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Saul Shapiro: Have brush, will whitewash

Saul Shapiro: Have brush, will whitewash

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On Jan. 6 a mob rampaged through the U.S. Capitol. You saw it on TV, but some see history differently.

“It was a normal tourist visit,” said Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga.

Five people dead, 500 “tourists” arrested.

A majority of Republicans in the House, including former KCRG newsreader Ashley Hinson, R-Cedar Rapids, voted against a Jan. 6 Commission investigation. A Senate Republican filibuster killed it.

“I guess some people were scared of what they’d find out,” said former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, a Republican who chaired the 9-11 Commission. He added, “It’s a mistake and it’s a country’s loss and a democracy’s loss.”

The ostriches pretend criminal trials will suffice. History suggests otherwise.

The 9-11 Commission made 41 recommendations. Many were adopted.

“We had the largest reorganization of government in years,” Kean said. “The bottom line is there hasn’t been anything like that attack since.”

If recent history is an affront to the GOP, Texas and Oklahoma Republicans want to ignore the past.

“Remember the Alamo” is associated with Texas independence after Mexico tried to impose a ban on slavery. It was a key issue, but not the only one. All the white defenders of the mission perished heroically (or foolishly defying Sam Houston’s pleas). Two movies popularized their last stand. “Memories of the Alamo” by director D.W. Griffith in 1915 lionized the defenders alongside a racist depiction of Mexicans. (Later that year, his “Birth of a Nation” glorified the Ku Klux Klan and demeaned Blacks.)

In 1960, John Wayne starred in “The Alamo” as slaver Davy Crockett.

Granted, “Remember the Slavers” isn’t a rousing battle cry, but Texas has had problems with the issue. In 2019, the Texas Board of Education finally voted to teach slavery as a “central issue” of the Civil War.

The slavery question has stalled a $450 million renovation of the Alamo. Ten Republican legislators don’t want any reason cited for the Texas Revolution except those in the Texas Declaration of Independence, which ignored slavery.

The centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre — omitted from Oklahoma textbooks until 2002, although lessons weren’t mandated until 2012 — was last week.

In 1921, between 100 to 300 Blacks were killed, 10,000 left homeless and 35 square blocks of Tulsa’s vibrant Black Wall Street destroyed. Whites dropped kerosene bombs from planes — the first aerial attack on U.S. residents. The catalyst was a young Black shoeshiner stepping on the foot of a White teen female elevator operator. She cried out, but wasn’t hurt. They were friends, at the very least.

A Tulsa Tribune story, “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator,” made a molehill into a massacre, further inflaming outrage with an editorial, “To Lynch Negro Tonight.”

Lest white feelings belatedly be hurt, Oklahoma Republican legislators recently made it illegal for public educators to use lessons that make any individual “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”

Ah, history. Have brush, will whitewash.

Saul Shapiro is the retired editor of The Courier, living in Cedar Falls.

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