David Cannon, “The Right Stuff”

David Cannon, “The Right Stuff”

Teaching both sides of the historical coin

What parts of America’s history are we focusing on?

  • Tuesday, September 14, 2021 10:05am
  • Opinion

In the early 80s, when my family moved to Alaska, I got accepted into the IBEW-NECA Electrical Apprenticeship program. The IBEW was the Electrical Union, and NECA was the National Electrical Contractors Association.

As part of the training, there was much time spent where the union had a chance to mold our young minds. At the same time, the business leaders had their chance to talk to us about the virtues of their side. I wasn’t political at that time, but when our teacher would get up there and talk about the evils of “Reaganomics” (it was a 80s thing) he would describe how bad it was, and that there was (something like) 5 percent unemployment. I said, “That’s great!” The class grew quiet, and looked at me. I said that means that there is 95 percent employment in the U.S.! The class looked at the teacher who replied, “That’s not what it means.” I said, “Yes it does!” The teacher sputtered and changed the subject.

That is what comes to mind when I hear the mainstream media spouting statistics and saying “this is the truth” – but they frequently don’t talk about the other side of the coin, and don’t give a balanced view of what is going on.

There have been printed words in this paper about those pesky “Tucker-loving” Republicans, and how they rewrite history to suit their needs. The school system nationally and locally is working hard to reteach history and to mold the young minds into a view of what “really happened” with the “Systemically Racist America” that we belong to.

I have a copy of the 1619 Project that I am wading through, and I have looked at much of the material that is based on the school union-sanctioned, school board-approved history of the terrible things that took place in the slavery days the US. From my point of view, there is a strong inference in the 1619 Project that because our past is so steeped in racism, by association, we must be inherently racist. So, like the example of the 95 percent employment stated above, let’s look at the other side of the coin.

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, they included the line that “All Men were created equal”. It’s well known that the Founding Fathers discussed slavery, and that many believed that slavery was wrong,. However, as they needed to get all 13 colonies to sign the Declaration, they could not make it illegal. Luckily, they built the framework that would allow it to be stopped.

These conversations about outlawing slavery never stopped, even a century later. The Democratically-controlled South didn’t want the anti-slavery attempts from the no-good Republicans, so they wanted to secede from the US. This, as we know, started the Civil War.

President Abraham Lincoln (a Republican), by Executive Order, came out with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864. With Republican abolitionists, a 13th Amendment was added to the Constitution. Additionally, as a form of reparations, Lincoln promised the freed slaves “40 Acres and a Mule” so they could be self-sufficient.

In 1865, when Lincoln was shot, Vice President Andrew Jackson (a Democrat) revoked the reparations and gave the captured land back to his buddy slaveholders in the South. Jackson had large slave holdings.

Around the same time the KKK was formed in the South by the Southern Democrats, and it was designed as the “enforcement arm” of the Democratic Party to combat Republican efforts to develop political and financial equality for Black Americans. It was used to develop White Supremacy in the South and to have Democratic victories in the elections. The Republican-led Congress worked hard to curb and shut down the KKK.

Unfortunately, their work was not always successful. In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson (a Democrat) arranged to have a real live black and white movie shown in the White House – it was D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation”. The film tells of the “heroic efforts” of the KKK to keep the Blacks “in their place”. Through the film, the KKK had an upsurge in popularity in the Democratic-controlled South.

We have heard our current President frequently talk about “Jim Crow” laws. These racist laws were put in place by Southern Democrats. The Democrats used it to take back the progress Republicans made during the Reconstruction programs put in place after the Civil War.

We all have skeletons in our closets, but the Civil Rights act of 1964 shows that we are trying to do and be better. Since 1964 it has been illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Every business in the United States has that sign pasted on its wall that affirms that.

So, when people want to focus on the hateful things that happened 200 years ago, let them know that we chose to do better, and point out what has been going on during the last 55 years. We have a Black Vice President and a Black President that was elected for two terms. We have Black Astronauts and Supreme Court Justices. We don’t blink an eye at Black Doctors and CEOs.

America is a beacon that says we are trying to be an example to the World. People from around the world are fighting to get into this country.

I hope that our education system is spending as much time teaching the young minds entrusted to them about the great abolitionists that gave their lives to stop slavery around the world. By focusing on all the bad things done in the past, and not giving equal time to the good, is it any wonder kids today get a skewed view of the world? Remember to teach both sides of the coin.

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