History Repeats

Monday, May 16, 2011

I've been pondering some more, this War on Intellectualism.  Or, more accurately "War on anyone who is proud of their education and/or War on anyone who expects their leaders to be articulate, well informed people who can juggle a variety of ideas and thoughts without condemning any other group".

Of course then the word "intellectualism" couldn't be used as an insult. As in "Intellectual Elite" - which seems to imply that those people with education past high school belong to some 19th century Victorian Upper Crust society found in a Dickens novel. 

I forgot to add Liberal in there, since you rarely hear anything about the Conservative Intellectual Elite. They exist, of course, but in a manner which is so well camouflaged that they are rendered invisible.

During my pondering, I also saw THIS gem of a headline: Tennessee Tea Party Issues Legislative Demands.

Huh. Ok. What could they be? One is "Educating Students about the truth of America". 

Well, I don't have any problem with that, Until this:

Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.

Followed with this clarifying statement:  
No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.
 Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.

Oh. Made up criticism?  Intruding? Is that what we call genocide now? Because the Nazi's were pretty "intrusive" to the Jews, Roma, Homosexuals or anyone they wanted get rid of, I guess. The whole Serbian/Croatian thing was pretty "intrusive". Hutu's in Rwanda was generally intrusive on the Tutsi's.  Sorry about the "Intrusion", we'll just keep all your stuff and pretend you never existed.

I realize that I am preaching to the converted here, but this kind of rhetoric scares me. Why? Because to use the oft overused hyperbole of the Glenn Beck/Henny Penny's of the world: This is how it starts.

When we Change history to suit us, we begin down a very slippery slope. A slope which leads us back to committing the same mistakes over and over and over.

Are you aware of the Texas textbook battles? Are you a parent of a child in a US school? Because You should be aware of this if you are not.

Some time ago, some people who were Christian conservatives figured out that:

 1. Texas is the largest purchaser of Textbooks in the United States.
2. As such, they could make sure that the Textbook Publishers could be forced to print the curriculum that Texas approved.
3. If the Textbook Publishers printed the Texas approved curriculum, then other states would be forced to purchase the same books because the textbook publishers weren't planning to publish different editions for every state.
4. By electing Christian Conservatives to the State School Board, they could insure that their political and cultural agenda would be enshrined in the textbooks that were purchased and distributed to Every State in the Country.

Clever, right?

Now, Did you see David Barton on Daily Show a couple of weeks ago? He is one of these people.

He touts himself as an "expert in Historical and Constitutional Issues'. Sadly, he has no actual formal training in any of these arenas. His one and only formal degree was one in Religious Education, which he obtained from Oral Roberts University in 1976.

He will gladly tell you how the Founding Fathers intended the United States to be a Christian Country. Not that he has any credibility aside from his ability to pull quotes from a variety of sources...or simply make them up if need be.

Aside: I don't need to debunk this man's work when others have so thoroughly done so - Chris Rodda's site Liars For Jesus is an excellent point by point refutation of David Barton every utterance.

So, let me sum up where we are now. We don't like Intellectuals.  Smarty Pants Know it alls who expect Facts! And Sources! And Degrees! We much prefer people with No formal training, and no actual credentials in education to shape the curriculum of the US. Made up Facts are fine, as long as they agree with our religious beliefs..since we can adhere to the idea of "faith".

One group with a specific Political, Religious and Cultural agenda has seized control of the capitalist production of Textbooks thereby flooding schools in the US with their viewpoint. They also, it should be noted, are active in decrying any non-conforming viewpoints as an infringement on their rights, as well as a bias of a liberal media.

Again I say: Smart, Right?  From the same clever people who thought up that whole "Affirmative Action is Reverse Racism" argument.

So here is where I am going to borrow another of the Glenn Beck Tropes.

Do you know who got rid of the Intellectuals/Artists/People who don't agree with your viewpoints?


Oh, and the pesky Cultural Revolution in China, in which one country attempted to destroy anyone or anything they considered "revisionists" to the version of history they wanted to promote.

And let us not forget the Fascists. The real ones. The ones who chanted "Death to Intelligence", since  intelligence and logic were weaknesses. Shall we also consider Russia and it's purge of the educated, only to be replaced with the Stalin era pseudo-intellectuals? Or a thousand other places where people sit in jail/murdered/tortured for not falling in line with what Others with an agenda Wants them to say.

So, let's Pretend Slavery wasn't so Bad. Pretend that the Founding Fathers were really angels on Earth, rather than flawed humans who were citizens in a specific era. Pretend that Scientific Evidence is "debatable" - I mean, The Vatican was able to keep the whole "Earth Circles the Sun" thing under wraps FOR YEARS by invoking faith as their trump card. Pretend anyone that disagrees with you is really A NAZI/COMMUNIST/RADICAL MUSLIM/INSERT CURRENT BOOGEYMAN coming for you, even if the thing they want ( like health care for all, or access to higher education, or funding for the arts) is diametrically opposed to what those scary regimes were all about.

I mean even if the history "Actually occurred", it should never obscure our points of view, right?

"The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again" - George Santayana

This appears on a plaque outside of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

Our memories in America are failing us.

3 Baleful Regards:

roo said...

I hear you, Dawn.

By the way, comments on several of your previous posts have disappeared. Is Blogger eating your comments?

SororRavn said...

This is a really awesome article. Thank you for sharing. Do you mind if I post this in my own blog and link back to your own? I would appreciate it.

Dawn said...

Roo, it seems that it was part of the great Blogger outage of last week. I may try to re-post the ones that I have in my email archives, but I know that it blocked comments for DAYS.

SR, of course!

◄Design by Pocket