I’d like to go on a bit of a rant about how naïve I have been for so long and even though I am an educated person, my education was more akin to indoctrination. Now that I am finally waking up, I wish to share a few examples of what I was taught and what I now believe.
Christopher Columbus – I was taught he was a hero for proving the world was not flat, and discovering and bringing Christianity to the new world. In fact, he was a really a “bad hombre” and he was not the first explorer to reach the Americas – he was preceded by its indigenous people who came from Asia and later, the Vikings. As for the shape of the earth, scholars had known since antiquity that the earth was a sphere. Most shocking to me was learning that he started the transatlantic slave trade; used torture and mutilation; and initiated the genocide of the natives. Time to get rid of Columbus Day for sure!
Manifest Destiny – I was taught that it was the destiny of the ”white man” to spread the word of God to the “savages”. My school books read that European explorers were doing God’s work moving westward across the country but the books ignored the part about how the natives were robbed of their language, culture and heritage and religion was forced down their throats if they wanted to survive. In reality, the Christianity thing was really a ruse for plundering treasure and subjugating humans. Visiting the Herd Museum in Phoenix was a real eye opener for me – especially seeing the exhibits showing how young boys were taken from their homes, had their hair shorn, had their clothes burnt, were forced to wear the clothing of their subjugators and were forbidden from speaking their own language. I’m proud to know the lawyer who successfully argued before the Illinois Supreme court to retire the disrespectful “Chief Illini” mascot of the University of Illinois – time to retire all other such vestiges of overt racism!
Capitalism – I was taught that capitalism was good and it is what differentiates America and makes it great. I was also taught that socialism was bad. The rags to riches story was the concept that anyone could do anything in this great nation so long as “he” just pulled himself up by his bootstraps and worked hard. No one explained that not everyone had boots much less bootstraps! The great industrialists were heralded for their significant achievements such as manufacturing, the railroad, oil, coal and automobiles, which improved life for some and advanced the U.S.’s position in the world order, but other than a cursory mention of the term “robber baron,” there was no focus on working conditions and monopolistic power. The so-called “trickle-down” theory of economics didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. Left unregulated, the rich get richer and the rest of us suffer. Socialism, in my opinion, is good. It means providing a safety net for those without boots and establishes certain basic rights such as clean air and water, education and healthcare. I’m proud to have supported Bernie Sander’s brand of socialism and hopefully it will become more mainstream as our country rebounds from the ravages of Trump.
Religion and the Role of Women – I was taught that I should be feminine, not too smart, allow boys to win, not have sex before marriage, learn to type, sew, cook, clean, and find a husband. Raised Catholic, I was taught to cover my head in church and that using birth control and having an abortion would cause my spirit to go to hell. I was taught that a woman’s role was to be a mother and raise children. Now I realize that religion is really men’s way of keeping women down. Other religions, including Orthodox Judaism and Islam have sects that continue to require women to cover their heads. Other religions, including the Latter Day Saints, ban birth control to expand their ranks and keep women in the role of procreator in chief. Most religions are controlled by men and restrict women from positions of authority. I confess to no longer being a believer but nonetheless I am still appalled at how many women continue to devoutly follow the dictates of their male religious leaders with little or no challenges. The continuous attacks on women’s reproductive freedom, frequently done in the name of religion, in my opinion, are merely a ruse for keeping women from gaining power in society. Now, more than ever, separation of church and state is critical for women to escape this kind of religious persecution.
Modern American Government – I was taught that our democratic form of government represents the people. I was naive enough to believe that this representation meant all people. I now believe that it has been sorely lacking in representing all who have been marginalized – that’s everyone except white males.
I know what it’s like to be discriminated against because I am a woman but I am just beginning to understand how my white skin privileged just about everything I did in life. The Black Lives Matter movement and the “justice” aspects of the environmental and reproductive rights movements have opened my eyes to the extra burdens that have been placed on the lives of those who have not been born white. Our government continues to be controlled by white males. Given the Citizens United case, white male controlled corporations are now also being represented. The only good news since the last election is that people are mobilizing more than ever to fight for a government that represents all the people – including those who have traditionally been marginalized.
There’s more indoctrination versus education to rant about but I’ll save it for another time. . .