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Rebecca Stefoff - Lies My Teacher Told Me - Young Readers Edition
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Learn More. X It's feeling like summer X Order today. Onward, comrades, all together! Onward to the campfires of Russia! Onward to the coming dawn! Keller's commitment to socialism stemmed from her experience as a disabled person and from her sympathy for others with handicaps. She began by working to simplify the alphabet for the blind, but soon came to realize that to deal solely with blindness was to treat symptom, not cause.
Through research she learned that blindness was not distributed randomly throughout the population but was concentrated in the lower class. Men who were poor might be blinded in industrial accidents or by inadequate medical care; poor women who became prostitutes faced the additional danger of syphilitic blindness.
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- Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.
Thus Keller learned how the social class system controls people's opportunities in life, sometimes determining even whether they can see. Keller's research was not just book-learning: "I have visited sweatshops, factories, crowded slums. If I could not see it, I could smell it. She soon became the most notorious. Newspapers that had extolled her courage and intelligence now emphasized her handicap. Columnists charged that she had no independent sensory input and was in thrall to those who fed her information.
Typical was the editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, who wrote that Keller's "mistakes spring out of the manifest limitations of her development. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence during the years since I met him.
Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent.
Having herself fought so hard to speak, she helped found the American Civil Liberties Union to fight for the free speech of others. She supported Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist candidate, in each of his campaigns for the presidency.
She composed essays on the women's movement, on politics, on economics. Near the end of her life, she wrote to Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, leader of the American Communist party, who was then languishing in jail, a victim of the McCarthy era: "Loving birthday greetings, dear Elizabeth Flynn!
May the sense of serving mankind bring strength and peace into your brave heart! What we did not learn about Woodrow Wilson is even more remarkable. When I ask my college students to tell me what they recall about President Wilson, they respond with enthusiasm. They say that Wilson led our country reluctantly into World War I and after the war led the struggle nationally and internationally to establish the League of Nations.
They associate Wilson with progressive causes like women's suffrage. A handful of students recall the Wilson administration's Palmer Raids against left-wing unions. But my students seldom know or speak about two antidemocratic policies that Wilson carried out: his racial segregation of the federal government and his military interventions in foreign countries. Under Wilson, the United States intervened in Latin America more often than at any other time in our history.
We landed troops in Mexico in , Haiti in , the Dominican Republic in , Mexico again in and nine more times before the end of Wilson's presidency , Cuba in , and Panama in Throughout his administration Wilson maintained forces in Nicaragua, using them to determine Nicaragua's president and to force passage of a treaty preferential to the United States. In Woodrow Wilson took on a major power when he started sending secret monetary aid to the "White" side of the Russian civil war.
In the summer of he authorized a naval blockade of the Soviet Union and sent expeditionary forces to Murmansk, Archangel, and Vladivostok to help overthrow the Russian Revolution. With the blessing of Britain and France, and in a joint command with Japanese soldiers, American forces penetrated westward from Vladivostok to Lake Baikal, supporting Czech and White Russian forces that had declared an anticommunist government headquartered at Omsk.
After briefly maintaining front lines as far west as the Volga, the White Russian forces disintegrated by the end of , and our troops finally left Vladivostok on April 1, Few Americans who were not alive at the time know anything about our "unknown war with Russia," to quote the title of Robert Maddox's book on this fiasco.
Not one of the twelve American history textbooks in my sample even mentions it. Russian history textbooks, on the other hand, give the episode considerable coverage. According to Maddox: "The immediate effect of the intervention was to prolong a bloody civil war, thereby costing thousands of additional lives and wreaking enormous destruction on an already battered society. And there were longer-range implications. Bolshevik leaders had clear proof.. Wilson's invasions of Latin America are better known than his Russian adventure.
Textbooks do cover some of them, and it is fascinating to watch textbook authors attempt to justify these episodes. Any accurate portrayal of the invasions could not possibly show Wilson or the United States in a favorable light.
Debunking the Lies My Teacher Told Me
With hindsight we know that Wilson's interventions in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua set the stage for the dictators Batista, Trujillo, the Duvaliers, and the Somozas, whose legacies still reverberate. Even in the s, most of the invasions were unpopular in this country and provoked a torrent of criticism abroad. By the mids, Wilson's successors reversed his policies in Latin America. The authors of history textbooks know this, for a chapter or two after Wilson they laud our "Good Neighbor Policy," the renunciation of force in Latin America by Presidents Coolidge and Hoover, which was extended by Franklin D.
Instead, faced with unpleasantries, textbooks wriggle to get the hero off the hook, as in this example from The Challenge of Freedom: "President Wilson wanted the United States to build friendships with the countries of Latin America. However, he found this difficult Land of Promise is vague as to who caused the invasions but seems certain they were not Wilson's doing: "He soon discovered that because of forces he could not control, his ideas of morality and idealism had to give way to practical action.
Unlike his secretary of the navy, who later complained that what Wilson "forced [me] to do in Haiti was a bitter pill for me," no documentary evidence suggests that Wilson suffered any such qualms about dispatching troops to the Caribbean. All twelve of the textbooks I surveyed mention Wilson's invasion of Mexico, but they posit that the interventions were not Wilson's fault.
But "as the months passed, even President Wilson began to lose patience. According to Karp, Wilson's intervention was so outrageous that leaders of both sides of Mexico's ongoing civil war demanded that the U. Textbook authors commonly use another device when describing our Mexican adventures: they identify Wilson as ordering our forces to withdraw, but nobody is specified as having ordered them in! Imparting information in a passive voice helps to insulate historical figures from their own unheroic or unethical deeds.
Some books go beyond omitting the actor and leave out the act itself. Half of the twelve textbooks do not even mention Wilson's takeover of Haiti. After U. When Haiti refused to declare war on Germany after the United States did, we dissolved the Haitian legislature. Then the United States supervised a pseudo-referendum to approve a new Haitian constitution, less democratic than the constitution it replaced; the referendum passed by a hilarious 98, to As Piero Gleijesus has noted, "It is not that Wilson failed in his earnest efforts to bring democracy to these little countries.
He never tried. He intervened to impose hegemony, not democracy. American troops forced peasants in shackles to work on road construction crews. In Haitian citizens rose up and resisted U.
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Students who read Triumph of the American Nation learn this about Wilson's intervention in Haiti: "Neither the treaty nor the continued presence of American troops restored order completely. During the next four or five years, nearly 2, Haitians were killed in riots and other outbreaks of violence.
Wilson's reaction to the Russian Revolution solidified the alignment of the United States with Europe's colonial powers. His was the first administration to be obsessed with the specter of communism, abroad and at home. Wilson was blunt about it. In Billings, Montana, stumping the West to seek support for the League of Nations, he warned, "There are apostles of Lenin in our own midst.
I can not imagine what it means to be an apostle of Lenin. It means to be an apostle of the night, of chaos, of disorder. Wilson's sentiment for self-determination and democracy never had a chance against his three bedrock "ism"s: colonialism, racism, and anticommunism.
Wilson refused to listen, and France retained control of Indochina. It seems that Wilson regarded self-determination as all right for, say, Belgium, but not for the likes of Latin America or Southeast Asia. At home, Wilson's racial policies disgraced the office he held.
His Republican predecessors had routinely appointed blacks to important offices, including those of port collector for New Orleans and the District of Columbia and register of the treasury. Presidents sometimes appointed African Americans as postmasters, particularly in southern towns with large black populations. African Americans took part in the Republican Party's national conventions and enjoyed some access to the White House.
Woodrow Wilson, for whom many African Americans voted in , changed all that. A southerner, Wilson had been president of Princeton, the only major northern university that refused to admit blacks. His administration submitted a legislative program intended to curtail the civil rights of African Americans, but Congress would not pass it.
Unfazed, Wilson used his power as chief executive to segregate the federal government. He appointed southern whites to offices traditionally reserved for blacks.
Debunking the Lies My Teacher Told Me | Northern Spirit Radio
Wilson personally vetoed a clause on racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations. The one occasion on which Wilson met with African American leaders in the White House ended in a fiasco as the president virtually threw the visitors out of his office. Wilson's legacy was extensive: he effectively closed the Democratic Party to African Americans for another two decades, and parts of the federal government remained segregated into the s and beyond. In the Colored Advisory Committee of the Republican National Committee issued a statement on Wilson that, though partisan, was accurate: "No sooner had the Democratic Administration come into power than Mr.
Wilson and his advisors entered upon a policy to eliminate all colored citizens from representation in the Federal Government. Land of Promise does the best job: Woodrow Wilson's administration was openly hostile to black people. Wilson was an outspoken white supremacist who believed that black people were inferior. During his campaign for the presidency, Wilson promised to press for civil rights.
But once in office he forgot his promises. Instead, Wilson ordered that white and black workers in federal government jobs be segregated from one another.
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This was the first time such segregation had existed since Reconstruction! When black federal employees in Southern cities protested the order, Wilson had the protesters fired. In November, , a black delegation asked the President to reverse his policies. Wilson was rude and hostile and refused their demands.
Most of the textbooks that treat Wilson's racism give it only a sentence or two. Skip to main content. Search form. Advanced Search. Sunday, May 19, - pm. Lake Forest Park.