To the editor,
In the July 2 editorial by Claudia Tenney (“Keep Columbus, study history and build a better America”) she states that “history is our collective memory" and that "remembering the past does not mean we endorse it as wholly good or ill.”
When a nation’s history is taught in a way that glosses over the unseemly parts of history, we don’t have a full understanding of our history. For example, the 1830 Indian Removal policy of President Andrew Jackson forced more than 15,000 members of the Cherokee tribe to walk from their homes to designated Indian territory. Nearly 4,000 Cherokees died on the Trail of Tears. Is this fact taught in our schools? Should Andrew Jackson be considered an American worthy of praise? Should we have statues of Andrew Jackson? If we “whitewash” our history, we cannot learn from it and change for the better.
Tenney mentions Columbus was not responsible for the crimes of subsequent conquerors and the diseases that ravaged Native Americans. Here are some facts about Columbus you seem to gloss over:
When Columbus landed in the Bahamas, the Arawak men and women greeted him and brought food, water, and gifts. Columbus wrote in his log that the Arawak do not bear arms and would make “fine servants...With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
Another log entry states, “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.” Columbus wanted information about gold, as that is why the King and Queen of Spain financed Columbus’ expedition.
There are more examples. But, as you can see, when we gloss over the atrocities of our history it makes it seem like it is a necessary price to pay for progress. As a nation, we remain ignorant of the whole story of our history. Once we learn the truth, how can we hold these historical figures in high esteem? Germany, for example, does not have statues of Hitler nor do they fly the Nazi flag, even though it is a part of their history.
Finally, Tenney mentions that “our nation was founded on the idea that liberty and equality are man’s birthright from God.” This is not true. The Founding Fathers did not want an equal balance between slaves and masters, propertyless and property holders, Indians and white. Women were not even mentioned in the Declaration of Independence and were absent in the Constitution. Women fought for the right to vote and we still fight for wage equality. Black people and Native Americans are still fighting for equality. If we do not know our true history, we do not understand why people rise up and demand change.
If women did not protest, Ms. Tenney, you would not be allowed to vote nor run for.