American history that “should not” be taught

There is a great outcry now, among Republicans and right wing screaming heads on cable, over curricula that does not emphasize only the glorious, totally non-racist, non-sexist, never the least bit genocidal, history of our exceptional land. A hastily written term paper to this effect, making the case that America’s White Christian values are the essence of our remarkable nation’s values and the source of all justice and freedom, was posted by Trump’s 1776 Commission right before the former president left office, an office he never conceded losing. I laughed when I read that the day after he was sworn in, Biden immediately took that shit off the internet and disbanded the “Commission”.

Now we have fascistic governors like that scary clown in Florida basically mandating the teaching of similar ahistorical bullshit and giving teachers, students and universities loyalty tests as the basis for funding and pay. The rallying cry among these history “purists” is against Critical Race Theory.

Their angry critique is based on three things:

it is clearly critical, right there in the name, which, obviously, makes it bad.

It has Race in the name, which makes it racist, on its ugly face, right there in the name.

It is a theory, meaning that it makes an argument based on history, facts, law and logic and requires a strong, well-informed counter-argument to refute — or it needs to be cancelled in its entirety as racist and critical.

No matter that it is taught in graduate schools, and began as a legal theory in law schools (to explore elusive but prevalent areas of systemic injustice) and has nothing to do with what is taught in public elementary, middle and high schools is immaterial (as Barr later characterized the lies fellow Trump loyalist Mike “Q” Flynn pleaded guilty to telling the FBI), it is still CRITICAL, it is RACIST and, worst of all, it is a THEORY.

Readers of history will recognize a rhyme or two with moments of great division in our shared past. A generation after their beloved pappies, brothers and beaus heroically fought the tyranny of a government intent on destroying their way of life, by outlawing chattel slavery, the Daughters of the Confederacy embarked on a project to glorify what they rebranded as the Lost Cause.

We never fought for slavery, their story went (whatever our articles of succession may have said otherwise), we fought for honor and glory and the right of each state to decide for itself how it wanted to live. History books were written to reflect this story and curricula were introduced in schools to teach this quaint revision of history (during decades of racism at law all over the country which included countless lynchings and filibusters of anti-lynching laws). The monuments to the insurrectionists, slave masters, West Point trained murderers of surrendering Black troops began to be erected during this period, as these determined, history-conscious old women, many of whom had inherited slavery-based fortunes, were starting to die off.

By the time these influential women were all dead the story stuck firmly in the classrooms of the former Confederacy and beyond: the South had fought the glorious Lost Cause for States’ Rights and Freedom, no matter what lying n-words and their mindless radical supporters might say to the contrary. It was never remotely about race, you irrationally angry n-word loving whiners!

Yet in the LIBERAL press you can read a paragraph like this, from an op-ed last week:

The former Confederates had failed to build a slave empire, but they would not accept the demise of white man’s government. As the former Confederate general and subsequent six-term senator from Alabama John T. Morgan wrote in 1890, democratic sovereignty in America was conferred upon “qualified voters,” and Black men, whom he accused of “hatred and ill will toward their former owners,” did not qualify and were destroying democracy by their mere participation. Disenfranchising them, therefore, was not merely justified but an act of self-defense protecting democracy against “Negro domination.”

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Imagine the outrage of that to decent “white” people, that former slaves bore

“hatred and ill will toward their former owners”!

Can you imagine the temerity of those formerly owned democracy destroyers, those savage tyrants?

The writer of that op-ed called his piece The Cruel Logic of the Republican Party, Before and After Trump. Cruelty is often the point of the politics of division (and, yes, Tucker, back in 1890 the racist party was the Southern Democratic party, replaced by the post-Civil Rights Act GOP that turned the former Confederacy solid red on the electoral map). The current Republican party is cruel, in its logic and operation, and in how it deals with anyone it regards as an enemy.

Cruelty works, to inspire terror, rage and cringing loyalty. A reputation for cruelty is a powerful thing. When you are known for being deliberately cruel, you inspire fear as you make people angry (or dead, for that matter). Cruelty infuriates your opponents and critics, who then begin whining and attacking, proving that they are the problem not you. It is the childhood sadist’s tic, I keep poking you in the ribs, harder and harder, until you slap me, then I scream “MOM!!!” and you get a whuppin’.

Here’s historian Heather Cox Richardson, from last night’s installment of her long letter from an American, a curriculum Florida governor Roaring Ron DeSantis (or DeathSantis, as many Floridians call him for his stellar pandemic response) would have her fired for teaching in a publicly funded Florida school:

Trump’s Big Lie has a number of elements that echo the argument behind the organization of the Confederacy in 1861. Like the Confederates, the Big Lie inspired followers by calling for them not to destroy America, but to defend it. The insurrectionists of January 6, and those who continue to insist the election was stolen, do not think of themselves as domestic terrorists, but as patriots in the mold of Samuel Adams. 

“Today is 1776,” Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted on January 6.

The Confederates, too, believed they were defending America. In February 1861, even before Republican President Abraham Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, lawmakers for the Confederate States of America wrote their own constitution. It was remarkably similar to the United States Constitution—copied from it verbatim, in fact—except for three key changes that they believed made the original constitution better: they defended state’s rights, denied that the government could promote internal improvements, and prohibited any law that denied or impaired “the right of property in negro slaves.” 

Confederate leaders convinced ordinary white men in the southern states that defending the expansion of human enslavement would be defending the nation against the “radicals” who valued the principles of equality outlined in the Declaration of independence. 

On the basis of that powerful patriotism, they took their states out of the Union shortly after Lincoln was elected president, hurrying to secede while tempers were hot.

But, once they declared an insurrection, they found it hard to keep up enthusiasm for it. Confederate leaders approved the firing on Fort Sumter in April 1861 in part because interest in creating a new nation was fading. The new nation that had seemed exciting and inspiring in the holiday gatherings after the election seemed a little silly in the spring, when attention turned to planting. Sparking a crisis made sure that southern whites did not abandon the Confederacy. And, once the war had begun, white southerners were committed. Wars are far easier to start than to stop.

Trump’s insurrection seems to be facing the same waning enthusiasm that Confederate leaders faced. Saturday night, at his first large rally since January 6, Trump spoke at Wellington, Ohio, about 35 miles west of Cleveland. While attendees responded to his complaints about the election, many left early. Today Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “there’s a growing recognition that this is a bit like [professional wrestling]. That it’s entertaining, but it’s not real. And I know people want to say, yeah, they believe in the ‘Big Lie’ in some cases, but I think people recognize that it’s a lot of show and bombast. But it’s going nowhere. The election is over. It was fair….let’s move on.”

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Today Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) told CNN’s Jake Tapper:

“there’s a growing recognition that this is a bit like [professional wrestling]. That it’s entertaining, but it’s not real. And I know people want to say, yeah, they believe in the ‘Big Lie’ in some cases, but I think people recognize that it’s a lot of show and bombast. But it’s going nowhere. The election is over. It was fair….let’s move on.”

There was also the recent Atlantic article with new remarks from Trump’s former loyal gunsel, devout and unprincipled culture warrior Bill Barr. Barr is a gigantic piece of shit I will have to return to soon, unfortunately, because … he’s a gigantic piece of shit who enabled Trump to stay in office by lying about Mueller’s findings, helped his Unitary Executive continue to skirt laws and obstruct justice by employing every legal and public relations trick to spin things Trump’s way throughout his tenure as America’s most openly partisan and truth-challenged AG.

Even Barr bailed when it became clear Trump was determined to overturn the fair election by any means necessary. Even after Barr spent months stoking fears of a massively fraudulent mail-in election and announcing a series of criminal investigations into traitors like Robert Mueller and his zealots, and investigations of alleged voting corruption right up through and immediately after the election. Barr didn’t leave out of principle, he left because he knew his boss was in the process of willfully committing crimes, including incitement to insurrection, that Barr didn’t want to go to jail for.

The Bagpiper is piping a different tune about “obvious” massive mail-in voting fraud these days:

But, rather than looking like heroic patriots [the January 6 MAGA rioters currently on trial], they increasingly look like dupes. Barr’s effort to rewrite his actions is a good indication of which way he thinks the wind is blowing. When he left office shortly before the election, he wrote a glowing letter to his former boss promising to update him “on the Department’s review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued,” and promoting the rhetoric of those pushing the Big Lie: “At a time when the country is so deeply divided, it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome.”   

Today’s article told a different story: “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit.”

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