Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Context of social studies standards debate? 

I am going to write a longer piece tomorrow on this, but I spent a good bit of the evening reading Michael Knox Beran tonight. Why does Senator Kelley keep coming to the "context" of the slaveholdings of the Founders? Because it's corrosive to the Founding, says Beran.
The cumulative effect of the new mandate to put slavery "at the center of the story of early America" is likely to be devastating. Imagine if, in the centuries after the fall of Athens, the West had concentrated single-mindedly on the fact � quite undeniable � that the Greeks kept slaves. Imagine if every book that appeared on Plato, Aristotle, and Sophocles put at "the center of the story" the sin of Greek slavery. If the mantra "Never Forget: They Kept Lots of Slaves" had been applied to the Greeks as rigorously as it is now to be applied to the American Founders, Saint Augustine would never have happened. Neither would Aquinas have emerged, in any form remotely resembling the one we know. The same goes for Dante, Petrarch, the Renaissance, vast chunks of our inheritance.