American Exceptionalists are a National Security Threat
Well that’s pretty inflammatory.
Not all people who believe in the idea of American exceptionalism are national security threats. Those who actually believe that — due to America’s place in history and the circumstances surrounding it — America is unique among nations aren’t at the heart of this editorial’s gripe.
This editorial’s gripe is aimed at the neoconservative nutjobs who pose for photos with Bibles and rifles and say things like “Well if evolution is true why are there still monkeys” and wish rape and murder on columnists who criticized “American Sniper.” Or the type of people that try to ban mistakes in America’s past from making it into textbooks. We’re looking at you, neocon Sooners.
For those who haven’t been keeping up, recently the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee voted 11-4 to sponsor a bill that, if voted into law, would effectively ban Advanced Placement History courses in Oklahoma high schools. The 10-page bill offers an outline for a more appropriate version of a U.S. history course, which calls for, among many other changes, the inclusion of “Founding documents of the United States that contributed to the foundation or maintenance of the representative form of limited government, the free-market economic system and American exceptionalism.”
The complaint that the bill — authored by Republican Rep. Dan Fischer — takes with Oklahoma’s recently updated AP History curriculum is that the updated framework only deals with “what is bad about America.”
Fisher’s bill — HB1380 — would include the basics one would expect to see in any history course: founding documents, the overview of pivotal historical events, et cetera. Sprinkled throughout the bill, however, are changes that clearly represent an attempt to steer high school students to the neocon right — three speeches by president Ronald Reagan, one by president George Walker Bush and nothing from a Democratic president after 1969.
There is nothing wrong with conservatives, a sentiment some may be shocked to see in a college newspaper. Having a balance of reasonable conservatives and reasonable liberals sharpening each other and holding each other accountable keeps either party from running the country into a toilet.
However, the type of people who want to whitewash America’s mistakes to ensure a nationalistic view of America as the Biblical City on a Hill and God’s New Chosen Ones is passed down to students forevermore need to be recognized as tumors on American society.
They’re like hyper-paranoid parents who bathe their kids in hand sanitizer and narrowly avoid aneurysms anytime their kid scrapes an arm.
Anyone who has ever learned anything knows that failure is a much more effective teacher than success. Yet the folks in Oklahoma seem to think that by shielding the “poor children” from the harsh reality that, yeah, sometimes America sucks and Americans have done some terrible things — and replacing that reality with one of a nation of superheroes — that they will produce a better nation.
It’s not true. Sure, maybe Confederate flag sales will skyrocket and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity will finally make it onto Mount Rushmore, but it won’t make a better nation. Coddling rarely ever does.
That’s exactly what HB1380 does for its students. It coddles and insulates and doesn’t let the students study the nation’s scars to learn how to better avoid a wound in the future. It fosters a spoiled superiority rather than encouraging bridge building in the future leaders of America.
It’s not hard to convince someone to love their country. Human evolution takes care of the job pretty handily; we are naturally inclined to favor the people and place where we were born. That may produce a zealous group of nationalistic barbarians, but it doesn’t produce an intelligent nation of problem solvers and patriots. Only by fully understanding how we’ve gone wrong in the past can students learn what to do right in the future.