Thus Spake Zuska

New Grant Program For White Forgetfulness

The National Association of Scholars, in its tireless quest to have the little-noted perspective of the white man represented in our nation’s colleges and universities, has succeeded in getting a pet project funded via the Higher Education Act reauthorization. As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The new grant program, which would provide aid to institutions to establish or strengthen programs to promote “traditional American history,” “the history and nature of, and threats to, free institutions,” and “the history and achievements of Western civilization” has had an even longer gestation.

The National Association of Scholars first proposed the program six years ago, in an effort to secure federal support for a growing network of centers focusing on traditional American history; Senator Gregg and Rep. Thomas E. Petri, a Republican from Wisconsin, offered bills to create the program in 2003. But the bills languished until last year, when they were attached to the Senate version of the legislation to renew the Higher Education Act.

In a news release, Stephen H. Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars, said passage of the grant program would give the organization’s movement to revive the teaching of traditional American history “even greater momentum.”

I think the best commentary one could make on this comes from the comments section of this post on White Forgetfulness over at Stuff Black People Hate (hat tip Drugmonkey). (It’s about the 21st comment, I can’t figure out how to link to it.) BK24/7 says:

Not only are [white people] forgetful, but their memories are short too. Or should I say selective. They want us to remember the Alamo, the Revolutionary War, and the lofty ideas and people that shaped the constitution. But when it comes to the atrocities committed against blacks and native Americans and other groups that happened at the same time, they want to forget about all of that.

Preach it.

From the post itself:

White supremacy, despite being extremely caustic, is a fairly tiny, easily recognized, and popularly dismissed movement. White Forgetfulness, on the other hand, is far more pervasive, far more subtle, and far more dangerous. To elaborate more fully, White Forgetfulness is the desire of white people to forget that the greatness of the United States – and many of the race-based social ills that pervade it today – are the result of Indian blood, Black sweat, and institutionalized racism.

In this sense, I would say that the NAS’s passionate longing to see the teaching of “traditional American history” spread across the land (like that’s not what dominates now anyway) is not a manifestation of white supremacy, but of White Forgetfulness.

As an antidote, go read the book that many in the comments thread are recommending, Lies My Teacher Told Me. Subtitle: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. It is fabulous, well-written, and eye-popping.

Comments

  1. #1 Academic
    August 6, 2008

    One of the things that I struggle with in regards to “traditional American history” is that it is not so much history as it is promoting civic religion. Well-placed national pride can lead to solid citizenship; yet solid history does a much better job in promoting civic responsibility. People need to know the consequences of choices previously made to inform their options today.

  2. #2 Becca
    August 6, 2008

    Yay for the James Loewen plug, I read his book a good while back. I also vividly remember a presentation he gave at University of Illinois around the time Sundown Towns came out- he’s an awesome storyteller, and an impressive scholar (a combination that is not as common as maybe it should be).

    The greatest threat to free institutions? An uninformed populace. Including worship of incorrect history because it’s “tradition”. Can’t we figure out a way to get some federal money invested in programs that work along the lines of Loewen’s work?

  3. #3 Samia
    August 6, 2008

    I just mentioned that piece on White Forgetfulness in my blog yesterday. I freaking love StuffBlackPeopleHate. *dreamy sigh*

  4. #4 DrugMonkey
    August 6, 2008

    I just mentioned that piece on White Forgetfulness in my blog yesterday. I freaking love StuffBlackPeopleHate. *dreamy sigh*

    uhh, yeah. that’s where I got it from. then passed it on to Zuska, mostly because this is the first time I’ve run across the neologism “haterade” which I totally love. thanks Samia!

  5. #5 Zuska
    August 7, 2008

    Doggone it, DM, I gave you the hat-tip in my post but neglected to actually link to you. I should not blog while migraining. Sorry about that.