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Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Biggest Lies I was Taught In Grade School

The United States educational system is probably similar to those of other countries.  Our American educational system describes the country's historical events in a positive way as to not admit the sins, mistakes, and negative actions taken within the country.  Other countries also probably take the same approach.

One of the biggest lies I was taught while growing up in the American school system was that Christopher Columbus discovered America.  That has to be in the top 3 of lies taught to kids when I was in the school system in the 1960s.  Somehow the American educational system had been taught to ignore the fact that there already was a Native American civilization prospering in what would become the United States of America.  Although in grade school we may have been taught about "Indians" already being in this country, our teachers had already been trained to brainwash us into accepting that despite that fact, Columbus "discovered" a land that people already inhabited. Teaching us that Columbus discovered America  has to be one of the great salesmanship jobs in world history.
The history I was taught never admitted that adopting slavery as an institution in the United States was a mistake and just wrong.  Kidnapping people from another country and devastating the lives of those families apparently was seen as being a good practice.  For the good of the country slavery had to exist?  The hard labor needed to be performed by someone else?  The history I was taught did not admit how the words in the United States Constitution were written only for the benefit of land owners, specifically white European American ones at that.  The Constitution was basically a racist document designed to support only one segment of the United States, that being white males who owned land.

Now how did the original European Americans obtain the land from Native Americans? Well truthfully they stole, connived  and cheated Native Americans out of what had been theirs for many years. Some of the richest families in these United States may be benefiting from that thievery.  But will they admit that?  Of course they will not.  That would spoil the image that they simply worked hard to achieve all the family has now. You have to admit that Native Americans were forcefully made to give up what had been theirs.

After the Emancipation Proclamation, black people also had property they legally had obtained taken from them through violence, often leading to the death of black people who had owned the land.  This part of American history is low keyed as it does not fit with the image that the United States wants other countries to have of us.

Negative history is kept away from us on purpose.  It truly takes a great country to admit to the sins and travesties that occurred over the years.  The annihilation of Native American culture and the incorporation of slavery into the development of the United States are parts of history that should be covered in detail in our educational system.  Instead an obligatory paragraph or two may be all you find in the textbooks if any coverage at all.

I have read some articles that there is less emphasis on teaching children about the early years of the history of the United States.  One wonders if that is to avoid the embarrassing details of the Native American experience and how slavery was once supported as an acceptable practice in the United States?

I recall an early historical "fact" we learned about George Washington, the first President of the United States.  The tidbit was about how as a boy George confessed to cutting down an apple tree in his yard. Why that was a historical fact of significance puzzles me to this day.  There was no mention that George was also a person who willfully owned slaves, even as President of the United States.

The lies we were taught often were to the neglect of our being shared factual information about the accomplishments of black people over the years.  There are many stories to tell about the journey of black people in the United States. Some are just now coming out after years of being kept quiet. They are all positive stories about the accomplishments and sacrifices of black people that European Americans had no desire to publicize.

I'm always glad to read or hear about positive accomplishments of black people in the present or past. Such information overcomes the opening 5 minutes of negative news about actions taken by black people that you are guaranteed to see on your local news shows.