Version of truth
“It’s time to teach the truth,” proclaims National Education Association President Becky Pringle and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Their exhortation should be followed, but teach an accurate presentation of the development of civilization.
From “the dawn of creation” humans have murdered and enslaved one another. The advance of human civilization by Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and Persia occurred despite the practice of slavery. The mysterious populations of the Far East, the Mongols and Chinese, the Magyars of India enslaved other cultures as well as their own. Indigenous American Indians, the most recent victims of so-called “white Europeans,” routinely murdered, tortured and enslaved one another. African tribes and tribal nations practiced slavery in the past, and Africa may be the only continent where slavery still exists.
The now-romanticized “indigenous” tribes of the Americas, including our local tribes, are portrayed as honorable, even noble victims of “white Europeans,” but may well have been the most brutal of all. The primitive Stone Age American Indian tribes gleefully tortured, enslaved and murdered one another and continued to do so until the 1800s. Rachel Plummer, daughter of a Central Texas settler and cousin to Cynthia Ann Parker, chronicled life as a slave among our local Comanche tribe. Her infants, who were the result of repeated rape, were taken from her and brutally murdered, “so as not to distract her from her work.” These kindly “indigenous” people and another local tribe, the cannibalistic Tonkawas, were among those unfairly subjugated by the “white Europeans.”
Those teaching history should present the fact that we are flawed characters, living in a sometimes violent and uncaring world. Our faults haunt even our best efforts to be God-like. Great men and women like Jefferson, Kennedy, King, Chavez, Ginsburg and Tubman all were afflicted by the inherent weaknesses of the human race. Thank God, or Allah, or some six-headed elephant in Sri Lanka, that a group of old “white men” got together, 245 years ago, and argued until the most liberating documents in history were completed. Those bigots, misogynists and slave owners stumbled onto a plan for a government that could resist even the worst tendencies of humanity. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are inspired documents that stand independent of their authors.
The United States is the highest iteration of the advancement of civilization. It is a miracle of cooperation and tolerance that will continue to advance, unless it is fundamentally changed. The Americas might have lingered in a state of violent, stone-age tribalism without the benefits of a highly developed European culture. Teach the truth, teachers.
Bobby Jack Blain, Woodway
My first thought when seeing the front page of the Saturday Trib, of all the new houses, was a refrain from a song in the 1960s: “Little boxes on the hillside...” Not a slight to the builders, for they are doing what they are supposed to do. But we are becoming California and how has that turned out? At least we don’t have tons of trees to deal with (sarcasm added).