Why conservatives are so upset with the new AP standards

Roundup
tags: APUSH



More analysis now of the recent attempt by Colorado conservatives to present students with a properly soft-focused American history. Their preference? To limit history curriculum to only those events that "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights." And that do not "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." (A unit on the Biblical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution is sure to follow.)

It's your basic, Lee Greenwood America. You won't understand why the South seceded or what policies precipitated the Depression or that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, but at least you know you're free.

Sean McElwee examines for Salon what freaks out conservatives about teaching unvarnished American history.

For one, the idea that the poor were not really better off in an idyllic past before there was a social safety net. Also, the idea that American foreign policy goals at times have been, shall we say, less than noble, and our actions less exceptional than our advertised ideals. And especially, "everything about slavery." Why, as Dinesh D’Souza writes of slaves, "slavery appears such a relatively mild business that one begins to wonder why Frederick Douglass and so many other ever tried to escape." McElwee writes

The Problem: Conservatives in the U.S. have a race problem, specifically that many of them believe that blacks are “primarily responsible for their own success or failure” and that government programs only get in the way. And conservative politicians tend to racialize welfare programs to decrease support for them. To believe that black Americans would have been better off without government intervention, you have to pretend history doesn’t matter.


[...]


[Furthermore] when slavery permeated society — the legal structure, culture, science — nothing was left untouched by racism and racial hierarchy. The conservative “I built this myself” mentality denies that most wealth is passed from generation to generation, and so is privilege. Erasing the memory of racial hierarchy allows conservatives and Americans to pretend that individual effort, rather than structural racism, is keeping black people down.


Should the conservative-led effort to sanitize American history succeed, whitewash will take on a whole, new meaning. Someone notify Webster's.





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