American History 101 revised

This is what America is

Kalle Lasn begins her topic with the tone of a storyteller recalling what America stood for in those colonial times that we’re all familiar with.  The settlers wandering in the wilderness and hungry for freedom and liberty from the tyranny of Europe.  We all remember the stories of diplomatic and progressive leaders and the people who were willing to die with them all in the name of freedom.

It was an entertaining story and, I guess, other kids could be proud of what our history was.  I was in a different boat because my ancestors didn’t share in that glorious feeling of the representation of the flag.  I’m not psychic so I can’t say for sure what the emotions were for them as they watched their way of life disintegrate but it had to be devastating.  I will say I wanted to be proud but I walked a fuzzy line between family and cultural traditions as well as wanting to be any other American kid.  My grandmother always hated the idea that Christopher Columbus was considered to have discovered America.  When I first told her, after a history lesson at school, I knew right away I had said the wrong thing because she paused and gave me this hard look.  I was waiting for some sort of grandmotherly tirade but all she said was, “Columbus was a rapist and a murderer….America was already discovered…..what are they teaching you at this school”.  It was one of those moments in your childhood that you learn just how illusive truth is and how subjective.  It was my first clue that history is told from the perspective of the ruling class or victor.

I know that’s an odd segue but I wanted to give some background of my own as to why I decided to comment on this particular topic.  Kalle and I don’t totally agree.  I’m not sure I would describe the early settlers as noble and wanting “freedom for all”.  I would argue that they wanted their rights to be free and own others’ but they didn’t care if anyone else was free.  The bottom line: they wanted to be free to pursue wealth and power.  This isn’t something I consider we, as American people, should be proud of.

If I were to paraphrase I would say that I do agree that the American people have been reduced to servitude and their revolutionary ways have  been snuffed out.  Kalle and I agree on that much.


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