This year has seen an unprecedented change in the national conversation that has been the hot topic since a certain businessman/reality television star took office. I found myself in a conversation where two people were appalled at how overtly critical the media and the general populace has been of President Trump after the events in Charlottesville.
I asked them, honestly, did they not remember the angry vitriol that followed President Obama? Their response was that it wasn’t ever this bad for him. Despite watching our president be hung in effigy. Despite listening to his wife being called a “gorilla” by mainstream media. Despite hearing multiple arguments about how he’s handled hostages, both paying an exorbitant amount of money, and refusing to spend any money. How he’s handled healthcare, with only 8.8% of Americans uninsured during the Obamacare administration. The increase in the national debt, which has nearly doubled in actual dollar amount, but when taking into consideration our country’s recession and the increase in GDP by 4 trillion dollars since 2008 is to be expected with the wars we were already engaged in.
This is exactly the point of what is happening right now. People cling to revisionist history when they feel that their views may be threatened. As anyone who was a history student, we see this revisionism surface when people are worried that they may have to actually be honest about brutal historical events. You have reactionaries after World War II who deny the holocaust. THE HOLOCAUST. The Nazi’s were renowned for utter cruelty but they were known by many historians as having one of the most thorough record-keeping systems. They had records not only of each and every person they took, but every single item that they brought into the concentration camps. Right now, I can walk 20 feet away and pick up 3 different books that outline the destruction of the people during the Final Solution. They are meticulously researched by those who strive to find the honest truth and are just as horrified by historic revisionism. Now, for the most part, if someone says the Holocaust didn’t happen, the general public looks on in astonishment. That’s just crazy, right?
Holocaust deniers are an extreme example of historical revisionism and one that we generally deny right back at them. However, what about the revision that we see in modern history against people of color? What about in 2015 when a Texas mother was absolutely horrified to hear that African slaves were described as “workers” in a map that depicted patterns of immigration in the United States? Not only does that not properly describe the absolute horror behind the African slave trade during the Age of Exploration, but it downgrades any current feelings about black people and their struggle in the United States. Difficulties that are directly impacted by historical slavery and by the endemic racism that our country consistently ignores or, even worse, blames on the victims.
In 1807, the United States passed the Act of Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, and in this small way many Americans assuaged their guilt and turned their heads away. It wasn’t until 1820 that the illegal international slave trade was considered the heinous crime that it was. It was finally seen as piracy. However, the internal slave trade continued and with it a continued dehumanization of black people in the United States. They were considered property, chattel. Families were torn apart. Frederick Douglass said in 1852, “Oppression makes a wise man mad.” This systemic racism is still here, we’ve just hidden it beneath layers of political correctness and a fragility against realism.
What about Latinos in our society? We heard so much about building a wall to protect our mighty economy from foreign invaders who would come here and steal all of our jobs. Firstly, this is also defended by history. The United States has been interfering directly or indirectly with Latin American countries since the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which officially placed us between any European interference in the western hemisphere. We’ve made decisions for Latin American countries that we could not possibly know is best for their countries, for their economies, etc. Our involvement in Latin America has helped to create a system where people are poor, starving, oppressed, and scared. This is not to say the United States is the sole reason why Latin American countries have struggled, but then look at another economic impact the United States has had. NAFTA was passed by the Clinton administration and since then, there have been countless towns, specifically in the American midwest, which have been bankrupted by closing factories. These companies send the work down to maquiladoras, which exploit the already desperate workforce in Mexico. We have created the situation that we now live in, and yet we struggle against the idea of so many coming to this country in order to make a better life for themselves.
At this point, I will possibly lose a bunch of reader’s attention as some bleeding heart liberal who is racist against whites. Let me say this very succinctly: racism against whites does not exist. If you want to know what it looks like to object to racism against people of white European descent, looks no further than Charlottesville. Pride in your skin color is the exact opposite of what people of color are feeling. They are consistently told that their skin color is wrong, somehow. That wearing their hair natural is wrong. Look at the two young women who were sent out of school because their braids did not adhere to the dress code. How many young black men and women are told that they are not pretty enough because they are somehow not right due to their skin or their hair? White is a skin tone, and nothing more than a crazy random happenstance that your descendants happened to be from a place closer to the northern latitudes. Our skin color is based on the science of people who didn’t see as much sun and those who did (which is a vast oversimplification, but I’m trying to make this brief).
The best thing I saw on social media over the last week is a few (yes, only a few) people who said that now, in this country’s time of need, we need to stand together. The call has been made, and we all need to stand for each other. I could sit here and hide from saying what needs to be said, but I’m choosing not to. I went to college to learn history, and in doing so I learned what it looks like to revise history to make yourself more comfortable. I saw what it does. We need to stand together as a country and face the pain; we need to stand up and fight for what is right. Less than 60 years ago, we still had people fighting for basic human rights, let alone the right to vote. Just because laws passed in Congress saying that they were equal didn’t make it so. That is what we’re fighting for now.
I’m fighting for all the people in my life who get nervous when they see the flashing blue lights of a cop car behind them on a dark street. I’m fighting for the kids who have grown up in inner city areas being called abhorrent names just because some terrible human being thinks that this country is made solely for them. This country was made for all of us and if for some reason you think that immigrants don’t belong here, let’s do the right thing and give it back to the Native American’s we stole it from.