Recognizing Fascism: Introducing History Education in Post-Trump America

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Fascist marches, violence, everyone who isn’t a white American male the target. You never saw it coming. Recognizing fascism requires history education — real history education. In post-Trump America others may have to set that up.

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(08-15-2017, updated 07-12-2018)  Trump, Charlottesville, nobody saw them coming. Recognizing fascism requires history education. In post-Trump America you may need to hire outsiders to set that up.

When Will It End?

 Fascist marches in the streets, militias out in force, hatred and violence rampant. Trump doing nothing to discourage any of it. It’s anyone’s guess by now where and when this is going to end. Even after this incident the Republican Party didn’t unanimously, unequivocally condemn Trump. Sure, a few  Republicans have voiced their disgust, a few CEO’s have left Trump’s manufacturing council, but Congress still hasn’t unanimously called for Trump’s impeachment or for the application of Article 25. Maybe they’ll do it tomorrow and by next week this potential war criminal will be in jail. It’s either that or Congress lets it go on and get worse and we could have a civil war. Nevertheless, at some point this will be over. Trump will be out of office, along with Bannon and his other thugs, and America will have to pick up the pieces.

Re-education

You all didn’t learn the lessons we Europeans learned from World War Two. You didn’t experience fascism firsthand, you didn’t learn how it creeps up. Trump supporters didn’t know the meaning of the word fascism and they wouldn’t have recognized a fascist if one walked up and kissed their babies. Clearly.

So post-Trump America will have to be re-educated. You can’t do it yourselves, because nobody has ever taught any real history in this country, not in middle or high school. Nobody ever taught any decent geography either. During the Cold War, we in the Netherlands learned that lots of Americans didn’t even know where the Soviet Union was, that lots of folks thought it was in Canada. I found that hard to believe. Until a few days ago, when someone asked folks on the streets of Los Angeles if they could point out North Korea on a world map. Sure enough: Canada. Because so many Americans lack a historical and geographical perspective, many also don’t have a sense of their culture and how it relates to the rest of the world. And white kids in this country certainly don’t learn where African Americans are coming from, or Native Americans. You just have to look at the massive incomprehension facing the Black Lives Matter movement, or observe the Nazis in Charlottesville chanting “Blood and Soil”.

Fundamentalist Christians Had Their Chance

America is largely Christian. A lot of American Christians are extremely loud and proud about it, and go on and on about their moral compass, and how others don’t have one. For all the influence they have had on this country, as far as teaching people that racism is bad, that fascism is bad, that hating people in general to the point of wanting to hurt them physically is bad, they have done jack shit. To all those Christian Trump voters: I wouldn’t touch your moral compass with a ten-foot pole. Religion in public schools has mostly been limited to censorship: not allowing any discussion of ‘controversial subjects’ during history education, like slavery, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, European nationalism, imperialism, etc. Not only has that Christian influence not helped, it is to a large degree responsible for the situation we’re now in. We humanists call those ‘controversial subjects’ teachable moments. Those are the subjects you use to teach kids to think for themselves about what is right and wrong and how to recognize the difference. If you really have a moral compass, that is — if teaching kids right from wrong is truly your priority.

History Textbooks

In post-Trump America, the history textbooks will have to be rewritten and teachers will have to get retrained. The politics around the content of school curriculum and textbooks needs to go. It’s a lot. Where to start? You’ll have to address it all at once. Maybe the leader of the free world will send a few of her best folks to help with American re-education. And for those of you who don’t get the joke, that’s another reason you need history lessons–irony is so much fun. “Wir haben es nicht gewuβt” has not been a valid excuse since 1946, and neither is not knowing what that means.

(This post was first published on the blog Resident Alien: Being Dutch in America, under the title: “From Nationalism to Patriotism: A Girl Can Dream”, 08-15-2017)

Sources:

  • Astor, Maggie, Christina Caron and Daniel Victor. “A Guide to the Charlottesville Aftermath”. New York. The New York Times, Aug. 13, 2017.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/us/charlottesville-virginia-overview.html
  • “How Many Americans Know Where North Korea Is?”. Jimmy Kimmel Live, August 8, 2017.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ugJZhL-cbc
  • Kalt, Brian C. and David Pozen. “The Twenty-Fifth Amendment” (Common Interpretation) U.S. Constitution. Washington, D.C. National Constitution Center. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-xxv
  • Mullen, Jethro. “Intel CEO is the latest to leave Trump’s manufacturing council”. (CNNTech). CNN, August 15, 2017: 12:43 AM ET. http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/14/technology/intel-ceo-brian-krzanich-trump-manufacturing-council/index.html
  • Travellerev. “Wir haben es nicht gewusst”. Aotearoa: A Wider Perspective, 10/04/2008. https://aotearoaawiderperspective.wordpress.com/2008/04/10/wir-haben-es-nicht-gewusst/
  • Trueman, C.N. “Blood And Soil”. The History Learning Site, 9 March 2015. 8 Juyl 2018.  historylearningsite.co.uk.

Header image: In: Sniper 1946.”Re-educating the Hitler Youth (What to Do With Boy Soldiers)”. Histomil.com, March 02, 2012 4:47 pm.    http://histomil.com/viewtopic.php?t=8453

 

2 thoughts on “Recognizing Fascism: Introducing History Education in Post-Trump America

  1. I hope there will be a ‘fix’ to this problem soon, what else can I say, I feel for all Americans, but they should know, they need to learn about this in schools, ALL schools!

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