Sunday, July 4, 2010

The History of America-The Parts We Weren't Taught

At some point, you realize that your education was not orchestrated by people without an agenda, not managed and directed by truly impartial or altruistic people. You start to realize that the history you were taught has been, at best, carefully selected; at worst, edited.

As an example, here's something that no class, no movie about the American Revolution ever taught me; it was about gun confiscation. I'd been taught it was about taxes. I'd heard about the Tea Party and the stamp tax and other taxes. I knew it was about a lack of representation. I'd never heard anything about guns or gun control precipitating the revolution itself, never saw it referenced anywhere.

We learned about the Battle of Lexington, of course. And learned that it was that 'Shot Heard 'Round the World' that signaled the start of the war, and the birth of America. We may have even learned that one precipitating factor was an order to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams, now founding fathers, but then instigators and criminals.

What we didn't learn was that the actual trigger (sorry, I couldn't resist) of the battle was an order from Thomas Gage, military governor of Massachusetts, to seize the weapons being stockpiled by the rebels. They fought to preserve the means of resistance, their weapons. While they were willing to negotiate and debate, they realized that any debate had to be backed by the ability to resist, meaningfully resist, the British orders that might be issued. And so when the British ordered their weapons seized, they realized that they could no longer talk, no longer negotiate, and had to stand and prepare to fight.

This was an enormous omission in my education. Speaking to others, I wasn't alone; this isn't taught in schools, at least among those I've met. And one wonders why...

Could it be because it puts perspective on the Second Amendment? Because it makes plain that the colonists would not be disarmed, not by the British and not by the government they went on to create? Could it be because it would, quite rightly, put the 'bearing of arms' in context as one of the primary rights-perhaps THE primary right-the colonists wished to defend? Could it be because it shows, clearly and succinctly, that resistance without the means to resist can be no resistance that matters?

Surely, the message has been lost. Look at this quote from Chicago Aldermen Lorraine Dixon regarding the Supreme Court's affirmation that the second amendment confers an individual right to bear arms:

“No Supreme Court judge could live in my community and come to the same conclusion they did,” said Ald. Lorraine Dixon (24th).

This lack of understanding of what the constitution represents, coming from an elected leader, is appalling. Appalling, but not surprising. And sadly, not uncommon:

I have to say it: I think the Supreme Court is wrong, just like they’ve been wrong before,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th. “

We're losing our history, and dooming ourselves to repeat it. The last revolution was about gun confiscation; only time will tell if the next one will, too.

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