Tag Archives: slavery

Pols step up correctly!

My previous blog spoke well of the Texas State Board of Education’s decision to keep teaching elementary public school students about “slavery” and to forgo the use of a term called “involuntary relocation” in our curriculum.

I want to highlight one aspect of that decision. It came unanimously. Yes, 15 members of the SBOE voted as one. Why is that a big deal? Because the SBOE comprises politicians who are elected to the office. They run as Republicans and Democrats. They have constituencies to which they must appeal. They represent vastly different districts drawn across our vast state.

They come from different ideological backgrounds, bias and political leanings.

Yet on this matter, they spoke with one voice.

Make no mistake, the SBOE made the correct statement. The term “slavery” should remain in our public school curriculum to remind our children of the darkest chapter in our nation’s history.

That the SBOE locked arms on this matter is cause for high praise.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

SBOE pushes back on language change

Well, I’ll be deep fried and rolled in oats. The Texas State Board of Education, a committee of 15 politicians elected to a panel that determines public school curriculum, has shown some needed guts.

The SBOE appears to have squashed an idea to change the way schools teach second graders about slavery. A group of educators had pitched an idea to call the enslavement of human beings as “involuntary relocation.”

The SBOE said “no” to that idea. Texas’s public schools will continue to teach our children about “slavery,” and will keep the language as it has been presented.

Yahoo News reported: While involuntary relocation isn’t an entirely unknown term in social studies, it often “has relationships to refugees and forced displacement due to violence or ethnic cleansing,” said Neil Shanks, clinical assistant professor of middle and secondary education at Baylor University.

In this case, Shanks added, the term appeared to be “intended to water down the issue of slavery.”

Texas board of education strikes down proposal to call slavery ‘involuntary relocation’ (yahoo.com)

Let’s understand that slavery is the darkest chapter in our nation’s otherwise glorious story. We shouldn’t dilute its impact by introducing the kind of terminology that means next to nothing. “Involuntary relocation?” What the hell is that?

The State Board of Education, to its great credit, voted unanimously to stay the course on teaching our children about the evils of slavery.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

No way to soften ‘slavery’

This cannot possibly be real, cannot be serious, cannot be accurate. Some Texas educators now want to introduce a new form of study … changing the term “slavery” to something called “involuntary relocation.”

Good, ever-lovin’ grief! This can’t be happening. Oh, but it is happening.

The Texas Tribune reports:

How do I say this? The enslavement of human beings during the formation and early development of the United States is part of who we are as a nation, who we became and who we sought to correct.

To suggest that our children no longer should be taught what slavery meant to millions of our ancestors is to deny the facts as they occurred.

Texas education proposes referring to slavery as “involuntary relocation” | The Texas Tribune

“I don’t like it because it’s a personal belief. I don’t like it because it’s not rooted in truth,” said Aicha Davis, an SBOE member who represents Dallas and Fort Worth. “We can have all the discussions we want, but we have to adopt the truth for our students.”

We all have been told at times that “the truth hurts.”

Fine. Let it hurt. Slavery is the most egregious blot on our nation’s history. Our children should learn about it in its rawest form.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

CRT: not about ‘hating’ America

Someone has to explain to me: How does teaching our public school students about race, racism and discrimination indoctrinate them into a “hate America” thought process?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he intends to prevent teachers from educating students in his state about such things as slavery, racial discrimination and how that played a part in the development of our nation’s history.

They call it “critical race theory.” Perhaps it’s the name of the concept that has so many politicians up in arms. The terms “critical race” somehow are interpreted to mean that students who learn about racism in this country will grow up hating themselves as Americans, that they will be so darn ashamed of their country that will grow up to seek to create a vastly different country.

I don’t get it. I do not understand why public educators must be told they cannot teach such things to our students.

It is a fact that this country enslaved Black people. It is a fact that those people were denied the rights of citizenship in the country of their residence. It also is a fact that society didn’t value Black people as full-fledged human beings; they were deemed the “property” of their “owners.”

Shouldn’t teachers be allowed to educate students on what all of that means to citizens today? And shouldn’t teachers also be allowed to tell students what the country has done over many years to repair the damage that was done to those who were enslaved? Yes and yes … in my view.

I see nothing wrong with teaching children about the racial history of this country. It is a major part of our national story, the one that is still being written.

Someone has to explain why that is such a bad thing. Let’s discuss. OK? I’m all ears.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Honest Abe: unelectable

This is the face of an unelectable politician and, no, it is not because he isn’t particularly “telegenic.” It is because his ideas within his beloved Republican Party have become grist for the trash heap.

Consider the very notion that the man I consider to be our nation’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, is no longer the voice and face of a party that once called itself “The Party of Lincoln.” President Lincoln held the nation together during its darkest period, during the time when Americans fought each other over slavery and that thing one side referred to as “states’ rights.”

Then, as the Civil War drew to a close and as President Lincoln delivered his second inaugural speech after winning re-election in 1864, he said he would bind the wounds that divided us, that he would proceed with “malice toward none and charity for all.” An assassin struck a month later and denied the president the chance to deliver on his promise.

The party under which he ran for president twice has become something the president wouldn’t recognize. He certainly would not condone the tone it has taken in recent years. It has been hijacked and twisted into a form that bears no resemblance to the party of the so-called “big tent.”

Donald John Trump’s control over the party starting with the 2016 GOP presidential primary campaign has taken it on a destructive course. It’s not that the party is destroying itself. It is that the ideas it promotes has gained new followers who are wedded to the hideous notions espoused by its leader.

The Grand Old Party has become a cult whose followers are infiltrating the ranks of candidates throughout Congress and into statehouses, county courthouses and even into ostensibly non-partisan city halls and school board meeting rooms.

Imagine a Republican with the chops of Abraham Lincoln seeking public office today. Imagine how the 16th president himself would fare were he to become a candidate.

Abraham Lincoln likely couldn’t be elected as a Republican because his party would lack the good sense to nominate him in the first place. The future of civil discourse and debate in this country deserves better than what lies ahead.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Cancel culture? Really?

As a general rule I don’t usually quote “Star Trek” actors to buttress a point I want to make, but this one attributed to Mr. Sulu seems to ring so very true to me.

GOP politicians in Texas and everywhere else keep raising hell about “cancel culture” politics they allege are espoused by progressives. You know how it goes: Someone finds a phrase or a term to be offensive, so they set out to blot that from our vernacular; “cancel culture” has resulted in the bringing down of Confederate memorials honoring traitors who sought to topple the U.S. government during the Civil War.

The right wingers among us just can’t stand that notion.

And yet … they seek to ban books that teach students about racism in our nation’s history, about slavery and about certain damning chapters in the building of our nation.

Isn’t that more than just a little hypocritical?

It sure looks like it to me.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Listen to The Bulldog

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The 20th century’s greatest statesman was so wise on so many fronts, levels and issues.

His view that a nation must remember its past reminds me of something I saw while my wife and I were visiting friends in Germany in 2016.

Our friend took me to what they call in Nuremberg the “The Documentation Center.” What, you might ask, is the Documentation Center?

It is an exhibit that walks visitors through the Nuremberg war crimes trials that commenced shortly after World War II. Axis Powers officials were put on trial for their crimes against humanity. You know, The Holocaust … for example!

Our friend Martin told me straight up that Germany does not hide its past. The descendants of that terrible Nazi regime confront the ugliness of that era head on, he said. “We aren’t proud of it,” he told me. However, they put it all on full display for the world to see.

I came away from the exhibit moved and shaken at many levels by what I read and saw.

Five years later, the debate in this country centers on “critical race theory.” It speaks to the enslavement of human beings by other human beings. It poses fundamentally sound questions about the United States today remains a racist country.

These are not specious questions. They are legitimate. They deserve to be studied and discussed in our classrooms, in our dining rooms, in our living rooms.

U.N. envoy tells the hard, depressing truth

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield had the temerity to tell a truth that few of us want to hear, but which we all need to hear.

CBS News put this out on Twitter: Amb. Thomas-Greenfield said this week “the original sin of slavery weaved white supremacy into our founding documents.” She tells @margbrennan “Our country is not perfect, but we continue to perfect it. Those imperfections are part of our history, we have to talk about them.”

Let’s understand a couple of things.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is an African-American with extensive diplomatic experience. She’s not flaming fanatic, a novice.

The second point is this: The founders did not get rid of slavery. Many of them were slave owners themselves. They kept black Americans as property. The Constitution did not even recognize specifically that black Americans were entitled to the full rights of citizenship, even though they wrote that “all men are created equal.”

Dichotomy, anyone?

By almost any objective analysis you can use, you can determine that the founders implied that white men — the only Americans who could vote at the founding of the republic — were, uh, superior to anyone else.

Yet the U.N. envoy is getting plenty of blowback. I ask … why? She spoke — to borrow a phrase — an “inconvenient truth.”

Listen up: Texas cannot secede!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Is it OK to presume that every state legislative body has a wacky caucus in its ranks? If so, then Texas isn’t alone in the legislative wackiness that presents itself from time to time.

Consider this from a Republican state representative, Kyle Biedermann of Fredericksburg, who has pitched a resolution calling for a statewide election to determine whether Texas can secede from the Union.

Yes, the secessionists have returned! Oh, my. When does the madness stop? Don’t answer that. I know that it will never stop. It will never end.

The Texas Tribune reports what many of us know already, that the state cannot secede legally. The Civil War took care of that, right?

Texas seceded once already, joining the Confederacy in trying to break apart the United States of America. It went to war against the government, against fellow Americans. The issue? Slavery. The Civil War ended correctly, with the Union prevailing.

The Tribune wrote this about Biedermann’s idea:

“It is now time that the People of Texas are allowed the right to decide their own future,” he said in a statement announcing the legislation.

The bill d oesn’t appear to have much of a chance. And even if it did, experts say, Texas can’t just secede.

“The legality of seceding is problematic,” Eric McDaniel, associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Texas Tribune in 2016. “The Civil War played a very big role in establishing the power of the federal government and cementing that the federal government has the final say in these issues.”

Texas can’t secede from the U.S. Here’s why. | The Texas Tribune

Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1836. We joined the Union in 1845, adopting a resolution that contained language that said the state could partition itself into four parts if it wanted. Indeed, a former Texas Panhandle legislator, David Swinford of Dumas, once pitched the notion as recently as 1991. I asked Rep. Swinford whether he meant it as a serious proposal … and he did not say he was joking. 

Secession, though, is a non-starter. The Tribune cites a bit of wisdom offered by the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: “The answer is clear,” Scalia wrote. “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘one Nation, indivisible.’)”

Confederate flag also represents treason, oppression

Donald J. Trump just cannot bring himself to acknowledge what a majority of American southerners now admit … that the Confederate flag symbolizes racism.

Oh, no. Trump declares the flag is a symbol of “Southern history.” Well, yeah. It is that. The history, though, includes the Civil War. I know Trump has heard of it.

The war began when the Confederate States of America decided it wanted to form a new country. To do so it had to separate from the United States of America. Then the rebels fired on the Union garrison in Charleston, S.C. harbor. The war was on!

The conflict killed more than 600,000 Americans. Yes, I include the Confederate forces as “Americans,” even though they committed a treasonous act by taking up arms against the federal government.

Why did they go to war? Because their states wanted to keep human beings enslaved. They wanted the right to “own” humans as property. It’s been referred to euphemistically as a “states rights” issue. It is no such thing. The CSA wanted to retain the right to oppress human beings.

They fought the Union forces under the Confederate flag that Donald Trump — the man who has no understanding of history and its complexities — says represents “Southern history.”

The Confederate flag well might symbolize “history” to many Americans. To many others it represents hatred, oppression and enslavement. It is no coincidence that contemporary hate groups — the KKK, instance — flies the Confederate flag while spewing hate speech aimed at African-Americans.

Is that worth honoring? Hardly.