The far-right would rather erase what is uncomfortable for them, but history is deeply complex and full of chaos. Our understanding of it is ever-shifting. Terrible things have occurred that need to be faced, addressed and, eventually, transcended.
If the right gets its way, maybe in a decade or two, the United States will be free of its slave-owning past.
All gone – gone with the wind. It’s just not taught anymore. Yeah, we had a civil war—about “states’ rights”—and then we moved on: We conquered the West, saved the world first from the Nazis, then from the commies, and remain the greatest country ever. Hurray for capitalism! Any questions?
Oh, one last thing: The commies—a.k.a., the Marxists—are still around. They’re everywhere. As Ben Burgis noted, Marxism means “anything conservatives find frightening.” I recently learned, for instance, that they’ve invaded the Smithsonian Institution – specifically, an exhibit about Latino history in the United States.
As critics wrote a year ago in The Hill: “A new Latino exhibit at the National Museum of American History offers an unabashedly Marxist portrayal of history, religion and economics. It is, quite frankly, disgraceful.”
Indeed, the exhibit—which focuses on the history of Latino youth movements—is so outrageous, according to the critics, that it clearly demonstrates the need to immediately cut congressionally approved funding for the construction of the National Museum of the American Latino, because . . . you know, the Marxists. Among their current tactics to undermine the greatest country ever is to write their own version of American history, which focuses on all the stuff we need to forget about.
By now everyone knows about the ongoing conservative furor over American schools teaching what they called “critical race theory.” This is a name they plunked from the world of academia and turned into an evil, Marxist plot to make (white) American children feel uncomfortable by forcing them to learn about how there used to be systemic racism in this country. That is, once upon a time, white America, in the wake of freeing the slaves and outlawing slavery, maintained its sense of supremacy by legally, and often violently, enforcing, as George Wallace once put it, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” And of course, the essence of segregation was separate and unequal—from housing, jobs and schools to bathrooms and drinking fountains.
From the conservative point of view: poof! It no longer exists, so it never happened. And those who insist otherwise are caught in the grip of Marxists—a term nowadays that simply means the purveyors of absolute evil.
Beyond the teaching of history, here are a few other ways that Marxists, according to conservative writers and pundits, have infiltrated America:
1. Global warming, a.k.a., climate justice, which, according to author Jordan Peterson, as quoted by Burgis, is “the new guise of murderous Marxism.”
2. Black awareness, a.k.a., being woke. Ron DeSantis has described it as “a form of cultural Marxism,” which of course is pervading American schools.
3. Gender equality. As AP reported, various Republicans, including DeSantis and Ted Cruz, have used the term cultural Marxism “to characterize fights for gender or racial equity that they argue are ‘woke’ and threaten a traditional American way of life.
4. Racial integration. Ah, the old days. In 1959, according to Current Affairs, protestors surrounded the Arkansas state capitol building in Little Rock, carrying signs that declared: “Race Mixing Is Communism.”
5. The prosecution of DonaldTrump. According to AP: “Hours after pleading not guilty in federal court, Trump told a crowd of his supporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, that Biden, ‘together with a band of his closest thugs, misfits and Marxists, tried to destroy American democracy.’” He added that, even if the communists get away with this, “it won’t stop me.”
I’m sure there are plenty more ways that conservatives envision the Marxists are trying to skewer the country’s greatness, or will in the future. For the moment, what continues to consume my attention is the right-wing desperation to control history and not simply challenge but banish any version of it that counters their certainty about who we are.
For instance, Alex Skopic at CurrentAffairs quotes author James Lindsay, who described efforts to address racial injustice in America as, in actuality, “the tip of a one-hundred-year-long spear that is being thrust into the side of Western civilization.”
The present moment comes and goes. Apparently what matters is how – or whether – you talk about it afterwards. In other words, establishing our history creates the present. That’s the reason “critical race theory” is such a serious nuisance to the right wing. While I am absolutely willing to acknowledge that virtually any version of history is likely factually flawed and politically influenced, I would suggest to conservatives that trying to banish versions they don’t like, and writing them off as Marxist, will not make the truth go away.
History is not some kind of Biblical narrative: “In the beginning, God wrote the Declaration of Independence . . .” Or whatever. History is deeply complex and full of chaos. Our understanding of it is ever-shifting. Terrible things have occurred that need to be faced, addressed and, eventually, transcended.
Johanna Fernandez, one of the historians who put together the Latino history exhibit that caused such a stir, said: “We live in La-La Land. White Americans, Black Americans, Latino Americans walking around, really not understanding who we are, why we’re here, and how we got to this place. What’s so dangerous about honestly grappling with the history of this country?”Grappling with history versus trying to control (and erase) it. There’s a lot of truth in our past we still need to face, however much it may hurt.