February is Black History Month. And it is fitting that black Americans are honored, as they are an important part of the American tapestry. But why limit it to February? Why limit German History Month to March, British History Month to April, and Italian History Month to May? Oh…wait.
The fact is, like ALL Lives Matter, Americans of all backgrounds should be celebrated all year around. So how about just a full year of American history, not selected by race or ethnic heritage?
When you study abroad you find that foreigners, especially Euros, have a lot more history than we do. Merely a function of the passage of time. But our history as a people, for good and ill, is fascinating. However, most Americans are ignorant of it. Ask an average citizen to place the Missouri Compromise within fifty years and you’ll get that confused cocker spaniel look.
A lot of it is because we are a forward looking people. Which is good. But the way forward is not clear unless you know where you came from as a people, not only as a selected race or nationality.
When trying to explain that years ago to my teenage sons, I asked them whether they could give me a good report on what happened in a football game if their information starts in the third quarter. They got the idea, kinda.
Now some will say this is blatant racism, that denying black Americans their own special history month is somehow degrading them. Do we degrade other heritages that don’t have their own special little month? Or perhaps you subscribe to the notion that every other month in the year is white history month. Can’t blacks get just one? Look around at the culture. Whites, which is a vague term that can cover Latins to Russians, have been pilloried for generations now as the cause of most of society’s woes. So, if that was ever the case, it isn’t anymore.
The study of history by Americans is also important because it can keep us out of domestic failure and foreign tragedy. Would LBJ and his hubristic retainers have launched the idiotic Great Society if they had studied notions of other utopian schemes? Would we have gone into Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq the way we did if we had studied other foolish attempts at nation building?
I’ll even make it easy. January through April, Jamestown to the Civil War. May to September, Grant administration to WWI. September to December, The 20s until today, the last century. For only if we see things in proper historical context can we understand, with all its faults, what a wonderful country this is and how to preserve and improve it into the future.