In Defense of History

A good friend from Vermont, who winters here every year and has experienced the insanity that is Arizona, asked a couple of days ago…Can you explain so I can understand what it is about this state? Keep in mind this friend’s senator is Bernie Sanders, one of the last voices of reason in this country. Well, those of us who live in Arizona (and remember Bernie fondly) don’t understand it ourselves. The latest bit of insanity is changing the recall process, since the state head republican lost a recall challenge, so let’s change the recall process so only republicans can participate, not ALL the people this person is supposed to represent.

We do not learn anything from what we’ve done in the past. And a new bill in Arizona is aiming to make sure students learn even less. Teachers could be fired for presenting partisan information. Now, to my mind, if you have a teacher who is outright encouraging students to vote for a particular person or party, then that should be an internal issue within the school. A true professional will keep his or her opinion out of the discussion, but require students to look at all candidates, all issues, and help them make informed decisions. This is a very fine line to walk. I can remember several students who had different views and weren’t willing to look at evidence. I had to bite my tongue. My job was to get them to think critically, whether they wanted to or not.

So much of this attitude is not limited any longer to Arizona. You are seeing more and more the results of a lack of history education in this country, along with an extreme lack of critical thinking to determine what is true and what isn’t, within the media. Part is monetary (there’s a shock…) – certain news (like what’s really happening around the world) doesn’t sell. Nothing sensational about it, and nothing that really focuses you to think.

Over the years I’ve chosen other news sources. Recent reports of the differences in Time magazine covers around the world points this out. Americans get sanitized news. When I checked my Google Reader this morning, these were just a few of the headlines from Al-Jazeera (OMG…..Arab papers….can you hear the history police now?):

How much of these will you see or hear about on your local – and national news? As much as I love Whitney Houston’s music, there are other important things happening in the world that we should have an idea about. Depressing? Yes, on so many levels. It is hard to watch the news when you can see historically that we are headed down so many paths that are destructive. But then you also have a responsibility to be informed and to speak up.

I have a feeling if I used Al Jazeera as a source of news to investigate and vet for truth in an Arizona classroom, I would be on my way to jail if this new bill passes. Never thought in my lifetime I would  see restrictions on my freedom of speech.

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One Response to “In Defense of History”

  • Nice blog post! I find this law disturbing as well. I don’t remember the constitution stating that freedom of speech applies to everyone except teachers, did I miss that wording?

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