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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Teachers Beware: Teaching These Historical Facts May Land You In Jail

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on June 16, 2022

[PUBLISHER'S WARNING: Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and several other southern states have recently passed laws that prohibit the teaching of the historical facts set forth below in their public schools. These laws, which are modeled after Nazi-era "Memory Laws," are designed to keep white students from feeling guilty about the racist and misogynist attitudes and conduct of their ancestors toward Indians in the Americas, Native-Americans in the United States, African slaves in America, and women in the U.S. If you are a public school teacher in one of the states that enacted "Memory Laws," you are hereby advised that reading, sharing, and/or teaching these true historical facts may subject you to the risk of a criminal prosecution in state court and imprisonment.]

If you are a public school teacher in certain states, you may be jailed for teaching the documented historical facts below:

1. When Christopher Columbus and his sailors arrived in the Bahamas in October 12, 1492, the Arawak Indians ran to them with food, water, and gifts. Columbus wrote in his log: "With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want." The Indians, Columbus wrote, "are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone ....".

2. Going from island to island in the Caribbean, Columbus enslaved and exterminated the Arawaks. In two years, through a combination of enslavement, murder, mutilation, and suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead. By 1515, there were 50,000 Indians left on the island. By 1550, there were 500 left. A report for 1650 showed none of the original Arawaks or their descendants were left. They died from documented genocide in the name of progress. The arrows and spears of the Arawaks were no match for the armor, muskets, swords, and horses of Columbus and his sailors.

3. What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas, Hernando Cortes did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro did to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts did to the Powhatans and the Pequots.

4. "Founding Father" James Madison, who was a slaveowner, told a British visitor shortly after the American Revolution that he could make $257 on every Negro in a year, and spend only $12 or $13 on his keep. His colleague, Thomas Jefferson, owned hundreds of slaves until the day he died.

5. Throughout the 1700s, the Virginia slave code read: "[I]f the [escaped] slave does not immediately return, anyone whatsoever may kill or destroy such slaves by such ways and means as he ... shall think fit ... If the slave is apprehended ... it shall ... be lawful for the county court to order such punishment for the said slave, either by dismembering, or in any other way ... as they in their discretion shall think fit, for the reclaiming any such incorrigible slave, and terrifying others from the like practices ....".

6. Between 1736 and 1801, slaveowners in Virginia placed newspaper ads for 1,138 men runaway slaves, and 141 women.

7. Slaveowner Kenneth Stampp described the process of breaking slaves this way: " A wise master ... knew that Negroes freshly imported from Africa had to be broken into bondage; that each succeeding generation had to be carefully trained. This is no easy task, for the bondsman rarely submitted willingly. Moreover, he rarely submitted completely. In most cases there was no end to the need for control -- at least not until old age reduced the slave to a condition of helplessness."

8. The system of control of slaves was psychological and physical at the same time. The slaves were taught discipline, were impressed again and again with the idea of their inferiority to "know their place," to see blackness as a sign of subordination, to be awed by the power of the master, to merge their interest with the master's, thereby destroying their own individual needs. The discipline was hard labor, the breakup of the slave family, the lulling effects of religion, the creation of disunity among slaves by separating them into field slaves and more privileged house slaves, and finally the power of law and the immediate power of the overseer to invoke whipping, burning, mutilation, and death.

9. Bodily dismemberment was provided for in the Virginia Code of 1705. Maryland passed a law in 1723 providing for cutting off the ears of slaves who struck whites, and that for certain serious crimes, slaves should be hanged and the body quartered and exposed.

10. In 1743, a grand jury in Charleston, South Carolina denounced "The Too Common Practice of Criminal Conversation with Negro and other Slave Wenches in this Province." Mixed offspring continued to be produced by white-black sex relations throughout the colonial period, in spite of laws prohibiting interracial marriage in Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, and Georgia. By declaring mulatto children illegitimate, they would keep them inside the black family, so that the white population could remain "pure" and in control.

11. White women during the colonial period were the property of white men. Edmund Burke, an English influencer on early white male settlers and opponent of the French Revolution, wrote in his "Reflections on the Revolution in France" that "a woman is but an animal, and an animal not of the highest order."

12. In the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s, a husband's control over his wife's person extended to the legal right to rape and beat her. He was not, however, entitled to inflict permanent injury or death on his wife. "Besides absolute possession of his wife's personal property and a life estate in her lands, the husband took any other income that might be hers. He collected wages earned by her labor .... Naturally it followed that the proceeds of the joint labor of husband and wife belonged to the husband."

13. Thomas Jefferson intentionally left out women (as well as African slaves and Native Americans) when he wrote the phrase "all men are created equal." Jefferson said women would be "too wise to wrinkle their foreheads with politics."

14. After the American Revolution, none of the new state constitutions granted women the right to vote, except for New Jersey, which rescinded the right in 1807. New York's constitution specially disenfranchised women by using the word "male."

15. Women would not win the right to vote until 1920, with the passage and adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Even though an Equal Rights Amendment that was designed to help women achieve equality in many aspects of American life passed Congress in the 1980s, it failed to win ratification by the required number of states.

16. The Declaration of Independence, which was officially proclaimed on July 4, 1776, declared Native Americans to be "merciless Indian savages." Twenty years before the Declaration, a November 3, 1755 proclamation of the Massachusetts legislature declared the Penobscot Indians "rebels, enemies, and traitors" and provided a bounty: "For every scalp of a male Indian brought in ... forty pounds. For every scalp of such female Indian or male Indian under the age of twelve years that shall be killed ... twenty pounds."

17. In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the slave Dred Scott could not sue for his freedom because he was not a person, but "property." As such, no Negro in America, whether freed or enslaved, had rights that white men were bound to respect.

18. Congress passed the Homestead Act of 1862, which was in effect for 124 years. Under the Act, more than 270 million acres of the 1.5 billion acres of valuable Tribal lands (together with oil, gas, and mineral rights) that was taken by force from more than 550 Native-American tribes between 1830 and 1906 was given to poor white European peasants -- for free. These peasants were recruited to America via newspaper ads the U.S. government placed in European newspapers. France thanked the United States for its generosity to these poor white migrants by giving America the Statue of Liberty with the inscription: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." Three million migrants benefitted from this 124-year land giveaway program for white European peasants, which ended in 1986. Today, twenty percent of white property owners in America are lineal descendants of Homestead Act beneficiaries. No other ethnic group in American history was the beneficiary of this kind of race-based massive wealth redistribution program.

19. In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The Order gave the U.S. Army the power, without warrants or indictments or hearings, to arrest every Japanese-American on the West Coast -- 110,000 men, women, and children -- to take them from their homes, transport them to internment camps far into the interior of the country, and keep them in prison conditions for over three years. In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066.

20. In 1954, the U.S. Immigration Service implemented "Operation Wetback." This Operation rounded up 1.3 million Hispanics of Mexican descent from their homes in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Illinois, and deported them to Mexico in railway cattle cars, cargo ships, and airplanes. Sixty percent of the deportees were legal Mexican-American citizens. White Mexicans who entered America as legal and illegal migrants were exempted from the roundup.

21. Between 1956 and 1972, the FBI conducted a massive Counterintelligence Program (known as COINTELPRO) that took 295 actions against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and thousands of other black civil rights activists. Dr. King became the chief target of the FBI, which tapped his private phone conversations, sent him fake letters, threatened him, attempted to blackmail him, and even suggested once in an anonymous letter that he commit suicide. FBI internal memos discussed finding a black leader to replace Dr. King. As a Senate report on the FBI confirmed in 1976, the FBI tried "to destroy Dr. Martin Luther King."

22. Responding to rioting in 1967, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The Act provided up to five years in prison for anyone traveling interstate or using interstate facilities (including mail and telephone) "to organize, promote, encourage, participate in or carry on a riot." It defined a riot as an action of three or more people involving threats of violence. The first person prosecuted under the Act was a young black leader of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), H. Rap Brown, who had made a militant, angry speech in Maryland, just before a racial disturbance there. Brown's speech was much milder in tone and rhetoric than the one former President Donald J. Trump gave at a rally in Washington on January 6, 2021 that sparked a violent riot at the Capitol by the "Trump patriots" who engaged in interstate travel for the Insurrection. Trump has not been charged under the Act.

Facts v. Theory

Many of the facts set forth above have been characterized by right-wing conservatives as "Critical Race Theory." Even though these facts were recorded in legal codes, official journals, and other authentic documents written by the perpetrators of these historical events, today's opponents of these "truths" have attempted to diminish them by calling them a "theory."

The historical truths in this article go a long way to explain the attitudes of many white American males regarding: (a) their desire for easy civilian access to military-style assault rifles, (b) their lack of respect for the bodies, reproductive systems, and socio-economic status of women, (c) their unrelenting disdain for blacks, Mexican-Americans, Asians, and Native-Americans, and (d) their lack of empathy for the families of children who are the victims of mass murders at school.

America's long romance with a highly censored and scrubbed version of our nation's history from the 1600s to the present, as recorded and often re-imagined by white historians of the period, will be coming to an end soon. The Internet has made it possible for anyone seeking the full truth about America's history to find it.

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: The author wishes to acknowledge Howard Zinn's book, "A People's History of the United States" (published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2001, 2005, New York) as a source for many of the documented facts in this article.]



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