Columbus Day–controversial & ironic; more fighting over Confederate heritage; that crazy LBJ; Ben Carson’s messed up view of the Holocaust; pre-Holocaust Nazi atrocities

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So today is the currently (and increasingly) controversial “Columbus Day.” The Atlantic has a solid piece on “rethinking history,” in regards to how we teach Columbus and his legacy in the classroom. The essay concludes with some words of wisdom from a first grader: We should celebrate the day, “but we should tell the truth. Not everyone liked Columbus.”

The great irony of Columbus Day, as Heather Cox Richardson reveals on We’re History, is that it was actually the product of efforts to fight back at fundamentalism in the 1920s, by celebrating the role that minority groups had played in American history. Pretty ironic, huh? Of course the problem is that in doing so they were reading “the original inhabitants of the American continents out of the nation.”

And speaking of controversial, the Rebel flag and Confederate iconography continue to stir debate. First, yesterday in Mississippi there was a large rally at the state capitol to call for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from their state flag. Meanwhile, in Maryland someone made a political/historical statement by dumping red paint on a bust of Judge Roger Taney (of Dred Scott case infamy). And down in Georgia, they have decided to erect a monument to memorialize MLK’s famous call to “let freedom ring, from Stone Mountain of Georgia” (not a bad idea). But as you can imagine, the Sons of Confederate Veterans are freaking out about it.

Don’t fail to check this one out: it turns out that LBJ had a terrifying gag that he pulled on people at his Texas ranch to scare the crap out of them, until one day when it backfired.

Think the textbooks in Texas are bad? I can only imagine what the history textbooks in South Korea will be like once they are issued by the government.

And speaking of textbooks, the latest indication that Ben Carson needs one are his recently uncovered thoughts on Jews and the Holocaust (in which he tried to make a point about gun control legislation). There have been a lot of essays posted that demolish his argument, but none better than this one from New Republic.

And speaking of Nazis: Daily Mail has a piece today uncovering the fact that they murdered psychiatric patients – and their nurses – to test out gas chambers before they were used for mass extermination of the Jews. By 1940, as many as 5,000 patients had been murdered in these experiments.

In light of that story, I think I will forgo today’s Halloween season posting. That one is horrific enough.

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