November 21, 2006

Latest Nutcase Teacher from the Left

For his third grade lesson on Thanksgiving, a teacher wore a Pilgrim hat and started taking pencils and backpacks from students claiming that those things belonged to him because "he discovered them." Of course, he believes that approach is better and "more realistic" than traditional Thanksgiving lessons illustrating that Pilgrims and Indians came together in peace and to feast for the purpose of offering thanks. Yep. Let's not teach our children the good lessons of Thanksgiving but rather teach them to despise our nation and view its origins and the white settlers as bad. Third grade is a good place to start beating kids up with that distorted attitude. Well, at least if you're from the left.

Hey, Teacher. Leave Those Kids Alone

Now, would he support adding another Thanksgiving message by having the kids scalp him and savagely murder his family? Not in the world of liberal PC. It's too bad that a voucher program to make schools compete is opposed by these teachers, but it's no wonder why.

G.M. UPDATE: From the news report cited above:

Chuck Narcho, a member of the Maricopa and Tohono O'odham tribes who works as a substitute teacher in Los Angeles, said younger children should not be burdened with all the gory details of American history.

"If you are going to teach, you need to keep it positive," he said. "They can learn about the truths when they grow up. Caring, sharing and giving — that is what was originally intended."

Mr. Narcho has it right.

Posted by Woody M. at November 21, 2006 10:00 PM | TrackBack

Let me defend the teacher for a moment, if you will. Woody has it ever occured to you that we could actually benifit be honestly confronting our demons. By not telling lies which make us feel better, by throwing away the rose coloured glasses. Instead, we can try to grapple with our history in all its complexites, including the barbarity which was often committed in the name of maintaining and controlling peoples bodies and lives. Gore Vidal has called us the United States of Amnesia. We live in a culture of forgetfulness. Why should we fear grappling with the documented genocide of Native Americans or the mass enslavement of African people in the New World. Surely stories of barbarity and horror have an ability to intruct, to teach us lessons. Isnt that the point of Holocaust remembrance. To ensure that as humanity we dont forget those who were slaughtered, who were treated as disposible. In Washington, DC there's a monument for the ictims of the Holocaust but no such monument for the slaves who perished on our soul. This isnt about hating America. Its about maturation and growing up. I now cede the floor to Howard Zinn

Probably the most important thing anybody can learn when they’re just beginning to think about history, is that history is very subjective and always opinionated. It’s never objective, it’s never neutral. Because when you think about it, all the history that’s presented to you is a selection made by the historian out of an enormous amount of data. The historian decides for you what is important and puts that down in the history books. And what the historian thinks is important, may not be important to you. When I read the history books, even in graduate school, and listened to my teachers I found that so much that I thought was important was missing from these books and missing from these lectures.
And so I felt that the American people, particularly the young generation going to school, was getting a very inadequate education about the American past.

"First of all, the treatment of our history with the Indians (the indigenous population) is a very weak and indequate treatment. I remember going to school and I would learn about Indians who came to Thanksgiving dinner gratefully. I would learn about Custer’s Last Stand, I would learn about Sitting Bull. There were a few moments in Indian history that we’d learn about. What we didn’t learn about was the fact that the American colonists that came here from the beginning were invading Indian soil and driving the Indians out of their land and committing massacres in order to persuade the Indians that they’d better move. And the history of the U.S. is a history of hundreds of little wars fought against the Indians, annihilating them, pushing them farther and farther onto a smaller and smaller piece of the country. And finally, in the late 19th century, taking the Indians that were left and squeezing them onto a reservation and controlling them.

This is a history that is not told in most American textbooks. The story that’s not told is the deceptions that were played on the Indians, the treaties that were made with them, the treaties that were then broken by the American government. It’s important to know that, because if you do, then you will become aware that the American government can lie. It can deceive people. It can do it not only in relation to Native Americans, it can do it in relation to all of us."

Posted by Ahmed at November 21, 2006 11:33 PM

You've got to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em

Ahmed, your extensive apologia ironically doesn't help the defense of the teacher's actions; rather it actually strenghtens the assertion that the teacher's skit was an insult to serious examination of the history of European and native peoples in America.

Sometime you just have to forget about defending the indefensible and move on.

Besides, we're talking about a holiday celebration, where here commemorates the first feast between the Pilgrim settlers and the Indians. If you read the linked article, it contained a salient quote from historian James Loewen:

"Relations were strained, but yet the holiday worked. Folks got along. After that, bad things happened," Loewen said, referring to the bloody warfare that broke out later during the 17th century.

It really is unfair to hang the weight of subsequent history on these first Pilgrims.

Worse, you could go through the rest of our major holidays (President's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas) and use the same kind of approach you've taken here to turn them into negative reflections on our society. But what would you have left - a people and a nation without joy.

Sorry, you'll just have to take your wet blanket and go elsewhere on our holidays. There's plenty of other days in the year for you to disdain.

Regarding Howard Zinn, anyone who starts off by saying this:

Probably the most important thing anybody can that history is very subjective and always opinionated. It’s never objective, it’s never neutral.

has already cut-off the intellectual limb they're standing on. There's no common ground left on which to conduct discussion.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving...

Posted by civil truth at November 22, 2006 12:52 AM

If you think I'm trying to "show disdain" or take a "positive" and turn it into a "negetive" than you really ought to reread what I wrote. I hate to once again historicise the debate but let me take a passage from Columbus as he reacted to the generosity of the Arawaks upon encountering them

"They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of sugar cane. They would make fine servants. With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."

And so the conquest began. You probably already know a good piece of the story: How Columbus's Army took Arawak and Taino people prisoners and insisted that they take him to the source of their gold, which they used in tiny ornaments in their ears. And how, with utter contempt and cruelty, Columbus took many more Indians prisoners and put them aboard the Nina and the Pinta -- the Santa Maria having run aground on the island of Hispañola (today, the Dominican Republic and Haiti). When some refused to be taken prisoner, they were run through with swords and bled to death. Then the Nina and the Pinta set sail for the Azores and Spain. During the long voyage, many of the Indian prisoners died. What were the colonist when they returned. Gold, rersources and slaves. What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas and the Taino of the Caribbean, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots. Literally millions of native peoples were slaughtered. All of this, it must be loudly stated, were the preconditions for the first Thanksgiving. In the North American English colonies, the pattern was set early, as Columbus had set it in the islands of the Bahamas. In 1585, before there was any permanent English settlement in Virginia, Richard Grenville landed there with seven ships. The Indians he met were hospitable, but when one of them stole a small silver cup, Grenville sacked and burned the whole Indian village. Its true that the Puritans lived in uneasy truce with the Pequot Indians, who occupied what is now southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. But they wanted them out of the way; they wanted their land. And they seemed to want to establish their rule firmly over Connecticut settlers in that area. As it turns In 1636 an armed expedition left Boston to attack the Narragansett Indians on Block Island.

Listen I love turkey, stuffing and the rest of it as much as anyone else. But, i think what the teacher is trying to say is that we should use the space of Thanksgiving to broaden our discussion. Lets start looking at history from multiple perspectives. What does it mean to examine slavery through the diares of slaves who wrote about the systems daily brutality instead say a wealthy plantation owner. One of the few times of the year when young childrenb learn about native Americans they are presented with a ahistorical narrtive about mutual kindness, which serves to blind us from awful crimes, commmited in the name of progress and civilisation. Can we not try to steer the conversation in another direction? There are native american groups all thoughout the country who have waged fierce political battles over "Columbus Day" demanding that they be counted as real human beings. That the very foundation of our nation was in fact built on the degredation and genocide of another people. When will we stop puffing our chests and learn to deal with our past in all in complexities. How on earth can we hope to make a better and more just future if we as a society refuse to look deep inside ourselves and confront our flaws.

Posted by Ahmed at November 22, 2006 01:38 AM

I taught 3rd grade for some 10 years. This lesson, if it has merit (debatable), is way over the heads of such young students. In fact, the lesson is planting the seeds of anti-Americanism.

Posted by Always On Watch at November 22, 2006 05:11 AM

I agree with Watch... That's way too young of an age for such a controversial subject. Of course I'm sure Woody would object if the same lesson were taught in high school or college or anywhere else at any time.

Personally, I believe that serious mistakes were made in how this country was colonized, founded and developed and we in modern times are still paying for those mistakes today. That doesn't mean America isn't the greatest country in the world, it just means we are far from perfect and would do well to openly recognize that occasionally.

Posted by e. nonee moose at November 22, 2006 06:30 AM

Moose, I would object to this lesson on Thanksgiving being taught at any level because it is a complete misrepresentation of that particular event.

P.S. Maybe we should have one "holiday" for the left in which they can criticize American values and attack our founders rather than have them do that on many other holidays that others want to celebrate joyfully. Columbus Day is in the lead for that honor, so rename it to "What's Wrong with America Day."

Posted by Woody at November 22, 2006 06:58 AM

"Mommy, Mommy," Said little 3rd grade Johnny. "Where do I come from?"

"Well, darling, your daddy and I are in love with each other and one night, he placed his..... "(I won't go into the long drawn out description of the consensual sex that Mommy and Daddy had - this is a family blog)(very big grin inserted here).

"But Mommy," said little 3rd grade Johnny, "Mary came from Chicago and Billy came from Memphis, so where did I come from?"

AOW and Moose are correct, there is a time and a place to teach everything. The celebation of Thanksgiving is just that, a period of peace between two disparate cultures (that sadly didn't last) and that is the message of Thanksgiving that should be taught to that age group. The teacher was out of bounds and failure to recognize that in yielding to the need to be politically (not historically) correct is part of the "White man speak with fork-ed tongue" attempt to radicalize a new generation.

Was the teacher correct? No, not about the first Thanksgiving. Was he correct about the subsequent relations between the Europeans and the indigenious natives of this continent? Yes, and so what? The mish-mash that today we call civilization is frought with examples of one peoples beating up on another from the time the first relatives of "Lucy" beat up on the hominids to the savaging of the Bedoins by Mohammad to the bloody conquest of Peru by Pizarro; but to a third grader, that stuff is meaningless because he/she does not have the educational foundation to understand the full context That is one of the reasons the third grade is called Elementary School.

Posted by GM Roper at November 22, 2006 07:22 AM

The European settlers did nothing worse to the Indians than the Indians did to the European settlers--and, to other tribes. There's a reason that failure to protect colonists from "savage Indians" is a complaint against King George in the Declaration of Independence. The only reason that the white man is demonized in the Indian conflicts is because he ultimately prevailed.

An honest look would also consider and explain the travesties conducted by the Indians, which were carried out against early and mostly defenseless settlers. From what I have studied, which includes going to historical sites, generally massacres were not over land, which is the point of the lesson, but were over possessions of others that the Indians wanted. It was looting and murder approved by tribal leaders. Teachers should give some credit to the Indians themselves for their loss.

Still, even that has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but it does have to do with a more complete and accurate historical view of that era.

Posted by Woody at November 22, 2006 07:45 AM

Ahmed, there is a time and place for almost everything. The third grade is not the time and place for what this teacher did. If you don't understand this then all the logical arguments in the world won't help you to understand and I feel sad for any kids you may have.

Show me a culture that has never conquered another culture and I'll show you one that:

1) is very new
2) or, no longer exists
3) or, lives in the Stone Age

Posted by DADvocate at November 22, 2006 10:19 AM

Well stated all, and more succinctly than my effort.

DADvocate, the tales I've read about Stone Age Tribes indicate that many are very violent towards outside groups, so I think you're down to alternative 1) or 2).

Posted by civil truth at November 22, 2006 11:18 AM

If anything, Woody's ill informed rant proves that the kind of thing the teacher was trying to do is absolutely necessary. Fighting between settlers and Natives had nothing to do with land.?Is he saying this with a straight face? Of course there were Indian atrocities against settlers. But there was a vast power difference between both groups. He also forgets the small fact that it was the natives who were being continuously driven off their land, and the settlers who were colonising it. Along with settler colonialism came the dominant idea that natives were backwards, barbarians and it was the settlers who were bringing forth civilisation and rationality. If this is the thinking then what does it matter if the rights of Indians are protected. I wrote a pretty lengthy post and i welcome woody or anyine else for that matter to challenge the history i lay out. I want to repeat again that discussing these issues isnt about blaming people or dissing america but about broadening our humanity and grappling with the pain of others. Its about abadoning Woody like childhood and growing up. Anywas I look forward to future posts from Woody complaining that that Holocaust memorials dont take into account what the jews did to the germans or that talkng about slavery, honestly in this country, is tantamount to hating america Woodster, youve got a long way to go, buddy

Posted by Ahmed at November 22, 2006 02:56 PM

Ahmed, it wasn't a rant and it wasn't ill informed. It's just not politically correct, but so what? And, what I said doesn't prove that this teacher needs to be indoctrinating third graders with his leftist dribble over Thanksgiving either and as you support. Perhaps schools didn't do an adequate job of teaching American history to you in South Africa. You are grossly ignorant of Indian history in colonial America.

It's also a real stretch and insult to say that I would defend the Holocaust because I recongize the savagery of the Indians against our early settlers--who were not a threat at that time.

The reference to land was that Indians did not attack early settlers to protect their land boundaries. Land was plentiful and wasn't the issue. Do you have some reference that the Pilgrims, out-manned and underfed, were somehow plotting to drive the Indians out of Massachusetts? Didn't think so.

So why did the Indians attack? Indians attacked settlers to steal their possessions, tools, weapons, and sometimes their children--and, some were just murderers. I had relatives in South Dakota from the 1800's who had their share and stories of Indian scares. Here are some written first-hand accounts of Indian savagery from what I think is your current location. Warning. The accounts are very gruesome and are not isolated instances.

Just because the Indians lost doesn't make them the good guys.

To take this a little further, consider this interesting parallel of our Indian wars and our current war on terror.

The essential paradigm of the War of Terror -- us (the attacked) against them (the attackers) -- was no less essential to the mindset of white settlers regarding the Indians, starting at least from the 1622 Indian massacre of 347 people at Jamestown, Virginia. With rare exceptions, newly arrived Europeans and their descendants, as well as their leaders, saw Indians as mortal enemies who started the initial fight against them, savages with whom they could not co-exist. The Declaration of Independence condemned "the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

Of course, when we finally defeat all of the terrorists, are you going to claim that the U.S. was wrong and become an apologist for the terrorists? Oh, wait. You already do that.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by Woody at November 22, 2006 04:56 PM

Ahmed, we are familiar with the arguments you are making. We have heard them many times. Saying them with great intensity and sincerity does not make them more convincing.

First: The dramatization is way over the heads of 3rd graders.

Second: It is an oversimplification worse than the original.

Third: The general proposition that it is good to teach children the truth, warts and all, is not license to teach any negative thing you wish under that banner.

Fourth: While all history has subjectivity and point-of-view, it is not infinitely flexible, to admit any opinion whatsoever. Reality has an enormous resilience.

Fifth, and at greater length: Look at the population figures, start to finish, from the first whispers of the New World reaching Europe and the present day, and trace the dates of the settlement patterns. Salient points: The eastern Indians wiped out two-thirds of their own population just before the English settlers arrived. 90% of the Indians who died in the first 30 years after settlement died of diseases brought by the settlers. While this may be the "fault" of the settlers in some real sense, it is of a different order of culpability. Half of the rest of the Indians were killed by others of their own tribes for adopting the white man's ways. The settlement of Englishmen onto the east coast for the first hundred years was less than 100,000 people - not until around 1750 did any start to move in more than 50 miles from the coast. Lastly, despite lots of friction and a few small wars, the New England colonists had remarkably good relations with the native tribes.

Yes, there were many terrible things that the settlers and those came after did to the Indians. I may have ancestors who did their share. But do not let the attractive narrative of highlighting American perfidy erase the actual history. You have been sold a worse lie.

Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at November 22, 2006 05:17 PM

I realise that arguing against Woody is like talking to a brick wall, as many like Balter and others have discovered, but let me quickly raise a few points

"Perhaps schools didn't do an adequate job of teaching American history to you in South Africa. You are grossly ignorant of Indian history in colonial America."

Ad hominem attack anyone. Sorry Woodster but i have a degree in American history from an American university. Try again

"It's also a real stretch and insult to say that I would defend the Holocaust"

It was an extreme example but i was just using your logic. You say that we shouldnt inculcate our students with "negative" views about American history. I disagree, strongly and ive outlined why. Quick question, pal. Should slavery be taught to students, Jim crow or should we just gloss over that. And whats the point of history. Is it to produce people who uncritically accept dominant narratives of the powerful ,as you seem to think, or is there a much broader use which im suggesting? Let me know

"I had relatives in South Dakota from the 1800's who had their share and stories of Indian scares"

Thansks. Could you also forward me first hand accounts by slave owners about how happy their human property were. Id love to hear them. As for massacres there were certainly occuring in both directions but to suggest, as you do, that the native population, who were decimated asnd suffered heavy massacres, especially in the age of jackson, didnt bear the bulk of the violence is stagerring. Id also mentioned earlier, in a post which was ignored, that racist views towards Indians were in place before the pilgrams an d while relationships were at times very codependent that codepenc turned into a policy of routine decimation and genocide. The fact that ir hurts your feelings doesnt make it any less true. Lastly Wooster, since youre such a American history buff, you must know something about "manifest destiny" as an ideology. Can you please tell me what you think it means?

Posted by Ahmed at November 23, 2006 01:03 AM

Ahmed, if I had your knowledge of American history, I wouldn't go around bragging that I had a degree in it and, as a courtesy, wouldn't name the university that issued you that degree.

Now, my saying that you are ignorant of American history is not an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem attack is more like saying that you're stupid or a biggot or a liar, like Balter and your buddies say to me when they'e cornered. (Balter lied again about the carbon dating discussion that we had, and then called me a liar when I merely proved him wrong with his own words. Go figure.) My remark to you simply gives you a perspective of someone who knows history beyond what is taught in textbooks and someone who grew up in a home with a parent who had multiple history degrees and taught in a university--before they became P.C. My remark provided you with an explanation that your lack of knowledge on the subject has less to do with you, i.e., a personal attack, and more to do with the educational institutions that trained you, i.e., an attack on today's education system.

If Ward Churchill had been a professor of yours, you would hardly be to blame for being totally ignorant of the history of Indian attrocities, except you would have some blame for staying in his class. Likewise if you attended a class taught by Univeristy of Wisconsin instructor Kevin Barrett, who said that President Bush is a murderer, equated him with Adolph Hitler, and said that the U.S. government was behind the 9-11 attacks, then I could understand your confusion on Islamic terrorism but I would question why you would attend that university that permits intentional distortions of history to be taught to impressionable students by taxpayer-paid instructors.

The rest of your reply is so far off of the topic of Thanksgiving that a discusion of those points only carries us away from the subject of the post and into a subject that only you want to discuss and for which you likely have similarly distorted views and misconceptions of my views.

Slavery and the manifest destiny were certainly not objectives or on the minds of the Pilgrims--so, let your professors know that.

Posted by Woody at November 23, 2006 07:19 AM

That american university didn't take off points for grammar and punctuation, I guess. I usually cut everyone slack on that, as I don't know their first language, formal education, and how much of a hurry they were in. But if you're going to set up the pins like that, I'll knock them down.

Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at November 23, 2006 11:17 AM

Ah Woodster youre always good for a laugh. I noticed that you respeonding to none of my points and instead engaged in some good old university bashing topped, hyperbole and right wing fear mongering. Just to send you on another frenzied attack ill let you know that the degree's from--gasp!-UCLA. Yikes consult David Horowitz, pronto!!! Other than that have a a good b day and happy birthday

ps I recommend people go to Marc Cooper's site. Our own Woody have left a flippant post, so bereft of compassion and dignity that's its quite stagerring.

Posted by Ahmed at November 23, 2006 11:50 AM

Speaking of not responding to other's points, Ahmed...

Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at November 23, 2006 01:56 PM

Thanks for the happy b-day wish, Ahmed. I'll try to enjoy the presents, turkey, and family despite world suffering.

Posted by Woody at November 23, 2006 02:52 PM

crickets chirping...

Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at November 24, 2006 09:33 PM

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