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“Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen Essay

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Argues in favor of Loewen’s book

One of the foremost aspects of today’s American living in the fact that, as time goes by, more and more citizens grow increasingly alienated from so-called ‘American values’, due to their apparent euro-centrism. In its turn, this greatly undermines society’s integrity from within. In his book Lies my teacher told me, James Loewen discusses such suggestion at length while pointing out the fact that the very functioning of the American educational system contributes to the problem rather substantially.

According to the author, the way in which American history is being taught in schools, colleges and universities, cannot possibly be referred to as appropriate, because it subtly casts doubt onto the conceptual validity of multiculturalism by confirming the soundness of a racist prejudice that it was namely due to the activities of White citizens, that the progress in America was possible, in the first place.

For example, even though that the authors of history textbooks do discuss the evils of slavery, they nevertheless tend to perceive slavery as something rather superficially related to the course of American history, as a whole: “They (authors) shoehorn their improved and more accurate portrait of slavery into the old “progress as usual” storyline. In this saga, the United States is always intrinsically and increasingly democratic, and slaveholding is merely a temporary aberration, not part of the big picture. (p. 135). Thus, as of today, we have a peculiar situation. On one hand, students are being taught to think of slavery as something rather shameful, but on another, they are being simultaneously taught to view slavery as an integral part of American history. In its turn, this instills students with the sensation of cognitive dissonance.

Apparently, even today, the American system of history-related education continues to remain affected by the legacy of white racism, which is exactly why, after having graduated, many young Americans never cease being ignorant as to a variety of unsightly facts from American history: “People are shocked to learn that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves… Very few adults today realize that our society has been slave much longer than it has been free” (p. 135).

Therefore, the publishing of Loewen’s book should be considered as an important step towards society’s unification, as it promotes the idea that people of color have contributed to the process of America becoming the world’s superpower as much as Whites did. Given the fact that we now live in a multicultural society, it represents the matter of foremost importance for history educators to understand what accounts for the proper way of teaching history in the classroom – this is the main idea that is being promoted throughout Loewen book’s entirety.

According to Loewen, it is specifically by continuously exposing how White racism affected American socio-political realities, throughout the course of the country’s history, that teachers will be able to help to increase the levels of interracial tolerance, within the society. Given the fact that such an idea is being absolutely consistent with multiculturalism’s main conceptual premise, the reading of Lies my teacher told me will come as a great asset for just about any progressively minded individual. The reason for this is simple – Lowen’s book contains clues as to what should be done, in order for the remnants of racism to cease affecting the lives of the American people.

Argues against Loewen’s book

When we look at the actual results of hawks of political correctness exercising authority in the domain of American public education, it will appear that the activities, on the part of these self-proclaimed ‘experts on tolerance’, have accounted for something opposite from their officially proclaimed agenda of increasing the levels of tolerance within the society. As of today, the number of American public schools, where students are being searched for possession of drugs and guns, before being allowed to walk into the classroom, increases rather exponentially.

And, one of the reasons for that is the fact that individuals like James Loewen have succeeded in making non-White students believe that they are being automatically qualified for attaining social prominence in the future, for as long as they know how to ‘celebrate diversity’, as opposed to knowing how to solve math equations, for example. It is namely this idea that is being promoted in Loewen’s book Lies my teacher told me with utter frankness, as the author denies the objectivity of the way in which American history is being taught in schools and universities, on the account of its ‘euro-centrism’: “They (history teachers) provide no real causal explanations for the age of European conquest.

Instead, they argue for Europe’ s greatness s in transparently psychological terms – ‘people grew more curious” (p. 31). Apparently, the author never heard of the concept of historical dialectics. Is not simply by accident that citizens in White Anglo-Saxon countries enjoy the world’s highest standards of living – such a situation is being dialectically predetermined by the laws of evolution. Therefore, we cannot refer to the ideas, contained in Loewen’s book, as anything but counter-productive, as they are being aimed at increasing the extent of American society’s stratification along racial lines.

According to Loewen, instead of learning as to what had caused America to become the world’s greatest country, students should be learning to refer to the reasons for America’s greatness as ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, male-chauvinistic’, etc. Just as it is being the case with just about all hawks of multiculturalism, Loewen appears to have a particularly hard time while understanding the simple fact that life cannot be ‘fair’ by definition.

It goes without saying, of course, that Blacks have suffered under slavery, but it is utterly inappropriate for teachers to encourage students to focus on savoring the unpresentable fact from American history in an essentially masochistic manner. After all, the descendants of African slaves have been fully compensated for the fact that their ancestors were mistreated – they now live in America, while taking the full advantage of American citizenship, as opposed to being preoccupied with searching for eatable bugs, in time free from indulging in tribal warfare, as their brethren in Africa do.

In Lies my teacher told me, Loewen had proven himself as someone who does not understand that it is utterly inappropriate to imply that the particulars of citizens’ racial affiliation define the essence of their existential mode, which is why there can be no African-Americans, for example, but only Americans. If the author bothered to talk to those American Blacks who had traveled to Africa in search of their ‘cultural roots’, he would be told essentially the same thing. Therefore, Loewen’s book should be referred to as what it really is – an intellectually poisonous byproduct of one’s mental inadequateness. We can only feel sorry for the fact that such psychos as Loewen are being allowed to peddle their poisonous ideas as legitimate and even ‘progressive’.

References

Loewen, J. (1996). Lies my teacher told me: Everything your American history textbook got wrong. Austin: Touchstone Publishing.

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IvyPanda. (2021, February 11). “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/lies-my-teacher-told-me-by-james-loewen/

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"“Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen." IvyPanda, 11 Feb. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/lies-my-teacher-told-me-by-james-loewen/.

1. IvyPanda. "“Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen." February 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lies-my-teacher-told-me-by-james-loewen/.


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IvyPanda. "“Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen." February 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lies-my-teacher-told-me-by-james-loewen/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "“Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen." February 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lies-my-teacher-told-me-by-james-loewen/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '“Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen'. 11 February.

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