When I was a child my parents taught me that not telling the whole truth is lying. On July 3rd, President Donald Trump declared that educators are teaching students to hate their own country because critical examinations of history, allegedly, are a web of lies without perspective but with distorted facts.
Mr. Trump’s description is topsy-turvy. American history traditionally taught has promoted a narrative in which white folks are represented as victorious and virtuous, with occasional complications. White people did name themselves as a distinct group and then proceeded to pass and enforce laws, policies, and social practices against all other racial groups, and that guaranteed White economic, political, social, and cultural superiority. Just because you don’t know that history doesn’t mean it isn’t so.
History can’t be changed, but the narrative can. The popular narrative is filled with omissions and erasures, creating a story that is about white folks with the addition of select others, not the story of US.
Teachers are charged with teaching critical thinking skills. So we encourage students to consider context, perspectives, and omitted facts. This is not fostering hate. It is recognizing that how we think of ourselves is an incompletion and understanding that creates a footing to encourage truth, justice, inclusion, and love for all of humanity.
When my parents chastised and punished me for telling half-truths, did that mean they hated me? No. It meant they loved me and wanted me to do better. Critical educators neither hate America, nor encourage students too. Simply, half-truths and omissions must be uncovered so that we can be and do better for all. Lest we continue to be a fractured society.
I am Joseph Flynn and that is my perspective.