Day By Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Manufacturing History: More Lies of the Left

In a recent poll of high school seniors asking them to name the most famous Americans [presidents excepted] Harriet Tubman ranked third, after Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks [here]. That in itself is a sobering piece of information for what it says about the teaching of history in our public schools, but Tubman's prominence (like that of Parks completely out of line with her historical significance) has raised another issue -- the apparent fabrication of evidence.

Ralph Luker, over at HNN [here], writes about the most important quote attributed to Ms. Tubman. It goes like this:
When asked how she managed to save hundreds of enslaved African Americans via the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, she replied bitterly, "I could have saved thousands-if only I'd been able to convince them they were slaves."
This quote has been reproduced in hundreds of articles and commentaries and has been discussed by important scholars for the insight it provides into issues of power and oppression, but, as Luker points out, it quite possibly was invented by feminist writer, Robin Morgan. There appears to be no independent attribution of the quote other than an essay written by Morgan titled Goodbye to All That (#2) [here] and Morgan fails to cite a source for the quote.

Here we apparently have the fabrication of history to advance an ideological agenda -- the construction of a national narrative based on the organizing concepts of oppression and victimization. This emphasis on oppression and its presumed consequences has become the dominant motif for the teaching of history in our public institutions. While it has a certain amount of legitimacy and explanatory power, this victimization narrative is in itself a serious distortion of our national experience. The willingness of scholars to accept and widely reproduce an apparently manufactured piece of evidence touching on the psychological consequences of oppression is a disturbing reminder of the extent to which left-wing ideology and a concomitant disregard for history as it was actually experienced have characterized our national discourse.

Props to Ralph and his correspondents for exposing this sham.