Norman Goldman likes to rename our southern states because in so many ways they resemble third world despotic countries. I’m talking about things like voter suppression, denial of women’s rights and more. So, for example, Goldman has renamed Texas, calling it Texassistan (“tex-ASS-i-stan”), and with good reason.
Texas is one of several southern states vying to be the most fervently ignorant among an unenlightened few which deny the brutal reality of the “forced migration and enslavement of Africans in America.” * They even deny that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. I understand that denial of guilt-provoking reality feels better than facing the truth, but it doesn’t change what happened. It does change people’s perception of reality, and that’s a problem for the next generation.
In a recent New York Times article, How Texas Teaches History, author Ellen Bressler Rockmore discusses how slight grammatical construct changes and focus shifting can dramatically alter our understanding. For example, she looks at a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt text called Texas United States History and points out that,
” . . . in the sentences that feature slaves as the subject, as the main actors in the sentence, the slaves are contributing their agricultural knowledge to the growing Southern economy; they are singing songs and telling folk tales; they are expressing themselves through art and dance.”
Really? That’s what slavery in America was about – singing songs and telling folk tales, art and dance? Apparently, there’s no need to dwell on the unpleasant stuff, like slave owners and field foremen beating, whipping, branding and killing slaves, children ripped from their mothers’ arms and sold down the river. Dem happy blackies, jus’ singin’ ‘n’ dancin’ and havin’ a good ol’ time** is the history of slavery that Texas wants to teach its children.
And that Pablum version of slavery gets multiplied, because Texas is by far the largest purchaser of school texts in America – they buy for 5 million school kids – so creating books that satisfy the Texas State Board of Education is a financial imperative for publishers. What that means is that history text books used throughout the nation are getting poisoned by the Texassistan far right wing dishonesty and cruelty. The result is that your kid is reading that version of history.
If you click through to Rockmore’s article, be sure to review some of the many comments. They’re enlightening, something that cannot be said of the Texas State Board of Education.
*That phrase is lifted from Rockmore’s article referenced in the next paragraph and is done so because it so accurately captures the truth.
**I do recognize how deeply offensive those stereotype words are and I intend no offense to anyone who has even as little as a mere foothold in reality. Those words are used to illuminate the deeply offensive attitude expressed in Texas’ revisionist history and they are used mockingly toward the Texas State Board of Education.
Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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