Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Re-educating America about itself

As a history student, I've long been disgusted by the watered down pap fed America's young people about their own history. I've also been concerned over the last few decades that the slightly anti-American tilt that was beginning to permeate the bland and boring textbooks of my youth, has turned into an anti-American deluge. Now, I learn from FrontPage about a history book that tells a different side of the story:

For a half a century, the interpretation of America's story has drifted steadily leftward. Some of this was due to slight shifts in emphasis over time---resulting in massively unbalanced works ultimately. Some was the result of deliberate distortions of the New Left, seeking to 'redress' the crimes in the American past by excessive criticism and clever slant. Still more came from the leftist influences that shape many academics who write American history and its building blocks of scholarly articles, with their obsession with race, class, 'gender,' and other 'oppressed/oppressor' constructs. And, unfortunately, some of the shift came from apparently deliberate factual errors based on political partisanship. The time has come to right these wrongs.
Just a couple of the canards, which were based primarily on Marxist analysis, rather than facts, that they take on:
*The "Age of Jackson." It has become chic for Libertarians, as well as old-school leftists, to portray Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren as friends of the "common man" and "small- government" advocates. Clay, according David Kennedy's The American Pageant, was a "big- money Kentuckian," while Jackson was the "idol of the masses." (Davy Crockett, who hated Jackson, and Abe Lincoln, who supported Clay, must not have qualified for membership in the "masses.") John Murrin claims Jackson represented "a society of virtuous, industrious producers," as opposed to "parasites who grew rich by manipulating credit, prices, paper money and government-bestowed privileges." That must have been before Jackson stashed all the money from the Bank of the United States in the "pet" banks of his friends. In fact, government grew steadily during the Age of Jackson---even under Van Buren---and Jackson proportionately expanded the power of the presidency far more than Abraham Lincoln ever did. *The "Robber Barons." Most "texts" obsess with trusts, the wealth of John D. Rockefeller, the semi-peon status of the industrial worker, and the plight of the farmers, seemingly without noticing that the captains of industry gave away unprecedented amounts of money; created jobs at astounding rates; raised wages and lowered prices on almost all consumer goods. Travel became affordable because of Cornelius Vanderbilt; kerosene became cheap---and literally saved the whales---providing low-cost indoor illumination, thanks to Rockefeller; and Andrew Carnegie made possible not only all other industries that depended on high-quality, inexpensive steel, but laid the groundwork for multi-story skyscrapers.
It sounds like a very interesting and thought-provoking book, and I certainly look forward to reading it.