Recently while on a trip to Washington, D.C. and NYC with my wife, I was painfully reminded about how "we" and even official "historical" tour guides romanticize about (while perpetuating fairy tale myths) and attempt to sanitize American History.
Top 5 "truths" (believe me there were more than 5...in no particular order) heard (or not heard...ignored) on the trip:
1. While standing at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial and hearing dozens (including teachers with student groups) repeat the mantra of "Lincoln as The Great Emancipator...the Savior of the slaves, etc." while having no clue of his plans of colonization, his racist rhetoric and tone, etc. while hundreds trampled over (without notice or recognition) the plaque commemorating the place where Dr. King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
2. While visiting Teddy Roosevelt's home at Sagamore Hill (actually a great tour)...the tour guide throws in (IMO to placate the people of color) during the last 5 minutes of the tour how progressive President Roosevelt was on race because "he was the first President to invite a black man to dinner at the White House."
But, what about Roosevelt's belief in racial eugenics, referring to Africans as, “ape-like naked savages, who prey on creatures not much wilder or lower than themselves" and stating that whites were “the forward race destined to raise the backward race[s] through industrial efficiency, political capacity and domestic morality"...his implicit cover-up of contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers during the Spanish American War, etc.
3. A tour guide at Arlington National Cemetery referring to Robert E. Lee as a "great American general" whose property was "rightfully returned to the Lee family in December of 1882 on a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision" which stated that the confiscation of the property lacked due process...."and Congress eventually purchased the property from Lee for $150,000."
All this without one mention of Lee being a traitor, Freedmen's Village and the thousands of slaves who fled, lived, died, and were buried at Arlington during and after the war...no mention of Medgar Evers or many other important people of color and women buried at Arlington.
4. The same tour guide at Arlington National Cemetery giving a very cursory and inaccurate history of the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial without a mention of the first flag raising, cost of life for government propaganda, etc.
5. Listening to a tour guide eulogize Thomas Jefferson and his "great belief in freedom and all men are created equal" while failing to note that TJ owned slaves, raped Sally Hemings, called Native Americans "Noble Savages", etc.
As Edourd Glissant suggests...
If only we dared "to abandon the absurd catalogue of official history".