Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.
- Edward R. Murrow
It is troublesome to think that anyone would take what is known as historical truth – truth being a slippery word and all that, but still something which is verifiable and non-dynamic in nature as viewed from a historical context – and defy it, defile it, or just sweep it away for the sake of convenience.
Troublesome. Or flagrant imbecility.
To this point, I give you Texas. A maverick kind of place, always making a turn East when everyone else turns West, North, or South; constantly making noises about seceding from the union; a place where people tend to ignore what's written in legal terms and just shoot people who break the law; the North American death penalty theme park; a place where people, from my limited experience due to visits, are sometimes really as nice as rumor has it. That is, unless they get mad at you, and then it's a bullet to the head or lethal injection, but that's a silly digression: I have been in a Texas bar in the company of locals who bought me beer because “You're Californian? Well hell, I always wanted to learn to surf, and the waves here in the gulf ain't shit. Ever had Shiner Bock?”
That's pretty nice.
Do I have to assume, however, that they are all stupid as well? I mean, tarring the entire state with one brush is never a good idea, but I just have to wonder: who the bloody fucking hell thinks it's a good idea to rewrite history?
From the AP: “The partisan board has amended or watered down the teaching of the civil rights movement, slavery, America's relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of other items. ... They dictate how political events and figures will be taught to some 4.8 million schoolchildren in Texas and beyond for the next decade.”
The term “watered down” implied a little over-editorializing and I'll ignore that. The term “amended”, though, is a fighting word. As in amended history. Really.
Now I want to say that I understand that people want to view history in easy to digest black and white tones, or sort it out – especially in textbooks – to hit the high spots and gloss over the trivial, or seemingly trivial, stuff. During my illustrious career as a high school failure I was educated with a history book which mentioned not a single word about the Korean conflict. Nothing. Zip. Zero. WWII to Viet Nam, which was recent enough, I suspected later, to be unavoidably memorable, thus impossible to wash off. Korea was a throwaway war, and we only had 600 pages, so...
This creepy bullshit in Texas, though, isn't an attempt to abridge history: it is an attack on the truth, a rewording of well worn fact, and in the end it is clearly a goddamn Christian-based abomination for the sake of promoting an agenda.
And, moreover, it is an act of flagrant and disgusting cowardice.
I do not like to think about, say, Manzanar. Bleak and embarrassing period in the history of this country, and I like to think a lesson was learned from it, but like most kids educated in the 70's I was told Manzanar, Gila River; all the interment camps were clean, humane, safe, and humanitarian places. Later, history showed (and we were all told) they were filthy, abusive, and bloody awful, but “...not nearly as bad as the Nazi concentration camps,” and if that wasn't good enough we were all told the Japanese interred there were treated “...much better than American POW's were.”
True or false isn't the issue - lets face it: not much can be said in favor of Nazi concentration camps – but Americans need to be told Manzanar was “better” than Dachau? Was it? Was it not? Regardless, the comparison is stupid, irrelevant, and divisive: it happened, it was as bad as it was, and in the end the comparison doesn't matter.
And then, since any idiot (other than Hannity and Beck) knows better than to use the Nazi card, the “we treat our prisoners better than they treat their prisoners” argument is equally specious and stupid: we needn't compare, we should simply do the right thing or have it out...you know, like Abu Graib, right?
Whatever, history was used during my youth as a tool to carry the government's message: America is great, America is kind, America is good, except when we're not...in which case we are.
In hindsight, these examples are redolent of this putrid assholery in Texas to me: cowardice at it's best. Inconvenient truths (I'm not fond of Al Gore, but that phrase works well here) take explanation, and are best avoided altogether. The writings and history which is being putrefied in Texas school books and impede a movement's ability to call America a “Christian” nation (which it isn't) require explanations which the bible evidently does not easily overcome, therefore this pack of dim-witted, cowardly, and vile politico-religious fuckers opted to delete and rewrite those meddlesome snippets of history, rather than face it head on. It is the nature of the human animal, in the end, to cower in fear of that which can defeat us, to cover our eyes when there's a monster in the closet, to whistle past the graveyard.
Me, I want to think Texans in general are made of better stuff than that. Yippie-ki-yay, motherfuckers.