Jeff Koterba starts us off with a “Yes, but No” take on Michael Flynn’s bizarre declaration that the US is and must be a Christian nation. Yes, the nation was founded on the principle of freedom of (and from) religion: Any fair reading of the Founders, and any literate reading of the Constitution, makes that clear.
But that certainly wasn’t the goal of the Puritans and Pilgrims, who came here to escape religious persecution in Europe but promptly set up their own theocratic colonies. They would welcome Flynn’s attitude, as long as he was advocating their own brand of Christianity, which, for the Puritans, included a War on Christmas.
The topic opens once more the question of what we teach in schools. In NYS, our seventh and 11th grade curricula were clear that those folks weren’t looking to establish freedom of religion in Massachusetts, and that Roger Williams had to escape to Rhode Island to pursue that goal.
Anne Hutchinson was also mentioned, but she didn’t start a new colony, so we only heard her name in passing. However, the point was made clear to us that some colonies welcomed all faiths and others were closed to those who opened their eggs at the wrong end.
It makes me wonder how this was taught in other states, because there is a big difference between inefficient teaching and indoctrinating kids with deliberate lies, and current arguments over CRT are eye-opening in that regard.
Our focus on slavery was mostly on economics and politics: How the practice fit into Triangular Trade in the colonial period, the debates over representation in framing the Constitution and the compromises made to keep the Union together before the Civil War.
Our lessons included cruelty, the Fugitive Slave Law and Dred Scott, and our textbooks made heroes of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Abraham Lincoln.
But we never really explored the human cost and our lessons about Reconstruction were sloppy and incomplete at best.
But my goodness gracious, the recent unmasking of outrageous lies in Virginia’s toxic curriculum were jaw-dropping. Whatever we may have missed, our textbooks didn’t depict slaves as showing up dockside in European garb and carrying suitcases. Those “educators” better hope there is no Hell.
I don’t know, however, that any states deliberately lie to their children about the Massachusetts Bay Colony, so I can forgive people for thinking the Puritans and Pilgrims came here seeking religious freedom, because they kinda sorta did, and they opened the topic.
Still, if you don’t also learn about their harsh intolerance, about Williams and Hutchinson, and about how religious dissension fared in other colonies, the schools aren’t doing their jobs and you won’t understand what happened in Philadelphia in 1789.
And, as Pat Bagley points out, there are plenty of people who hope students won’t learn those lessons.
BTW, school board meetings are open to the public, not just for people with complaints but any time you’d like to know what’s going on.
Having covered many of them, I promise you, you’ll have your choice of empty chairs.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Another case where point-of-view matters is the three-hour Zoom conference between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, as seen here from Florida, Singapore and Mexico.
The spread is interesting, with Marlette depicting Biden as an apparent sucker, thinking he had enjoyed a friendly, productive conversation while Xi holds him in vulgar contempt.
Xi later issued a warning about interfering in Taiwan, but I suspect that was for the home crowd and that he’d have felt compelled to say it no matter who was in the White House.
I didn’t see the divide in attitudes Marlette suggests, and, while Xi spoke of them as longtime friends, Biden had already distinguished familiarity from friendship. Here is an interesting cultural dissection of that.
Heng and Xolo present a more nuanced difference. Heng says the two appeared in deadly opposition while quietly making some alliance, while Xolo puts the friendly intentions out front but adds hidden barbs that underlie their national interests.
Our relations with China are certainly complex: We’re obvious rivals in world politics, and the issues of Taiwan and the South China Sea islands are a minefield where we both need to hope nobody makes a wrong step.
At the same time, we’re so tied up in each other’s economies that even a non-shooting war would be disastrous.
Going back to our schools for a moment, I think it’s good that so many American kids are learning Mandarin, because understanding China matters, whether you see them as an adversary, a major trading partner or, accurately, as both.
Juxtaposition of the Day #2
By the time you see this, Kyle Rittenhouse’s jury may be back with a verdict, but I’m not expecting them to reach agreement soon: Too many charges, too many points to debate.
I would be astonished if he were convicted of everything, appalled if he walked free on them all.
I agree with Jones, and with the prosecutor, that you can’t walk into a place with a gun and make a compelling case of self-defense, at least in regard to the two unarmed people who were shot. That third confrontation could possibly yield an acquittal, though I wouldn’t agree with it.
And Whamond is right that the judge has behaved with an astonishing level of unprofessionalism, and I say that as a great-grandfather who some day may, too, be at the point where the kids have to take away the car keys.
As noted before, however, every time Julius Hoffman made an asinine ruling against the Chicago Seven (Eight), it offered grounds for appealing conviction.
There is no appealing an acquittal under our system of law.
But that case at least offers some hope in a world that lately seems to offer little.
DD Degg pushed for confirmation on the author of that “No Armistice Day” cartoon featured here on Veteran’s Day, and the Herb Block Foundation, bless them, blew up the obscured signature for us. (No — it was Sara Duke at the Library of Congress. And, yes, I regret the error. I’m also pretty impressed with his gumshoe work.)