Over the past few months we have heard about folks being offended by the existence of certain statues or names of buildings in public spaces, or even Dr. Seuss. It creates a dilemma for many of us as to how we can address the issue of dealing with our nation’s past.
Years ago while my brother was stationed in Germany his wife, Karen, decided to use her skills as a teacher and she landed a job in the community in which they were stationed. Karen was advised there were certain historic items that the German government wanted her to avoid during class room time. The Holocaust and the Nazis were not to be discussed from an American point of view, and so many of her students were under the belief that Hitler created the Autobahn and inspired the VW for the common German to drive.
As a student of history I have had to be aware of the “revisionists” of our history. Walt Disney’s portrayals of historic figures such as the Minute men in “Johnny Tremain” or the slaves in “Song of the South” are but two examples of Hollywood bending the facts. By the same token those two movies are not presented as documentaries but as a story to be enjoyed.
The revisionists are the dangerous crowd who want to expunge from the record books the tales that define us as a nation and as a people. Our history is loaded with great deeds done by great folks who made positive changes for the masses. Our history is also filled with deeds that were not good. Some were evil at the time they were being done and others have fallen out of favor as society has changed in how we think.
When I am teaching history I will point out the good and the evil, but I always remind the students as we judge those actions we must remember those events occurred at a different time with different thinking. We can learn from the past but we can’t erase the past. After all, those who do not heed history are condemned to repeat it.
As a boy I never understood why the Confederate Flag was a point of pride to so many. I always saw it as a banner representing the defeated side of the Civil War. To me it was a symbol of a defeated rebellion against America. Others see it differently. Okay because it isn’t any skin off my nose.
Now folks want to attack Dr. Seuss as a racist. Really? I am sure the librarian who has announced she doesn’t want the Seuss books donated to her library really detests the President and his wife and she took her 15 minutes of fame to make her stand. A couple of years ago that same librarian was photographed wearing a “Cat in the Hat” outfit. Nobody slammed Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton when they donated Dr. Seuss books to libraries.
Yet the revisionists want to get rid of any reminders of anything dealing with slavery or subjugation to non democratic governing. I guess the Hawaiians will be tearing down the statues of King Kamehameha and Queen Liliuokalani. Gone will be Iolani Palace as they represent a ruling monarchy that treated Hawaiians as subjects and not equals.
The 21 California Missions must be bulldozed as history clearly shows the Spanish Roman Catholic Priests were not the kindest people to the local natives or tribes.
Hitler burned books that told stories he did not like to cleanse the past of his nation.
It’s a slippery slope.