Letter to the Editor: Looking at history

Recently there was an article about the town I live in and how 100 years ago it was a stronghold for the KKK. There was a lot of outcry about this article, but one post in particular struck a chord with me. “You will learn if you put children through school that World War II is merely one page in the history book, and the Vietnam war is barely a paragraph. Comparatively, something that happened in town 100 ago would barely qualify as a comma in one sentence, in today’s school world history.”

I feel those “commas” (small incidents) are important. Without the commas you lose the context of the paragraph and the meaning changes. Isn’t it important to teach the comma’s along with the greater narrative?

There has never been a time in America, or probably in all of history, where some group or people were not being persecuted. Humans are territorial animals and it is built into our nature to form groups of in and outs. Studies have shown this quality of group recognition starts by around two weeks old.   Teaching history and whitewashing out the bad things that the prevailing group did isn’t teaching history, but promoting political propaganda. If you look closely at any aspect of our culture you find narratives that propagate the prevailing mythology of the times. An example is the #1 children’s book in America, The Giving Tree, propagates female subjugation as did the previous #2 children’s book, The Rainbow Fish.  

The commas are usually not told. The town I grew up in Bellmore, NY, used to be the American Nazi stronghold and eugenics started in Boston and was the backbone of Hitler’s “solution” for racial impurity. While Japanese Americans were stripped of their homes and put in interment prisons, WW II German POWs were put in luxury “camps” in America and integrated into American towns and life. The witch persecution of the religious Puritans was really just persecution of women, along with people who held different religious beliefs.  

The commas go on and on.  Knowing them is far more important for an informed culture than a feel-good narrative. 

Gene Jacobs, D.O.