Thursday, February 16, 2012

On My Soap Box

Someone just posted on Facebook an article about how the Republican party is trying to rewrite history.  Well, this has got my panties in a bunch.  Not that I agree that it is OK to rewrite history, but they are not the first, and probably won't be the last.
When the Constitution was written, it was done by Anglo-Saxon males in a fight for independence from England.  But it did not include women, who were considered property at the time; slaves, also property; Native Americans, which we tried to wipe out completely about 100 years later. There were no Irish, Germans, Italians, Chinese or Jews among the founding fathers. These people all made their place in our history much later and at great sacrifice and suffering.
I think the most significant part of our history written for the benefit of the sitting government was our treatment of the Native Americans who were here long before any white men arrived on this continent.  Growing up, every book I read, every movie I saw depicted the Red Man as a savage and his only thought in life was kill and maim the settlers.  What a bunch of shit!  They were doing what we all want to do now.  Protect what we believe God has given us as our own country.  They were trying to protect their homes, their hunting grounds, the area where they gathered food, where they worshiped their Gods.  Not until I was an adult did I learn that the government tried to starve the Indians, broke every treaty they ever made with them, deliberately gave them blankets infected with smallpox to kill them because they weren't starving fast enough.The Army would make sneak attacks on villages, killing men, women, babies!  Custer was depicted as a hero, instead of the crazy s-o-b that he really was. They moved them from the areas they had always lived in to places where there was no hunting, no way to grow food and enslaved them to Indian agents who abused them by withholding supplies or provided supplies that were spoiled.  If that wasn't enough, then they marched them thousands of miles across the southern United States into the swamps of Florida where the bugs and mosquitoes gave them more diseases.  Then they changed their minds, and marched them back again to the deserts in the southwest portion of the country where there was absolutely no way for them take care of themselves.  The US government spent several years dedicating a unit of the army to track down and capture Geronimo, with his small band of Apaches because they refused to stay on the reservation and starve.
And less than 100 hundred years later, we were appalled that Hitler was trying to do the same things to the Jews in Europe!
Slavery was officially abolished with the Civil War, but this put thousands of Negros out of work, and the southern states were so decimated by the war the plantation owners could not afford to pay for the labor they had previously gotten for room and board.  There were abusive slave owners, but there were also kind men who took care of the people that they owned.  All slave owners were depicted as despicable characters in my history lessons.
I don't know enough of the facts, but the Chinese suffered as well under the hand of the government.  They were brought here by the thousands to work on the railroads, dams, etc.  But they were never allowed to be part of main stream society, they had to live in their own districts (China Town), and when their jobs were done, we tried to ship them back to China.
If all this isn't bad enough, we interred Japanese Americans in camps in our own country during World War II.  We took away their businesses and farms, ripped them out of their homes.  I sure didn't read about any of that in my history books growing up. I knew nothing of that until I was a mother and met a young woman not much older than myself who had lived in one of these camps.
The women who fought for the vote were shown as crazy ladies whose husbands didn't know how to control them, not the heroes who brought women's rights to the women of my generation.
This country is a melting pot from around the world and that brings good qualities and bad qualities from each nationality and religion that has found a home in America.  I embrace all the good things from my ancestors, both European and Native American, but I also don't want to ignore the atrocities that those people inflicted upon others.  To ignore history is to repeat it.  There is not much in our history that needs repeating.
Off my soap box now! and back to crocheting.


Richard said...

Wow, thank you for that wonderful prose and reminder of our national history. We have so much to be proud of as Americans and just as much to be humbled by. God help us should we ignore our history!

Richard Herndon
Charlotte, North Carolina

jd said...

well said.