The Farnsworth family has deep roots in Tennessee. One of my relatives was a poker-playing whiskey-drinking buddy of Andrew Jackson, and his brother, my direct ancestor, built one of the first hominy mills in Central Tennessee. Some of my cousins still live there.
So over the years I approached my Tennessee roots with an odd mix of pride and shame. While the state saw the establishment of one of the very first colleges intended specifically for African-Americans in the nation, we can't forget that the Ku Klux Klan was also organized there. Fast forward to 1968 and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, and you can see that the civil rights struggle for black Americans has a long and shadowy history in the state.
So it doesn't come as a surprise -- although sadly it really should -- that the Tennessee Tea Party ("oh, no, we're not racists!") is now pushing for a rewrite of school history textbooks to downplay the whole issue of the so-called Founding Fathers owning slaves, because it makes them look bad...
As if the Tea Party hasn't got enough on its hands with their
rewriting reimagining of the rest of American history.
The Head Teabagger in Tennessee, Hal Rounds, along with others of his bent says that:
they want the state legislature to force teachers to teach history in the way they see it. In other words, they want to re-write history to exclude the fact that the Founding Fathers owned slaves, because according to The Memphis Commercial Appeal, the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”You can't help but think that the next step will be to remove any mention of the Holocaust from the history of WWII because it makes the Germans look bad...
The group wants to change textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.” It’s a fancy way of saying let’s take the role of minorities out of our American history textbooks so our past leaders will look good. [Emphasis added]