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Bruce, Caroline

I Am Not Guilty: Do Not Prosecute Me

One of the things that crosses my desk often as a proofreader of textbooks is social studies textbooks. This is inevitable. However, a disturbing trend I'm seeing in these texts is the drift from social studies to social engineering.

I am white. This makes me better than no one, but it also makes me worse than no one. The current trend of social studies texts, in an effort to be politically correct, takes great pains in pointing out the wrongs done by whites over the years, decades, centuries and millennia. To read these texts, one is asked to assume that to be white is to be inherently evil, tyranical, warlike and hateful. As a white person, I am apparently, by definition, out to "cleanse" the world of all those whose skin color does not match my own.

With it being Columbus Day in the States, I am asked, from various sources, to take responsibility for some of the horrible things that took place as a result of Columbus's discovery of America and its ensuing results. Well, I have news for you: I'm not responsible. I didn't do it. My parents didn't do it, nor did their parents before them. It's not my fault, and as much as the politically correct intelligentsia, the social engineers, and that subset of other cultures who insist on the blame game want me to take responsibility for these things, I will not, because I can not, at least not with a clear conscience.

Of course some terrible, awful, repulsive things were done by white people in the past; some terrible, awful, repulsive things are still being done by white people. Of course there's no denying it, and I'm not going to try. My heart goes out to the innocents who have been unfairly treated, abused, tortured, killed by others. Injustice is injustice, and it needs to be recognized as such, no matter who is the prepetrator. But responding to injustice with more injustice is not at all better than the original injustice was. Don't try to deposit at my feet blame for what I didn't do, because I refuse to accept that blame, and I will invariably resent you for attempting to do so. An apology for something one did not do is no apology at all. How can one derive any satisfaction from it? To say you abhor racism, then to call me racist because I come from a race with, like any other race, some people who are racist, isn't thar racism in itself?

If I've hurt or wronged someone, you bet I want to know about it, and you bet I want to make amends. but if it's not my fault, don't you dare try to make me feel guilty for it based on my skin color and then claim to be opposed to racism.

I have many things going against me in this politically correct mindset of a society. I'm white, which means I hate all other races; I'm male, which means I don't regard women as equals; I'm straight, which means I hate other lifestyles; I'm Christian, which means I hate anyone who believes differently than I do; I'm from an affluent country, which means I have no regard for the poor. The reality is that I do not hate other races, I do regard women as the equals they are, I do not hate people who practise a different lifestyle, I do not hate those with a different belief system from my own, and I do care about the poor; but why be bogged down by mere trivialities like reality when it's far easier to blame me for the sins of others? Welcome to the new world order, ladies and gentlemen, whereindividual responsibility for one's own actions is taken over by government and where one is made to represent a group, whether he or she chooses to represent it or not, and take responsibility for the past or present sins of some members of that group. Personal responsibility is flushed down the toilet, collective responsibility for the misdeeds of others is alive and well.
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I would like to see Columbus day removed as a holiday because I don't think we should be celebrating the arrival of a genocidal maniac to the America's. I guess that would be like people in Germany celebrating Adolph Hitler day.
It's inappropriate, insensitive and trivializes the horrible things that were done. It teaches our children untruth and encourages them to turn around and repeat it.

I do think there is privilege that we take for granted because we are white; just like there is the same privilege sighted people have because they're sighted; things that they don't even think about.
I live in New Orleans which is mostly black and I see white privilege every day; I see how I'm treated differently in some ways because of my skin color.

I don't approve of such treatment, but at the same time, I don't hate my whiteness just like I'm sure sighted people don't hate their able-bodied-ness.
I was born white, am adopted actually so beyond the fact that I am white I have no racial identification what so ever, and don't really even think about my ancestors because I really don't know who they are.

My family is mixed; we have blacks and whites and native Americans because a bunch of us are adopted. So I guess I was really lucky to grow up that way because I learned that skin color is like eye color or hair color it is just a color. But at the same time we lost whatever culture we would have had if we had been raised in a largely black or Indian or say, Irish community.

These are all very interesting things to think about but as a white person and as a woman it really really angers me that we celebrate today, and I will help in any way I can to remove it from the holiday list.
I can't really speak on this, since we do not observe Columbus Day here in Canada.
It's about time the social studies books started telling the truth. After all, when I was a kid they were teaching all the lies of how wonderful columbus was and so on.

I don't think you even realize the privilege you have as a white male. I don't think people are still asking for apologies in this day, most aren't, not from people that weren't even involved, but they are asking for respect and sensitivity to their issues and their culture and how those have been sshaped by white people. Many things were lost forever, and they cannot be brought back. I think that is a hard concept for white people to understand.
I understand more than you realize. The history of Mennonite is one of persecution as well, of being forced out of one country and into another, out of that country and into a third, out of that country and into a fourth. We have no home country, huge chunks of our culture have been lost forever, to the point that we do not have a clue what these aspect of our culture even are, let alone how much has been lost. No culture is perfect; no people is perfect. But no culture has a monopoly on being persecuted, and no culture has a monopoly on being the persecutors. An honest study of history, though I do not believe one of these truly exists, would also reveal that no culture is free from guilt.
OK, my big question is this. Why is Columbus Day a national holiday anyhow? I honestly don't remember doing anything that was special on this day, not even during school, but school was a long time ago for me so it could have just slipped the memory. But these days all I hear about are sales at various stores and assorted bland generic wishes for happiness upon the day. What's the point, save that perhaps banks are closed and there's no mail and I guess other government jobs have the day off. What's the point of that? I'm also going to avhe to agree with ImAFarmGirl's comments. Even though I'm a white guy, white privilege is something that is not discussed for some reason and may be a hard concept to grasp. But as a blind person, I wonder how much of that white male privilege I might still have, because I think by having a disability, you tend to lose status points. But anyhow, I'm not sure how much more accurate/truthful today's social studies texts are but at least they're not making out white males and European culture as the be-all and end-all of everything. But I think sometimes oppression is not necessarily an overt thing or a thing one does on purpose. The problem is, everyone, including white males, seems to want to feel they're being victimized by somebody. Where do ya draw the line and holler "stop!"
First of all, I'm not advocating the celebration of Columbus day. We don't here, and that's just fine with me. But also, don't you see? It's not white privilege, it's power privilege. Whichever group happens to be in power tends to be privileged. Unfettered power, invariably leads to abuse of that privilege. Here it happens to be white people who have the power. In other parts of the world, it is different people who have the power, and when that power is unfettered, almost invariably you see the same thing. It's not right, in fact it horribly, hideously wrong, but it's part of the human condition. That's the problem with power, no matter who has it. The best sort of situation is when no one group holds the balance of power. That sort of situation rarely exists, if it exists anywhere or ever has existed anywhere.
OK, you've got some good points, but I'm still puzzled as to why we here in the States even celebrate this holiday when there seems to be no real ritual or celebration. It's just a day off for government and an excuse for sales. Bit on the lame side, eh what?
Well, here in Nevada, we don't celebrate Columbus day. It was given up in favor of Nevada Day, which is celebrated on or around the day Nevada got its statehood.
I admit it's been a horrifically long time since I studied any kind of history, and I'm also willing to agree with the fact that Columbus perpetrated an awful lot of attrocities and did a lot of damage. But I have always felt that people like Juanipero Cera are guilty of far far more than Columbus ever thought of. In Carmel California, near my hometown of Monterey, there are statues of him everywhere and he is revered. I think it stinks. I used to read the history books where they talked about what he did to the Native Americans to force them into Christianity and I, even at the young age of 12, cringed inwardly. Now when I think about him I want to kill him. Too bad he's already dead.
For what it's worth Bruce, I do agree with what you said here.
Wow, this post is timely! Your post was really important to me today. I think you'll see why if you have a chance to check out my latest post.

You're right, we can't appologize for previous wrongs done by others. I think it does a great dis-service to kids to try to do that. The issues surrounding privilage weren't discussed until I started college. I think discussing privilage is more effective in the long run than trying to appologize for whatever wrong is most frequently discussed each year. That would actually be learning from the past, rather than doing "damage control" from it.
What you say is very true. And yes, I see what you mean about the timeliness of this particular discussion. Thank you so much.