A guest on Democracy Now! today complained about the Japanese writing recent history out of the textbooks. They don’t want young people to know about Japanese aggression preceding World War II. The powers that be want to hide the atrocities Japan committed while occupying China and Korea. They would erase the local roots of of a war that devastated the country and brought about an occupation by the United States that persists in some form to this day.
Israel doesn’t mention the peaceful Palestinian farms they overran, and the people driven from their ancestral homes to found their country. They teach their children the long discredited myth that they came to inhabit a land with out people, and that they were fleeing the only credible genocide in history. The Native Americans are not mentioned; The Armenians and Kurds in Turkey and Iraq, forgotten. The Palestinians still living on a fraction of their homeland under Israeli occupation are forbidden to mention the theft of their land in their own textbooks.
But what brings me to this page is the fact that American textbooks, the ones I grew up with, have erased the truth of American history, and in its place proffer a benign and very bland series of battles won and constitutional development; of righteous foreign engagements for the good of all. The genocide of the native population is merely a blip. A civil war that was fought over economic interests and resulted in the freeing of an enslaved people, who have yet to become equal in society more than 100 years later. A constant course of conquest and manipulation on behalf of giant corporations is hidden behind a veil of 17th century Western European values, modernity and technological progress. Wars of conquest are presented as necessary to the security of the nation.
European colonialism is judged obsolete, but not as the rape and pillage of foreign lands, the theft of resources. US neocolonial projects are presented as triumphs of international cooperation and tutelage of backwards peoples. The Nuremberg Trials are held forth as a triumph of justice while the crimes of the executors are hidden. The Marshal Plan in Europe, where Germany and France were rebuilt after World War II gets a chapter in the book, but the firebombing of those cities from the air is not mentioned. \American support for right wing forces formerly allied with the Nazis in Greece and Italy against the popular leftists who had liberated those countries is not mentioned.
I could go on and on. You had to study at a high level to even have access to the truth of history in my day. Now it is available on the internet, if you are motivated to look. I was with the dead history we learned in high school. Read the chapter then recite the content, chapter and verse, in answer to questions at the end, then write the information again on a test paper. The process is designed to create a permanent home in your brain for a simplistic lie that answers all questions and leads away from the truth of the present.
They say that history books are written by the victors. The reference to ‘victors’ assumes ‘war’. Would an end to war bring a restoration of history? Might an end to corporate power bring an end to war? These are questions that can only be addressed in the context of a multidimensional perspective on history that acknowledges events as they occurred from the perspectives of all involved.