Poisoning History – Guilt-tripping to Utopia –
Commentary by Steve Scroggins, 3/11/2010
"Who controls the past, controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." –George Orwell, from his novel, 1984
"The struggle to control what constitutes our national history has evolved into a political battle for the future of America." –Gordon A. Thompson
"When they slander our heroes, they diminish pride in our heritage. Without pride in our heritage, we lose interest in history." –Gordon A. Thompson from It’s Not What You Know – The Battle to Conrol How You Feel About History, 2004
The last quote above from Gordon A. "Tony" Thompson encapsulates what has taken place in American history education since the 1980s. Thompson’s book, It’s Not What You Know – The Battle to Control How You Feel About History, is a brief but very valuable contribution to our understanding of the American Culture War, also known as the Heritage Wars. Thompson is a veteran public school history teacher who participated in three textbook adoption cycles for the State of Georgia.
In the opening paragraph of the Introduction, Thompson writes:
"’High school students hate history,’ exclaims revisionist author James Loewen. Now they do, after decades of revisionism. But, many parents and grandparents will tell you this was not always so. For many of them, history was a favorite subject."
It was Confederate Major General Patrick R. Cleburne (whose birthday we remember March 17th) who penned these familiar lines before his death November 30, 1864:
"… every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late. … It means that the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the War, will be impressed by all influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, our maimed veterans as fit objects for their derision, … to establish sectional superiority and a more centralised form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties." –Major General Patrick Cleburne, C.S.A.
This warning voiced by Cleburne was reflected in the founding creed of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, best known as "The Charge":
"To you Sons of Confederate Veterans, we submit the vindication of the cause for which we fought; to your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate Soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles he loved and which made him glorious and which you also cherish. Remember, it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations." Lt. General Stephen Dill Lee, 1906.
That the victors would ultimately write the history was a well-known fact. To prevent excessive slandering of the southern people and their cause for independence, many State boards of Education formed defensive mechanisms early in the 20th century. By the 1960s, the NAACP and other groups demanded more and more input into textbook selections for school use across the country. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Congress another opportunity to grab more power with respect to education in the states, and the federal courts’ enforcement of desegregation provided other "opportunities."
As Thompson describes it, these State organizations could not completely control the U.S. history textbooks, but for their own State history textbooks, many States did form textbook review boards or commissions that rejected unfair and biased material and insisted on a more balanced and comprehensive review of the War Between the States and its aftermath and on the Reconstruction period (We contend that the Reconstruction effort never ended; it’s ongoing today!). History scholars from various organizations including the DAR, the SAR, the SCV, the UDC and others helped these State boards by reviewing proposed textbooks and critiquing their balance and fairness.
In 1923, Georgia passed legislation requiring instruction in "the essentials of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Georgia." That legislative act was seen as a mandate to create special courses that focused on Georgia history.
The War Between the States was indeed a major defining event in American history and one with a variety of causes and effects that merit a more complete evaluation and explanation. One in five (20%) southern white males of military age did NOT survive the war! As Thompson points out through comparison of texts, newer textbooks condense multiple chapters of context and required detail to an oversimplified mush that paints a very negative and one dimensional picture of the founders of our state and our country.
Thompson discusses a 1980 federal court case in Mississippi [Loewen et.al. v. Turnipseed et. al.] which dealt a decisive blow to the State’s abilities to control their own State History textbooks. In a disgusting farce, Loewen contended that his book’s rejection violated his first amendment rights — which of course is unacceptable when weighed against the rights of sovereign states, on behalf of millions of citizens, to determine their own educational priorities. Thompson describes the case, the revisionist’s tactics and the fallout that ensued.
1980 is, incidentally, the year that Congress created the U.S. Department of Education as a Cabinet level agency. It had existed since 1867 when it was implemented for Reconstruction to oversee the "education" of the country, especially in the South. It’s ironic that James Loewen titled one of his books "Lies My Teacher Told Me" when in fact it’s Loewen who’s telling lies of omission and lies of interpretation.
In essense, history education across the country took giant steps backwards following the Loewen case. This is especially true in the southern states which had resisted the federal leviathan’s subversion and takeover of education, especially history education. The end result has been that the vast majority of high school students "hate" history as a subject (with the revisionist curriculum). Of course they do. Everyone hates guilt-tripping. Who enjoys hearing that their ancestors were short-sighted, ignorant, cruel and bigoted? Who wants to hear that their country was founded by hypocrites and people of questionable character?
Just to clarify, we don’t advocate any whitewash; in fact, just the opposite. History should be taught "without exaggeration and without omission" to allow people to see the truth, warts and all.
"All that was, or is now, desired is that error and injustice be excluded from the text-books of the schools and from the literature brought into our homes; that the truth be told, without exaggeration and without omission; truth for its own sake and for the sake of honest history, and that the generations to come after us not be left to bear the burden of shame and dishonor unrighteously laid upon the name of their noble sires."
—Rev. James Power Smith, Last Survivor of the Staff of Lt. General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson [emphasis added]
Seen in the light of anti-American self-loathing as promulgated and promoted by revisionists (e.g., James Loewen, Howard Zinn, et al), is it any wonder that several generations of Americans hold a more negative view of their country and its founders? Is it any wonder that many of these younger Americans view history as less relevant to their modern lives? Is it any wonder that many Americans are ignorant of the U.S. Constitution and the Founding Principles? If that widespread ignorance of our Constitution and Founding Principles doesn’t terrify you, it should.
A recurring theme in this author’s commentary and on this website is that it’s our duty as citizens to understand our government, how it is supposed to work, and our role in perpetuating self government, setting policy and overseeing the expenditure of tax dollars. Citizen rights come with citizen duties and responsibilities.
We as citizens are responsible for being informed in order to render our informed consent to those who govern us. Ultimately, the responsibility is ours. Obviously, the enemies of liberty are winning the culture war and the real test of our character as a people will be how we react in the very near future.
"Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." –Vladimir Lenin
"Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas." –Joseph Stalin
"Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed." –Joseph Stalin
Cleon Skousen, in his 1958 book The Naked Communist, listed 45 Communist Goals designed to undermine America and destroy it from within (i.e., convert it socialism, communism). The 45 Communist Goals were read into the Congressional record in January 1963. I’ll list just three (of the 45) below that are most relevant to this discussion of history education.
29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man."
31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the "big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
Whether or not they identify themselves as "communists" or simply as "progressive historians," the actions of revisionists to undermine and discredit the Constitution, the Framers and American history in general have profound effects on our ability to function as a constitutional republic or any form of self governing society. Our liberties and freedoms, such that remain, depend on our knowledge and education and will to defend those liberties. Those who seek to enrich and empower themselves at our expense, whether they come from the "progressive" left or the neocon empire-building right, seek to do so by centralizing power in the hands of a small elite. It is our duty to oppose their power-grabs at all costs, or else surrender liberty for ourselves and our descendants.
A recent correspondence with my friend Bill Vallante, author of the Black History Month series, focused on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the NAACP’s efforts to eradicate southern history and symbols. There is ample evidence collected by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI (much of which is sealed by federal courts) to suggest that MLK, Rosa Parks, John Lewis and others attended ‘education camps’ in Tennessee [ Highlander Folk School ] funded and organized by communists. There is further evidence that MLK acccepted payments from Soviet spies and American communists (CPUSA). King founded the SCLC in 1957, but the NAACP has a longer history of affiliation with communist organizations, accepting grants from the Garland Fund starting in 1922, etc.
Again, regardless of their intent, is it a coincidence that the NAACP is carrying forward with its mission (most vigorously since the 1990s) to eliminate and destroy all things Confederate? The record is clear that MLK did NOT express problems with or concerns about Confederate symbols and truthful American history. It was the later NAACP that adopted that mission. Their efforts at the ethnic cleansing of Dixie are well documented. The Southern Poverty Law Center has numerous communist affiliations including its Board Chairman of NAACP fame, Julian Bond. Former NAACP head Kweisi Mfume embraced Fidel Castro and advocated for Cuba.
NAACP Group Profile – discoverthenetworks.org
By attacking the motives and history of the Confederates, the NAACP and other revisionists are IN FACT attacking the Founding Fathers, the Founding Principles and the Constitution. Aside from plain old self-defense, the Confederates were defending the principle expressed in the Declaration of Independence that "governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." The principle that justified the American colony’s secession from the British Empire is the same principle which justified secession of the southern states from the Union in 1860-61. In fact, the southern states had even greater legal standing than did the colonists of 1776.
As we all know, the centralizers won the war in 1865. Since then, the role and rights of States within the federal system has dimished with each passing year leading to greater and greater centralization of power in the welfare/warfare empire headquartered in D.C. Those who seek to control how we feel about our past are belligerent in requiring political correctness. As Thompson writes, "They don’t seek open debate; they seek total control." By poisoning our history and pride in our heritage, those who seek total control seek to control the future. As Orwell wrote, "Who controls the past, controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."
We have ridiculed Georgia’s education establishment, especially Kathy Cox, for submitting to the ‘dumbing down’ of our history. Their efforts to truncate American history are deplorable. They proposed to teach American history ONLY AFTER 1876 in high school. Except for brief overview, all teaching of the Founding period was to be accomplished in the fourth grade. In essense, they want to consign the first 100 years (after the Declaration) of American history to comic book treatment and condensation.
Thompson’s book is not all bad news. He describes a number of efforts to restore true history education. His message is that we can and must resist. The book is brief, only sixty pages, but it’s worthwhile. Everyone with children in public or private schools should deliver a copy to their children’s history teachers. They should take pains to keep their oral histories alive. They should document their family history and make sure their children know it.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans (Georgia Division), for its part, have submitted "The Other Side of the Coin" (available online or on CD) to public schools for use in their history curricula. We note the ongoing controversy in Texas over school textbooks shows that conservatives do in fact realize they’ve been losing the culture war and need a counter-offensive.
As we have repeatedly maintained, education is a keystone in all our efforts to restore and protect freedom. Many of the battles currently being waged against American Heritage and religious heritage are taking place in our schools. The Founders believed that proper education (controlled locally) was the key to maintaining liberties. We could not agree more.
"Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people." –John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765
"Freedom can exist only in the society of knowledge. Without learning, men are incapable of knowing their rights, and where learning is confined to a few people, liberty can be neither equal nor universal." –Benjamin Rush, Essay 1786
"It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people." –James Madison, Second annual message to Congress, December 15, 1810
"It is only when the People become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercizing their sovereignty… The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin…Let us, by all wise and constitutional measures, promote intelligence among the People, as the best means of preserving our liberties." –James Monroe, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1817
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