My name is Bruce Langman I am a resident of Lynwood, Illinois. I grew up on the East Side.
I just read the article “’Revisionist’ history” by Frank Fetters. I find it somewhat flawed. The article referred to the Bob Malkas article, “From the files of Bob Malkas: The 1619 Project.” I find that flawed as well. A casual reading of these two seems to show that no one is being completely candid and unbiased in their analysis.
In 1619 the first Africans were imported as property to the North American colonies. The very rich were buying these Africans as slaves. Simple logic would indicate that these Africans were not brought here as property on the gamble that there would be a market for them. My conclusion is: given the racist mindset of those rich land-owning colonists, someone asked for someone to bring them. I ascribe that Racist Mindset to them by virtue of their subsequent behaviors, which are well documented by (if nothing else) the secession documents of the rebellious states of the Confederacy as well as the constitution of the Confederate States.
I think that both Mr Malkas and Mr Fetters can agree with me so far.
Let me address Mr Fetters’ article first, since I read that first. Mr Fetters states:
- “All truth, all details, all facts exist in and of themselves.”
- “A fact does not gain significance until it is observed. Once it is observed, the observer may offer an opinion or a judgement concerning the veracity and the value of what was observed.”
- “If the initial opinion concerning that fact is a lie, the subsequent value judgement WILL, in fact, be the truth.”
The first statement I agree with 100%.
The second statement is a little ambiguous. A fact has significance in and of itself. History is only the record of observed facts. One’s opinion or judgement does not alter the significance of the fact. An opinion or judgement may be flawed but the fact just IS. The veracity of the recording of said fact can and indeed should be checked and verified.
The third statement is not necessarily true. A lie can also be replaced by another lie.
Mr. Fetters’ reference, https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/black-american-history-facts, includes a section labeled, “White Lies My Textbooks Taught Me.” If I were compiling that list, I would label it: “Untruths my textbooks taught me, and truths that they omitted,” because they did both.
On to Mr Malkas’ assertions:
“No agreement could have been reached without compromise, thus the reason for a less than perfect document, but with the mechanics to achieve its ultimate goals.”
234 years later, having still not lived up to the ideals of our founding documents, the “mechanics” of which he speaks seem woefully inadequate.
“I was allowed to do what teachers should be doing — teach the truth,” says Malkas.
Not being a betting man, I would nonetheless be willing to bet that the whole truth was not taught, by him or any teacher. Why? Because no one was taught the whole truth to begin with. So teachers did not know the whole truth. Textbooks all had their biases (as did the professors who trained the teachers). They left out things that the authors thought to be unimportant. This is the human condition: Say what you like and just don’t say what you don’t like. Bias will show itself with some critical reading, but omitted facts are hidden. There are plenty of facts which have been hidden by omission.
“The 1619 Project wants to replace the real facts with revisionist history, and they are being allowed to do that,” says Malkas.
I am not very familiar with the 1619 Project. And the idea of “revisionist history” is somewhat vague. History is supposed to be the written record of the truth, and it is meant to be revised as new or omitted facts are uncovered, otherwise it’s not the whole truth.
“That one statement expresses an ignorance of American history or a plan to manipulate it. The author should be asked to list the slave-owning Founding Fathers. No one would hesitate to name Thomas Jefferson, but finding a second one would be difficult,” claims Malkas.
A second founding father comes immediately to mind, initials GW. A little googling, and I find that 41 of the 56 signers of the Declaration were slave owners. That “fact” I would not stand by without further scrutiny, but it does seem reasonable. Some people would insist that Robert E. Lee owned no slaves, but he had control of them as executor of his father-in-law’s estate, and he held them for as long as he legally could before the will mandated that they be manumitted. I think that it would not be difficult to verify whether 41 is the correct number. If not, it could be REVISED to indicate the correct number. Ah, history!
Mr. Malkas asserts that author Tiya Miles, “…avoided the fact that in 1808 Congress abolished the slave trade.”
The fact is, slave trading went on until at least 1865. Nathan Bedford Forrest made his fortune through the slave trade and he wasn’t born until 1821.
I would submit that American history should indeed be read with a critical eye. Otherwise we will end up believing that Paul Bunyan owned a big blue ox.
Bruce Langman, Lynwood, Illinois
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