The new project of the Tea Party Movement is to revise American history and sanitize it to the extent that it is a vapid, happy-ever-after, scrubbed and polished neo-modern version of the historical record. From Texas to Tennessee, Tea Baggers are petitioning the legislature to legally make changes to text books used in education to write their version of historical events, especially slavery and the history of other minority peoples.
Stupidity and lunacy oftentimes go together and the Tea Baggers have demonstrated an unusual aptitude for both but their new program of revisionism exposes an inability to grasp a fundamental concept that even a toddler can understand. And just because you will something away that's not to your liking does not mean that it's non-existent. That's just plain stupid reasoning.
The latest thing for the Tea Partiers is to push for a law(s) that would revise history to erase or tone down historical references to the Founding Fathers owning of Black slaves. These laws, if the Tea Baggers have their say, would rewrite the governing of the selection of textbooks.
Now I don't know about you but changing a law to enact revisions and changes to textbooks to make slavery and the Founding Fathers, well, more saintly is stupid because everyone knows that there is enough irrefutable evidence to support the fact that many were slave owners. In fact, there was a particularly odious clause in the constitution that in 1789, African-Americans were defined in the Constitution as "3/5 of a person" for counting representation, and could not vote at all.
That of course has long been a very uncomfortable fact even though that clause was struck from the US Constitution in 1865 following the Civil War. For 90 years thereafter, states did all sorts of things to abridge the right to vote for African-Americans. The main means were seemingly "objective" criteria like "literacy laws," which required that a person be able to read before they could register to vote. Since most African-Americans at the time were illiterate, that effectively prevented their voting. There were many cases before the Supreme Court, mostly in southern states, in which means of blocking the vote were removed.
The real change came during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, when the last of the racial restrictions were finally removed. Prior to the 1960s, the Supreme Court had determined that schools could be "separate but equal," which meant there were separate schools for African-Americans. During the 1960s, the Supreme Court enforced the desegregation of the schools on the grounds that "separate is inherently unequal."
Legally speaking, the right to vote came with the 15th amendment. But socially speaking, it took the Civil Rights movement to make it a reality. Now the whack jobs in the Tea Party Movement in Tennessee are seeking to strike these kinds of unsettling facts from History books and other educational material on the grounds that " Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government."
Textbooks would be vetted by this standard: "No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers...." The Tea Party in Tennessee is seeking in its own words to address "an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another."
So according to the Tea Baggers this history, in their view, is made up and they want to set the historical record straight. But facts are pesky and persistent things and no amount of lunacy and delusions will debunk that or make them go away. Just as the sexual activities between slave women and their masters are facts so too does the human nature of the Founding Fathers that were part and parcel of the slave owning system in the United States.
To separate the Founding Fathers from the institution of slavery in the United States is like trying to make sugar salt -" it is impossible. So trying to rewrite history to place them above and divorced from the very economic system of the United States at that time is clearly delusional thinking. And just as important is the courageous and important struggles of the anti-slavery movement in the United States since both activities have given the United States, for better or worse, its essential character.
So the dilemma for the Tea Party Movement is how to deal with the other people in the institutionalized system of slavery on both sides of the debate. How will they handle people like Harriet Tubman or Nat Turner? How will they place Governor Wallace the epitome of the pro-segregationist movement? Pretending that they do not exist in the context of America's slave system history is just plain dumb.
It is the latest in a long series of events that are aimed at "taking back our country" -" one of the mantras of the Tea Party Movement. I don't know who has taken away "their country" that they would move to get it back. Maybe America is just a choice piece to real estate to these people. I just don't know.
But in the end it is true that history is a persistent son of a gun and both written and oral traditions make sure that facts endure and no matter the lunacy of a group of people that want to sanitize the America's slave past it will endure for generations to come.
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