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Perspective: Knowledge And The American Experience


Recently, we have heard the clamor against teaching critical race theory, early American history, slavery and other disturbing aspects of the American past. Proponents of banning these subjects argue that they are un-American ideas because they indoctrinate our young and prevent them from loving this country.

What these people show in their objections is their bias against truth, facts, freedom and learning. Their proposal goes against the spirit on which this country was founded. The United States is still a vast political and social experiment, based on the notion that all people are equal in the eyes of the law, and that they have the right to pursue their wishes and desires within it. This notion allows ideas to grow and develop freely, and ideas tend to change. And we learn from examining these changes. The attitudes that block and forbid change are profoundly un-American even if they pretend to prevent racism and division.

Other countries faced their historical demons and survived the experience. France emerged from a past of tyrannical kings, and in Germany the education system studies the Nazi period and the Holocaust so that they never occur again. These reckonings make them stronger, not weaker. If they have done it, why can't we? After all, these revisions always contribute to make the world a better place, and that's the best way to prevent division and racism.

I am Francisco Solares-Larrave, and this is my perspective.

A Guatemalan native, he arrived in the United States in the late eighties on a Fulbright Scholarship to do graduate studies in comparative literature at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana. He has been teaching Spanish language, literature and culture at NIU since August 2000, and his main research interests are 19th-century Spanish American literature.