In 1632 Galileo Galilei was threatened with torture and excommunication if he continued to publish his scientific finding that the Copernican theory of how the earth rotated around the sun was correct rather than the Aristotelian – Catholic Church dogma that the earth was the center of the universe.
Galileo recanted what he knew as true. His quote “By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox.” He also said “The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.”
In the 1920s, Tennessee and other states passed laws that threatened imprisonment for anyone teaching evolution – the basis for all biological sciences today and confirmed by scientific evidence for over 100 years. The COVID-19 virus has evolved in front of scientists’ eyes using natural selection to develop more deadly variants.
Republicans now want to outlaw teaching Critical Racial Theory calling it anti-American and teaching hate of America. Critical used in the title refers to IMPORTANT, not being critical of America. Republicans turn the idea of patriotism on its head by saying that to understand and look at our history is unpatriotic -- when if we cannot look at and understand our past – we have no future.
To understand our history and learn from it to bring America closer to our constitutional ideals, we have to examine where we have missed the mark and learn. No loving parent or friend would deny or not look at the hateful, unkind, or bullying behavior of their child or friend. To do so would not be loving or devoted.
To say that looking at and understanding where America has indulged and institutionalized racism and injustice is not hating America – it is being devoted to America and being willing to know that our history is complex and includes very difficult things to discuss.
Our history is also incredibly affirming, opening over and over to the truth of our own commitment to equal justice, equality of all people, growth as a culture. This growth only occurs when people are uncomfortable with where we have been, causing us to open to our own ideals.
We have recently seen the names of slaves bought and sold in Burke County in the 1700 and 1800s. Many of those bought and sold were children taken from their families and sold like chattel. Looking at that history is not teaching hate; it is admitting our past failures to live up to our ideals so we can be better as a country. Suppressing teaching or learning about systemic racism and the history of slavery is destructive to us as a culture.
Suppression of fact has happened over and over by people who are fearful of scientific fact or the truth. It is anti-life and giving in to fear and prejudice and leads to a more comfortable ignorance.