Where Are the Conservatives Protesting Trump’s ‘Patriotic Education’ Commission?
Trump attempts to mandate a rosy history of the U.S. being taught in schools, and true conservatives are tragically nowhere to be heard.
It was once a given that, should the government try to expunge the inconvenient parts of American history that reflect poorly on the country, conservatives could be counted on to protest the attempt at revisionist history. Today, however, that changed when Trump created the “1776 commission”, which envisions a “patriotic education”:
patriotic education — meaning the presentation of the history of the American founding and foundational principles, the examination of how the United States has grown closer to those principles throughout its history, and the explanation of why commitment to America’s aspirations is beneficial and justified.
When did it become acceptable to present American history as being all about how the U.S. has succeeded in its aspirational goals? This sounds like North Korea talking about its great accomplishments, because the fact they even aspired to get rid of poverty is what should be celebrated, right? Let’s glance over the fact poverty still exists, it’s about the intent! America IS a perfect union, because that is our aspiration and all we’ve done since our founding is march in a straight line of progress towards our aspirations!
Clearly, America’s history has its flaws, and it is precisely those flaws have led to heroic moments, such as Abraham Lincoln and MLK that Trump cites. We would not have these moments if other villains did not exist; if there was no segregation there is no civil rights movement. If there is no slavery there is no civil war. We should celebrate our improvements, but to do so you fundamentally have to look at our faults. Yet the burger king wants only heroes and no villains, because THAT’S his cheap definition of patriotism, yet alone his definition of education, where the inconvenient facts are left out.
The founders were not a uniform bunch of people. In fact, they were divided into the Federalists and the Anti-federalists. Not every founder’s opinion reflects the aspirations of the Constitution. The fact that the great compromise of the day was that black people should be worth 3/5ths of a human being is not an aspiration we should try to achieve, yet it is something worth examining. The divide over this would be one of the seeds of the civil war, African-Americans, which is precisely part of the messy “aspirations” that fundamentally reflect the U.S. American history at its best is about the struggle for those ideas, but it’s a struggle nonetheless. Yet, to Trump and this Executive Order he has issued, it is the opposite. They are blights on our holy founding, taught in the liberal schools of America that are “indoctrinating our kids” to believe the founders were villains. I think we can have some nuance, and think of the founders as we think of all people; some were good, some were bad. Some believed and did bad things, while still doing other good things. The fact that the founders set up a system where only wealthy land owners (white men) could vote does not reflect well on their idea of equality. To them, however, that was a better system than they had. Americans took it upon themselves to constantly improve it, and as our ideas of equality have changed, we have realized a better and better system.
Why then, would anyone allow Trump to rewrite history more favorably to the U.S.? I thought we wanted countries to confront their pasts, such as the Germans with World War II, rather than try to cover it up Soviet style. I would’ve thought there could be few greater outrages to conservatives than to change our history books by government fiat to be be more favorable to the government. All it took, it seems, was a little dressing to call it patriotic and slap “1776” on it, and viola they’re nowhere to be heard. It’s rather comical in the pettiness of it, that Trump thinks all it takes to get people to buy in is call it patriotic and say “1776”. It reminds me of the Patriot Act, in its level of Orwellian logic, where the patriot is supposed to love being under global surveillance. Now, we add to that being taught only the glorious history of mother America.
The degree Trump has turned the U.S. into a banana republic is astonishing, on the hand, but it is the cowardice of Republicans and true conservatives that have openly supported the slide that is most surprising. I yearn for the conservatives of old, who might’ve protested such surveillance, or such revisionist history, or half of the things Trump has done which they used to hate but now love. This guy is just openly saying, as a world leader, he is ordering American history to be taught more favorably, and there is nary a reaction but to praise it as another culture war badge by much of the right. Nevermind that leaders around the world will take the opportunity to copy Trump, and revise their own histories, but the sheer audacity of the move, and the fact he can get away with it without protest from conservatives, really makes me think conservatives have sacrificed their principles to keep this clown in power. It is a sad day in America.