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Research & Thoughts

History Lesson #17: Whose Historic Heritage is it?

We've heard lately of the outrage in teaching the Critical Race Theory (CRT). I personally had no problem with this particular idea IF it is taught to balance what in the past could be called "patriotic history" or conqueror's history.  U.S. history has been taught (as do other nations, no doubt) to show itself in a good light to make us good citizens. I can see blending CRT into a seamless history narrative to show what our country was really like. This is a nation of immigration, of pushing aside native Indians for the land, of importing blacks to work the huge plantations of crops, of throwing off the British yoke of economic oppression for the sake and need to conquer the entire country; all of these things need to be taught in a seamless approach.

 

I read recently in Madison's own Ithmus, a free quality paper they publish monthly (January 2022), something that made me want to look further into what happened to standardized education in this country. I agreed long ago that history needs to be taught with an objective approach, but today's history seems to be further segmented. Ruth Coniff, author of "The Unraveling of public education in Wisconsin," talks about a tribal college in Hayward helping to launch a conservative charter school further south in Oconomowoc -- Lake Country Classical Academy. This school has a "1776 curriculum," Trump's answer to CRT, and she refers to this revelation as shining "a light on the unraveling of public education in Wisconsin." More specifically, this is the unraveling of our historic heritage.

 

The problem may be one of the unregulated education of charter schools. We had a new one open up here in Beloit, called "The Lincoln Academy," which I'll look at further in a moment. But to get more into what has outraged me here into noting the danger of this unraveling of public education, from the viewpoint of these Ojibwe college authorities: "The U.S. government has just shredded Ojibwe knowledge and indigenous knowledge. So for me, the big thing is educational sovereignty. Parents have the right to educate their kids the way they see fit."

 

Yes, they do. At home. If we have a proper educational system, all history being taught would be objective over-arching history, summarizing the experiences of all the people who've lived it, and stimulating the children into looking at their specific interests. But have we ever had that? I came to my history master's degree late in life; in 2006 I was 53 years old. In high school history was my most dreaded subject. Learning dates and names was never my strong suit; still isn't. Did I at that time believe I was being indoctrinated? Perhaps. I had the misfortune of communicating with that history teacher after getting my master's and learned he was a Trump supporter, too, as are many in my high school graduating class. I have never been one to support white supremacy, not ever, though I have voted Republican in the past (not since Reagan's first term, though). And when I attended my first history class, just for fun, with a very liberal history professor while going for my BA in communications, I was both shocked and delighted, and switched my major.

 

While going for my BA in Green Bay, I discovered the horrors of Columbus and began to promote changing Columbus Day to Diversity Day. I still remember my conservative professor, who said to me we shouldn't try to change history. I didn't want to change it, I replied. I just want the truth to be known. These conflicting attitudes indicate that we have history teaching problems yet today.

 

Why can't kids learn real history? Because they might come to hate the U.S.? I didn't. Teachers need to have history sensitivity training, I think, to teach that attitude of the history players is what created those events, and how we're all human. Yes, even Lincoln.

 

"Right to educate how we see fit." Does that pertain to school systems? It shouldn't. Because it's part of what further divides this country into camps. You want a president like Biden to be a moderate, and yet he's got the lowest approval rating ever. Why? Because he can't satisfy a single one of these "camps." Tribal sovereignty wants to establish their own charter schools so they, too, can teach their kids any way they want. This is what Trump's reaction to CRT meant, his insistence that patriotic history is all that matters. This shows how the mis-election of someone who had no business being president continues to erode at that idea that we were or could still be "united states."

 

Coniff speaks strictly from a Wisconsin view. She says that in 2011 Wisconsin's legislature (under a GOP governor) cut per pupil spending by $554 across the state. Per pupil. That's a significant amount. If you were to watch a new T.V. series called "Abbott Elementary," you would see them struggling for lack of funds in a public school. And you would call teachers heroes for struggling against all kinds of odds. Even Democratic Governor Evers has had no luck raising the budget of spending on schools with his Republican legislature; well, you have to blame them as Evers was Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction. But the state continues to funnel money into these charter schools.

 

The situation is complex, we can telling from looking at Coniff's list of what entities can authorize charter schools:

UW's Office of Educational Opportunity, Milwaukee's common council, the chancellors of UW System schools, technical college district boards, the Waukesha county executive, and the state's two tribal colleges -- The College of the Menominee Nation and the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College. Imagine all these 'lower case' unnamed people able to say parents have the right to chose how their kids are educated, and the possibility that this choice is racially biased.

 

The one thing I know about history is that there are two (or more) sides to every story. That's the problem with parental choice. What side do they want for their kids? If it's not objective history, it will only further divide us as people trying to live in a single culture. That's almost a laugh, isn't it? A single culture here in the U.S.? But I digress.

 

If a charter school is authorized by any of these lower-case entities, then they qualified for a grant from the state. To be clear, the one in Oconomowoc is a tribal-related entity, but it does not just serve tribal members. This academy's founder, Kristina Vourax, according to Coniff, noted, "We have a mixture of all backgrounds." The burden on the city where these kids come from to fund the school is astronomical, too. What does this do to other schools in the area? Are they operating at a loss?

 

Coniff ends her article with a bit of a whimper. "That cost includes our shared interest in maintaining high-quality public schools for all Wisconsin children." Well, yes it does. But what about solutions? Are there any? I'm suspecting that the normal subjects of reading and writing, and learning math to be able to perform in society are still being taught. Focus is more on computers than it ever was when I was in school. But the most divisive subject is history, and that's my concern here. If charter schools are allowed to teach history any way they want, we have an over-arching regulatory problem. Not that public schools have been doing better. But it sounds like charter schools are being allowed to further divide our historical roots.

 

Let's look at little closer at another example: The Lincoln Academy here in Beloit. Now I have to say, first off, that since moving to Beloit four years ago, our property tax has gone up over $700, and this with no further services added and no further assessment upgrade on our house. We lived in a town in Oconto County for 40 years and never saw more than a $100 increase /decrease in any given year. Can we relate this increase to educational changes?

 

I went to this charter school's website and learn they call themselves a "public charter."  Here's what I found about that designation:

 

A public charter school is a school that's publicly funded, free to attend, and run by independent contracts. Often, people will confuse public charter schools with private schools, but they are quite different in terms of funding, accessibility, and structure. Whereas public charters are free for students to attend, private schools are tuition-based and aren't regulated by the government. Private schools also tend to have looser regulatory standards, whereas public charters need to uphold an agreed-upon charter that's set up by a board. Public charter schools are also different from traditional public schools. Contrary to some myths, the biggest difference between the two isn't that they're regulated; it's how they're regulated. Traditional public schools follow a strict set of guidelines that are set by the school district. Public charter schools still need to follow federal laws and regulations, but they're not tied to a district school board. Instead, they follow guidelines that are set up by a separate, independent board. 

 

That would explain that increase in our property taxes, and no, we had no say. My husband said our Republican legislature had that say for us. Then I took a look at the curriculum, K through high school, and not a single history class to be found anywhere. How is not teaching history a solution?

 

Be assured that if objective history is not being taught at any grade level, people will pick and choose what to believe about our nation's history. Here's a good comment about how history is being taught today, and it appears it hasn't changed in 50 years:

 

Currently, most students learn history as a set narrative—a process that reinforces the mistaken idea that the past can be synthesized into a single, standardized chronicle of several hundred pages. This teaching pretends that there is a uniform collective story, which is akin to saying everyone remembers events the same.

 

Okay, this article was dated 2015, but that's not all that long ago, just previous to Trump.

 

I tried to sell an article on political correctness once, where I make the point that history teachers need better training so they know how to teach history. Instead of banning Mark Twain from the classroom, figuring out how to explain the racism in our history could have a positive impact on students, especially with the explanation about how we're all better people for understanding that we're all human. History is a humanities issue, after all. I don't understand how hard that can be. We ban what we don't want to face, what makes us uncomfortable, or can show us in a negative light. We need to see that negative light throughout our history to understand our country today.

 

One problem noted was that "When historians begin to explain and interpret facts and events, they are using their personal judgments and opinions." If they are trained properly, they will learn how to interpret those events using only the attitudes of those who lived and created those events, not their own. Maybe that's what we're missing today. No one should interpret the past with today's viewpoints.

 

No, it's not possible to teach everything about every immigration pattern or indigenous prehistory. Is it even possible to give them a sense of belonging to this world? Of course it is. If history teachers are taught to be objective, it will be amazing what they can teach. If they are freed of the restrictions of pretending that that our "American" history can do no wrong, then true immigration and true native indigenous history will emerge. It has to. Because that's what this country is.

 

Sources in addition to Ithmus:

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/the-problem-with-history-classes/387823/

 

https://www.thelincolnacademybeloit.com/ 

 

https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/readers-respond/bs-ed-rr-history-instruction-letter-20210629-nmnfpbrbk5hjbmpgq2k6ctf2ae-story.html 

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Using Attitude to Clarify Controversial History

We all know controversy. It's when we can't agree on something that happened and argue about it. Most people argue about things that happened that cannot be known for sure. Controversy is defined as "a disputation concerning a matter of opinion."  This means that no real answer can be found, and people argue what they believe to be true. It's like arguing that your God is the real God because you believe it. There's no way to establish that as fact; even NDEs can be argued as being nothing more than dreams based on a person's beliefs. Sirhan's denied parole again today for killing Bobby Kennedy indicates people don't want to visit that controversial proof that Sirhan could NOT have fired the killing shot, because, boy, what a kettle of worms that would open.

 

In "controversial history," as I will define it here, there is a way to use attitude of the people who made history to find out why things happened the way they did.  One way, of course, is by sharing both sides to every story and staying completely objective, as I tried to do in "Civil War & Bloody Peace," just following the orders and showing responses formed by attitudes. History should never be just about what happened. Dates, names and places. These have been forced on kids to memorize, without an understanding of the event itself.

 

The problem with American history, in general, is that historical events contain so much hidden attitude.  We don't want to think that our motives were ever anything but noble, so we don't get into too much depth over why events happened. We know Custer died at the Little Bighorn, and as a result, the Indians lost the Black Hills. But why?

 

That's the question we have to keep asking until we get at the truth. Many historians believe they'll never know the real reason Custer died at the Little Bighorn, and they don't want to believe what Grant had to do to get the Black Hills. Questions remain because we cannot see the whole picture without attitude. It's controversial, because it contains information that people really don't want to know.  Attitude that creates the why is what people seem to believe we can't possibly ever know, anyway.

 

In a way, we can't. I can't say for a fact that Lincoln was so involved in the Civil War because he felt guilty for secession coming over his election. There will never be a fact in that attitude unless we find it in his handwriting somewhere.  But when we infer this attitude based on the fact that secession happened because he was elected -- and we apply logic, as in, wouldn't you feel guilty? -- then we can make sense of a lot of his decisions over those four years.  

 

Making sense of history is what helps us to understand why something happened. Finding out why something happened is the only way we can learn from history. We always hear this; people who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Well, how do we learn if we don't explore reasons why something happened? And how do we learn the why if we don't look for attitude?

 

So controversial history is history using attitude that brings new light to the pieces of fact that don't otherwise fit together. Things that make complete sense because of what people who were involved in an event stood to gain from the event going a certain way is what made President Grant the instigator of the Little Bighorn, as you'll see following those events in "Civil War & Bloody Peace." Making an event make sense by looking at the attitudes of the participants also clarifies so much of what happened in the 1960s, as you'll see in "From Lincoln to Trump," and why things happened as they did after that. Think we had a handle on Civil Rights? Then how did we get a resurgence of white supremacism under Trump? How do we now see minority voting rights being threatened? Why are the minorities in this country the most at risk in the pandemic? If A + B doesn't equal C, then the event is not making sense. We cannot know the attitudes of people, but we can infer them by their actions, by what they deemed important.

 

Controversial history is also learning how the U.S. as a country, with many leaders and an over-arching guiding principle of free market, capitalism and Democracy, has made so many mistakes and bad decisions in the name of resource capital. Let's call it Uncle Sam, so we're not picking on a political party here.  Now Uncle Sam seems like a shining example of freedom to the world, and people come here to escape oppression. All well and good. But we have history that we have not learned from because we don't teach it, we hide it from view;  Uncle Sam doesn't like to tell people why he does things the way he does. Yes, the American dream is to get rich. Anybody can, right? That is the U.S. myth that so many buy into. Doctors come here from socialist countries because they can make more here. All my doctors last year had foreign accents. All of them.

 

Nearly since the creation of the U.S., big business has been in control, and rich people are more ordained than made.  There are examples, of course, of people rising from poverty due to innovation, just as there are those who were born rich and squandered it all. John Mackay is one; due to the Comstock in Virginia City, he became one of the ten richest in the world in the 1800s, but a rare man who retained that goodness to him. There are those who are rich enough to buy a political seat only to be on the inside where they can get richer. And those resources? Uncle Sam decides that if he can control another country through a petty dictator, our country will thrive. Who cares about them, right? Our cries of freedom become tarnished.  The labor (and that's the rest of us) are kept as little more than slaves to the system.

 

Uncle Sam, you see, was the last industrial nation to free its slaves; even Russia freed its serfs before slavery ended here. That's a fact that you won't hear in history class. And the attitude? Racism is caused by the dominant group (whites) not wanting competition and liking cheap labor. Slavery now is little more than being sucked into a system where you can never get ahead, because you're too busy struggling to make ends meet, and being kept there by a system regulated by business. And we have immigration problems because business likes cheap labor. Except that lately, politicians don't like how immigrants vote, so obstruct immigration, leading to a lack of labor; businesses can't find people, because they don't want more voters voting Democrat. The system has opened up its internal flaws, and we all suffer.

 

Uncle Sam, however, will continue to insist that anyone can get rich. We've all heard those stories of people who have invented the next great thing. Or won the lottery. It's like self-publishing a novel that actually turns out to be a million seller. Or trying to become the next great screenwriter, opposing a closed system.

 

All of this that I've just discussed is controversial history. There is no way to prove that we are all basically being held back by Uncle Sam's capitalism, right? This has been an on-going debate for a long time, and there are no real answers to offer. Free guns for all, that's freedom, isn't it? People will point to the socialist system and say it's no better. Where do all the bright minds and great inventions seem to emerge? The U.S., right? Although in today's world, it feels the U.S. is being surpassed in many ways by China, and being thwarted on the international front by Russia.

 

What I offer, as a historian, are answers to controversial historical events that have been puzzling historians since they happened. Answers will emerge by the application of another piece of information pertaining to the event that has been either unknown or that Uncle Sam does not want you to know. That, too, is attitude.  

 

And while you might say that the addition of this information doesn't make this new "why" a fact, I think you'll see that it becomes hard to look at that event any other way anymore.  Because fact with attitude makes sense.

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Unraveling The Myth

I changed my domain after a long and thoughtful process. First question you might ask is why. Although maybe you'll just say, about time! Seriously, what the heck is Grimm2etc anyway? Well, once it was GrimmsEtc, but I lost control of that one, thanks to GoDaddy and me being unable to figure out how to migrate it over to a new web builder.

 

GrimmsEtc is the name of my business, an all-encompassing business that includes my writing, research, editing and transcription work, anything that I get paid for. But do you know what it is to you? Meaningless. I've known this for a while, sorry to say. But with my interests running amok, I couldn't figure what else might encompass all of it.

 

I have to do a shout-out here to Carrielynn Reinhard, who is having my transcribe her series of lectures on social media and creating products of entertainment, commercials and information and how we present ourselves to YOU that makes all the difference. Sometimes we just need that kick in the butt, and my own daughter gave me one.

 

So I began to bandy a lot of different domain names about and they had to be available. One person liked HistoryPerspectives, but for me, when I thought about it, everyone who's a historian has one of those. And I'm not just working on history; there's a lot of prehistory there, too.  Another liked TruthInHistory, and that does speak to the heart of my master's in history; with that I could see someone challenging every single darned thing I said, or wrote about, calling it my perspective, rather than truth. Another liked History+Attitude.com, which was going to be it.

 

Truth in history, with attitude, is definitely how I create my works. I try to find what happened, and I try to relate why it happened. Not always easy, I know. I can't get into everyone's shoes. But we know that even though history is written, while oral mythology was word of mouth for a very long time, there's an element of 'unreal' in written history, too. Because every event was written in its time from a particular viewpoint. So we need several viewpoints of an event to get at what really happened. We can only understand the relating of an event by understanding the attitude that went with it.

 

Take the Little BigHorn event. So many historians shun the Indian viewpoint, because they vary wildly by participant -- more of them being survivors. But that's what's so real about viewpoints. Everyone does have a different perspective. When I unraveled the Little BigHorn, I took the approach no other historian did, I used that similar idea of perspective to include President Grant's activities up to the Little BigHorn, and during, to demonstrate his involvement and so much more of what happened can now be understood. I unraveled what was commonly held to be true, and answered more questions than anyone else could that way.

 

All written history has an element of myth to it, which is why high school professors choose only to share the good stuff. Or do they choose? Is that a command that comes from higher up? When you think about your experiences in high school history, you were taught it a certain way so that our country looks good. Right? That's the myth. So unraveling the myth means that there are true things in there, but they don't want you to know what's true when it puts our country in a bad light. We have that recent revolt against teaching Critical Race Theory to demonstrate that.

 

I had that bad experience in high school. Good old Mr. Russo. An Italian stud. All us girls had a crush on him. But it was my worst subject, because memorizing names, places, dates, was all just so boring. I'll bet Russo would have hated my late '90s campaign to break the myth of Columbus. I had one college professor who hated it, too.

 

In college we learn that our heroes of high school were flawed human beings, just like the rest of us. If you had been Lincoln, would you have given your life to keep the US from falling apart because you were elected? Probably. And yet there are those people who are afraid to acknowledge the flaws in our country, like in those heroes, because it would make us seem like less of a caring people. You can find lots of examples of how we are a caring people. Knowing the flaws in our history shouldn't change that. Why would it?

 

Knowing our history is the ONLY way to keep history from repeating itself. And so that's why I dedicated my history master's to finding the truth and unraveling the myth.

 

Unraveling the myth. I love mythology. I've always felt that there's at least a nugget or two of reality in any myth. You read about those oral myths handed down through the centuries, the millennium. You think, oh, they're about people who used to be animals, they're just parables. But then you find out, hey, we did evolve from animals. Maybe not from bunnies. But if you can look inside that myth, you'll find the realities.

 

I have a family myth about chicken booyah, and I was seeking its truth while I still lived in Green Bay. I got the library historian really mad at me when I said I wanted to see if someone had an oral story that put the discovery of booyah before my great-grandfather's. Apparently she was fed up (no pun intended) with people claiming their family invented that local favorite dish. But I've done a lot of research on booyahs and no one's is older than the Hannon version. There is an old version that's more popular, that includes tomatoes and noodles. But that's German, not Hannon's, which is Walloon Belgian.

 

I'd love to hear your myths. What stories do you think are told wrong? Why myths have you unraveled?

 

This domain also works for my copper research, because it involves pre-contact cultures and there are several myths there that needed to be exploded. One is that these early natives could not have learned to tool in copper without help from Europeans. Another is that they stopped tooling in copper, and then started again centuries later. I'm also trying to demonstrate that no matter how much background a person has in archaeology, when it comes to the attitudes of the past, we will always be guessing. If the natives today have the key, they're not sharing. And why should they?  Maybe someday.

 

And even my fiction work contains a number of ways I look at real history. Arabus Drake is a product of myth, but in this case, I take myth a step further -- you might say I make it a blend of myth, and myth. My archaeology fiction also explores the myth of how the bow and arrow changed the pre-contact cultures. And I use Greek mythology in "The Last Virgin," with a new take on the age-old feud between men and women for control of the world.

 

Mythology presents a fascinating, four-dimensional world for those who take the time to delve in. You don't just see the humanity, but you also get a look beyond it into the supernatural.

 

Unraveling the Myth. Come for the adventure. Stay for the stories.

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History Lesson #5: CRT VS PC: The Way History Needs to be Taught

When the transcontinental railroad was being constructed across the U.S., specifically that section that went east from California, the Chinese were pivotal in providing the labor to get it done. And yet, they were prejudiced against. Why?

 

Such is the discussion of history in the United States. We are long past due to teach history with honesty and attitude. How can we be the people we are when we are constantly living lies? Why is teaching real history even a debate?

 

We have a lot of hate and anger in this country that was of late exemplar in Trump's "Make America Great Again." He even tried to counter the 1619 Project with the alternate attitude in the ill-conceived 1776 Project to "re-promote" patriotic education. Find more on 1619 here: https://www.project1619.org/. In short, that's the year that slaves were first brought here, and this project wants everyone to know American history from the perspective of its slaves. Trump felt we should know it from the perspective of the founders of the Constitution - I think. We all know the constitution was not founded on equality for all, even though it says that, because at the time it only meant white men; certainly not Indians, Blacks or women.

 

There is another way to teach history. Simply by sharing what happened, and why. We used to call it Political Correctness, but in the current climate we hear the debate is over whether or not to teach Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the schools. Why do we have to give the truth fancy names? Isn't that a sure way to continue to divide us?

 

Look, I wrote two books where all I did was follow what happened and why. Yes, I found out things I never knew. It didn't make me hate this country. It made me understand this country.

 

Here's how to understand CRT:

 

In order to understand the problem of Critical Race Training in Higher Education, parents and students need to understand what Critical Race Theory is and how it is implemented. As discussed below, Critical Race Theory is not the traditional civil rights movement, which sought to provide equal opportunity and dignity without regard to race. Rather, Critical Race Theory, and the training to implement it, is a radical ideology that focuses on race as the key to understanding society, and objectifies people based on race.

 

As a radical ideology it has, so far, only divided us further as a country. Let's get back to PC issues and talk about what really happened in our history as a way to teach history.

 

I belong to a number of western Facebook pages and to Western Writers of America, and the most vocal people at these sites are pro-gun and pro-GOP. They think us liberals are all about socialism, a word they abhor without even knowing what it is. Why can't we make Indians the bad guys in our westerns again? Political Correctness (PC) has ruined westerns.

 

And it's true, cowboys and Indians aren't good guys chasing bad guys anymore. We've learned, and it's taken long enough, that history is not black & white. There were as many bad white cowboys as there were bad red Indians. Real history shows us that the Indians alone did not slaughter Custer and his troops. The army's negligence was also responsible; negligence and political maneuvering to take the Black Hills. That's real history. It's not "re-thinking history." It's removing history's patriotic skin to see what really happened. We don't misuse PC to show what really happened. But we do use PC to make those movies that show what really happened.

 

You could continue to make fiction movies that show Indians as bad guys. But at least put them on another planet, okay?

 

Yes, it's true, patriotic history has been taught all through the 20th Century, as Waxman noted. It is long past time to stop. We're smarter than that now. We know what happened in the '60s as a result of Civil  Rights, though many of us still fear voicing it.

 

I just read an article about CRT by Oivia B. Waxman in Time Magazine and it's more clear than ever that this idea only further divides. It's controversial. Truth in history is not. Oh, sure, some say teaching true history means our kids will grow up hating the  U.S. That we'll stop pledging allegiance and no longer want to fly the flag.

 

Hang in there: I'm going to show you why this isn't true. As Waxman noted, our understanding of the past is the key to how we envision the future. If we're stuck in the "South lost because their slaves were taken away" version of American history, we cannot progress as a united nation. Maybe that's been our trouble all along. We have not been able to unite since the Civil War.

 

We can. But it's going to take a real human understanding that no one ever deserved to be enslaved. We can say our forefathers were wrong and learn to live with it. That their "ideal" of equality is still being played out, and is a worthy endeavor. We can say we knew what they meant, even if they didn't. If you 'red' (not reed) Civil War & Bloody Peace, you learned that war was going to break out over western migration, as it did once before; the British didn't want the colonies to expand into Indian territory either. For completely racist notions, the Civil War was fought, and there was no way around it. But though the Union won freedom (for what that was worth) for Black people, the losers were the Indians.

 

But Lincoln didn't free the slaves. That is lesson #1 in true history. And Washington felt only rich white men should vote. That's lesson #2. The United States was not established on true equality, but on flawed humans' idea of equality. Jefferson opposed Washington, and yet some want to erase Jefferson's name. Nonsense. Erasing any true history is non-PC.

 

CRT has rallied opponents who say it perpetuates racism and exclusion. Waxman gives Rockwood School District in Missouri as a case in point. The Missouri governor recently said they don't have to abide by federal gun laws. So we know Missouri is a hard GOP case. I'm sure CRT has supporters elsewhere.

 

But I am not a fan of anything that further divides us anywhere. Can teaching the simple and objective truth do that? What some fear is weighing the scales too much in the opposite direction. Teaching the simple truth does not do that. When I set out to write Civil War & Bloody Peace, I wanted objectivity. I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. I appreciated the author's attempts to show what really happened in history but I felt it tipped the scale a little too much in the other direction and really didn't get at the truth that we needed.

 

The truth that we need is one that shows President Grant as he was, not as he wanted us to remember him. The truth allows us to continue to read books like Mark Twain.

 

Mark Twain was the one who encouraged and helped President Grant write his Civil War memoirs. Mark Twain helped create his image. Grant avoided writing anything related to his presidential years. Okay, he was dying of throat cancer at the time, but when he left office in 1877, all he said related to his presidency was as an apology for allowing politicians to walk all over him. Really? The hero of the Civil War is blaming others for the graft and corruption during his presidency?

 

I don't use anyone's autobiography to demonstrate who they were. Nor would I demean any fiction novel like Twain's, written in the past that is a mirror to what that time period was like. You want to know who Grant was, you have to follow objective history.

 

Unless we learn from history we could well repeat it. And hiding what was written in history has been part of our historical legacy, too, because our history embarrasses us. We want to hide it. Hiding it hasn't done us any good, so let's try learning the truth for a change.

 

Grant felt the Indians could be pushed around. Trump felt minorities could be pushed around. He professed to being the first to cut off travel from China, but allowed the virus to get in through all other routes. The first occurrences turned up in NYC and Seattle. We heard early in our shut-down in 2020 that minorities would get hit the hardest. Did Trump know this, too? Is this why he felt he should not have lost the 2020 election? Yet he held rallies that summer and didn't care if his supporters wore masks. He said no, he wasn't worried about the virus; he was standing far enough away from everyone. How that didn't lose him votes, I don't know.

 

I do feel the GOP got more votes by cheating, and yet they accuse the Democrats of it. Why wouldn't there be more absentee balloting in 2020? There was a pandemic shutdown at the time.

 

Trump felt Black Lives Matters was one of the problems in the country that White Supremacy could fix. Trump supporters were the ones who caused the violence during the peaceful protests that summer of 2020. They were the ones who had something to gain by disrupting protests over the death of George Floyd. Trump was the one who had something to gain if he could send out the National Guard against a largely Black protest.

 

Trump decided that his election loss was fraudulent and he gets his QAnon followers so worked up that they tried to invalidate the final election vote confirmation on January 6th by storming the capitol. Trump was completely against the peaceful transfer of power that had been our strength in this country since the Constitution was devised, not because he was being PC. No, because he was a poor loser.

 

By standing against what this country stood for, he and his supporters committed the biggest act of political incorrectness. You can't pretend reality is what you want it to be. You can't pretend that history is supposed to go your way because you think you're the good guys. Voters decide, as they always have. And losers, up until Trump, have always been gracious.

 

To be politically correct, we have to correct our misconceptions of history. We have to erase what used to be patriotic history and learn the real history of the U.S., a country born in violence that seems to know no other way to respond. Since Biden was confirmed, gun violence has been worse than ever. According to CBS News on June 24th, there have been 296 mass shootings so far this year, the deadliest year in two decades.

 

Waxman said it right, that most people have to go to college to learn real history. And that's what makes colleges both liberal and hotbeds of protest. How dare educators lie to me all this time! I hated history in high school. I graduated in 1971 and didn't have my first college history class until 1995. I now hold a master's in history. True history is illuminating and invigorating. There's so much potential there for us to become a real and united people. But only if we learn it.

 

Waxman noted one who said that they weren't racist just because they didn't want CRT taught in their classroom, but she didn't say what it DID make them. What other reason is there for not wanting it taught? In my mind, it could tip the scale too far the other way and that is what people are objecting to, I think.

 

We need objective history and we need it in the grade schools, and we need it yesterday.

 

Trump committed the largest act of political incorrectness by supporting only the white Christians who don't believe that black lives matter.

 

Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, as a PC salute to the past. It commemorates the end of slavery by making the day slaves in Texas heard they were free a federal holiday. It has nothing to do with the Civil War, or the 13th Amendment. Texas was simply the last to let those people go.

 

What does another holiday accomplish? I'm not sure. But finding this out, and the Oklahoma massacre, and so many other things that I share in From Lincoln to Trump, is a good start. Maybe we need the students to ask more questions. Maybe the parents can tell them things they don't learn in schools as a way to start those conversations. Maybe if we show that learning the truth doesn't hurt us but sets us free and makes us feel not only smarter but more responsible to do better, we'll be able to move for real honest curriculum in our schools.

 

In the South in the 1960s, we saw a lot of objection to Civil Rights emerge, and when Kennedy pushed for it, and Johnson finished it, many of the Southern Dixicrats turned Republican. It had been Republicans who were against doing away with segregation. They felt segregation worked. They didn't see the Blacks as a voting bloc worth championing. President Kennedy did, and Bobby Kennedy picked up the Civil Rights voting mantle and ran with it. He got 100% of the black vote in the Los Angeles Watts District just before he was killed. Why was he killed? Because of Civil Rights. That's why his brother John and Martin Luther King were killed.

 

We cannot pretend race was never an issue. We have not had any decent progress toward equality since then. But the way to get it is through the truth in history.

 

Yes, it's good to recognize the end of slavery in Juneteenth. But we also have to recognize it wasn't the end of prejudice. It is being PC to write history as it was, not as we were taught to be patriotic and believe America was right no matter what, because then we'll start to understand where we're at today.

 

You see it, right? If you're taught to believe America is right no matter what, then how could slavery have been wrong? No, it's patriotic teaching that's wrong.

 

This country of immigrants is filled with examples of prejudice. Here are just a few I used in From Lincoln to Trump:

 

"Why not discriminate? Why aid in the increase and distribution over our domain of a degraded and inferior race and the progenitors of an inferior sort of men?" This was a quote by Republican Senator John F. Miller of California, and he may have been referring to the Chinese, who he wanted to stop coming to California. (President) Arthur refused to exclude them from immigrating for twenty years, instead reducing it to ten. They were not given citizenship, a law that was finally repealed in 1943. (p. 65)

 

In 1942 Mexican immigration was encouraged for agricultural needs because of the fear of labor shortages. Called the Bracero Program, it continued to be renewed for the source of cheap labor. FDR incarcerated Japanese US citizens during the war; one refused to go and took the case to the Supreme Court, who ruled it as a military necessity. (p. 108.)

 

Once we acknowledge that our country has had a past filled with subjective hatred and injury, we discover the true meaning of PC, that we are a different, and a better, people today and the changes in the way we look at ourselves is the best use of PC there is.

 

Michael Foucault noted that a true student of the past

 

…must grapple primarily with the events of history, its jolts, its surprises, its unsteady victories and unpalatable defeats -- the basis of all beginnings, atavisms and heredities.

 

If we show both the good and the bad in U.S. history to even our children, we'll discover that they are able to understand and still love our country, if we teach it right. We are all flawed human beings, doing our best in a flawed system. Let's teach it that way.

 

SOURCES

 https://criticalrace.org/what-is-critical-race-theory/. 

 Olivia B. Waxman, "Past Tense," Time, July 5 - 12, 2021, p. 81.

 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/2021-deadliest-year-gun-violence/. 

 Matthew Karp, "History as End," Harpers, July 2021, p. 29.

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ROOTS OF JOURNALISTIC HISTORY

I had an epiphany (and now I know how to spell that word). I was reading this nondescript novel about a journalist who noted that her job was to report events accurately and in order so people can see what happened and draw their own conclusions. Now, mind you, I was reading this on my Kindle while I was out for a walk, so maybe those lines wouldn't have had the same effect if I was, say, on the toilet. I came up with a great edit for a script (remains to be seen, of course, if it sells) with a notebook and pen on that very same walk.

 

And I thought – hey! That's what I do! I followed Henry's orders by going everywhere he went and found all the things that happened where he was sent to find out why he was sent there. I reported on these things as though I was a journalist, reporting on his orders. That's it! That's what I am.

 

I had been criticized by the publishers I queried that I didn't analyze enough. That was not my goal, nor did I have a preconceived end result that I set out to prove.  I wanted to show the attitude of the orders, why he was sent where he was sent, but I wanted the readers to come to their own conclusions about this history. I wanted to be as objective as possible, and you'll read that in my introduction. I did figure this approach would show how much more involved Grant was, but I did not expect to find deliberate defeat at the Little Bighorn, for instance.

 

That is what was accomplished here – simply by presenting all the events as they happened.

 

So the real reason that they didn't publish my book was that they didn't understand my approach. Because it's NEW! It IS Journalistic History. But I did a search online and nothing came up with this genre indicated. That means, yes, you've heard it here first. I also did a search on historic journalism but all I found was the history of journalism. So this is a better name for what I write, historic events in a journalist style.

 

This is not narrative nonfiction. For a while, I tried to promote it that way. But narrative nonfiction doesn't travel in a nice orderly fashion, step by step. It meanders, and for that reason is more for reading enjoyment than learning enhancement.

 

Journalistic History will demonstrate our nation's history in the most forthright way possible. In this respect, it is the best kind of history to use at the high school level. If you want to know why our country is as it is, this is what you'll read.

 

And that's what I meant it for. I meant it for anyone who wants to know – for instance, why is our first black president a Democrat?

 

My next book, From Lincoln to Trump: a political evolution, is going to the KDP printer soon. It will be called, on the back cover, a new journalist history offering. And then will be described to detail what that means to readers of the book. You might also, on occasion, hear it referred to as historic journalism, but that might get confused with the journalism history. Journalistic History is the way history events are reported.

 

I'll share the blurb of my new book here soon.

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