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World History's Greatest Villain According To My American Education Experience

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posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 06:52 PM
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I was recently watching a program on Chinese military developments when they mentioned that the Chinese were the first to develop firearms. This initially struck me as absurd. I was taught in high school World History that, while the Chinese were the first to develop gun powder, it was Europeans who were capable of turning beautiful fireworks into instruments of death.

The documentary made a very good case for it, though, including showing the earliest known "rifle", which was really just a shoulder mounted cannon.

A little later I was reading "True Stories From The American Past", a book similar to A People's History of the United States, though it chooses a few specific instances in history from the start of the colonization to 1865 (I only have volume 1). As I read, something occurred to me.

Throughout high school as well as grade school, I really enjoyed history, as I still do. Yet, as I've delved deeper and deeper into it, I've been discovering that what I was taught in school is not what is really believed. It's possible that some has become clearer over time as new artifacts and documents are discovered, but there was a theme.

My perception of history, though subtle, decidedly painted while males, specifically European white males, as not necessarily pure evil, but certainly villainous, while all others, were the victims of white male villainy. It wasn't as overt as The People's History of the United States or this True Stories From the American Past I'm reading, but the theme was that white males are trouble and every other race is typically peaceful. I say typically because the exception is the Japanese in World War II, though they corrected their ways while white males are still extremely bad news.

For example, the Chinese developed fireworks -- white males got their hands on the technology and used it to kill folks.

White males committed genocide in the "New World" unprovoked as well as robbing land from a people innocent of any evil capitalistic concepts such as land owning. While it is true that Europeans did often instigate some of the wars that took place, many of the larger Native American tribes were very warlike and territorial. This was never taught.

White males created slavery. While this wasn't really ever taught, the impression given was that slavery didn't exist before the slave trade out of Africa began, and then it was only white males who did all of it. Never was it mentioned that often it was other tribes that would do raids for slaves, and that this trade had existed for a while before the cotton trade in America began. It just became more profitable for the tribal leaders to sell the slaves to Europeans rather than keep them.

Abe Lincoln was a white hero we learned about. He freed the slaves, but then a white man who hated the idea of blacks being free had to kill him. The irony of the action, that Abe had several plans of reintegrating the south that died with him for a far more harsh path forward was driven home.

In the Revolution, the Declaration of Independence was applauded, though the hypocrisy of the "All men are created equal" was far more than just touched on. What could you expect, though? They were white males...

There were many other stories such as these. The Japanese internment camps of World War 2 in the US (with the teacher pointing out, as well as the text book, that Germans were ok because Americans identified more with them due to their skin color) without a mention of Japanese treatment of any foreigner and a byline mentioning the death march and nothing about their treatment of POWs.

Now make no mistake, the point I'm making is not that white males were innocent. Every one of these presentations of history holds truth, and Europeans, generally being the most powerful in the world for the past 4 or 5 hundred years, have lead the charge on many atrocities. The point has been, rather, the one sided presentation made, at least in my school years from ~'85 to '97. The one exception to this rule was a U.S. History teacher named Dr. Epstein who had a PhD in History and would give us all sides of a conflict and what was going on, though not covered in the text books (he was the first to open my eyes to the fact that the Civil War wasn't only about slavery, and that was my junior year of high school).

What has this produced? I know in me, utter revulsion at groups like the KKK, skin heads, Neo-Nazis, etc, but just a mild disgust with other supremacist groups of other races, such as the Black Panthers. There was also a contempt towards capitalism as well as white men.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, though. If you think this is the way history should be presented, please say so and why! If you were taught otherwise, say so! That was my education in the North Shore of Chicago. I'm sure it's different in other regions of the US, too.




posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 07:09 PM
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History is a Gordian Knot, always tugged tighter by the hands of time.

I too was given a "slanted" education, but years before your own. Back then, in the '50s, Americans were all shown as white, all the decision makers and intelligencia were white males. In those days, America could do no wrong.

The slant then was that Manifest Destiny, while not exactly a wholesome idea, benefited the poor idiot Red Children in the end, so it was overall better for them to be subjugated than mindlessly muddling through heathen lives.

The Civil War was fought to free slaves, according to the history of that day. But it seems the next chapter pointed out only the new jobs freed blacks found in the North, with no mention of a phrase even resembling "Economic Slavery". Again, white men bettered a race by finding more productive and less costly methods of exploitation, and the history of that era gave glowing accounts of how these white males had helped them prosper.

And so the pendulum swings back and forth, and it is our lot to seek the truth in those spaces between all the lies.



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 08:13 PM
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The civil war was not started to free slaves. That was thrown in later on because the north was losing. It was about States Rights. Something to think about.



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 08:37 PM
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I enjoyed the read. I do however, want to point out that we also interned Germans as well as Italians too during the War years. I mean other wise US citizens from that ancestry, not POWS.
Thanks,
Vance



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 10:54 PM
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Its was my junior year of high school I think, we had a lady who was running for state board of education. Come in our economics class to give us some spill on her ideals and what not.

She started to ask us some simple questions about history, One of the questions was " what was the first American colony ? ''

She did not emphasize on the question any further then that. So I raised my hand and said Roanoke. She looked at me and scowled pointing to another student who said James Town. She applauded and said correct !

Being the Defiant outspoken person that I am, I stood up and said no your wrong its Roanoke. She said no your wrong, I looked at my teacher who just smiled at me because he knew what was coming.

and then I proceeded to call a state politician a lying Bitch, and stormed out of the room.



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 11:20 PM
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What's interesting, though, is that it is not the case if you delve into history on your own. The full story is out there, or at least was/is since I was in school (it may not have been there in the 50s), yet it is not presented. Instead, a slanted version that is in conformance with educational culture is.

I think you nailed it on the head, though, in that it is a pendular effect, in that those who were taught that the heroic white man swooped in and saved the day for every other race out there learned that that wasn't entirely accurate may have caused many individuals who are now in charge of educational curriculum want to correct what they saw to be a fallacy. Unfortunately, as is so often the case in our human condition, the reaction to correct it was to do exactly the opposite of what they experienced, rather than balance it. Interesting...



Regarding the causes for the Civil War, Vance, that's partially true. Having grown up in Illinois (a.k.a. the "Land of Lincoln"), we did learn a lot about Lincoln's state government career as well as reviewing many of his debates, etc. For the North, one of the big reasons for fighting the war was because of slavery. In the South, it was states rights. This, I think, caused part of the schism that still exists today over the flying of the confederate flag -- from the North's perspective, how could you possibly want to subject a group of people to such harsh conditions. Even Lee stated he'd have been fighting for the Union had his beloved Virginia not sided with the South. (Granted, there were, I'm sure, federalists in the North who liked the idea of a bigger federal government as well as the economic factors where the North was not impacted nearly as severely economically by the banishing of slavery as the South was/would be). However, in the case of the South, many saw the federal government taking away the rights of states to police themselves in the Union that was originally set up in the Union. Even in cases where individuals found the practice of slavery detestable, they found the idea of another federal government dictating law across the land far more paramount than that of the rights of slaves.

If you look at the U.S. government today, there was a lot of truth to that fear. The Union won, and our government has steadily progressed more and more towards a federalist mentality of the U.S. government dictating what is best for individual states instead of the states largely governing themselves with the federal government just being in charge of defense of the Union, and (again, a federalist idea, though spurred on largely by Hamilton and existent in the Union since nearly the beginning) banking systems. You can decide if that was good or bad, but it has been the trend of this government, nearly universally, since then.



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 11:50 PM
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In point of fact, slavery in the south was becomming a financial burden on the southern states before the war started. Many of the largest plantations and farms where already turning to Share Cropping. The northern congress and senate members where worried that they would loose revenue because the south had a strangle hold on cotton and was prepared to sell it to Europe for a better price than the northern mills wanted to pay. The north used slavery as the red herring and tried they're best to force the southern states to pay set prices. Virginia was the first to pass laws forbidding any government entity from price fixing and preventing sales overseas. Other souther states followed suit and the States Rights movement took off. This and only this caused the 'War Of Northern Agression'.
Zindo



posted on Aug, 31 2008 @ 07:42 PM
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Originally posted by Blitz
She started to ask us some simple questions about history, One of the questions was " what was the first American colony ? ''

She did not emphasize on the question any further then that. So I raised my hand and said Roanoke. She looked at me and scowled pointing to another student who said James Town. She applauded and said correct !


Strictly speaking, neither of you were correct. The first British colony was Roanoke, but it wasn't successful. The first permanent British colony was Jamestown. The first permanent European colony was San Augustin (St. Augustine) Florida, established 20 years before Roanoke.



posted on Sep, 3 2008 @ 11:48 PM
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posted on Sep, 6 2008 @ 10:00 AM
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Originally posted by junglejake

For the North, one of the big reasons for fighting the war was because of slavery. In the South, it was states rights. This, I think, caused part of the schism that still exists today over the flying of the confederate flag -- from the North's perspective, how could you possibly want to subject a group of people to such harsh conditions.


Lincoln owned slaves, so I truly doubt he was morally bound to fight slavery..



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