Teaching the Dark Side In Civics Classes

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Civics classes should be about American’s sins and glories since it is a country founded by remarkable individuals with some serious flaws. An important part of our history was that many of our founders were slave holders. They owned other people and could do whatever they wanted with them. Washington had hundreds of slaves. He treated them well but he still owned them. He put in his will that all were to be freed on his death, but that simply didn’t happen. Like Washington, Jefferson own slaves and even sired children with some of them. Andy Jackson was probably the worst of the past presidents when it came to slaves. He treated them like animals the same as he did Native Americans. For that reason, it totally confuses me that he is considered a great president. Our history is full of things that embarrass us today. But, that is OK. I can only imagine what they will say about Trump in the coming decades.

Our past history shows us how we have advanced as a people. But no one has done that better than the USA in that regard. Yes, the remnants of slavery still exist today but eventually even that segment will, like so many other past periods, be defeated. We are a growing, evolving nation.

I understand that teaching about our dark side is to some putting down our country. But, it is necessary in order to show what we have defeated in the past, and what we are still struggling with today. We are a nation of ideals. We must never forget that.

We are a self-correcting country who swings across the entire political spectrum. That fact is totally obvious to us now as we are more divided than we have ever been. I truly believe that the coming decade will present more danger of destruction of our democracy than at anytime in our past. The reason that democracies just don’t seem to last on the world stage of history is that they require more work and obligations than any other form of government. As Jefferson said:

An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people

Thomas Jefferson

We must understand the obligations and incredible rights that we have. We must cherish and protect them whenever possible. We must rescue them when they are in danger such as they are now. We must realize just how fragile our democracy is to keep it from imploding.