I never attended grade school with any African-Americans. You can bet the farm that in Houston in the 1940s and 1950s, such “colored” folks were not called that.
Lots of Hispanics (you can be equally sure they weren’t called that or Latinos, either) and a few Asians did attend Houston’s public schools with us “white folks.” But there were NO black students; the only Blacks inside the school were kitchen staff and janitors.
The New Testament (John 8:32) tell us that Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Truth is a rare species in today’s vicious and divided public discourse, most especially when it comes to the two Big Uglies: genocide of Amerindians (the original Americans) and slavery, with its equally bad and ugly twin Racism.
Today, a rancorous movement among a large segment of white folks who are attempting not just to sweep these major epics of American History “under the rug,” but to lock them tightly in Davy Jones’ locker, or perhaps Pandora’s box, never to be reopened.
I have often asserted that “If you yell the Truth loud enough and long enough, some folks will believe you.” Truth is essential to crafting good decisions, and as it relates to political honesty (isn’t that an oxymoron?), it is essential to engendering social trust, which is fundamental to a society’s well-being.
I continue believing that “truthfulness” is critical for resolving divisions that characterize our society today. Critics of what is called “Critical Race Theory” (aka CRT) now are asking state legislators to pass laws banning the teaching of unpleasant truths about our historical past. Perhaps such legislators have not read the Constitution, in particular, the First Amendment; perhaps they don’t care?
Every society has done some naughty things: Spain and its despicable Inquisition and the annihilation of native peoples of the southern New World; Germany’s Nazi government and its indescribable Holocaust; Turkey’s long-denied genocide of Armenians; China’s current wholesale imprisonment of its Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang. This litany of bad things continues. It is important to note that Germany mandates teaching its bad/ugly/vicious history of the Third Reich in every school.
If we are exceptional, and The Good we have done certainly suggests this is so, it is because we have been willing to accept the truth of The Bad; for example, the foolish and destructive wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan; some aspects of The Ugly too. We should welcome this dialogue in our public places as evidence of the evolution of our national ethos of liberty and freedom. Therein lies the strength of our republic.
Our commonly shared vision of America as a nation of free, vital, honest and open debate is tarnished when some state governments now resort to mandating, by law, closing our open minds. Knowing the Truth of our history may not make us “free,” but it most certainly will make us stronger.
These dimwitted legislators who are passing laws to ban teaching “The Ugly” of racism and its root causes, say this is necessary because they don’t want any student to “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or psychological distress” because of their race or gender. What kind of gibberish foolishness is this? NO history of ANY country that teaches its history, no matter how sanitized, would NOT prevent someone from feeling these emotions.
Such sentiments are evidence of serious thinking and, perhaps, even a desire to do better in the future. How can any normal rational human being write such nonsensical garbage into a LAW, let alone actually believe it? These mysteries of stupidity always amaze me!
The roads we now travel all seem to lead inexorably to censorship, propaganda, puffery, expurgation, and continuing toxic infections of the racism virus that yet poisons us today. Alas, we have not invented an efficacious vaccine against it. The fantastic invention of DNA-based new incredible vaccines notwithstanding, I am pessimistic that we shall conquer this Big Ugly anytime soon.
President Madison’s brilliance gave us our splendid Constitution and its first 10 amendments, rightly called the “Bill of Rights.” Regrettably, he left out one very important right — the right of free thinking. America’s educational systems have always been the linchpin of America’s exceptionalism. If our educational systems are now prevented from telling our true story – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly – we will never come to know the Truth and the Big Uglies will remain entrenched in our culture, and sadly perhaps even come to define it.
Let us pray our nation rededicates itself to the majestic promises set forth in the opening stanza of our grand Constitution: “WE THE PEOPLE, of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity …”
As the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses commanded (or at least as Yul Brenner opined), “So let it be written, so let it be done.” Amen!
“Well, all I know is what I read in the newspapers.” – Will Rogers.
David M. Taub was Mayor of Beaufort from 1990 through 1999 and served as a Beaufort County Magistrate from 2010 to 2015. You can reach him at david.m.taub42@ gmail.com.