Gerald Doane: Teach all of history, not hatred
I dislike comparing anything to national socialism or Nazism because there simply is no comparison when it comes to the racial and ethnic hatred and the genocide that was carried out by Germans and others in that treacherous political movement.
Do we need to learn the history of Nazism? Of course we do. We need to learn about their treachery, not to replicate it, but to prevent it from ever happening again. “Never again!”
History is full of tinhorn and real dictators who were mass murderers of varying scale. Hitler, Stalin and Mao pretty much top that scale. All were leaders of political movements or ideologies, Nazism and Communism to be specific.
There is a common theme among politicians and political ideologies, and that theme is to “define the enemy.” The Nazis were particularly adept at it.
From the Holocaust Encyclopedia, “A key part of Nazi ideology was to define the enemy and those who posed a threat to the so-called ‘Aryan’ race. Nazi propaganda was essential in promoting the myth of the ‘national community’ and identifying who should be excluded. Jews were considered (to be) the main enemy.
“A number of groups were targeted as enemies or outsiders. They included Jews, Roma (gypsies), homosexuals, and political dissidents. Also targeted were Germans viewed as genetically inferior and harmful to ‘national health,’ such as people with mental illness and intellectual or physical disabilities.
“The use of propaganda and laws to define the enemy as a cohesive group was a key factor in achieving the goals of the Nazi regime.
“These campaigns incited hatred or cultivated indifference to it. They were particularly effective in creating an atmosphere tolerant of violence against Jews.”
Defining the enemy in racial and ethnic terms has risen its ugly head throughout time and all around the world. Yes, in America as well.
Slavery, Jim Crow laws and segregationist policies and practices of the past defined Black Americans as the enemy.
The indignities, sufferings, and hardships of native people who were forced from their lands and driven like cattle in the Trail of Tears defined Native Americans as the enemy.
The forced relocation of Japanese during World War II from their homes, businesses and farms, many losing their property never to regain it, defined Japanese Americans as the enemy.
We all know this about America’s past, and we all know it was wrongful policy based upon fear and racial hatred.
But multiple wrongs never make a right in the equation of life. Defining white Americans of any gender and age as being the enemy, especially to impressionable children, is a practice just as wrong as defining Native Americans, Black Americans, and Japanese Americans as enemy.
I was taught Native American history at College High School in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where I attended from 1952 to 1956. We were provided a course in Oklahoma history, a large portion of the subject matter being the history of Indian Territory, a precursor to the state of Oklahoma created in 1907.
Nearing the 50th anniversary of Oklahoma’s founding, The Daily Oklahoman, the state’s oldest, largest and most influential newspaper, published a huge Sunday edition celebrating the history of Indian Territory and its native people.
I read that edition from cover to cover and used it as a reference in my Oklahoma history class.
As a result of these and other teachings, I learned a great deal about the native people of Indian Territory much aside from the “cowboy and Indian” serial movies I watched as a young kid. Protagonist versus antagonist? Hardly!
It was important for me to learn, especially at the high school grade level, the history of an enslaved, mistreated, and relocated people in the very place where I lived. I never again defined Native Americans as the enemy.
I’m not a believer in “cancel culture.” Everyone has a right to express their beliefs in the public square.
Get on your soap box and preach away or write your book and pitch it to the world! That’s my, and I believe, most Americans’ philosophy.
But there is no place for proselytizing racial, ethnic or gender hatred in our public schools, no matter who is doing the preaching or the writing, no matter who is being defined as the enemy, and no matter how the subject is camouflaged as history.
Teach America’s history and all its failings, but do not define other Americans as the enemy. Leave that to the corrupt and insipid politicians.
Gerald Doane lives in Grass Valley.
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