Letter: The critical race theory bugaboo

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I grew up in Montgomery Ala., and still remember my fourth-grade Alabama history book, circa 1955 — and I challenge anyone to show me that the history depicted on the current critical race theory controversy is anywhere as distorted and basically nonfactual as that book was.

According to my lessons, the war was “stolen” from the brave Southerners; “carpetbaggers and scalawags” destroyed what was left after the Yankee depredations; and only a few “brave” ex-Confederates saved the South from complete ruin (read KKK).

All this was my education as a 10-year-old during the time of Rosa Parks and Emmett Till.

And now there are people who actually would want us to continue this “big lie” and raise it to the level of all the other lies circulating now. If critical race theory cannot be allowed a place in our educational system, locally and elsewhere, I despair for our country.

— Bill McClain


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

3 thoughts on “Letter: The critical race theory bugaboo

  1. Concerned in WNC

    Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. Those fighting against teaching the truth about our history are fighting because they want it repeated.

    • Voirdire

      Well, this is a bit more complicated than we might imagine. No doubt there was a strident effort at revisionism of the South’s war history by the southern states beginning in the Reconstruction era, and continuing on thru the next hundred years. On the other hand, let it be noted that the concept of white superiority was a universal one in the United Stated (held even by almost all of the northern abolitionists… even Abraham Lincoln himself) prior to, and way too long after the Civil War. To paraphrase Plato -who was supposedly quoting Socrates- the truth is always a matter of opinion and perspective…. always. I am all for teaching history as it happened, and just as importantly… why it happened as it did. But, I am not in favor of an interpretive history of the past based on modern views and proclivities… no matter how much more enlightened they might be. That’s also revisionism.

  2. Phillip Williams

    I would challenge the writer to show an example of a present-day American History text from any level, or from any state, that is similar to what he read in 1950’s Alabama. I don’t think people object to our whole history being taught, warts and all – but I do think teaching young people that the United States was founded in slavery and racism and is an inherently bad nation with systemically racist institutions, traditions, infrastructure, etc., is a bit much. And teaching children that the color of their skin is their most important attribute and defining characteristic seems pretty racist.

    When I was in public school in the 1970’s, they must have gotten rid of the UDC-inspired US History books – everything I ever read talked about slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow, etc, in a negative sense, they talked about the Missouri Compromise, the Dred Scott Decision, the Three Fifths Compromise (what it REALLY was, not what most modern people think it was), the Nullification Crisis, etc, etc. etc. Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King – all were presented as positive, heroic figures, and those like John C. Calhoun, Alexander Stephens and Jefferson Davis not so much.

    Part of our US History lesson plan was to watch the miniseries “Roots” – which was anything but sympathetic towards slavery – I remember our teacher pointing out how, in that film, many of the slave owners, traders, etc., were portrayed by beloved, wholesome Hollywood father figures like Lorne Greene, Ed Asner, Robert Reed, Ralph Waite, Henry Fonda, Chuck Connors – and how this was done intentionally to illustrate how many beloved figures in our history were stained and flawed by being directly or indirectly involved with slavery or benefited from slavery or the slave trade.

    The US has come a long way in the last 60 years – I know we still have further to go in some respects, but the Constitution as it was written provided the framework and the roadmap to overcome racial injustice that the Founders knew existed. Men like Jefferson were uncomfortably aware of the hypocrisy of owning slaves in a nation founded on the principle that all men were created equal – but they did not know how to solve the problem without destroying the new nation they had built. A number of states entered the Union as free states – or abolished slavery almost immediately after entering.

    People holler about how France, England, etc., abolished the slave trade and/or the practice of slavery before the US did – but they seem to forget, the US had abolished it before we were 100 years old. And those European paragons of virtue stayed pretty much racist even after “officially” abolishing slavery – the colonial practice of occupying a country or territory, raping the natural resources, and making the inhabitants 2nd or 3rd class citizens in their own land was not exactly “enlightened” – although by bringing in western religion, soap and water, and some scientific and medical advances – and guns, many guns – they were convinced that they had greatly improved the lives of their subjects.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.