Letter: Don’t whitewash and sanitize American history

Attorney General Todd Rokita is encouraging parents to question what version of American history is being taught (or not being taught) to their children from kindergarten through high school. Good for him. He’s mostly concerned with suppressing parts of history that he feels reflect badly on the United States.

Other people feel that canceling history like that is a terrible practice.

Here are just a few important historical facts that I was never taught in school.

1.) Mexico abolished slavery in 1829, which created tension between Mexico and American cotton growers, who had moved with their slaves to East Texas. These southern cotton growers sought expansion further west to keep slavery alive. The U.S. government proceeded to annex the Republic of Texas, then provoked a war with Mexico which eventually gave the U.S. a full third of Mexico’s territory. The cotton growers were happy, and “Manifest Destiny” marched on.

2.) The states that seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy did so explicitly to preserve and expand slavery. They said it themselves.

3.) Not even the most radical abolitionists, people like William Lloyd Garrison, Thaddeus Stevens, and Charles Sumner, ever believed, for even one second, that the Black race was intellectually, socially, or morally equal to the White race.

4.) Up to 1863, Abraham Lincoln clung to the notion that free Blacks and emancipated slaves would prosper best in colonies in central and south America, where the climate was best suited to them. This Colonization Plan was part of the original Emancipation Proclamation.

5.) The attempt at racial equality during the years of Reconstruction was abandoned completely by the federal government in 1877 with the rise of the White supremacist terror campaign.

Uncomfortable facts. But a strong confident country is not afraid to confront the serious mistakes of its past. A weak insecure country can’t do that. That’s why an insecure country is continually whitewashing and sanitizing its history. Think North Korea or China or Stalinist Russia.

The United States is not a weak insecure country.

Scott Newton, Jasper