Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Revisionist's new targets: Names on schools

In yet another attempt to pretend history didn't happen so no one's feelings are hurt, a woman in Hampton, VA is seeking to have 2 schools - Robert E. Lee Elementary and Jefferson Davis Middle School - renamed. She claims that it's psychologically damaging to the students to go to schools so named. She says that 94% of the students at Lee Elementary and 66% of students at Davis Middle are black. It's inappropriate, she says, to send such students to schools named after Confederate leaders.

Bull. Odds are the kids don't even think about the names and probably aren't being taught enough US History to know who they were even if they do think about them. This is yet another attempt to do exactly what this woman says she's not trying to do: erase the existence of anything remotely connected to the Confederacy. People - and let's be honest here; she means black people - are offended by the merest mention of the subject and, she's obviously arguing, should be able to go through life without the hurtful reminder of the whole thing. I cannot agree. Her whole premise is that the this subset of our society is so weak, so unable to muster their own feelings of self-worth, that simply seeing the name "Robert E. Lee" on the side of a building will damage them. That merely knowing those letters are bolted to the outside of the building they're sitting in will disrupt their learning and forever degrade their mental processes.

Doesn't speak highly of that group, does it? I have a better idea. How about we have the teachers at that school do a class specifically on the biography of those 2 men? Teach the kids exactly who they were and why they did what they did. Robert E. Lee was no lover of slavery and he did not want to go to war with the Union. He could not, in conscience, turn on his native Virginia and that's what led him into war for the Confederacy. A small side-lecture on the feelings of loyalty toward one's state that was common at the time would also be in order, since feelings of that nature no longer exist, by and large, today. Knowledge is power, ladies & gentlemen, and if you want to make sure something doesn't hurt you, you learn all you can about it. These students - and this woman - should take the opportunity to look these figures in history in the eye and do what they claim they want everyone else to do for them: understand.