Can’t defend history when you don’t know it

    Representative Smith, in his recent missive, uses name calling and distortions to attack all who don't fall in line, as he does, with President Trump's attempts to cloak himself in nationalistic symbols. It does make sense for Trump to try to divert attention from his failed leadership, the administration's attacks on minority groups and the environment, his support and praise for other autocratic leaders, and diverting federal funds, intended to help people in need, to his friends and corporate backers.

    Smith states, “I don't think the best way to remember, learn and grow from our history is to try and erase the parts which may make us uncomfortable looking back on them today.” He implies that is what the demonstrators are trying to do, but what he describes is what the supporters of the Confederate monuments tried to do.
    The monuments were intended to serve two purposes. One was to rewrite history to make people believe that traitors to the United States were somehow heroic figures and the other was to show blacks that white supremacists are still in charge. The removal of monuments is not intended to erase the past but to stop celebrating a society based on slavery and use their existence to study how part of our country built a slave based culture and how our country still supports systemic racism.
    Smith states, “President Trump remains committed to protecting our history and honoring our heroes.” Are those heroes the Fascists in Charlottesville that Trump called “good people?” Is that history the one that ignores the genocide and stealing of lands from the indigenous populations?
    If one is ignorant of the history of the “Black Hills” (Lakota: Pahá Sápa) you might agree, as Smith says, “President Trump was right to choose this iconic monument—and the great Americans depicted—to celebrate and honor this Fourth of July.” The Black Hills were sacred to a number of native peoples and the U.S. signed a treaty to leave the Black Hills in the hands of the native population.
    The U.S. violated that treaty when an illegal gold rush of Americans invaded the Black Hills. (It is not new to have GREED driving U.S. national policy.) If you do know the history you still might agree with Smith, but you would also need to believe it is right to desecrate sacred lands stolen from the rightful occupants to further your political objectives.
    Smith goes on to say the U.S. was “The first nation that proved you can achieve success through hard work and determination.” I think the “First Nations” of Turtle Island showed that in spite of the attempted genocide by the US they were able to survive as peoples with “hard work and determination.”
James Vokac
Willow Springs

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