The Conservative Attempt to Re-Write Our Progressive History
Oklahoma isn’t the only state where Republicans are waging war on high school history class.
Conservatives in a handful of other states, including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and - no surprise here - Texas are now pushing bills that would ban the College Board’s AP U.S. history curriculum.
The main issue that conservatives have with the current AP history curriculum is that it’s “too liberal” and supposedly focuses too much on the “negative” parts of American history, whatever that means. So Conservatives want to replace it with a curriculum that focuses on topics conservatives like - topics like, you know, Reagan, Reagan, and, just for good measure, more Reagan.
In all seriousness, though, there’s a really good reason that conservatives are freaking out about what kind of history curriculum is going to be taught in our classrooms. And that’s the simple fact that the history of America is the history of the continuous progressive transformation of this country.
All the great accomplishments of American democracy, from the revolution itself to healthcare reform, have been progressive accomplishments and they’ve come about because progressives rallied for change and said “no” to the old order. It was progressives who in the 1760s and 1770s took the streets and then the battlefields of America to fight against British tyranny.
It was progressives who, because they believed that all men are created equal, rallied against slavery and pushed President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. And it was progressives who, because they believed that all people are created equal, started the push for women’s rights.
It was progressives, who, because they believed, as Thomas Jefferson once said, that a well-informed citizenry is essential to democracy, created the first public schools. It was progressives who, because they believed in democracy in the workplace, fought for the right to unionize. And it was progressives, who, because they believed in the inherent dignity of all work, passed the first workplace safety laws and banned child labor.
It was also progressives who, during the New Deal and then the Great Society, created Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the programs that are the bedrock of our social safety net. And who do you think it was that fought to end Jim Crow and lead the fight for gay rights? That’s right, you guessed it, it was progressives.
Literally every great turning point in American history happened because progressives made it happen. Name it and progressives were behind it. Conservatives, of course, fought these changes at every step of the line.
Conservatives opposed the revolution.
Conservatives opposed freeing the slaves.
Conservatives opposed women’s rights.
Conservatives opposed - and continue to oppose - public education.
Conservatives opposed - and continue to oppose - democracy in the workplace.
Conservatives opposed child labor laws.
Conservatives opposed the New Deal.
Conservatives opposed Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Conservatives also opposed the Civil Rights Movement and continue to oppose the Gay Rights Movement.
Name a great achievement in American history and conservatives were against it. This isn't opinion, it’s just fact, and it’s the real reason why conservatives are going absolutely bonkers about the AP U.S. History curriculum.
They’re worried that if young people study real history, not the Reaganized fluff Republicans are pushing, they’ll realize that conservatives have been on the wrong side of history for the past 200 plus years.
From a conservative perspective, banning AP history makes perfect sense. Not only would doing so keep the public in the dark about what it really means to be conservative, it would also - and this is really important - make it harder for young Americans to discover the truth about this country’s progressive past.
So go call your local representative today to tell them that you support AP U.S. history and the right of all high scholars to learn about the progressive values that make this country great.