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bill, state lawmakers also questioned the legality of all AP courses, comparing them to Common Core, which Oklahoma has repealed.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Sally Kern (R) said that she asked the state attorney general to review whether AP courses violate the legislation that repealed Common Core."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.

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