Glenn Youngkin's No-Guilt History of Virginia for Fragile White PeopleHistorians in the News
tags: racism, textbooks, Virginia, teaching history, critical race theory, Ron DeSantis, Ty Seidule, Glenn Youngkin
History has come alive for Trumpist Republicans. They’re rewriting it every day.
But Massie’s, er, Enlightenment is a footnote compared with the historical revisionism Republican governors are attempting. Florida’s Ron DeSantis proposes a law (variations of which have been enacted in 10 states) to prohibit public schools from making (White) children “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.” Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin opened a tip line so parents can report teachers mentioning anything “divisive.” The clear intent and likely effect of such actions: excise any reference to America’s racist past. Just in time for Black History Month!
So how would history sound denuded of anything potentially distressing for White kids? We don’t have to guess, because we’ve already been there. I have an actual 7th-grade textbook used in Virginia’s public schools from the 1950s through the 1970s — when Virginia began moving toward the current version of history: the truth.
I therefore present these verbatim excerpts from the textbook (“Virginia: History, Government, Geography” by Francis Butler Simkins and others), shared with me by Hamilton College historian Ty Seidule, author of “Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause.” Let’s call it “Glenn Youngkin’s No-Guilt History of Virginia for Fragile White People.”
“A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes. … It was to [the master’s] own interest to keep his slaves contented and in good health. If he treated them well, he could win their loyalty and cooperation. … The intelligent master found it profitable to discover and develop the talents and abilities of each slave. … The more progressive planters tried to promote loyalty and love of work by gifts and awards.”
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