Something I became very interested in during my time at university was something that at that time was known as the “History Wars” in Australia. This is a name given to something really going on all over the West and a major battlefront in what is similarly known as the “Culture Wars”. I have written a post somewhat related to this before. But the short of it is that on one side, you have people that want to uproot Western culture and traditions in order to replace them with something they prefer and on the other you have people who want to preserve our culture and traditions as they have been. This is not strictly a left/right political fight but still fits generally within this framework.
I was first introduced to this personally when I did a course on Australian history that was bent decidedly on the radical, revisionist, anti-Western side. Without having the knowledge to respond to this perspective, I at first merely reacted negatively towards it but I soon began to see what was being done and why. The historians focusing on this weren’t completely wrong, they were (and still are), just selective and dishonest with the history they write. The British did indeed occupy and annex Australia and such an action can reasonably be seen as invasion by the disparate peoples occupying the land at the time. There is indeed documented evidence of the colonists behaving beastly to the aboriginals. There were massacres, there was displacement and the aboriginals did lose their land and their culture to the people that came.
The problem isn’t so much that people want to make this known in our history but that they want to use this as a wedge to de-legitimise what is, in order to replace it with something they prefer. As mentioned the focus is also highly selective of what it shows and what it does not show. For example, the nuances that existed in all of this such as the true nature of aboriginal culture, the frequency of violence and even the very notion of ownership of the land. On top of this, there are also plenty of examples of historian being dishonest whether by invention, omission or both. And even if not, most don’t even deny they have an ideological axe to grind.
Now with all this, I used to try to be reasonable, assuming that the other side meant well and that rational discourse would ultimately bring the truth to light.
I was naive.
What I have learned, especially with better knowledge of people now known as SJWs (social justice warriors), is that this isn’t the case at all.
And here is a direct example:
The image above is a picture of a timeline from an actual elementary level textbook from the United States. I have been using this social studies textbook for this academic year and while I certainly have problems with some of the topics it chooses to focus on, it has been generally useful for the age group I teach. Then just the other day I saw this timeline and I just lost it. As soon as I saw this, I decided I was going to stop using the book altogether.
Can anyone honestly say that nothing of note happened in the time between the settling of Jamestown and the ending of slavery? This particular chapter is covering the southern states and apart from geography and more current information, this is indeed all that is covered of the history of the South. The South was settled, there was slavery, there was a civil war and then slavery ended. This was consciously chosen by many academics involved in producing the book. This was deliberately chosen. This same book in another chapter mentions the Puritans but fails anywhere to mention the word “Christianity”. Again, this is deliberate. They are deliberately omitting what they don’t like and focusing on what they want to.
See the problem is that conservatives have long been complaining about this but doing nothing about it. They still send their children to schools with these awful textbooks and put up with it. Teachers like me just go with it despite reservations. We complain, we point out errors and omissions or just grumble. A smiling, polite academic might occasionally be compelled to insist that the process is rigorous and produced by experts in the field while smiling politely and then we go on.
Well not anymore.
Not for me anyway. The only way for this to change is for us to reject it. They will always deny what they are doing when questioned and push as far as they can when they aren’t. Since my time in university, it has only gotten worse and things that I remember being told weren’t happening are now happening or have happened. Things that I couldn’t imagine happening (like Confederate statues being torn down), are happening and there is little being done to stop it.
I’m not just going to complain about this though. I’m not even simply going to reject it. I’m going to put something else in place in the small way that I can. That is what I’m doing now. It starts first with simply rejecting what is on offer and this I’ve done. The next step is to create.
I’m going to teach history how I understand it, regardless of what leftists would perceive as bias. I’ve learned enough to have a good idea of what is true and what isn’t. I’m going to teach history in a way that defends the goodness and worth of Western culture. I will put together my own curriculum if I have to. If enough people do this, there will be change. But if we continue to allow this with only the occasionally meek complaints and criticisms, then we will continue to lose. They have set the precedent of tearing down culture and now statues. It is time we began doing the same thing to them.