A flag goes down, historical revisionism soars (boldface mine):
Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall based on state academic standards that barely address racial segregation. The state’s guidelines for teaching American history also do not mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws.
And when it comes to the Civil War, children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery” — written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict, according to some members of the state board of education.
Slavery was a “side issue to the Civil War,” said Pat Hardy, a Republican board member, when the board adopted the standards in 2010. “There would be those who would say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over states’ rights.”
Thankfully, the Washington Post commits journalism, as opposed to ‘he said/she said’ stenography:
Historians acknowledge that disagreements over states’ rights played a role in the Civil War. But the states’ rights issue was inseparable from slavery, they say: The right that states in the South were seeking to protect, after all, was the right to buy and sell people.
Southern states made that clear in their declarations of independence from the union, said James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association. Slavery’s primary role in driving the Civil War is a matter of scholarly consensus, he said.
“The War happened only because of the determination of the leadership of eleven states to defend the right of their residents to own other human beings,” Grossman wrote in an e-mail. “The Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery.”
I really don’t understand the defensiveness–and some of this response is defensiveness (and some of it is prejudice and bigotry). As someone who had much of his family murdered by Nazi Germany, I don’t hold Germans today accountable for their grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ crimes. If your great-great-great-grandfather fought on the side of the Confederacy, I won’t hold that against you either. But, just as I would condemn a German today who made some kind of stupid remark about how concentration camps weren’t that bad (“Ok, I’ll grant you Auschwitz was bad, but Majdanek was a health spa”), if you decide to excuse those who fought a war to defend slavery, then you’re not a good person. You might even be a bigot or flat-out racist.
Because the reality is that the entire economic order of the South (and, yes, a significant part of the North as well as the British Empire*) was built on the use of legally-enabled torture and terror–that is, slavery.
We need to teach this.
An aside: Are the education reformers, especially the hardcore Common Core advocates, angry about this? Because they have a long history of ignoring this sort of bullshit, whether it be historical revisionism or creationism. Go figure.
*Until the Civil War, where the South foolishly drove up cotton prices in an attempt to gain more money–and thus finally made other cotton-growing regions more competitive, the bulk of England’s cotton–which drove many of the technological advances in the Industrial Revolution–came from the Enslaver South. In addition, British merchants securitized cotton production, which helped drive the internal U.S. slave trade.