Op-ed comparing how history has been used politically in opposite ways over the same issue

November 22, 2018 |  Tagged , | Comments Off on Op-ed comparing how history has been used politically in opposite ways over the same issue

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 History has been used for a variety of purposes other than simply learning about the past. History has been used by people in all parts of the political spectrum to explain their policies and justify why they are to make certain decisions, whether it dealt with domestic or foreign policy. When examining historical events, it’s important to note that there are a variety of perspectives on a single event. This is because people are affected by events differently, which is why there are various accounts to any event in history.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Even though there are different perspectives on a particular event, it does not mean that one perspective is particularly right or wrong if you are talking about how something affects them and the facts remain the same. In our current political climate, people talk about alternative facts and fake news not to put out a particular perspective to an event, but to deny the facts altogether. This is not having various perspectives, but it is gas lighting the audience.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 History instructors have a challenging job when it comes to teaching history to their students. Minds are malleable and easily convinced of what they are taught by people in position of power and authority, especially when it comes to younger children. People often overlook the impact that teachers have on young and growing minds. When students are taught to remember certain facts, they will not always question what they are learning because they assume their teacher to have sufficient knowledge and authority to know what they are talking about. Students don’t usually think about reliability and sourcing when they are being taught and will take what they learned at face value. When studying history, it is important to acknowledge that there are a variety of perspectives when it comes to learning about any kind of historical event, so it is vital that students are exposed to these perspectives so they know that people view the same events differently. By making students conscious that there is bias in any historical work, they will know that what some people may see as something good for one group does not necessarily mean that it is good for everyone.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Learning about the American Civil War within the United States has become a controversial topic because students learn about the Civil War differently depending on what part of the country they are learning it. The difference is so vast that in the states that were part of the Union during the Civil War know this war as the Civil War whereas the states that made up the Confederacy during this time call this war the War of Northern Aggression. Just based on what each side calls this war tells you just how differently each side viewed this war. The South viewed this war as northern attack on itself, where the federal government led by Abraham Lincoln was imposing his will and power over the Southern states who were just trying to assert their states’ rights. In the southern part of the United States, there isn’t much emphasis on the issue of people wanting to keep the institution of slavery even though the war itself was fought because the southern states believed they had the right to keep the institution of slavery. In the northern states, slavery is mentioned as one of the main causes of the Civil War.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 This huge disparity in how the Civil War is taught in different parts of the same country has a noticeable impact on how people view each other from the different states that took part in the Civil War. By naming the Civil War the War of Northern Aggression, it implies that the northern part of the United States attacked the seemingly defenseless southern part of the United States. This allows the former Confederate States to claim the victim role, disregarding the other legitimate causes of the Civil War. Regardless of the ultimate results of the war, the former Confederate States have a reason to resent the federal government and the Union States that fought against them. This clearly shows the importance of naming conflicts between two groups- it changes the way people perceive the conflict before one can actually learn more about the conflict itself.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 If you look at the current controversy surrounding having Confederate statues and flags in public places to remember the Confederacy, you can see how teaching the Civil War differently has resulted in differing reactions and arguments as to whether the Confederate statues and flags should be up to begin with. People in the southern United States argue that these statues and flags help them remember their past struggles and ancestors and therefore must remain in its place. If you ask African Americans whether they believe these statues and flags should remain in its place, their answer is no because these statues and flags brings back the memory of slavery and oppression that their ancestors suffered under. These figures and flags represent the oppression people of their race suffered through multiple generations without being able to have any power or say over it. These arguments have been used by politicians from both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party to justify their positions on whether the Confederate statues and flags have any place in their respective states considering that the Confederacy lost the Civil War.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 The image of the American government oversees is also another issue that the United States government and foreign governments must deal with for these countries to have a diplomatic relationship with. During the Cold War, the United States was one of two superpowers in the world. Because the American government and its citizens believed that Communism was an evil that must be contained, it intervened in a lot of foreign affairs to avoid the spread of Communism throughout the world. In school, students are often taught about the war in Vietnam and Korea, but American intervention in Latin America during the Cold War is rarely if ever mentioned in the United States curricula. This is curious mainly because the United States had a huge impact on the history of Latin America that still affects these countries to this day.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 When American intervention in Latin America is taught or mentioned by politicians, it is often depicted as the United States trying to save South America from falling to tyranny and dictatorship that is communism and the Soviet Union. If you look at the Cuban Revolution, the United States had so much influence in the newly formed Cuban government that the dictator Fulgencio Batista was seen by many as the puppet ruler to the United States. When Fidel Castro took over Cuba and removed Batista from power, creating a Communist State, the United States was worried because Cuba was now potentially a threat to the United States due to its proximity to it by sea and its alliance with the Soviet Union. Many people in Cuba believed that Castro, not the American government was their savior because Castro promised to change a lot of the injustices that they lived through under Batista’s rule. Those who fled from Cuba and had a negative perspective on the Castro regime tended to be richer Cubans who were losing their property and wealth because of the new regime, but that was not a universal feeling in Cuba. In the United States, Cuba was seen as a country who “fell” into the Soviet Union’s trap and became Communist, bringing Cuba into a kind of dark age for not embracing capitalism. Politicians often talked about having lost Cuba to communism and lamented about losing a potentially valuable business partner.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 The American fear of “losing” a country to communism and the Soviet Union resulted in military intervention in many Latin American countries despite the citizens of said country expressing through elections that they wanted to move toward socialism and communism. One of the most notorious cases where the will of the people was ignored and the United States intervened to defend its interests is in the overthrow of Allende in Chile on September 11, 1973. Although Salvador Allende was democratically elected president of the Chile, the United States did not like the fact that a democratic socialist was in power rather than a candidate that they supported. There are records that the CIA expressed an interest in a military coup to overthrow Allende. On September 11, 1973, Allende was overthrown and a military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet was put in power.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Even though Pinochet committed atrocities to his people, he was generally supported by the United States since he favored capitalism. American intervention and assistance in this coup was considered essential in Pinochet’s rise and consolidation of power. When you take into account the atrocities that have been attributed to Pinochet and the fact that his rise to power was a direct result of American intervention, it is no wonder why many Chileans have such a negative view of the United States. The Pinochet dictatorship is seen as a dark period in Chilean history that was made possible by the American government.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 This helps foment anti-American sentiment in Chile and in other Latin American nations. People like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela often cited and referred to the numerous instances where the American government intervened in the affairs of Latin American countries, resulting in the installation of military regimes friendly to the United States and hostile to its citizens. Chavez always talked about in his speeches about the “evil American government” that is looking for its opportunity to take over any Latin American country that is not vigilant in making sure that Americans stay out of their affairs. Latin American nations have a legitimate reason to have anti-American sentiments and views because they have been victimized one way or another by the actions of the American government and/or CIA. Even in the nations that were not directly affected by American intervention have had leaders who talk about American intervention as a real danger to the existence of these nations.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Without knowledge of American intervention in Latin America, it will be difficult for ordinary Americans to understand why there’s such an anti-American sentiment in many countries within this region. If these events continue to be taught as the United States’ attempts to contain communism and save these nations from falling prey to the Soviet Union, it dismisses the real concerns and grievances people and nations have against the American government and its entities.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 It is important that both students and the public are aware of the fact that there are a variety of perspectives in history so they can understand that history is complex and can be interpreted differently. Understanding that people don’t always have the same perspective on a particular event is important to understanding history because it forces people to acknowledge that history has not always been fair to everyone. Having this knowledge would also empower the public and make them less susceptible to being manipulated by politicians to believe in half-truths to fulfill their agenda.


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