GUEST COMMENTARY - Damn those Marxists! You know their game, right? They want to spew truth and real history at our kids.
No doubt they're also in favor of dropping charges against Julian Assange, who (as all real Americans know) deserves 175 years in prison for exposing—with the help of the New York Times, The Guardian. Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País—embarrassing realities about U.S. foreign policy.
How do I know the Marxists are behind this? The Heritage Foundation tells me so. In their dismantling of good old Critical Race Theory, they explain that it's "an academic discipline founded by law professors who used Marxist analysis to conclude that racial dominance by whites created 'systemic racism.'"
It gets worse: "Critical race theorists have been dominant in colleges and universities for years, but their impact on public policy was limited until recently. The precepts of CRT have now burst outside the universities, affecting K-12 schools, workplaces, state and federal governments, and even the military."
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Or not.
Pardon me as I struggle to free myself from the sarcasm the Heritage Foundation and its ilk have let loose in me, thanks to their public splattering of simplistic lies, their harrumph at academic awareness of actual historical reality, their craven cradling of ignorance and stupidity for the purpose of keeping the Good Old Lies alive. God bless the Founding Fathers, who bequeathed us the greatest country the world has ever seen, no questions asked. Anything bad that has ever happened in this country was because of lone-nut individuals. Legally, structurally, politically, America has stood only for what is good.
You might say this present-day collective lie is the third phase of American racism and indicative of our national evolution. Phase 1, of course, was slavery itself, along with Native American genocide. This was not a matter of us vs. them because, to the conquerors and their sycophants, there was only "us." Everyone else was simply in the way.
Then we had—remember?—the Civil War. Slavery was abolished, forcing "us" (the actual Americans) to acknowledge two sides to the matter. Now there was also a "them" and, in the name of equality, they were going to try with all their might to steal some of "our" privileges. And thus began Phase 2, the Jim Crow era, which was both legally (whites-only bathrooms and such) and trans-legally (burning crosses, lynchings) ensconced.
In the wake of the Civil Rights Movement—a primarily nonviolent awakening of human consciousness and a dismantling of legal apartheid—proud white America was forced into a moral corner. Racism has been declared morally wrong, even morally evil, forcing "us" to try ever more desperately to maintain "our" privileged dominance. Welcome to Phase 3 of American racism, which still holds a good bit of power but basically has no idea what it stands for or who the enemy actually is. It's doing its best, both internationally and domestically, to establish the enemies du jour: Muslims are terrorists. Immigrants are rapists. War keeps us safe and our bombs are smart.
Here at home, police violence against non-whites is fervidly protected against Democrats who want to defund the police. And in the past year or so, a new enemy has begun taking shape: the academicians who have invented and now promote, beyond the college campuses, Critical Race Theory, which makes children uncomfortable.
That's the current political rallying cry: Don't make the children uncomfortable! Don't go around telling the truth. It's Marxist, for God's sake. While lynching can no longer be justified, remembering it and talking about it in the classroom is still something that can be condemned, even made illegal (or sort of illegal), in the process turning the Civil Rights Movement on its head, e.g.:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill into law banning woke blather—you know history—from being taught and discussed in public schools, "based on the fundamental truth that all individuals are equal before the law and have inalienable rights." Yeah, civil rights, man!
In the words of the governor himself: "No one should be instructed to feel as if they are not equal or shamed because of their race. In Florida, we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces. There is no place for indoctrination or discrimination in Florida."
How eerily fascinating: The protectors of America's racist history, and to the extent possible, racism itself, have put themselves in the victim seat. In their view, apparently, somebody is always the loser. My message to them is to go back to kindergarten, but bring with you a copy of the extraordinary book of photographs, compiled by James Allen and published in 2000, called Without Sanctuary. Many of the photos in the book are actually postcards. Virtually every photo shows one or more black human beings lynched—hanging from tree branches, bridges, barns—the corpses often surrounded by smiling (white) onlookers, including children.
I guarantee, Ron, et al, this book will tear at your soul. But with the help of a good teacher, the message conveyed by the book is not shame. You will be looking at the pictures from a context that is beyond the hell and horror that was present at the time; that is beyond the ignorance of the era, when some people were dehumanized, declared disposable. Inhale this reality! Inhale the wrongness, the awfulness of it—and know this is not all of who we are. This is what happens when ignorance prevails, allowing us to dehumanize—and then kill—others. It's called racism. It's called war. And this is what it looks like in the raw: separated from the justification of the moment.
History demands that we see it for what it is—and grow up. It's called evolution, and we are evolving, all of us together. We will have no future until we can face our past.
(Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, "Courage Grows Strong at the Wound" (2016). Contact him or visit his website at commonwonders.com. This article was featured in CommonDreams.org.)