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TN Tea Party: Schools Should Ignore Slavery

The Tennessee Tea Party group has a list of demands for the state legislature, one of which is that the schools should teach only good things about the Founding Fathers, ignoring the nation’s history of slavery and mistreatment of Native Americans.

Regarding education, the material they distributed said, “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.”

That would include, the documents say, that “the Constitution created a Republic, not a Democracy.”

The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants 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.

“The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” said Rounds, whose website identifies him as a Vietnam War veteran of the Air Force and FedEx retiree who became a lawyer in 1995.

It seems to me that if you’re going to make demands about what should be taught in schools, you should at least understand some basic grammatical rules. Like the fact that neither “republic” or “democracy” are proper nouns and do not need to be capitalized. You should also be able to tell the difference between a silly cliche and reality. We are both a republic and a democracy, of course.

As for the rest, do they have examples of any “made-up criticism” of the founders being in textbooks used in Tennessee? I doubt it. They just want America to be presented as perfect and holy, the way it was when Jesus came down from Mt. Sinai and delivered the Constitution to George Washington while he was praying.

Comments

  1. wendy says

    I am so fucking embarrassed of my state–we’re turning into an Aristocrats joke (*snap*). First Stacey Campfield (“Airline pilot — sex with monkey — sex with dude –AIDS!”). Now the TEA party wants to teach the controversy. Over slavery. Awesome.

    Jeez. I don’t want to live in Canada, just maybe the 21st century. Or the latter half of the 20th.

  2. raven says

    They’ve been reading George Orwell’s 1984 again.

    Or more likely having it read to them, being semiliterate at best. It’s the fundie instruction manual.

    They want to toss a huge amount of history down the memory hole. And rewrite the rest. Surprise. Next up, a list of Thoughtcrimes and lesson in Doublethink and Doublespeak.

  3. raven says

    If Tennessee was it’s own country, it would be a Fascist banana republic on its way to being the next Iran.

    Half the citizens would have fled to the United States and be living in refugee camps. The other half would steal all their stuff.

    It’s all very fundie xian.

  4. eric says

    [the founders] brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly

    If they think the founders were alive and influential in 1861, then their math skills are as good as their history skills.

  5. cactusren says

    The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries…

    All right, I’ll agree with this statement. We should, in fact, be teaching that the founding fathers were quite progressive for their time. If only the Tea Partiers would start emulating the FFs, rather than worshiping them.

  6. says

    It’s more heinous than that. They want to white wash history.

    “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

    Reading that alone, it would wipe out teaching about aspects of the Civil War, the displacement of the Indians, the Civil Rights movement, womens’ suffrage, and numerous other things – as they all would reflect poorly on those who “reached positions of leadership” as well as the majority of the citizens in the country.

  7. says

    I have never understood the, “We’re a Republic, not a Democracy” crap from the right. Putting aside their misunderstanding of your basic Venn diagram, I have no idea what they’re trying to prove with that one even if it made sense. Please tell me it’s not so simplistic and lame that it has some bearing on the names of the two major parties.

  8. dogmeat says

    I find it rather ironic that Tea Party reactionaries want us to emphasize the revolutionary nature of the founding fathers. I’m quite happy to do so, but I don’t think they’ll like what they get… ;o)

  9. says

    …the schools should teach only good things about the Founding Fathers, ignoring the nation’s history of slavery and mistreatment of Native Americans.

    Suddenly, I’m imagining the Founding Fathers being worshiped in a temple alongside Jesus & Mo, praised for having lived without sin. Let the wingnuts cook the history books enough instead of encouraging the teaching of both the good and the bad aspects of historical figures, and someday it might happen. Conveniently, idolatry of “perfect” leader figures is very friendly toward authoritarian models of government.

    The Founding Fathers were human just like the rest of us. They deserve kudos for defying some of the injustices of their time. They also deserve criticism for the injustices they condoned or contributed to. Just like everyone else.

  10. thegoodman says

    I agree with these retarded Tennesseans that we should do more teaching of the true history of our founding fathers. Like how they were all certainly not Christians. John Adams was concerned for the ill effects of industrial pollution (“Hulk Rethuglican say, regulations bad!”). Or how Thomas Jefferson rewrote the bible w/o any supernatural nonsense. Those are both good places to start.

  11. The Lorax says

    So they want to teach history selectively in such a way that it makes America look good.

    .. how are we to learn from our mistakes if we are ignoring that our mistakes exist?

    .. then again, I think that sort of explains a lot about the Tea Party…..

  12. says

    “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

    Except for Obama, apparently.

  13. Michael Heath says

    Hal Rounds argues:

    The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at

    Mister Rounds,

    The founding framers died out prior to women, people of color, or members of certain religious sects – or no sect at all, enjoying the protection of liberty equal to those who achieved liberty when the Constitution was ratified. Therefore we both have an obligation to finish what they started. Yet today the biggest group still fighting for those very rights are primarily opposed by conservative Christians, who are the predominant group within the Tea Party movement. So consider me skeptical your motivations here are consistent with our founding principles, your premises are certainly ahistorical.

    In addition the framers weren’t merely revolutionaries, but also radicals. Radical to the point that 220+ years later your group of conservative Christians still reject their ideals because the framers clear unambiguous constitutional clauses and written intentions demands government defend our individual liberty and conscience rights; even if the majority are Christians demanding a Christian nation. They were also radical at the time by abandoning the very approach to thinking which still drives conservative Christians, fealty to holy dogma and divine revelation. The framers instead supplanted such defective thinking with human reason, which evolved to human reason and empirical evidence – i.e., scientific methodology. Where again we find the primary opposition comprised of Tea Partiers.

  14. cactusren says

    Except for Obama, apparently.

    Didn’t you know? African Americans didn’t exist until 2008. (Where existence = having power. After all, those without power aren’t worth mentioning.)

  15. MikeMa says

    Quoting Rounds:

    [The founders] brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at…

    They brought the constitution into being which, with the BoR and all those other amendments, made the gaining of that equality possible. I also note that conservative teabagger folks are and have been fighting that equality every step of the way. Used to call them racists and John Birchers and the like but the same bigoted attitudes stalled racial equality, women’s rights and now they fight against LGBT rights. If Rounds really wants to worship the founders, let him do so by advocating for their ideals of equality and freedom, not the separate and unequal status now in evidence.

  16. d cwilson says

    My favorite part of is that it prohibits minority experiences that have “actually happened”. Why let facts get in the way of your narrative?

  17. says

    “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

    They apparently didn’t consider the law of unintended consequences. I would argue that it would be “obscuring the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers” to NOT teach that they owned slaves and mistreated Native Americans.

  18. Michael Heath says

    The Lorax:

    So they want to teach history selectively in such a way that it makes America look good.

    .. how are we to learn from our mistakes if we are ignoring that our mistakes exist?

    Well, if we teach world history accurately, America looks great even if we teach our history sufficiently framed to include all our note-worthy defective behavior.

    On your second point I addressed that in Ed’s post today about regulation. Good point where we know the answer to your rhetorical question: http://goo.gl/jFG8N

  19. pacal says

    Ah yes the all knowing all seeing party decides what goes down the memory hole and the only thing doubleplusgood to their doublethink minds is duckspeak.

  20. DaveL says

    It’s interesting that they don’t define along what lines majorities or minorities are to be defined. So does that mean that the experiences of men must not be allowed to obscure the experiences of women like Harriet Tubman? Or that the experiences of left-handed people shall not be allowed to overshadow the experiences of right-handed people like Martin Luther King?

    Come on, Tea Party, tell us what you really mean by “the majority of citizens.”

  21. Ace of Sevens says

    I don’t envy the professors teaching freshman American History survey courses to graduates of these high schools.

  22. eric says

    @12: .. how are we to learn from our mistakes if we are ignoring that our mistakes exist?

    Why, that’s easy: teaching George Santayana’s famous phrase will also be forbidden.

  23. says

    @Area Man:

    I figure for the small distinction between a republic (rule by representatives) and a democracy (rule by the people.) If you teach the people that our country is run by the elite, then they’ll expect the elite to know what’s best for the country. If you teach the people that THEY’RE the rulers, they’ll expect the laws to help them.

  24. Michael Heath says

    AceofSevens writes:

    I don’t envy the professors teaching freshman American History survey courses to graduates of these high schools.

    Speaking for myself only, I was very grateful for finally being educated. The ones that wouldn’t be grateful probably don’t go to college or go to so-called colleges and universities run by conservative Christian denominations.

  25. Ace of Sevens says

    @Michael: keep in mind that freshman survey courses have to be taken by pretty much everyone, so you’ll have a good deal of business and engineering majors who didn’t go to college to have their world view challenged.

  26. says

    This needs to be said (to their faces, preferably) every time something like this comes up:

    You told me that the Tea Party was an economic movement.

    Area Man “I have never understood the, ‘We’re a Republic, not a Democracy’ crap from the right.”
    It’s “State’s rights” with the letters moved around.

    DaveL “Come on, Tea Party, tell us what you really mean by ‘the majority of citizens.’”
    But you’ll just make fun of him, with your snarky liberal snark, when he says “White heterosexual Christian male”.

  27. raven says

    how are we to learn from our mistakes if we are ignoring that our mistakes exist?

    They don’t want to learn from their mistakes. They want to make more of them.

    Actually, they want to rule for their benefit, not yours or the majority of citizens. It’s all about gaining power and money without actually working or having a functioning mind.

  28. jaranath says

    I think there’s another angle to the “republic, not democracy” claim: Some of them want to deny some citizens the right to vote. Not just subtly, but outright. Good friend of mine thinks we should preserve the Electoral College because (he believes, I dunno if this is true) that it effectively weights voting in favor of conservatives.

  29. harold says

    I have never understood the, “We’re a Republic, not a Democracy” crap from the right. Putting aside their misunderstanding of your basic Venn diagram, I have no idea what they’re trying to prove with that one even if it made sense.

    My interpretation is that it’s code for “some people shouldn’t be allowed to vote”. As a white heterosexual male, I am sometimes perceived as a potentially friendly recipient of such coded messages, and I am quite familiar with them. Of course, the whole point of code is plausible deniability.

    Come on, Tea Party, tell us what you really mean by “the majority of citizens.”

    The entire contemporary Fox/Limbaugh/Tea Party right wing movement is based on 1) trying to harm people, and 2) trying to disguise the fact that you are trying to harm people.

    I strongly defend point “1)”. Even the tiny percentage of mean, unhappy, rich whites who “benefit” in the very short term from the obsession with lowering their taxes (benefit in quotation marks because the actual marginal utility of extra money is very low for these people) are still hurt in the long run by destruction of the common environment, reduction of the mean US standard of living, erosion of individual rights, etc.

    Racism is an enormous component.

    However, “only” 25% or so of the US population is ideologically committed to the hard right. Therefore if they openly associate the Republican party with offensive racial epithets and hateful remarks about the less fortunate, there is a chance that, at least outside of certain deep south states, that the Democrats will be helped.

    Therefore, they have to choke back their urges, support a fake “moderate” candidate like Romney, and use coded messages.

  30. abb3w says

    NB: this is re-circulating, apparently in part due to a bit of carelessnews (an interesting typo I’ll keep) at HuffPo on date checking; checking the date from Ed’s link shows it’s from last year.

    Contrariwise, the kooks haven’t changed their minds; this piece indicates one of the dudes quoted is still spouting much the same blather.

  31. says

    “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

    In other words, no action by white Americans that contradicts the Founders’ ideals shall be taught at all. The fact that anyone could propose such a thing, so explicitly and publicly, without a trace of shame, really says a lot about the state of American public discourse.

  32. says

    PS: Where are all those Southern-nationalist and slavery-apologist trolls who used to pop up anc cry about “Tyrant Lincoln?” Is this proposal too shameful even for that lot?

  33. eric says

    Where are all those Southern-nationalist and slavery-apologist trolls who used to pop up anc cry about “Tyrant Lincoln?”

    Hired by Tennessee. To design new history curricula for Fall 2012.

  34. says

    “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

    So if I make up an experience for a minority, or make up a minority, I can use that to obscure the contributions of the founding fathers?

    I propose that all history books say that pirates (a minority in Tennessee) wrote the constitution without any input from the founding fathers.

  35. Aquaria says

    I don’t envy the professors teaching freshman American History survey courses to graduates of these high schools.

    Imagine what it’s going to be like for the history professors at Texas universities, now that the tea-tards have gutted history for Lone Star kids?

    I’m going back to college this fall to get my history degree (at last), and I’m going to look like a stinkin’ genius next to the ill-educated morons who will be in classes with me. Simply from having had a real education in history, even if it was many moons ago. Easy A. It’s the double major in Spanish that’s going to be a nightmare for me.

    Anyway, it will be no fun working for one of the historical groups around here (feasible in San Antonio), and having to explain to fucking morons that their history books lied to them.

  36. interrobang says

    I know this proposal is a bigger problem, but while we’re talking about shitty educations other people are getting, the plural of “curriculum” is curricula, not “curriculums.” *wince*

    Once a copy-editor, always a pain in the ass…particularly when that copy-editor is taking a break from doing painful and miniscule perfectionist revisions…

  37. doktorzoom says

    The “Republic, not a Democracy!!!11!!” folks seem curiously worried that democracy will devolve into mob rule. Until a sixteen year old atheist points out that the Constitution doesn’t allow a school to post an official prayer, in which case one malcontent is simply ruining things for the majority.

    (And yes, for many of these folks, “mob rule” really means “too many of the wrong people allowed to vote”)

  38. eric says

    Ace of Sevens @22:

    I don’t envy the professors teaching freshman American History survey courses to graduates of these high schools.

    I have an uncle and cousin who teach incoming freshman in history and economics (respectively). They report that freshman educational gaps run much deeper – things like understanding basic vocabulary, being able to read nonfiction for comprehension, and writing in complete sentences. They’d probably welcome a student who’s biggest educational issue was “merely” an ahistorically rosy view of the founders.

    This, however, is no reason to intentionally mislead students about the founders. Its just to say that you probably wouldn’t envy the professors even if the Tea Party fails. ;)

  39. Pierce R. Butler says

    jaranath @ # 30: … the Electoral College because (he believes, I dunno if this is true) that it effectively weights voting in favor of conservatives.

    What it does is give disproportionately more weight to the votes of less-populated rural states at the expense of more-concentrated urban areas. (Each state having the same representation in the Senate does the same thing.)

    This, in effect, tilts the table in favor of the right wing.

  40. matty1 says

    I thought the republic not democracy thing was down to lazily conflating those words with the names of political parties i.e “America was founded to be Republican not Democratic”

  41. MikeMa says

    @Raging Bee
    SouthernGentleman was one of those ‘The civil war was about states rights’ types who used to visit, lie and get hammered here on occasion. These revisionist history loons would likely enjoy that liar’s company.

  42. says

    You’d think the Tea Party would hate the Founding Fathers. After all they were a bunch of intellectuals, a politcal elite if you will, and Tea Partiers hate pointy headed intellectuals and political elites. Worse yet these intellectuals were influenced by non-American ideas, ideas from Europeans, including Frenchmen. And, horror of horrors, some of them apparnetly tried to learn French, which no true blooded American patriot would ever do.

  43. F says

    School history books are already full of fail. Why do they need help?

    intruding on the Indians

    Intruding. Fuck a bunch of this.

  44. exdrone says

    schools should teach only good things about the Founding Fathers, ignoring the nation’s history of slavery and mistreatment of Native Americans

    “Winston pulled the speakwrite towards him, blew the dust from its mouthpiece, and put on his spectacles. Then he unrolled … [the] small [cylinder] of paper which had already flopped out of the pneumatic tube on the right-hand side of his desk.” In Newspeak, it read: minitrue malreports ffs doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling.

  45. donalbain says

    The majority of citizens are women.

    Ooops! Looks like no more reading about George Washington. It is all Martha, all the time!

  46. says

    donalbain,
    Well, they’re only counting white men and white women. Plus the dark-skinned men will be counted as 3/5 of a person, giving them a majority of men.

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