Tea Partiers in the great state of Tennessee have decided — as the militant Christianists in Texas have already done — that schools aren’t teaching history correctly. The Memphis, TN Commercial Appeal reports on a list of demands they’ve made of their state legislature (WebCite cached article):
Members of Tennessee tea parties presented state legislators with five priorities for action Wednesday, including “rejecting” the federal health reform act, establishing an elected “chief litigator” for the state and “educating students the truth about America.”
Railing and caterwauling about healthcare reform is, of course, standard fare among tea partiers. And whining about state litigation is, too. Neither of these really is unexpected or novel, then, in light of what the tea partiers have already been doing. What’s alarming is what they demand be done in the TN’s public schools:
Regarding education, the material they distributed said, “Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.” …
The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”
TN’s tea partiers, then, don’t want to hear about anything bad about the Founding Fathers. And they don’t want their kids to have to study about those “minorities.” Their complaint is based on their own perceptions about how American history is being taught:
Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.
“The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” said Rounds, whose website identifies him as a Vietnam War veteran of the Air Force and FedEx retiree who became a lawyer in 1995.
The problem, of course, is that every school in the country already teaches that the F.F.s were “revolutionaries” and that they promoted their own vision of liberty. Their revolutionary nature is clearly implied, for instance, in calling the U.S. war for independence as “the American Revolution.” Moreover, mentioning that the F.F.s owned slaves, does absolutely nothing to change that. To teach both the good and the bad about the F.F.s is not wrong — if anything it’s the right thing to do.
TN’s tea partiers are trying to set up something of a “Founding Father cult” in which the F.F.s end up being venerated as saints or worshipped as demigods … bigger than life, having lived perfect lives, virtuous beyond compare. This flies in the face of reality, however; we all know that no human being is perfect, not even the F.F.s, and to suggest they were perfect, does both them and TN’s school children a disservice.
Also, the choice to do make this demand just before Martin Luther King’s birthday may be coincidental, or it might have been an intended slap at the Martin Luther King Day holiday, a frequent target of complaints about “political correctness.” I just don’t know.
It’s time for tea partiers to fucking grow up for the first time in their lives and stop screaming and wailing that history isn’t what they demand it was.
Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith blog.american history, education, fayette county, founding fathers, hal rounds, historical revisionism, history education, history revision, history revisionism, history revisionists, history teaching, martin luther king day, minorities, minority, public education, public school, public schools, social studies, tea partier, tea partiers, tea parties, tea party, teaching, tennessee, tennessee tea partiers, tennessee tea parties, TN