It's not that liberals are crying in their chai over the things we've done in our past; it's that conservatives are trying to hide said past in the name of 'Murikan Eksepshunalism. Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it; that's why the South seems to keep trying to pretend it's the 1850's. On this particular issue, George, you're flat out wrong."

After inquiring as to what "Murikan Eksepshunalism", I wrote: "He got this from me, y’know. I love him, but there is no getting onboard with any of this kind of thinking, liberal, conservative, or the guy who claims to be a vampire who runs for the presidency every year. This has nothing to do with my liberal leanings: it is objectionable any road, any way you slice it."

I am not caring as to who did what - I just know revisionism in history is a really polite English for utter bullshit.

Michael came back with, "‘Murikan Eksepshunalism’ is my sarcastic way of saying 'American Exceptionalism' in the patios of the average Fox viewer." I find the weird spelling a little off-putting, although I'm terrified to say I have seen it elsewhere, and it bothers me no matter where it is. Too many foolish people might think it is acce[table to spell something in so appalling a fashion.

So then, George decided it was time to dump a tonne of information on us (which is not a bother to me, not at all). He wrote: "OK, looks like I need to teach here so y'all sit quietly and learn. First a few comments back to some of the comments made:

1- Walter; YES I do realize. 
But do you realize that AP History was created by "Liberal" minded supposedly *free* thinking academics? People who supposedly are smart. Obviously from what they have created they are neither smart nor *free* thinking, but moronic children. A problem with most (99%) of all so called Liberal Intellectuals. So, considering the authors I believe my OP is spot on.

2- Michael; So creating a course of historical study where nothing but the negatives are studied creates a more educated end result? Please .... extremism is bad. Replacing one end of extreme with the other does not help anyone. Only moronic Liberals think that. So who is wrong?????

Aislinge, Frank and Selina; huh?

OK education time;

This is from one of Republicans objecting to AP History.

""Instead of striving to build a 'City upon a Hill,' as generations of students have been taught, the colonists are portrayed as bigots who developed 'a rigid racial hierarchy' that was in turn derived from 'a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority,'" the letter reads. "The new Framework continues its theme of oppression and conflict by reinterpreting Manifest Destiny from a belief that America had a mission to spread democracy and new technologies across the continent to something that 'was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority.'" 

1st off; Manifest Destiny. THANK (GOD OR WHATEVER) FOR MANIFEST DESTINY!!!!!
You do realize that Manifest Destiny is the only reason Europe and the world survived WW2. Right???? You do realize that is America had remained those 13 original colonies and had not expanded there is no way on earth it would have survived the Civil War (it would have become 2 separate nations). It was resources from the West and Gold from California that allowed good ole Abe and the North to defeat the South. So right there and then, no Manifest Destiny, no America.

Lets go a little further back; No Manifest Destiny and America does not survive the war of 1812. As the war ended our nations capitol was in ruins and burning. If there was no battle of New Orleans (because there would not have been if Madison had not bought the Louisiana territories from France and coined the term Manifest Destiny to get Americans Westward) then that British Army defeated at Norleans would have sailed for NY City.

So, two cases right there where this "Evil" Manifest Destiny saved YOUR lives in the present and the nation as a whole in the past.

2nd; Painting the colonists and later on all other settlers going westward as evil? really?

3rd; The treatment of the Natives. YES... Deplorable. But you know what? Again, without any of that and the nation does not grow into the nation that it was in the early to mid 20th Century. And it was THIS nation and the industry untouched by bombs or war first hand, that won WW2 and stopped Hitler.

So basically .... (end of my argument) If teaching a history that paints America as a saint is bad, why is teaching a history that paints the exact opposite extreme view better? Both are wrong!

So ya know sometin? Dem der dumass republicans actually have a point.

AP History is stupid liberal trash!"

What idiocy is this? Liberals did this? unite frankly, I could care less who started it, but bloody hell, man, I will finish it! Who cares who did what when in the past? It is now that we need to stand up and not take this. Not allow anyone to adjust or revise or have the "non-aligned thinking" of Fox News - because we all know they actual tell the news unadulterated... Sure we do. Nice try. I don't want to see history taught by those fools. No. I care what we do moving forward.

I find, looking at this now, that there are a million incorrect responses to spelling "dumbass" with a b. But I will let it go.

At any rate, Michael got back into the fray: "Because that's not what's happening. AP History just teaches what *actually* happened, the good, the bad and the ugly. Yes, you are right on many of your above points. But removing any reference to wrongdoing along the way to becoming the country we are now is just stupid. As a kid who was taught all the little 'white lies' about our history, and then to find out what actually happened later, I'm glad AP History exists. It doesn't teach that America is evil. It DOES teach that we did some fairly evil shit along the way, in the hopes that the kids learning it won't repeat those mistakes. So no, they don't have a point. Whitewashing (see what I did there?) American History helps nobody but the people who want an uneducated populace they can exploit.

Before you spout any more BS, pick up an actual AP History textbook. Then tell me the people who want to remove most of the references to Jefferson from the high school history books are in the right."

George: "I have looked at some chapters online, sad to say I do not have a book. But from what I have seen it the opposite of white washing (and I take offense to what you did there:).

Yes teach the good with the bad, it is what I am saying. From what I have seen AP History is the exact same thing as what the republicans want. A delusional piece of trash."

Michael: "Nope. I took AP History. I have younger friends who I'm in college with now who took it recently, I don't know what you're reading online or where it's sourced from, but it teaches the truth. Good or bad depends on where you're standing."

I returned to scene of the crime and added my thoughts, after weeding through everything George wrote above, the long winded-answer. "Too right. I know my history, know the Manifest Destiny and never claimed to have an issue with any of it. No lidding, about the colonists, did you only just learn this? Again, not the issue. The issue is teaching history correctly, no more, no less. How can you profess to love history, science, spelling, reading, but not know its history or how to do it? No. Get off the high horse. History is everything, it is what teaches right and wrong, what gives us fun at Faire (and lets me go to the loo and be thankful I did not actually live in the Renaissance period), what gives us the art and writings before and during and after the period. It is what gives us more to read. It is the length, depth, breadth, width of our beginnings. Don't piss all over it just because it is not the most flattering, because you have just realised that you weren't born wearing an Armani suit and the latest style hat."

George: "You guys do realize and understand that we are all in agreement right? That like me you too feel that American kids need a balanced no idealism history book. Right? The only difference is you think that the left wing liberal ideals of the AP History books is fine and I see it as more of the same BS that the right wing offers just from a different angle. And if given the choice, sorry... I go with the whitewashed version instead of the blackwashed version.

History is not about teaching ideals and right from wrong. People get that on their own from reading history. Also no matter what, history will always be written by the winners. Because a history written by the losers is well ... BS!"

Sieglinde wrote: "I want a history written on truth. If I want a history written on fiction I'll go read Tolkien or the Game of Thrones."

I responded: "Again, the truth will out. Thank you Sieglinde. Not only do you have a cool first name, but you have an excellent head on your shoulders. I'm grateful. The teaching of history must be accurate!"

Walter got in again: "George - I must have missed the part of the article where they actually included what the curriculum contains. Because it seems to me that you're reading this article and taking the word of the few conservative folks who are complaining that the curriculum has an "extreme anti American" slant. That may not be the case. You're also making a big assumption as to the authors of the curriculum - specifically their political leanings. We may all be in agreement, but that doesn't mean that the OK AP History course is shit. Get the facts about it before you rail against it."

Siglinde commented: "Well, I get that history can be subjective, but that said ... it should be kept as neutral as possible. If you don't like what your country or city or organization did ... don't do it! If you don't want people to know your real involvement, you are obviously doing something you know was shady morally. Our country has done quite a few shady things. A lot of countries have done shady things and still are, though they try and pretend otherwise. How about instead of hiding those, we learn from them instead and try to do better. You can make profit without totally screwing over the next guy. Isn't the Republican belief, in theory, supposed to be you better yourself through hard work? Then have it be hard work that motivates us, not being as shady as possible to make a profit. Too often lately though, hard work is confused with manipulation of others. Manipulating others isn't exactly something Big J would approve of I bet, and it's certainly not something I do either.

Keep history as accurate and fairly reported as possible, or we will be doomed to keep repeating it.

And thank you for the kind words Aislinge."

My final answer: "George, you say we are all on the same side, but it is clear we are not. You say the "whitewashed" version. Another might say the "blackwashed" version. But if so, this is a no-win scenario. The only right answer to this is giving the real history, no washing, no prettying up the details or washing it to get the perfect colour you think it ought to be. History, like science, oughtn't to be anything other than FACTS. All of them. However they came about. Have you leaned nothing from this?"

It seems he has not. But honestly? To rewrite history? How much can one miss the point of education? I am shocked that anyone could in good conscience argue for this, for revisionism history. Not to mention, while the winner of a historical battle may dictate their version of the truth, the loser does so no less. And just because one may win a Pyhrennic victory, does this make it right? Good? Healthy? Of course not. This is where history teaches us life lessons that are key to our survival. How can anyone teach the Cold War, something I was alive for - even if it was the latter part of it - or the Civil War or any portion of it with lies, with propaganda? Do we wish to be viewed in the same light as Adolf HItler? Sure, he made the trains in Germany run on time, But what else did he do for the world beside systemically attempting to rid us of our various and diverse cultures. No one wants to see another Hitler, another Mussolini, another Stalin. History tells us this.

Don't ignore it.

      Wednesday, 18 February 2015

      Living in Wholly Myself

      I love life for the most part, even if this particular part of the year is exceptionally hard on me; I am not a fan of living as a shut-in thanks to the weather. But for now, this is the deal, so why not try to make the best of it?

      What I love the most is listening and singing - albeit badly - to music. It really is not my issue whether or not I have a good voice, but rest assured, I don't. I try to sing in whatever register the artist sings in, which - if you have heard "The National" and love them as I do, then... well. I am not a baritone or a bass, obviously. How many females do you know who can reach that level of voice? Yes. Exactly.

      But I enjoy it. It makes me feel light and love, joy, wholly myself. How often do I feel wholly and completely myself? Certainly not in social situations, not outside of my home, although I had moments of it at work, when I was completely immersed in other's issues, being aware of them and not myself - a moment of being wholly myself, when I am outside of myself. Does this make sense? I guess you need to have experienced this to truly know what I mean. Let me try this:

      You must have a hobby, something you do that is just for you, no one else? My artwork is that, so is my writing. I become so absorbed in what I am doing, my mind exploring so many things while my hands do their own thing. I am still me, doing my thing, but yet, I am not aware of my normal ... normal... um, my aches, or my back hurting, or my tinnitus singing, or my husband watching the telly or what the cats are doing are outside my hearing, my awareness, mot impugning on my consciousness; I'm just being wholly me, completely myself, unaware of anything but that one thing I am doing.

      Listening to music does this, too. And this is the best place to be.

      I once wrote that I cannot meditate, can't reach that oneness with the Universe, because I have the "monkey mind". And I do have this kind of brain, swinging through the trees, scratching and spitting and cursing all the way. If I try to sit down cross-legged, and make my mind go blank, I'm done before I've begun - because this is one cranium that is never silent, never quiet, can't find that inner space. It won't ever happen. But yet...

      I draw, sing and write, and the monkey mind is off elsewhere, spitting and scratching its genitals at someone else, and I have no idea who or what or why, but I can't take credit for it. Because I am finally in that sweet spot, that place, that only place that is mine alone and no one else's. And it took me a very long time to realise that I have always - always - been able to get there any time I want, all of my life, without a worry. I just cannot do it by sitting still.

      As long as I have this, what more do I truly need?


      Monday, 8 December 2014

      A Song A Day - Every Breaking Wave

      Every breaking wave on the shore
      Tells the next one "there'll be one more"
      And every gambler knows that to lose
      Is what you're really there for

      Summer I was fearless
      Now I speak into an answer phone
      Like every fallen leaf on the breeze
      Winter wouldn't leave it alone, alone

      If you go...
      If you go your way and I go mine
      Are we so...
      Are we so helpless against the tide?
      Baby, every dog on the street
      Knows that we're in love with defeat
      Are we ready to be swept off our feet
      And stop chasing every breaking wave?

      Every sailor knows that the sea
      Is a friend made enemy
      Every shipwrecked soul knows what it is
      To live without intimacy

      I thought I heard the captain's voice
      But it's hard to listen while you preach
      Like every broken wave on the shore
      This is as far as I could reach

      If you go...
      If you go your way and I go mine
      Are we so...
      Are we so helpless against the tide?
      Baby, every dog on the street
      Knows that we're in love with defeat
      Are we ready to be swept off our feet
      And stop chasing every breaking wave?

      The sea knows where are the rocks
      And drowning is no sin
      You know where my heart is
      The same place that yours has been
      We know that we fear to win
      And so we end before we begin
      Before we begin

      If you go...
      If you go your way and I go mine
      Are we soooooooooo...
      Are we so helpless against the tide?
      Baby, every dog on the street
      Knows that we're in love with defeat
      Are we ready to be swept off our feet
      And stop chasing every breaking wave?

      Lyrics by U2: the band that always seems to have the magic words.

      Sunday, 7 December 2014

      A Song A Day - Conversation 16

      I think the kids are in trouble
      Do not know what all the troubles are for
      Give them ice for their fevers
      You're the only thing I ever want anymore
      We live on coffee and flowers
      Try not to wonder what the weather will be
      I figured out what we're missing
      I tell you miserable things after you are asleep

      Now we'll leave the silver city 'cause all the silver girls
      Gave us black dreams
      Leave the silver city 'cause all the silver girls
      Everything means everything

      It's a Hollywood summer
      You'll never believe the shitty thoughts I think
      Meet our friends out for dinner
      When I said what I said I didn't mean anything
      We belong in a movie
      Try to hold it together 'til our friends are gone
      We should swim in a fountain
      Do not want to disappoint anyone

      Now we'll leave the silver city 'cause all the silver girls
      Gave us black dreams
      Leave the silver city to all the silver girls
      Everything means everything

      I was afraid I'd eat your brains
      I was afraid I'd eat your brains
      'Cause I'm evil
      'Cause I'm evil

      I'm a confident liar
      Have my head in the oven so you know where I'll be
      I'll try to be more romantic
      I want to believe in everything you believe
      I was less than amazing
      Do not know what all the troubles are for
      Fall asleep in your branches
      You're the only thing I ever want anymore

      Now we'll leave the silver city 'cause all the silver girls
      Gave us black dreams
      Leave the silver city to all the silver girls
      Everything means everything

      I was afraid I'd eat your brains
      I was afraid I'd eat your brains
      'Cause I'm evil
      'Cause I'm evil
      'Cause I'm evil

      Lyrics by The National

      Saturday, 6 December 2014

      A Song A Day - The Forrester

      I am a forester of this land
      As ye may plainly see,
      It's the mantle of your maidenhead
      That I would have from thee.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      He's taken her by the milk-white hand,
      And by the leylan sleeve,
      He's lain her down upon her back
      And asked no man's leave.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      Now since you've lain me down young man
      You must take me up again,
      And since you've had your will on me,
      Come tell to me your name.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      Some call me Jim, some call me John,
      Begad it's all the same,
      But when I'm in the king's hight court
      Erwilian is my name.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      She being a good scholar
      She's spelt it over again,
      Erwilian, that's a Latin word,
      But Willy is your name.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      Now when he heard his name pronounced,
      He mounted his high horse,
      She's belted up her petticoat
      And followed with all her force.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      He rode and she ran
      A long summer day,
      Until they came by the river
      That's commonly called the Tay.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      The water it's too deep my love,
      I'm afraid you cannot wade,
      But afore he'd ridden his horse well in
      She was on the other side.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      She went up to the king's high door,
      She knocked and she went in,
      Said one of your chancellor's robbed me,
      And he's robbed me right and clean.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      Has he robbed you of your mantle,
      Has he robbed you of your ring,
      No he's robbed me of my maidenhead
      And another I can't find.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      If he be a married man
      Then hanged he shall be,
      And if he be a single man
      He shall marry thee.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      This couple they got married,
      They live in Huntley town,
      She's the Earl of Airlie's daughter,
      And he's the blacksmith's son.
      with me roo-run-rority ri-run-rority ri-no-ority-an.

      Old Medieval song - performed by Bedlam
      from the New York Renaissance Faire c.1995