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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tea Party proposal to gloss over slavery insults history, fore fathers

    Every person who has woken up with a pounding head and 20 new tags on Facebook wishes for the ability to erase mistakes. But then they remember that magic powers and time travel don’t exist, and they bear down and face the consequences.

    But the Tea Party hasn’t quite accepted that logic. With degrees from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Tea Party members in Tennessee are trying to erase slavery from American history.

    Members of the Tea Party want to implement legislation that would amend Tennessee laws governing textbook criteria. This includes teaching that the Founding Fathers formed a republic, not a democracy, as well as ignoring the fact that many of the founders owned slaves.

    Hal Rounds, a Fayette County attorney and Tea Party spokesman, said there has been “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on Indians or having slaves or being hypocritical in one way or another.”

    Unfortunately for Rounds, history doesn’t work that way.

    The Founding Fathers did intrude on Indians — they made and broke promises with them. And many of the Founding Fathers also owned slaves. George Washington had around 317 slaves when he died and Thomas Jefferson had around 200 at one point in time. That’s more slaves than there were participants at the first Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention combined.

    While supporters of the legislation may have good intentions, passing such legislation would do a disservice to students in Tennessee. A country’s history isn’t something that can be changed to fit the way one wants the country to be perceived. Good countries and good citizens accept the mistakes of their past and make sure to teach the good with the bad so history doesn’t repeat itself.

    Slavery is an important aspect of American history. It was the base of its economy for more than a century. Students need to learn that the founders, the most influential people in the country at that time, owned slaves, as was the norm then.

    If people don’t understand the evolution of American views on slavery, how can they expect to understand the buildup to the Civil War, the most destructive conflict in U.S. history, 86 years after the Revolution?

    Yes, the founders may not have been perfect, but isn’t that a testament to Americans’ persistence in bettering themselves? The first few decades of our country were rocky, at best. The Articles of Confederation failed, so the Founding Fathers admitted their mistakes, went back to the drawing board and drafted the Constitution.

    America was imperfect from its inception and perpetuating the lie that the Founding Fathers were infallible is an insult to them. Tea Party members can’t just gloss over the chapters that make them feel uncomfortable.

    American history isn’t always glorious. There are periods in U.S. history that are embarrassing but need to be taught. During the Revolutionary War, Americans owned slaves. During the Civil War, Americans refused to associate with Irish and German immigrants. Women couldn’t vote until 1920. During World War II, people of Japanese descent, even those born in America, were forced into internment camps. Gay men and women weren’t allowed to serve openly in the military until 2011.

    Every generation has blemishes on its record. Pretending they don’t exist to feel better about your idols is childish.

    — Dan Desrochers is a chemistry freshman. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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