About a month ago, CBS’ The Amazing Race staged two contestant challenges in Vietnam which apparently outraged some viewers to the point that at the beginning of the next episode, the host, Phil Keoghan, apologized for any perceived and unintended slight. What so offended were cultural tasks dealing with the U.S. “defeat” by the North and the unified nation’s language and national pride, nothing we in this country haven’t paralleled in celebrating our victories in questionable wars — especially since.
Around the same time, Congressman Don Young came under attack for using the term “wetbacks” to describe the migrant Mexicans of his youth, an appellation that was very common and accepted in his childhood days. Largely, but not solely because after their presidential candidate’s defeat in November, Republicans have begun a clearly blatant courtship of the Latino vote, he was forced to repent — twice. Could we be in for a domestic apology tour, although the GOP heavily criticized Obama for what they termed his international one? Hmmmm…
Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins’ mascot’s moniker has recently come under siege — by the namesake city’s mayor, at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, in Congress, and most recently by being labeled as “indecent” by three former FCC commissioners. Dan Snyder has remained silent — and hasn’t budged. For once, I am with him.
Time heals, if you let it. Renewing decades to centuries-old wounds through attempts to cleanse the past does a great disservice to our current populace. First, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. There is a lot to be learned from history, particularly for our increasingly more poorly educated youth, if we stop sanitizing it. Maybe then there would truly be “no child left behind” in the “race to the top,” students would reach a productive potential, and school administrators would not feel compelled to alter standardized test scores to make them appear learned.
In addition, history tends to repeat, but a good working knowledge of the subject can help avoid the recycling of the worst of it. To make progress as a society, we need to be reminded of our successes — and our failures. It’s called perspective.
These supposed faux pas have come to the forefront at a time when a fresh atrocity like Sandy Hook is struggling to remain indelible and actionable in the collective consciousness, and the just opened movie “42,” a reminder of the sad, segregationist saga in America is being lauded as “must see.” A bit of a contradiction, picking and choosing which relics of an imperfect past to acknowledge and which to conveniently purge, when they are all pieces of a complex and connected puzzle which must be completed to reveal the full picture. Political correctness, taken too far, could leave the U.S. bereft of a national culture and its residents regularly redacting to avoid ruffling however remote the feather, to say nothing of diluting the power of penitence. Large scale gentrification. For making anyone think about this ... I am not sorry ...
Karen Ann DeLuca