With coins jiggling in his left jacket pocket, Selwin carries a large bag containing his accumulated soiled articles of clothing to the neighborhood laundromat. Upon arrival, and after the selection of an availably empty one, he rudely stuffs the contents of the laundry bag through its open door, adds detergent, closes the door, and inserts coins in the top slot to start its circular motion, the familiar start of the cleansing cycle, ultimately to result in Selwin’s clean clothes.
Were it analogously possible, to launder away certain soiled moments of our history and perhaps, selective, personal life experiences, things would, be far less challenging and more personally comfortable. Sadly, the review of history, like the sight of unlaundered clothes, reveals certain enduring stains, which, by reason of their material significance, do not wash out or fade, but persist. However, while such stains may appear unattractive upon examination, such persistence may usefully, serve as a reminder, to prevent further staining and insure better outcomes.
The English word, “History,” apparently, had its origin in the Greek word, “historia,” meaning an inquiry for the purpose of knowledge, gained from the past. The common expression, “Mankind must know it’s history, so that he will not repeat the same mistakes” has merit. However, in our view, it should be empirically read: the practice of knowing history is potentially wise, and educative, if not entirely effective. History demonstrates that Nations, at times, seem to exhibit xenophobic aspirations and hatred of other Nations, despite the plethora of tragic historical results. The intention and hope subtly hidden, in said expression, we feel, is that Nations and their people have the capacity of improving their life, from the available wisdom which can be acquired by studying history.
An additionally, important pragmatic service of a valid historical record is to enunciate the traditional identification of a Nation, and its citizens, relative to the shared context of their joint National past, and, as possible, its declared aspirations. Since the policies and future of a democratically responsive Nation, definitionally depends upon the expressed majority will of its voting citizens, its past, good and not so good, must be evident, to serve as their judgmental guide. Lessons learned from history, provide an experiential point of reference from which to continue a Nation’s progress.
Despite recorded History’s critical accusations, viz., “History is written by the dominant society,” and “History is recorded by the victors,” nevertheless, there exists a universal consensus concerning the occurrence of significant past events, viz., The American Revolutionary War, The Black Plague, The Russian and French Revolutions, Two World Wars, The Napoleon, Genghis Khan and Alexandrian Conquests, The Great Depression of the 1930’s, American Enslavement of Black People, the eviction of First Americans from their ancestral lands, the development of penicillin and vaccines, the American voyage to the Moon.
History, by its intrinsic nature and by obligatory admission, is purely factual, as opposed to arbitrary or creative, nor is it, like the persistent stains on Selwin’s laundry, as above, is it [selectively] erasable. The events in our American History, good and bad, assuredly, took place. Just as we properly acknowledge our victories in the two World Wars, landing a man on the Moon, victories over autocracy, advances in Science and the Arts, we are morally obliged to accept our regrettable moral sins, including the shameful enslavement of black people and the wrongful eviction of the First Nations from their ancestral homes.
Our schoolbooks evince a programmatic policy of erasing the stains of America’s past by their deletion or distorted treatment. The many decades of immoral enslavement of black human beings were deleted from our “rosy” history; the theft of the Indigenous People’s land and the damage to their [“savage”] culture being traditionally described in patriotic and dutiful moral mandates, our “Manifest Destiny” [to expand to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.]
The deletion or false reframing of history is a traditional tactical tool of autocratic governance, and not that of Democratic Republics. The current efforts to truthfully fill in the deleted blanks of the unsavory periods in our Nation’s history, do not alter the empirically, existing reality, and are a candid and truthful, presentation to students of our past. The movement, foolishly called, “Critical Race Theory,” [in opposition to the teaching of such deleted history] does not seek to add a new subject, but to candidly and educationally, fill in the selectively, deleted blanks in our taught curriculum.
History is the enlightening revelation and retelling of the factually experienced past. It is a sacrosanct record of man’s life and experiences. Those who would seek edit or censor past reality, are either autocratic regimes, for false propaganda purposes, or else, self-appointed, arrogant censors whose “well meaning” stupidity would eliminate the credibility, value and consequently, the function, educative and otherwise, of the ancient [since Herodotus] practice of recording Mankind’s past.
It is instructive and useful to observe that the individuals who oppose the educational inclusion of the wrongfully deleted portions of American History, also, critically, seek to limit the Constitutional voting franchise of black and brown American citizens, oppose immigration and reform of the Criminal System.
The misleadingly objectional tactical term, “Critical Race Theory,” [ Theory?] should be neutrally and descriptively, replaced by an academically, historical title, like “The Period of Agrarian Slavery,” or “The Pre-Civil War Period,” or “American History 16th thru 19th Centuries,” and candidly and universally recognized and taught to our future citizens.
It is obvious that we cannot validly, or effectively, change previously existing History; what can, and should be beneficially changed, is our future.