Fear Of History

I have not addressed this directly before. After the Buffalo supermarket racist massacre of Black shoppers, I feel it is past time. Should this history and its ramifications up to our present day be “critiqued” and taught in school?:

[From Capture The Cause, on Kindle for iPad/iPhone. Click to open and enlarge.]

I think it should be.

However, many like this Fox News ”contributor” below adamantly assert THAT above is irrelevant to today and (white especially) children should not learn about such in school… and it is even a “lie”:

When schools implement critical race theory, they teach children that America is a nation founded on White supremacy and that racism is embedded in America’s legal system, government policy and the Constitution.

I do not want to upset anyone reading this, but the overwhelming evidence before us is America was, and it has been…

[The top of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home, seen from “Mulberry Row,” a path along which slave cabins had stood. Photo by me, 2011.]

…and to an extent it still is – even if Fox News contributors don’t like that reality.

When they lie and insist that CRT is “real history,” the message is clear: “End the American Republic.”

That person is apparently a lawyer; I would not tell her how to write a brief. In turn, I would argue she is not qualified to pronounce upon what is academic history. I am an historian, and I believe I am qualified to do so, and I state here clearly that it is NOT a lie and it IS real history.

Any other historians out there who disagree with my interpretation are welcome to leave a comment and tell me where I am incorrect – for that is what historians do: we look at the evidence and debate.

If you do not know what “Critical race theory” actually is, Wikipedia sums it up accurately:

Critical race theory (CRT) is a cross-disciplinary intellectual and social movement of civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to examine the intersection of race, society, and law in the United States and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice. The word critical in its name is an academic term that refers to critical thinking, critical theory, and scholarly criticism, rather than criticizing or blaming people. CRT is also used in sociology to explain social, political, and legal structures and power distribution through the lens of race. For example, the CRT conceptual framework is one way to study racial bias in laws and institutions, such as the how and why of incarceration rates and how sentencing differs among racial groups in the United States.

That is it. That is all.

I believe it is not anything to be terrified about discussing.

As we see above from that Fox person, though, some feel threatened by such. In particular the far-right is quick to ridicule and heap scorn on that approach as false. They do so while blatantly ignoring the fact of the obvious reality of present-day racial disparities that are clearly rooted still in the ugly heritage of race-based slavery.

In fact the dismissiveness, ”whataboutisms” in attempts to distract and “talk” about other things (as if we can only discuss one thing at a time, and certainly not this subject ever), and just plain ugliness that comes from many commenters in response to that MSNBC post above in the wake of the Buffalo massacre demonstrates it is indeed probably a very good idea to hold such hearings.

I can tell you this from my own personal experience. Before Magas I knew discovered I was NOT one of them and would never be, talk I heard regularly in private from Maga “Dear Leader” Trump white supporters starting in 2015-16 was routinely contemptuous of those they deemed “different” from themselves and was often even flat-out racist. Moreover they did not just “idolize” (their idea of) America, they INSISTED we all idolize “it” as they do – which is, to be clear, not “republicanism” it is fascism.

Importantly too, is this. Given that racist Buffalo-supermarket Black-massacring thug is only age 18, until I see serious evidence to the contrary I have a tough time believing he ONLY picked up that hate from over the internet. Remember race-based slavery and race hate in the U.S. existed LONG before the internet did.

[1929 memorial to the enslaved persons of Mount Vernon. Photo by me, 2011.]

Fox News Channel commentators and the Maga far-right would not want our kids taught about that above about George Washington. Essentially they believe discussing, for instance, with children that the first president owned “colored” slaves all of his adult life would somehow doom the American Republic. The Maga far-right clearly fears history.

The anti-“Critical race theory” carryings on is more proof too many whites in particular wish not to discuss and even to dismiss a past that was often undeniably savage and morally indefensible – and yet many even living in that past, such as Thomas Jefferson, at the time themselves knew what they were living was both. No one serious is blaming any white child today for the sins of ancestors. From what I can discern (and I do not dare attempt to speak for anyone but myself here), what Black Americans seem to want acknowledged, and entirely fairly so, is that our ancestors often racially sinned… big time… and that those sins became to varying degrees embedded sadly in our institutions… and they want us to work together to remove those sins insofar as possible from those institutions.

As a historian, I feel history should never scare us. What should? A future that stems from a Maga-determined, far-right, uh, “white washed” propaganda-fest-ignorance of that history being imposed on our children.