On History

John Gruber had a post on Woodrow Wilson's racism.

It’s absolutely flabbergasting to compare these basic facts to what I learned about Woodrow Wilson in high school, which was more or less just the facts of World War I and that Wilson’s spearheading of the League of Nations was noble.

What we're taught in school vs reality is something I've thought about for a while. In England it was no different of course. No mention of the negative side of empire building. No mention of atrocities, no mention of the role in the slave trade.

A few weeks back the statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colsten was torn down. My immediate reaction was "who?". Which is a terrible thing to admit, but that part of history was just skipped over in the classroom.

Years ago I read Howard Zinn's A People's History Of The United States which paints a rather different story of how America was settled. The genocide of the Native American people in stark contrast to the glorification of history in print and on screen.

Learning about what actually happened is really important. The more of this we can teach in schools, the more each generation can tear down monuments both figuratively and literally. Public holidays, building names, flags, and statues celebrating crimes against humanity should not be tolerated.

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  1. kapgar says:

    It’s strange because for as much praise as I’ve seen for Zinn’s book, I’ve recently read some negative reviews of it in light of the BLM movement. Mind you, I’ve never read it, but I should.

    And I’m right there with you on how history is taught. The most I learned came from a history class I accidentally signed up for my freshman year of college called Western Civ. I thought “western hemisphere” and the dates coincided with the era I like to study. But it was all about Western Europe with focus on the rise of Communism. And, to boot, it was taught by a self-professed “Communist with a lowercase ‘c’.” That was a very unique take on history.