In 2010, the conservatives who controlled the Texas Board of Education caused an uproar when they made radical changes to the history curriculum for the state’s 4.8 million public school students. The changes included referring to the country’s first black president as “Barack Hussein Obama,” and requiring students to “contrast” Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address with Abraham Lincoln’s philosophical views.
To whitewash one of the darkest practices in America history, conservatives proposed that textbooks refer to the slave trade as the “Atlantic triangular trade.”
Now Tennessee Tea Party members are taking their efforts a step further and trying to eliminate references to slavery in American history textbooks. Salon reports that Tea Partiers who fetishize America’s founders are “demanding” that students not be taught that many of them owned slaves:
For a bunch of people who worship the Founders and like to play dress-up American Revolutionary War, Tea Partyers sure hate knowing anything remotely reality-based about the Founding Fathers. Tennessee Tea Party groups have introduced a proposal to take what few minorities there are in American history textbooks out of American history textbooks, along with any negative portrayals of the wealthy white men who led this young nation in its infancy.
At a press conference, two dozen activists presented their proposals — I’m sorry, their “demands” — for the new state legislative session. Among them are sweeping changes to school materials that they probably have not actually read. […]
Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”
Many of America’s first leaders, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings, and James Madison actually brought a slave with him to the White House when he became president.
The framers also painstakingly avoided addressing the issue of slavery when they wrote the Constitution, which included a compromise that each slave be counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of representation and taxation.
But recently, conservatives have preferred to gloss over those ugly truths and deprive students of a complete and honest portrait of the imperfect men who founded our country. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), founder of the congressional Tea Party caucus, famously said that the founders “worked tirelessly” to end slavery. Several of the GOP candidates have even signed a pledge that claimed that blacks were better off under slavery than under President Obama.