Dr. Martin Luther King said it best: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
In light of Dr. King’s words, President Donald Trump’s “Patriotic Education,” one that would suggest limits to how slavery and other American horrors are taught, is but the latest example of sincere ignorance that could lead to even more conscientious stupidity among the masses.
Since May, Trump has been one of the most vocal opponents of monuments to Confederate leaders being removed from courthouse and city hall squares across America. When the Defense Department issued directives removing Confederate flags from military installations and proposed renaming bases named for Rebel leaders like Forts Benning and Bragg, the president pushed back against his top commanders and expressed support for military personnel who display the Confederate Battle Flag in their barracks or on their military vehicles, while also demanding that the base names stay the same. Last, when NASCAR issued its decree that the Confederate Flag could no longer fly over its racetracks, President Trump loudly blasted their move as “cancel culture” and “political correctness.”
As I have written before, there are few American presidents–Republican or Democrat–that did not hold some racist views or espouse racist policies at some point or another during their administrations. But the last American president to show such affinity for the traitorous Confederacy and its leaders was Woodrow Wilson, a Southerner who infamously lauded the racist D.W. Griffith film “Birth of a Nation,” the one that praised the Ku Klux Klan and depicted Blacks as savages who were out to defile white women, as “writing history with lightning.” President Trump’s support of these issues is calculated, mind you, as his strongest support is among white males in the Deep South. I do not believe that a New Yorker like Trump, a son of German immigrants who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, has any ties or affinity for the South or the Lost Cause. But he does recognize whence his electoral strength derives, thus his pandering to a base that believes that its traitorous history is being erased before their eyes.
The truth is that such is patently false; removing statues and flags from public places and placing them in museums does not erase history, rather, it places such mementos where they belong. Anyone who wants to learn about Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee does not need to view their statue at the local courthouse, especially when realizing that said statues were erected specifically to intimidate Blacks who were seeking an end to racist Jim Crow laws in the 20th Century. But the “Patriotic Education” proposal by Trump is far more dangerous than his push to preserve public Confederate heritage, because such would limit historical truths about the rank racism that has been apparent in these United States since 1776.
To be clear, the objective fact is that contrary to what any white political figures (or wanna-be white political figures like Ambassador Nikki Haley) may state, is that America has ALWAYS been a racist country. These are not “feelings” but “facts,” such as:
- From the very Constitution that referred to Blacks as 3/5ths of a white person, to the annihilation of millions of Native Americans through “Manifest Destiny”–the misguided belief that European colonizers were endowed by God with the right to rieve and rape the lands of Indigenous people, this nation has made it its express purpose to murder and subjugate people of color.
- America is still a racist country–by law. 50 or so years after the formal end of Jim Crow segregation laws that discriminated against Black people, that the “justice” system remains separate and unequal in just about every facet is telling. Disparities in education, health care, bank lending and home ownership are systemic racism in full effect. What’s worse is that sincerely ignorant racism deniers will point to the successes of Blacks here and there as examples that systemic racism is dead, but the very fact that Black lawyers and activists have to litigate, shout, protest, and demand for police officers who choke out or shoot up unarmed Blacks to get arrested is proof positive that race remains a serious problem in America.
None of this is by surprise; a careful viewing of history shows time and again that periods of Black progress have always been followed by white backlash. Remember, after 12 short years of Reconstruction there were 90 long years of violence, mayhem, and legal second class citizenship for Blacks in America. Similarly, Asians and darker skinned southern Europeans had immigration laws passed that limited their ability to come to America in ways that paler Northern European immigrants did not per the Chinese Exclusion Acts and the Immigration Act of 1924.
Further, the farce that is the “pro-life” movement is that it is not about “all life” at all, not when considering that most white Republicans who claim to be pro-life also turn a blind eye to Blacks killed by government agents (the police), or they make jokes about wearing masks that could protect all lives during this Coronavirus Pandemic. I have always suspected that the pro-life movement, at its core, is one to prevent whites from becoming a racial minority in America–no matter how much Southern Baptists and other so-called Evangelical white Christians claim to worry about minority women choosing this option.
Thus the need for real historians! Whether you have two degrees in the subject like I do, or you just have a strong love for reading and learning historical facts, there is a dire need to tell the whole truth about this nation’s past and present so that a better future can be forged. Thus, Mr. Trump’s “Patriotic Education” proposal is nothing short of Orwellian “Double Think” and could make an increasingly unintelligent American public even less intelligent–to our collective chagrin!