Our Protected Heritage

King’s book really outlined a topic unfamiliar to me, and he explained his case pretty bluntly: something needs to change in the way sites are preserved and kept from developers. His experience, over 40 years apparently, with lawmaking for the environment, makes him very qualified to make the statements he does, especially about the various administrations which helped ruin environmental protection. The Bush administration, although I am not surprised, was treated quite harshly by King. However, I cannot blame him especially for the policies which ignored environmental protection (21). I don’t understand why environmental issues are tagged with negativity by certain people. These lands are important to us, this is the world we live in and if we don’t take care of it, how is that going to help future generations? I think it is a very selfish thing to only concern oneself with the present and not the future. I think King showed that level of selfishness when talking about the sponsors who only care about money, not what you can do for the environment. Like he said with that caption “Your project means the world to us!”, does it really? I have a hard time trusting lots of companies and administration because it seems their target is profit and taking advantage of people, when it really should be helping and making a difference.

But the one thing I really came away with from the book was how hard it is to get anyone to listen to you, if you are small time. If big companies want to do something, it is really hard to stop them. As seen from the situation in Abo Pass and Buckland, it’s difficult to stop development from occurring when they have the ear of the government. King pointed out that the system is corrupt, and I couldn’t agree more. However, corruption is pretty much everywhere, so it didn’t surprise me. I think he made a good point though on page 44, that they’ve grown so accustomed to corruption that they don’t even notice it. I think that is true at a lot of levels in historical protection and preservation. There is corruption both from the government in the sense that is the money really going to the project? And there is corruption with how they deal with developers. But with such a bleak outlook in stopping corruption, King makes it hard to feel like one can make a difference. I think if more of the public in America became involved, it could make a difference, but it’s hard for the little communities who are trying to stop developers from coming in to make a difference.


Ethics Part II

             Having worked for the United States Government in one capacity or another, I can truly feel the pain and suffering that Thomas F. King went through in dealing with the different government agencies in his work.  In this week’s reading, the only thing I felt was pure frustration on his part in dealing with the government as a whole. All types of government, local, state and federal seem to work on the attitude of doing as little work possible, in as little time as possible (or some cases as much time as possible), to be able to make the most off the contract or kickbacks from entity doing the real job. 

            King made it very clear that no one entity with in the government structure either wanted to work together or wanted what was best for either the tribe, ranchers or people about what was sacred or their way of life.  It will always be those with the most money wins.  SHPO’s are too understaffed to deal with all the financial, environmental and religious entities within a proposal to adequately see that all sides of the proposal are taken into account. 

            King’s argument seems to be that Section 106 of the National Historical Preservation Act either needs to be revised or completely done away with.  Section 106 should be amended to the point where agencies that are brought into what preservation project need to be able to communicate and work together.  We all know that this is why there was the creation of the Homeland Security arm of the government.  A change within the certain government sectors takes very much patience and time.  As King stated changes can happen by something as simple as going and voting. 


Ethics #2

Thomas F. King delivers a crushing blow to the current state of environmental and cultural protection in the United States. I was surprised at the level of defeatism in this book until I the author noted he was writing during the Bush administration. I remembered back to the frustration held by many with some of the environmental policies during that time period. The pessimism King caries through this book was prevalent among writers for those eight years. While I have virtually no experience with conservation protection in relation to King’s long tenure as a consultant, I can empathize with his sense of bitterness towards the status quo of the early 2000s. While I might argue things have changed slightly and King may be experiencing the wax and wane of U.S. politics, I do agree with two of his major themes: laws and bureaucracies cannot alone protect our heritage. These problems are not unique to environmental and cultural protection, and the ineffectiveness of laws and bureaucracies rarely completely stops groups from demanding change from the government. I may be oversimplifying, but I think many of these political fights can be reduced to majority rule. If King is unsatisfied with the current state of conservation  he shouldn’t point to (as Zach put it) conspiracy theories, and instead look to public awareness.

The problem with laws

Throughout the book, the author quotes the language of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other laws that are supposedly intended to protect important places from change. His many examples of groups skirting the language to do as the please proves just how big the holes are in these laws. This is true, but I think King may be reading too far into NEPA. There are many examples of NEPA working to blockade construction on protected lands. Yes many places are disputed, and big business or federal agencies have an upper hand with teams of lawyers to plead their case. King makes the fight for conservation seem like David vs. Goliath, and perhaps it is, but he forgets to mention the importance of public officiers. Perhaps because he’s writing during a particularly Red time-period, King omits the fact is there are politicians, judges, and even lawyers willing to fight to keep historic or culturally significant places in tact.

The problem with bureaucracies

King takes offense to the barriers created to keep the public out of the conservation conversation. Things like jargon, shady attempts at “consultation,” and dodging the questions put forth by the public create a government that is not listening to the public. I was particularly drawn to the example from the Arizona BLM director’s role in the Topock Maze. Without reading the director’s letter I can see how she failed to represent the public interest.

Overall King makes a pretty good sales pitch for the sad state of conservation, which leads into some decent prescriptions for change. I trust his   experience in the field reflects just how difficult it might be to try defending a place against development. I can sense his bitterness towards the laws and bureaucracies he sees as defenses against developers. He may be exaggerating the problem to justify some of the more radical ideas he has for improvement (a constitutional amendment for example). I see this book kind of like the infomercials for crazy contraptions. He’s making reality seem hopeless without his product. Despite the hopelessness, I remain naively hopeful we can strike a balance between conservation and development with the laws and departments we already have.

Ethical Dilemmas: Take Two

King’s book was impressively straight-forward.  In line with his realistic approach, comes a pessimistic reality: even though there are impressive sounding federal laws, they fail to protect cultural, historical, and environmental sites in America.  I particularly liked King’s comments about the contractor’s approach regarding the EIS for building a parallel set of railroad tracks at Abo Pass, New Mexico.  The contractor felt that destroying historical and cultural sites would not have an adverse effect so long as they excavated and documented them beforehand.  King explains “If I burn your house to the ground, I’ve adversely affected it, no matter how well I may record it first.”  Obviously there is a disconnect in the formation of EIS documents.  Granted, this EIS did explain that specific pictographs would be avoided, but I am completely shocked that this is entire approach falls within the legal limit of environmental/historical/cultural preservation.  Similarly, the contractors failed to even consider visual effects, audible effects, the effects of railroad use in general…the list goes on and on.  This contractor is definitely going to get hired for future EIS formations; he plays the game to a tee!  He says all of the right things, contacts all the right people, and still ensures that the project can go on, all the while explaining how they are working to preserve the historical/environmental/cultural aspects of the site they intend to destroy.

King discusses the issue surrounding comprehensibility, and I wish he would have explored this problem with more depth.  Regardless of how deep he may have explored comprehensibility, I feel that it is a huge issue with grave implications.  If EIS, NEPA, NRHP etc. forms are fully comprehensive and taken completely seriously, nothing will ever get built.  If these forms are not comprehensive enough, nothing will ever be denied.  I have no idea where the middle road lies, but I would argue that a middle road needs to be developed and adhered to.  This links back to the issues between “bright green” and “light green” laws.  What is the point of having laws that are rarely able to be enforced?  While “light green” laws certainly look good on the books, appease environmentalists, and convey an environmentally friendly atmosphere to onlookers, they do little more.

Even “bright green” laws (and statutes) fail to be enforced on a regular basis.  King explains how the EPA systematically undercut its own standards in order to not have to deal with the Abo Pass railroad, automobile, gas etc. catastrophe.  If the EPA, the highest environmental agency in the bureaucratic mess that is Washington D.C. is purposefully finding ways to undercut its statutory responsibilities, I am afraid that I must agree with the author, saving historic, cultural, and environmental sites is a lost cause.  If I had to site a key problem, it would be the bureaucratic mess that exists.  King’s book is inundated with acronyms of government agencies; the whole thing reads like Campbell’s Alphabet Soup.  There are so many agencies with competing interests and varying degrees of oversight and legislative teeth that few things ever get done.  As King passionately explains, reform, restructuring, revision of laws, restoration of bureaucratic roles, and a widespread governmental clean up needs to occur.  King adds that the Constitution must also be amended.  While I (surprise, surprise) feel that this is overkill, I do concede that a constitutional amendment would fix the problem and ensure a feasible process to a beneficial solution.

I am currently working on developing curriculum regarding the intersection between politics and environmentalism.  One of the articles I am basing my lesson plans on is an impassioned speech by Richard Gottlieb decrying presidential elections and the lack of change they bring to the environmental arena.  King’s memo to Obama parallels Gottlieb’s hope for true change.  Unfortunately for King and Gottlieb, I am afraid that Obama, environmentally speaking, has followed most of his modern predecessors.  Save Carter (who actively fought to clean up the environment), Reagan (who actively worked to limit all aspects of government intervention, the environment included), and Nixon (who began his presidency as a staunch advocate for environmental change but ended his presidency wondering where his environmental hopes turned to governmental impediments) no president has done much of anything to truly alter the environmental scene.  While Obama has a few years to change my mind, he has, so far, failed to enact positive change with respect to the environment.


I want to be very honest here: I did not plan on liking Our Unprotected Heritage. In fact, I did not want to like it. Taken one level further, I wanted very badly to dislike the book. After reading it, I cannot say that I liked it, but I also cannot say that I disliked it. I believe the specific word to describe my feelings is “ambivalent.” In short, I don’t think King produced a book that said, or did, anything. Following are my thoughts.

First off, please note that I seek in my own life to resolve emotion, heritage, belief, knowledge and existence. That may be a tall order, but I believe that it can be done. What it almost inevitably leads me to is hypocrisy in my own life, and judgment and criticism of others. Such criticism leads me to the realization that, while another has created something, my criticism of it may well emanate from my own insecurity and inability to create. It’s all a vicious cycle. I express this only to clarify that while I am being critical in the following, I recognize that it may come from a position of insecurity. Basically, I believe that my criticism of King’s work might be accused of the very flaws of which I accuse him.

Let me begin with the cover and title of the book. I have expressed before that I react very harshly against things that smack of vogue, uneducated responses to any issue. While I do not mean to call King uneducated, because he has so much more knowledge on the subject than do I, I mean to make a judgment about the audience that I feel will likely pick up this book. This audience, I believe, have chosen their battle, they have become ever more entrenched in a system that seeks its own preservation to the ignorance (the culture, not the people within it) of the greater operation of the world. They are systems that are built upon process with little concern for a well-drawn philosophy. Though the philosophy exists, it is debated quite separately from the processes. It all becomes somewhat of a religion, the religion or preservation. Even the early preservation systems in our great nation were societies—clubs, or groups that met on a regular basis to discuss the conversion of the masses to their high-calling. The difficulty I have with this is the same struggle I have with a great part of the Christian world–or any other religion–it seems to me to be an uninformed following that reassures itself that its premises are right, moral, ethical and should be followed. I guess I am just jealous that I am not monetizing this faith. The point being that I feel that those who will read this book are those who want to reinforce their own perspectives an practices.

The cover, the title, by using terms like “whitewashing” and “destruction of our cultural…”—and even “Unprotected”—set the reader up for toking on preservationist pot. It immediately causes any person who believes himself to be informed to call up schemas of father communal property to save him from evil corporatism. And from word one in the book, the reader is not disappointed, for “Darkside Development Corporation” is at it again to raze every shred of evidence from the past. I knew right there exactly where the book was headed: these evil corporate Satans desire that nothing should be remembered and it is up to intelligent people to balance the scales. So with the help of some haphazard government intervention in the late sixties preservationists are at leading the charge to attack the developers and save that ramshackle shack that you grew up in. What I appreciated was that the line item preservationist mantra was not what King wrote.

Though King began the work with what might be considered standard preservationist arguments about heritage and environment, he did depart in that he chose the path of criticism of the very system that is usually touted as the salvation, or at least a primary tool of preservationists. To a degree I appreciated Ira Beckerman’s assessment in the Afterword. What I liked was that Ira indicated that there is a fundamental problem with the preservation systems at the cultural-philosophical level, rather than a problem immediately with the preservation systems. My appreciation for that assessment comes from the belief that there should be a strong philosophical underpinning to any process. And it was on that same level that I felt King’s argument failed. I struggled through the book to understand whether King thinks that the preservation systems (NHPA and NEPA in particular) should be used and revised, or abandoned altogether. I think that this feeling came from the fact that King himself is a little conflicted. While he seemed to praise the original construction and intent of the preservation systems, he was very critical of the processes that those systems use. He even identified himself as being a “fan of good process.” This conflict—that basically made the book unique—created a frustration for me as a reader when King would attempt to support the preservation systems and immediately u-turn and criticize them.

On a similar thread to his seeming two-faced presentation of the systems was the frustrating fact that even though he broached the subject of philosophy of preservation practice, there was little to no real discussion of its actual necessity. King’s argument, like so much within the preservation world, assumed that preservation is necessary and good, without explaining exactly why. Because of this, I would like to circle back to my prior argument of self-preserving groups—they usually attempt to keep followers busy with process and shield them from critical analysis of philosophy: “What you do is good and it has value because you are doing it.” There was a slight exception in the case of Our Unprotected Heritage and that came from King’s acknowledgement that preservation is not always the “good” thing when considering the human environment.

My last criticism of King’s book comes from the fact that it often read like a conspiracy theory. It was as if the Government and Corporations were/are working very closely together to destroy the natural environment of its people, at any cost. He talked about the blind “rubber stamping” of projects that maybe shouldn’t have gone forward without more criticism or more environmental assessments. But would follow up with things like, “It doesn’t take much imagination to guess” why they had not done those. One of the primary lessons that I have learned from academia is that conspiracy theorists are loonies that speculate about things that they don’t know and they can be spotted by their conspicuous use of phrases like “It doesn’t take much imagination.” (Maybe, but you do admit that it does take imagination). The point being that an academic worth his weight should be expected to stick to what is known and what can be proven. Journalistic speculation leads to innocent 17 year old high school track runners being plastered on the front of the New York Post as bombing suspects. There is room for interpretation, just don’t make yourself sound like a boob.

In the end, I didn’t really feel that King offered anything new. I felt the high points of the work were balanced by the lows, the valid arguments were offset by silly speculation, and his focus on process reform at the expense of philosophy equated to a wash. It was like I had read nothing. I couldn’t strongly like it or dislike it. It was not really new information, or even new interpretation. Ultimately, I am completely ambivalent toward it. From a critical standpoint it was like a chartreuse panel on a neon quilt, not off enough to make it stand out, not alike enough to make it blend in. Maybe that is a good thing. I really don’t know.

What I can say is that I am looking forward to discussion on the subject.

Related to last week’s discussion

I noticed this article and thought I’d post it on our site. This is exactly what we were talking about last week. Even though the illegal artifact was purchased for an exorbitant amount, Spain wasn’t required to purchase it back.

“Today’s repatriation is an example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement partners from around the world work together in the effort to ensure that stolen and looted priceless cultural objects like this are returned to their rightful owner,” said ICE director John Morton.

Artifacts dated late 15th-early 16th century
are displayed on September 15, 2011 in
Florence, Italy. A 16th century religious
tapestry stolen from a Spanish cathedral
in 1979 and sold at auction three years
ago for $369,000 was returned to Spain on
Wednesday by the US customs service.

Ethical Dilemmas, Part I

After having read this week’s
articles and a few of the responses already posted, the discussion in this
week’s course should be lively and passionate. Moving on from that, the
articles brought up many issues that exist within the teaching and sharing of
history. Issues of how far History can be distorted, especially when agendas
are involved. From the “Conservative Class” article to Sons of Confederate
Veterans, distortion takes many shapes and forms. One thing that does come from
these articles is that as many people as there are that distort history, so
many more simply want to learn. The issue with that is what they are learning,
or more importantly how ignorance spreads like a virus. One person learns
something and they spread it along to someone else and it just continues on.
For the public historian, or any educated individual, this is an issue that
raises the blood pressure. Personally, a lot of the time when I read articles
like the ones for this week, I remember a movie titled ‘Idiocracy.’ Within the
movie, the only people who exist on the world are idiots, all the smart people
have died off. Stupid was the virus that just kept spreading through procreation.
At times it seems like there are so many educators in some form spreading
distorted history to any audience that will listen to them, but then, as Molly
wrote in her blog, it is important to remember that it is our job to make sure
that the “actual history is readily accessible, understandable, and relatable.”
As long as the correct information is out there, people who actually want to
learn will seek out the actual history.

Reflections on Ethical Dilemmas, Part I

I wish I could say that I was shocked after reading this week’s blog post and articles, but unfortunately, I somewhat expected this level of stupidity and ignorance, especially in light of this week’s topic: Ethical Dilemmas. Out of all of the articles, I took the most issue with the situation at the Baron Von Munchausen Historic Home. Having worked as a tour guide, I could relate with Larry Cebula’s reactions. Tours, regardless of the location, historic or not, are meant to be informative and entertaining, but they have to be accurate! On many occasions when I was a tour guide I would have guests come up to me and question what they heard on my tour, saying that they had taken the Celestial Seasonings tour before and other tour guides said _______ about ________. (This happened enough times that I do not have just one example, thus my reasoning for using “Blank”). I would kindly and gently explain to them that what they heard before was an exaggeration or was untrue. While some guests felt affronted and taken off guard by this new information, the majority of them thanked me providing accurate information and seemed eager to verify other facts that they had remembered from previous visits to the facility. My reaction to these encounters, however, was a bit different. The first time this happened, I was rather shocked, especially in light of the fact that all tour guides received the same 80 page “script” and manual and that we were supposed to take all of our information from that document. I can say it was not a pleasant position to be in. That being said, I can understand that the docents who volunteer at the Baron Von Munchausen Historic Home might have been unaware of the inaccuracies in their own tour. However, once Cebula politely confronted the Historic Home’s staff about these blatant inaccuracies in interpretation, I expected the home to respond with a little more tact.


The written response that Cebula received made me cringe. Aside from the blatant misspellings, poor grammar, and awkward sentence structure that plagued this letter (all of which, by the way, contribute to making the writer seem less than intelligent. How is she in charge of this place if she cannot write?!) her defensive stance was uncalled for. This approach might have been appropriate had Cebula tone been nasty or abrasive or had written a letter condemning the home or the people working there. But he did not. He was simply trying to bring to light his concerns regarding the interpretation. It is very frustrating to know that many of the inaccuracies or misinterpretations at historic sites are the result of directors/managers who are simply incompetent. What is even more alarming is that these kinds of people still have jobs.

Ethical Dilemmas: Take One

Chauncey DeVega’s article has to be the most biased piece of literature I have read in a long time.  According to DeVega, every conservative in America is a white supremacist racist or an idiot!  DeVega is sure to admit that there are a few “token Republican Negroes,” I wonder what DeVega would say to the descendants of a famous “token Repbulican Negro” like Martin Luther King, Jr.?  I had no idea that every American politician, including our current Black president, has sworn allegiance to a document steeped in white supremacy!? According to DeVega,  white supremacy is the “bleating heart” of the United States Constitution.  DeVega dismisses any view that doesn’t fall right in line with his own.  As for conservatives, Tea Partiers, Republicans, and other members of the New Right (most of whom are old, resentful, racist, frightened, and possessed according to DeVega), they deserve the right to have their views, just like DeVega has the right (ironically because of the very Constitution he so despises) to espouse his distasteful comments about individuals he clearly does care about (even if states otherwise).  As for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, they are striving to maintain cultural ties to their ancestors.  These individuals have the right to celebrate their culture just as the rest of America has the right to celebrate their culture.  I would charge DeVega to read the Constitution, in particular the Bill of Rights which lists rights of all citizens, not just individuals DeVega agrees with.

As for school textbooks, I think every historian should get a hold of a California-based US history book and a Texas-based US history textbook.  During my undergraduate career, I studied secondary education, I compared these textbooks and felt like I was reading about two completely different nations.  Reading a California-based text book, one will realize that diversity is pushed so far that key individuals in history (that happen to be white males) are replaced by less influential individuals simply because they are female or minority.  Reading a Texas-based text book, one might wonder how many “founding fathers” there really are, I for one had never heard of half of them.  California-based text books stress white oppression against all other individuals throughout America’s history, to the point that I wonder how a white student is able to read this history and still maintain a sense of pride in their nation.  Texas-based text books utilize terms like discrimination and division in society rather than slavery as much as possible, to the point that I wonder how an African American student with slave ancestors will be able to truly understand the history of their ancestors in America.  I could go on and on, but these two text book variations are the result of intense politicization of the educational process, a sad reality in an increasingly bureaucratic nation.  Why do we allow politicians, on either side of the aisle, to dictate what our children learn?  Why aren’t historians more involved in the process of curriculum development?  These problems will only be exacerbated with the use of the Common Core Standard.

I found Larry Cebula’s letter to be both hilarious and very sad at the same time.  Anyone reading this article will see the humor in the stories, but the fact that this many misrepresentations are being advanced at one location is disheartening.  I sincerely hope the individuals that received the letter begin to advance a fuller, more accurate explanation of the property they take care of.  Education outside of the classroom is just as important, if not more important, than education inside the classroom.  While I found parts of the return letter to be ironic, I do feel that the author has some fair points.  While we need to teach an accurate history of what happened in America, we also need to create citizens that are able to be proud of the nation they live in.  American children should know that slavery happened, that slavery was terrible, that the Civil War was directly tied to slavery, and that there are still things being done to try and right past wrongs (affirmative action…); but, Americans should also be taught about all of the great things in American history.  Educators and public historians should strive to present history in a manner that is true, but also in a manner that does no purposefully demean the United States time and time again.

Jeff Robinson brings to light very important questions for historians, scientists, politicians, civic leaders, and educators.  Robinson asks “How do we bring both the diversity of opinion and the question of specifically politicized values into our public history work, especially at sites and discourses where energy development, climate change, corporate exploitation, and agricultural shifts are prevalent?  In the case of my hometown, do we side with the activists using history-tactics, among other methods, or do we side with the majority that supports fracking?  Is it possible to belong in the middle?”  As a citizen, I have the right to my own opinion, and I have the right to come to that opinion how I so choose.  As a historian, I feel compelled to look up the facts as well as the general ideas of both sides of the conflict.  As an educator, I feel compelled to present both sides of the issue to my students; moreover, I feel compelled to encourage my students to assess the issue themselves before making an educated decision to side with one side or the other.

After reading about the National Museum of the American Indian and it’s not-so-perfect presentation of Native Americans, I find myself at a standstill.  I truly believe that anytime someone is exposed to something historically and/or culturally significant, this is a wonderful opportunity for discussion and education; therefore, a true learning experience exists in this museum.  I do feel that the museum should work towards to better representing Native Americans as they continue to exist and as they have existed historically.  While most social scientists contend that African Americans are the most oppressed racial group in American society (these social scientists reference slavery, institutionalized segregation, Jim Crow laws and Plessy v. Ferguson) the plight of the Native Americans is even greater than that of the African Americans.  Native Americans have been oppressed physically, spiritually, emotionally, sexually and culturally since the first white settlers “discovered” America.  Moreover, racism, oppression and genocide against Native Americans have been institutionalized for centuries and continue to plague Native American society as well as American society as a whole.  The greatest injustice befalling Native Americans lies in the continuous and overt neglect of the United States government, which has oppressed Native Americans externally and internally.  While the National Museum of the American Indian has great potential, I certainly hope they add to the museum in order to ensure people gain a more accurate understanding of the rich history that surrounds Native Americans.  As an aside, I fully intend on visiting the museum when I am in D.C. this summer.



Like an Ostrich with its Head in the Sand

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just ignore the “negative stuff” in life?  That’s the wish of all children.  Close your eyes and no one can see you.  Unfortunately reality often intrudes.  The sad fact is that those who believe in the Lost Cause of the south are grasping at any straw that will allow them to hold onto an idea that never really existed.  This notion of a group of men fighting northern aggressors for states rights.  If the Sons of the Confederacy can hold onto the idea that the Civil War was not about slavery then it makes them less culpable for the atrocities that were committed by their ancestors.  It also means that they don’t have to change their behavior and adapt to a new world.  It galls me that what is never mentioned is that EVERY state in the confederacy put slavery as the motive behind the Civil War in their declarations of secession and in their constitutions.  The new south may be confused as to why the Civil War happened, but the old south was most definitely not.  I guess that’s one of those negative parts of history that shouldn’t be discussed.

I find it ironic that the founding fathers are considered by many to be highly principled men who could do no wrong.  For me it has always been their flaws that made them interesting.  Ben Franklin was a womanizer who liked his comforts above all else, George Washington was an elitist who believed that only rich folks should have a say in government, Thomas Jefferson believed that Jesus was a philosopher, not the son of god, and John Adams was a cranky old coot who believed (rightly so) that folks didn’t like him much.  None of them were perfect, thank goodness, and that is what should be taught.  If those guys can do what they did, then imagine what the next average person with a dream and some guts can accomplish.  What is truly scary to me is that the people who believe that the founding fathers were sent by god to anoint America as the new bastion of all that is good and holy are not wing nuts.  They are definitely misguided, but they are not crazy-eyed-dirty-hair-torn-clothes-loony-toons.  An educated man who uses that education to misguide others is far more terrifying to me than a wing nut.  The average person is much more likely to take such a man seriously.

I don’t even know where to start with the volunteers at the Baron Von Munchhausen House.  Museums need all the retired folks who give out of love of their past but something has to be done to make their interpretations a bit more realistic.  In this case they need a strong leader whose prejudices don’t warp her ideas, which they apparently they don’t have.  What they have is a bigot in curator’s clothing.  Really, you think that the black kids need to be protected from the truth?  How is that not paternalistic bull****?  It seems like what she is trying to do is protect herself and other white people from owning up to the truth of slavery and the damage that it did to EVERYONE involved.  It is uncomfortable for her to talk about slavery in the presence of black people so she uses protecting the kids as an excuse not to do it.  Until we can have the conversation about race and slavery we will never be able to overcome our shared past and move on to a better future.

One last thought; as I read through these articles I kept thinking about how racism seems to be at the root of all of this.  It makes me wonder just how much of the fear and ignorance were brought on by the election of our first black president.