Conservatives in America Can’t Face History

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Decades ago my mother emigrated to America to attend college. She never moved back to El Salvador, but that had less to do with chasing the American Dream and more because, you know, life stuff happens. Oh, my mom also stayed because she discovered that she had been lied to her entire life.

You see, growing up in El Salvador, my mother was never educated about some of the more horrendous facts of her country’s history. These unfortunate episodes had been hidden from her. Once in America, however, she had access to this forbidden knowledge, and after finding out how atrociously her government had acted, she was not in a big hurry to move back. Understandably, she was angry that she had to move to another nation to learn her own country’s history.

However, this cultural behavior—the active covering up of disturbing historical facts—is not unique to El Salvador. Almost every society has a problem admitting its mess-ups, failures, and outright barbarism. 

This can take the form of oppressive governments banning books, limiting free speech, or clamping down on unacceptable activities. For example, try being a blogger in China who criticizes the government. It won’t be fun for you.

But industrialized nations shouldn’t get too smug. Even in countries where the government can’t legally detain you for bringing up the unpleasant past, there is societal pressure to just shut up and play along.

For example, Australia abused the hell out of its Aboriginal population for decades, including the practice of removing “tens of thousands of indigenous children, sometimes forcibly, from their families in a policy of assimilation that only ended in the 1970s.” Yet Australia didn’t get around to apologizing for this whoopsie moment until a few years ago.

Meanwhile, Ireland is only now admitting that it allowed the Catholic Church to run its own pedophile ring for generations. And many Japanese still insist that their troops were completely chill during World War II.

Or look at the government of Turkey, which continues to deny that it unleashed the Armenian genocide over a century ago. Everybody involved is long dead, but Turkey is still not fessing up to a damn thing.

Yes, all over the world, humans are reluctant to acknowledge their cultural catastrophes or historical disasters. And you see where this is headed, right? Yup—let’s talk about the U.S.A.

Here in America, you cannot be arrested for saying the president sucks—or at least that’s true for now. However, you can still get fired if you teach kids about our nation’s history of racism. You can be threatened with physical violence if you acknowledge that America has not always lived up to its ideals. You can be coerced into keeping quiet.

That’s why we should celebrate small victories like California becoming the first state to “make ethnic studies a required class for high school graduation to help students understand the past and present struggles and contributions of Black, Asian, Latino, Native/Indigenous Americans and other groups that have experienced racism and marginalization in America.”

To no one’s surprise, conservatives are angry about developments like this, even if it’s obvious that when it comes to racial issues, the last people we should listen to are White right-wingers. They aren’t exactly known for their ceaseless advocacy of ethnic minorities, and are more likely to scream in our faces. In fact, “Karens asking people of color to explain themselves are the rust on the barbed wire atop the walls separating some White Americans from people of color.”

However, even some prominent conservatives are now admitting that “there is something wrong” with the fact that most Americans have never heard of the Tulsa riots of 1921. Concealing this disturbing historical truth “wasn’t just erasure; that was a pogrom.”

So are we finally making progress on America’s refusal to acknowledge its cacophonous past? Maybe, but the people who want to bury, whitewash, or alter history will not stop.

Yes, we all want to believe that our ancestors were noble, our nation is pure, and our history is honorable. But the truth is that most of our ancestors were jerks, our country is flawed, and our historical record is riddled with both breathtaking highs and abysmal lows.

In that respect, we are just like everybody else.

 

Featured image by Ron Cogswell/CC BY 2.0

So who is Daniel Cubias, a.k.a. the 'Hispanic Fanatic'? Simply put, he has an IQ of 380, the strength of 12 men, and can change the seasons just by waving his hand. Despite these powers, however, he remains a struggling writer. For the demographically interested, the Hispanic Fanatic is a Latino male who lives in California, where he works as a business writer. He was raised in the Midwest, but he has also lived in New York. He is the author of the novels 'Barrio Imbroglio' and 'Zombie President.' He blogs because he must.

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