celebrating “greatest generation” of only a few decades past.
Unfortunately the accounts are largely written from a Eurocentric point of view, and ignore or delete the dirty details of our conquest of the continent and much of the rest of the hemisphere in our manifest destiny crusade for democracy and free trade.
The picture of the colonial period fails to note the Iroquois Confederacy, which was doing a pretty fair job of holding together a society of several tribes and many settlements when the first English invaders rowed ashore at Plymouth. The general rules of the Irquise later became the foundation of our constitution, but that was after we had burned them out of the Mohawk Valley and most of Massachusetts. Our history books gloat over the clever Dutch traders who acquired Manhattan Island for a handful of beads (It later turned out that the natives were only a hunting party from the Jersey shore, who considered clipping the white eyes for the beads a highly successful day’s hunt).
Our texts now skip to the Civil War, conveniently passing over Andy Jackson’s genocidal wars against the Cherokee and the so-called “civilized tribes” of the south, whose adoption of European farming and dress should have spared them, but all of who were “relocated” to the barren plains of Oklahoma at the end of the “Trail of Tears.” Also left out is Buchanan’s Mexican War and our seizure of most of the southwest states from the French colonial masters.
The nineteenth century also saw America triumph in the industrial revolution, due in large part to the exploitation of resources seized from the natives and the wage slavery of capitalism unbridled. The several massacres of Union organizers and their families at Haymarket, Rocky Flats and the Montana copper mines are never mentioned, as well as the railroads abuse of farmers that created the populist rebellion and the Grange movement.
Teaching history these days, what with the Internet, Google and the vast number of blogging academics, is no longer that easy. Some smart ass kid in the class will rise to challenge popular myths with facts on any and all of the above events, thereby calling into question much of the American claim to exceptionalism.
The alternative, of course, would be to teach world history with the role of the U.S. clearly defined from the outside, by victims and allies of our two century experiment in self government.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.