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How History Textbooks can be Biased

How History Textbooks can be Biased

Drowsy students around the country have finally discovered a sense of belonging with the publication of James W. Loewen’s novel, Lies My Teacher Told Me. The objective novel addresses the faults of modern-day society’s portrayal of our historical past, reawakening the instinct to question—something a history class so often has come to dull. The educating of history has been tainted and reinterpreted to best promote patriotism by embellishing lavish facts to glorify our nation’s accomplishments and heroes and omitting further important factors and events that would otherwise change the bias perspective.

Historical names and dates stand out in people’s minds such as Christopher Columbus and Thanksgiving. People celebrate these commemorative holidays without really assessing the validity of what really went down. Why did Columbus achieve all the glory? For it was not his direct “discovery” that prompted such celebration. Loewen brings up numerous other civilizations that explored the modern-day Americas, such as the Norse or Phoenician, that date hundreds of years B.C., but textbooks only accredit Columbus—a “white” Spaniard conqueror, “offending all people of color” as Loewen states in his opening chapters. To add to this, textbooks do not accompany grand stories of heroes with actual quotes from speeches or excerpts from diaries; the truth would have held too true. Columbus’s grandiose dreams of “Tierra!” were not absolutely exclusive to him as stories would like it to seem. Rather, Columbus was finally something settled for in the midst of radical changes in Europe at the time.

History textbooks are apt to lightly touch upon issues such as the Native Americans and do not delve into the full horrors of the slave trade. Loewen explains that, “Textbooks authors still write history to comfort descendants of the ‘settlers’”. What about historical closure for African or Native Americans? The Natives are just savages and Africans were all inferior. Many accounts of wars such as the French and Indian War neglect to really account for the masses of actual Indians that were in it. Even when the White-Native interaction proved to be accurate in a recent revision of a textbook, publishers rejected it stating it was just “too Indian” and fear that it would not be adopted. But, Loewen argues, “History through red eyes offers our children a deeper understanding than...

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