Friday, January 15, 2010

Debating the Past?

To continue the previous post:

As per this report, it is disheartening to discover that the people setting the curriculum for K-12 history books are more concerned about the political affiliations of various historical figures than about creating standards that would contribute to students' understanding of the past. It seems that with a few exceptions, professional historians have been excluded (or have chosen not to participate) in these hearings. It is difficult to imagine a similar set of hearings about cancer prevention, say, that would not include top-ranked physicians.

I was also disappointed that one of the testifiers complained that "American exceptionalism" had been replaced by "American imperialism." The speaker had little understanding of the relationship between the two terms, or the fact that they are not necessarily exclusionary (indeed, one could argue that America is exceptional precisely because of its methods of imperialism; the United States was, after all, a post-colonial nation that developed its own complicated ways of balancing between a democratic republic and an expansionist occupier of other people's (and nations') land).

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