Fascinating article in The Root on the school textbooks used by the noisiest opponents of teaching about slavery and “critical race theory.”

The bottom line: They like white history, as interpreted by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the cult of Robert E. Lee. You know what I mean: Slavery had its good points. Reconstruction was wrong. There was and is no systemic discrimination against black people in the United States of Dixie.

Advertisement

State standards on teaching social studies and history vary quite a bit, The Root says. Black history? Non-existent. Writes The Root:

Knowing this, we dug through bios, school archives and academic resources to find out how these GOP legislators gained their knowledge of America’s past. In most cases, we were able to find the exact textbook each legislator’s school district used for one of the state or American history courses. In other cases, we were able to find contemporaneous descriptions of the textbooks from academic journals or reports. To our surprise, most received a well-rounded education on the history of Black people in America.

Just kidding. They all learned variations of the same white lies. And, apparently, they’d like to keep it that way.

Among the Republican senators reviewed was Sen. Tom Cotton and the finding was likely similar to what you’d find in the school background of noisy whitewashers such as Rep. Mark Lowery and Sen. Trent Garner, who led the legislative assault on teaching history that includes an honest depiction of racial strife. From The Root:

Advertisement

Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)

What he said: “The 1619 Project is left-wing propaganda. It’s revisionist history at its worst.”

What he read: Tom Cotton, a 1995 graduate of Dardanelle High School, likely learned his American History from The American PageantWhile Cengage is a relative newcomer in the textbook industry, its high school history book, The American Pageant was used across the country for many years. The text is nuanced and thorough, even in how it presents slavery…most of the time.

One of the realities of the textbook industry is, because of the UDC’s influence over school districts and boards of education in the South, publishers must choose between telling the truth or bowing out of the textbook market in one-quarter of the country. Cotton’s text never explicitly says the Civil War was about slavery or even refers to it as a “Civil War.” Instead, it carefully couches the “War for Southern Independence” as a clash that had to do with tariffs, Northern overreach, blah, blah, blah. The book also doesn’t quote any of the actual declarations of secession, only noting that the “rebel” Jefferson Davis told the despotic “King” Abraham Lincoln: “All we ask is to be let alone.”

Illustration for article titled We Found the Textbooks of Senators Who Oppose The 1619 Project and Suddenly Everything Makes Sense
Screenshot: American Pageant

And, of course, the textbook describes the period after the Civil War:

“Unbending loyalty to “ole Massa” prompted many slaves to help their owners resist the Union Armies. Blacks blocked the door of the “big house” with their bodies or stashed the plantation silverware under mattresses in their own humble huts, where it would be safe from the plundering “bluebellies”…Newly emancipated slaves sometimes eagerly accepted the invitation of Union troops to join in the pillaging of their master’s possessions.”

This would be a theme throughout many of the textbooks. The few passages that described the lives of Black people were usually crafted from single-sourced narratives of enslavers or other white people. “The-thing-that-happened-that-one-time” becomes the mold for “this is how the slaves were,” which is the literal definition of stereotyping.

 

Perhaps the only thing more racist than this textbook is the name “Tom Cotton,” which sounds like the person you have to fight when you defeat all the other slave masters.

And here is Trevor Noah to boil it all down:

Advertisement