Americans have never liked studying history, real history. We love mythology. We revel in stories of our genesis as a nation not realizing that, at best, these stories are exaggerations and/or allegorical; at worst, blatant lies and/or intentionally edited to leave out, as Paul Harvey said, “the rest of the story”.
We have short term memories and are uncomfortable with the histories that don’t make us feel good or are more complicated than simple dichotomies of good guy vs. bad guy. We make excuses for those who went before us and then we refuse to acknowledge that those unjust actions have any residual consequences on our contemporary society. Or we condemn previous generations and then tell everyone else to “get over it already.”
We need to recognize that things from the past have shaped the present and rarely are the issues of the past fully resolved, they just may no longer be in the news.
It may be shocking to some that in 2015 the United States government was still paying a pension to a living child of a civil war veteran. The civil war ended over 150 years ago amd we are still literally paying for it.
You think Dr. King had a dream and racism disappeared because a few laws were changed?
You think native people have casinos and therefore they are just fine and dandy?
That the USA stole half of Mexico and that the people whose ancestors were living on that land for centuries before it became US territory should “go back home”? They are home. This was their home before my ancestors were here. This was their home before the overwhelming majority of Irish, Italian, German, Scandanavian, Polish, and various other European people had immigrated here.
We “remember the Alamo” but we are told a myth. The truth is Santa Anna’s army was defending the sovereign land of Mexico from an invading army.
We hear people talk about the “founding fathers” and have no clue a out what they are saying. The founders hated Catholics and that fueled their desire for revolution when the Quebec Act was passed.
John Adams signed a law that made it illegal to criticize the government.
Washington ordered an act of genocide during the revolution. Washington also put down a rebellion over taxes with the use of a military force. The Civil War was about slavery – the articles of secession all state clearly they were seceeding to ensure the
future of slavery.
Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright orchestrated the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.
We committed war crimes in The Revolution, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and in many other military actions.
This does not mean that we have never done good things in the world. Our very Constitution is an enduring document of law that will, generations from now, still be studied and treated with historical importance for the world as much as the Hamarabi Code.
We have the capacity to do immense good here and around the world but we are hindered by our childish insolence when it comes to doing our collective homework on the history of our nation and the world.
All of the trials we face today did not just pop up out of nowhere, they were planted and cultivated years ago and the harvest has finally ripened. If we want to know what we should do going forward we must dig deeper in understanding what is going on today by learning about how we got where we are.