I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

Richard Hofstadter’s works contribute to my teaching of American historiography. I am engaged in yet another revisit of his Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. This work is highly critical of American democracy – something those of wealth and privilege view positively as it favors them. Teachers teach American democracy from a grand position — a positive and not through a critical lens, a reason why many see Black Lives Matter as noise and not a condemnation of the falsity of democracy. This country allows public pressure on what is taught in schools – often teaching that the USA is right and the world is wrong. Many of us, including myself, received a bad education regarding the Cold War. At Brooks we do not stand and pledge allegiance to the flag; however, at my last stop and many other schools, this is mandatory. Of course I told my students they were allowed to abstain if they wish. It allowed me to educate them on the myths of God and American democracy — a falsity taught. Hofstadter argues that the nation’s democratic institutions are designed to reinforce the purity of capitalism and evangelical Protestantism, which tends to blind the masses due to their own education. Hence, the expansion of anti-intellectualism is pervasive today, where many elect to ignore reason and logic. Many Christians believe climate change is a myth constructed by scientist for grant funding, since God protects the environment. However, they and other secular folk do not see that wealthy big businesses have convinced them that climate change is a myth in order to save them money.

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Was Ronald Reagan a product of American Racism via the Christian Right?

I say yes. As I study and write some this AM, I keep going back to the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education court ruling that “ended” Jim Crow in schools, but gave further rise to white supremacy and the Christian right. This was the same Christian right that coalesced with the Republican Party under the guise of Christian morality. After speaking to a friend and colleague for a bit about the historiography of the Christian right yesterday, and after a great deal of reading this AM, I am more convinced that the Christian right, which today is housed within the Republican Party, emerged to justify white supremacy and to combat their growing fears of the interracial solidarity of black and white Communist, particularly after the Scottsboro Trial in 1931. In part, the USA government needed this court case to combat the Soviet Union’s argument that American democracy and capitalism were oppressive. The Christian right unified behind the election of Ronald Reagan in an attempt to elevate the racist conservative norm of states rights, and to dismantle a Soviet system that showcased the systematic realities of black and brown people. Thus, making Reagan the golden child of American racism and classism, as desired by the Christian right.

Carl Degler, historian and teacher

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I read my journals. I participate in the online discussion forums with other teachers and historians. I attend the conferences. Yet, I just learned today that one of the giants in the field, Carl Degler, passed away. I cannot tell you how much of his stuff I have studied and read. He is a model to all historians when comes to the relationship between teaching and scholarship. Though not as public or as political as the late Richard Hofstadter, Degler has been impactful on my own thinking and teaching. Degler represents the weakness of Hofstadter’s scholarship when it came to changes in historiography — particularly the advent of multiculturalism and gender studies.

See article here.