Just makin’ it up, once again

Most of us have heard about the successful efforts of the Texas Board of Education to revise high school history books, claiming they fail to celebrate conservative values. (duh.)

Today, McClatchy, the best news organization working in the US today (formerly Knight-Ridder) expands on the story noting that there’s a movement-wide attempt alter our understanding of our own history. They use five examples. These two are my favorites – the first because it’s preposterous and such an outright lie and the second because Alexander Hamilton, royal pretensions and all, is among my favorites of the Founders.

JAMESTOWN

Reaching for an example of how bad socialism can be, former House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said recently that the people who settled Jamestown, Va., in 1607 were socialists and that their ideology doomed them.

“Jamestown colony, when it was first founded as a socialist venture, dang near failed with everybody dead and dying in the snow,” he said in a speech March 15 at the National Press Club.

It was a good, strong story, helping Armey, a former economics professor, illustrate the dangers of socialism, the same ideology that he and other conservatives say is at the core of Obama’s agenda.

It was not, however, true.

The Jamestown settlement was a capitalist venture financed by the Virginia Company of London — a joint stock corporation — to make a profit. The colony nearly foundered owing to a harsh winter, brackish water and lack of food, but reinforcements enabled it to survive. It was never socialistic. In fact, in 1619, Jamestown planters imported the first African slaves to the 13 colonies that later formed the United States.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON

At the same event, Armey urged people to read the Federalist Papers as a guide to the sentiments of the tea party movement.

“The small-government conservative movement, which includes people who call themselves the tea party patriots and so forth, is about the principles of liberty as embodied in the Constitution, the understanding of which is fleshed out if you read things like the Federalist Papers,” Armey said.

Others such as Democrats and the news media, “people here who do not cherish America the way we do,” don’t understand because “they did not read the Federalist Papers,” he said.

A member of the audience asked Armey how the Federalist Papers could be such a tea party manifesto when they were written largely by Alexander Hamilton, who the questioner said “was widely regarded then and now as an advocate of a strong central government.”

Armey ridiculed the very suggestion.

“Widely regarded by whom?” he asked. “Today’s modern, ill-informed political science professors? . . . I just doubt that was the case, in fact, about Hamilton.”

Hamilton, however, was an unapologetic advocate of a strong central government, one that plays an active role in the economy and is led by a president named for life and thus beyond the emotions of the people. Hamilton also pushed for excise taxes and customs duties to pay down federal debt.

In fact, Ian Finseth said in a history written for the University of Virginia, others at the constitutional convention “thought his proposals went too far in strengthening the central government.”

Shame on them all. They’re sloppy ideologues who don’t give a damn about the truth of the country they claim to love.

And shame especially, that they would want to twist that truth so viciously, when we have troops engaged in two wars, especially when it is the 176th day of the ninth year of the War in Afgahnistan.

9 responses to “Just makin’ it up, once again

  1. Excellent catch and posting Moe. Yes, shame on them! I was one of those troops too.
    McLeroy is nothing more than “a star bellied sneetch that wants everyone to be like” him.
    The worst thing about the Texas Textbook Masacre is that because of the size of Texas Public Schools these fictional histories will creep into other states as well – many publishers and printers will only make one version to be used nationwide.

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  2. [Texas Textbook Masacre]

    Oh man, I love that!

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  3. I’m always amazed every time right-wingers lie so obviously and shamelessly. You can’t just rewrite history!

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    • Scream long enough – and LOUD enough – and pretty soon you start making it go your way. It’s breathtaking that people with no knowledge themselves of either the history or the science, feel qualified – indeed compelled – to substitute their own views for the centuries of scholarship that have previously gone into these textbooks.

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  4. Hamilton… i would have guessed you went with Jefferson?!?!

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    • I was a Jefferson groupie for sure, until I started reading biographies of these guys, and I decided I really had problems with Jefferson – he was a tad ego centric and he was remarkably irresponsible.

      And yet he was a true Renaissaince man – writer, inventor, scholar. But he lived entirely in the moment.

      Hamilton (and Madison) were very forward thinking and really genuinely tried to figure out how to make it all work.

      And Adams, I like Adams a lot.

      They are all so flawed, but we’re all flawed.

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      • Hm.. the romantic myth of Jefferson sure is widespread.. sounds reasonable there was a backside to it all.. But his language – very original and very nice indeed.
        I’ve got to dig further into these people soon, it was exciting times back then..

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  5. The rewriting of history for the benefit of the masses is nothing particularly new. Consider how the soviet regime has nearly completely edited out Trotsky’s existence in their history texts.

    The problem with this systematic rewriting is that, unfortunately, many people stop learning after high school. With texts such as those mentioned Moe, they will come into society with a skewed view of their history and concomitantly a skewed view of how to act in present society.

    It takes time and effort to get a nuanced view of society and reactionary actions like this only serve to further obfuscate our past and promote the dangerous ignorance we see today in our societies.

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    • This one is particulary troublesome because it comes entirely from ideology. Not even for political advantage, which is what goes on with things like the Soviets etc. There, the eternal rewriting of their own history was parallel to political ‘necessity’. This one isn’t the action of a state – it’s the influence of a bunch of ignorant zealots who have managed to triumph by USING the power of the state

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