My nine year old daughter came home yesterday with a stark reminder as to why we have to fight today’s educators as hard as we fight the politicians. It seemed that the teacher was intent on giving them a taste of next year’s history lessons and touched on the Civil War. Oh boy, one of my favorites. I asked her what the cause of the war was and she replied simply “slavery”. I know that there is no way that teachers are going to get into tariffs, protection of white labor, John Brown, or the slave revolts in Haiti with 4th or 5th graders. However you have to start somewhere providing more than just the politically correct answer and leaving it at that.
The dilemma is simple and it is being illustrated even as I write in the state of Texas where the state School Board is dueling with both hyper-liberal and hyper-conservative elements of their society over what their new textbooks will and will not contain. To put it simply: if we only give part of the story, or none of the story at all, then how can we learn from the past? We have all heard the saying “history ignored dooms us to repeat it”. So what do we say about history revised? Some of the smartest and wisest men this country has ever seen all agree that a study of history provides us with accurate clues with which to predict the future, particularly in the behavior of people. A good example is in our war colleges and military institutes. Courses upon courses deal with the military campaigns of Ghengis Kahn, George Patton, Napoleon, and Robert E. Lee. Why? Because in studying the actions taken by these men in the heat of battle we learn how people react, how they succeed, and even how they fail in endeavors great and small. We learn about their motivations, bravery, inspirations, prejuidices, strengths, weaknesses and even sometimes their cowardice. These studies are valuable and more importantly, they are accurate.
In the society of the world today educators are more inclined to teach what is politically correct or what suits their own political leaning. They revise history according to their politics and the politics of the group within which they exist. In revising history they steal from themselves and their students valuable lessons that otherwise might be helpful in the future. Regarding studies of the Civil War for example, it is an easy whitewash to label the cause “slavery”. It was however much more complex than that. The agrarian south was also being taxed to death by tariffs designed to balance northern labor costs (white people) against the perceived economic advantages of the southern slave owners. Slavery had to be abolished for a number of reasons including making sure that as new territories were added to the growing country they were slave-free, thus keeping wages up for whites in these areas. After the war, whites in the north envisioned expatriation of freed slaves, and evidence of this can be even found in old copies of “Harpers” newspapers still preserved for reading on a number of internet websites. You won’t find much of this in textbooks on the Civil War. You won’t find that Lincoln stated that his goal was not the protection or the abolition of slavery, only the protection of the Union. Slavery was a horrible and detestable practice but so much of the education revised for publication today ignores important facts that once obscured guaranteed a nation still divided on this very issue, even until today. This however, serves the political interests of the revisionists.
Thomas Jefferson once said ““He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors”. The falsehoods and errors created by historical revisionism have created two or three generations of Americans who don’t know all of the truth, and frankly to their own demise, couldn’t care less.
Let’s teach the truth, all the truth, the WHOLE truth.. so help us God.