As described by New York Magazine, the new proposed Oklahoma legislation to ban Associated Press United States History from public schools sounds just like a “Colbert Report” sketch. Supporters of the ban believe the current curriculum of APUSH teaches too much about what is “bad” about America, such as slavery and World War II internment camps. In other words, conservative politicians in Oklahoma want to censor true historical content in favor of patriotic brainwashing. It is a violation of freedom to refuse students this information. American history is not an inappropriate or taboo subject; it is important to learn about one’s own country history in relation to itself and the world. To deny this information to students is blatant censorship, and possibly in violation of freedom of speech. An Oklahoma high school junior said to New York Magazine, “The state can’t say what we can and what we can’t learn.”
This legislation is clearly the act of the white majority. It is incredible that these policies are being created; American history is not even taught as truthfully as it should be. Most of the “bad” things taught about American history involve racism and imperialism, issues that are taught to be occurrences of the past but are still a very real part of American policy and society.
Students learn about how Native Americans lived, but the massacres of tribes along with the institutional inequality on reservations is just summed up in one Trail of Tears lecture. Legislators in Oklahoma who want to censor these issues are erasing America’s problematic past and encouraging a simplified, white-washed history.
To teach America’s historical problems and mistakes is not anti-patriotic. History is about learning the truth, not hiding it to save the feelings of conservative politicians. One can appreciate the opportunities and privileges offered in this country while acknowledging the difficulties through which they were achieved.
As your eighth grade history teacher probably told you, those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Oklahoma legislators are repeating past oppressions by refusing students an enriched education.