Why you should care
Because history is written, and sometimes rewritten, by the winners.
Sean Braswell’s satire series Augmented Reality embellishes news and current events, giving reality a more interesting look and feel.
New cabinet appointees Betsy DeVos and Ben Carson have barely just begun their tenures at the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, respectively, but they are already tackling some of the more intractable problems in American history.
And with a more positive spin.
“There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less,” Carson remarked this week, explaining how those transported in bondage across the Atlantic exemplified one path to the American dream. A week before, DeVos revealed how the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, a response to racially motivated segregation in higher education, were in fact “pioneers” of “school choice.”
OK!! Ben Carson….I can’t! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAFUKKA PLEASE!!!#dickheadedtom— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) March 6, 2017
Meanwhile, in Arkansas this week, a Republican state lawmaker introduced a bill to ban the books of deceased historian Howard Zinn, including his landmark A People’s History of the United States, which tells the unvarnished story of America from the perspective of its most disadvantaged citizens. But don’t fear: Even if Zinn’s iconic text gets pulled from your local library’s shelves, the populist warriors within the Trump administration like Steve Bannon are planning a new and improved version, devoted, like Carson and DeVos, to placing a more positive spin on even some of the ugliest chapters in American history.
Here are some exclusive excerpts from the yet to be released An Alternative People’s History of the United States.
On the First Settlers at Jamestown, Virginia: “It is unclear whether the 20 Africans who came ashore with the first colonists in 1619 were indentured servants or slaves, but these hardworking immigrants would help the early colonists survive and fight off the forces of radical Indian terrorism.”
On George Washington and the Cherry Tree: “When 6-year-old George’s father discovered what had happened to his prized cherry tree, the future president bravely replied, ‘I cannot tell a lie … I have ZERO connections with that tree. I hearby [sic] demand an investigation into my half-brother Lawrence for his close ties to that hatchet.’”
On Notorious Traitor Benedict Arnold: “Frustrated that his tremendous talents and successes in battle were going unrecognized, Arnold changed parties and cut an amazing deal with a foreign power because he was smart.”
On the Origins of the Civil War: “Refusing to recognize the rights of Southern small business owners to help the documented immigrants in their care obtain their dreams, Dishonest Abe Lincoln, who never had a birth certificate, waged an illegal war using the machinery of big government.”
On the Massacre at Wounded Knee: “Not to be confused with actual massacres like the one at Bowling Green over a century later, this so-called tragedy in 1890 was nothing more than the feds taking out some bad hombres and undocumented natives hiding out from authorities in South Dakota.”
On the Internment of Japanese-Americans: “This temporary travel ban levied by the U.S. against individuals from a particular nation of origin was a singular effective piece of extreme vetting that kept the homeland safe during a time of war.”
On the Holocaust and Soviet Gulags: “The world will never forget the more than 6 million victims—Gypsies, priests, the disabled and other targets—of the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust. Some label Joseph Stalin, who presided over 2 to 3 million deaths in Soviet-era Gulags at the time, a mass murderer, but America has also had its share of genocide and mass murder. You think our country is so innocent?”
On McCarthyism: “Prodded on by fake media stories and third-rate reporters like CBS’ Edward R. Murrow, a broad witch hunt was perpetrated against the followers of Joseph McCarthy and other brave Americans dedicated to rooting out communists and leaks from the ‘deep state’ apparatus.”
On the Watergate Scandal: “No evidence was ever found showing that the Watergate burglars tampered with voting machines or otherwise affected the results of the presidential election, so it was unclear what the big deal was really about.”
On the Wreck of the Exxon Valdez: “Frivolous lawsuits and the more than 10 million gallons of oil that spilled into Prince William Sound placed a major financial strain on Exxon profits, highlighting the need to better balance environmental concerns with the rights of industry.”
On the Impact of Hurricane Katrina: “The rising waters engulfing New Orleans provided millions of local citizens with an opportunity to relocate neighborhoods, including providing their children with access to a broader array of schooling options.”
On the Financial Crisis of 2008: “For decades, Americans had grown too dependent on their retirement accounts, a rising stock market and the brilliance of their financial managers, and so leaders at the top banks and investment firms bravely took it upon themselves to usher in a new era of individual financial responsibility.”
There are undoubtedly other episodes warranting revision. Please share with us your best ideas for alternative takes on U.S. history in the comments below.