Chronicle of John Krull: It’s time to recognize our racist history | Opinion
INDIANAPOLIS – My grandfather was a career educator.
He started teaching at school even before he finished his studies. At the beginning of the 20th century, a person could do it.
He started first in class, demonstrated management and leadership skills, and spent most of his career as a manager.
He liked the job. The first in his family to attend and graduate from college, he believed that education was the ultimate agent of liberation, a force so powerful it could transform a poor Scottish-Irish immigrant farm boy landless and illiterate into a learned man and community leader. .
He was also a longtime Republican.
He believed in Lincoln’s party with the same fervor he reserved for education. He revered the Grand Old Party because it respected what he saw as its commitment to realism, to seeing and dealing with things as they really were.
It mattered to him because he believed that recognizing the truth and accepting responsibility for his actions was the only path to growth.
“If you can’t stand to watch or think about something you’ve done, you probably shouldn’t have done it. And if you shouldn’t have done it, you should admit it,” he told me as I entered my teens.
Wise words and good advice. Wise words and good advice now.
I thought about Grandpa a lot during the debate about what schools should teach and what teachers should say about controversial and painful topics in American history. I wondered what he would think of the argument.
This debate has gone from convoluted to absurd. It started – supposedly – with a concern that critical race theory was being taught in Indiana schools.
This is not the case.
Critical Race Theory – or CRT – is a complex and nuanced system of legal and intellectual thought that examines American history and institution through the lens of race. It examines the consequences, sometimes unintended, that racial views have had on American life.
In some circles – largely, but not entirely, Republican – the CRT has morphed into something more ominous, a belief structure that does nothing but criticize America, and especially white Americans.
Many of the most extreme members of Grandpa’s party – Lincoln’s party – pushed back against the idea that America or white Americans could have done anything wrong.
Their response to what they see as the presence of CRTs in Hoosier schools is to try to reduce the ways Indiana teachers can discuss issues of race, gender, sexual orientation and ideology. in class.
Legislative proposals to cage Hoosier teachers have already garnered national attention. Late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert made anti-CRT bill writer Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, the subject of a derisive section of the monologue. Colbert’s opening.
Baldwin drew attention when he said in a hearing that teachers should be “neutral” when talking about Nazism, Fascism and Communism. When his hands-off approach to discussing totalitarianism made him the butt of many national jokes, Baldwin walked away from commentary.
As insane as Baldwin’s statements were, they weren’t the most absurd offered during the discussion.
That honor goes to Rep. Tony Cook, R-Cicero.
Cook argued that the principles enshrined in the US Constitution, particularly in the amendments providing equal protection, extending the right to vote and outlawing slavery, run counter to racist beliefs.
Perhaps, but Cook’s argument overlooks the fact that the reason the Constitution had to be changed is because racism was enshrined in the fundamental charter of this country in the beginning. It was in the Constitution that enslaved black Americans were counted as three-fifths of a human being for voting purposes.
This part of the Constitution is often cited as evidence of the founders’ desire to degrade black human beings. That’s it.
But it was also something worse.
This part of the Constitution increased the number of votes of the slave owners and thus made the slaves unwitting accomplices in their own oppression.
To atone for this injustice, we Americans endured one of the bloodiest civil wars in history and spent another 160 years arguing about race, right and wrong.
This is our story.
If we can’t deal with that, then, as my grandfather said, we shouldn’t have done it.
That is why it is important that we are aware of it.
John Krull is director of the Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.