Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote in a Sunday op-ed that schools should promote patriotism by teaching children a rosy version of U.S. history, leaving out the role of slavery and racism throughout.
By doing this, he says schools will be making “an investment in love.”
“Let’s make it together ― and now,” the Missouri Republican said of this “love” in a New York Post piece. “Let’s teach our children to know and love America.”
Hawley, who is perhaps best known as the U.S. senator who raised his fist in solidarity before a mob of white supremacists and Donald Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to stop Joe Biden from being certified as president, wrote his op-ed as he promotes a bill he recently introduced to teach children a whitewashed version of American history.
His bill, which is going nowhere, would bar federal money from going to public schools that teach students about the roles that white supremacy and racism played in the country’s founding. It would also require schools that get federal money to ensure that students can read and recite portions of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance at certain grade levels.
Hawley’s new op-ed gives specific examples of how to look at U.S. history through a purely positive lens.
“This isn’t a nation of oppressors. This is a nation of liberators,” Hawley wrote of a history that includes white colonizers slaughtering Native Americans in the name of civilization and President Andrew Jackson forcibly removing 100,000 Native Americans from their ancestral homelands, resulting in 15,000 deaths from exposure, disease and starvation.
“This is the country founded on the worth and dignity of every individual,” Hawley wrote, despite the founders’ Constitution not giving women the right to vote and categorizing enslaved people as “three-fifths of a free individual” in determining a region’s congressional representation.
“This is the country that gave working people the right to vote,” the Republican said — ignoring that women only gained that right after a decadeslong fight that ended in 1920, and that even then, many women of color were left out.
“This is the country that freed the slaves,” Hawley added, skipping the part where white colonizers in the 17th and 18th centuries kidnapped people from Africa, forced them into slavery in American colonies and brutally exploited their labor in the production of crops like tobacco and cotton. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, but even then, slavery and other exploitative labor practices persisted.
Despite Hawley urging kids to love America’s founding, he was one of 147 Republicans who rejected U.S. democracy on Jan. 6 by voting to overturn the results of the presidential election — a stance based on a lie about persistent voter fraud that fueled the Capitol insurrection.
He was also one of 139 Republicans who later voted to block the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate what led to the insurrection and how to prevent such an attack from ever happening again.
And on July 4, he was one of dozens of Republicans publicly celebrating the U.S. as “the greatest nation in the history of the world,” despite having previously lied to the American public to justify his vote against democracy.
Hawley’s bill isn’t really about promoting patriotism, anyway. The senator is trying to associate himself with conservative Republicans’ broader, nationwide effort to enact laws that prevent the teaching of “critical race theory,” an academic discipline centered on the idea that racism is an everyday experience for most people of color, that this has shaped the country’s legal and social systems, and that a large part of society has no interest in changing this reality because it benefits white people.
Conservatives have settled on attacking this niche academic discipline, which isn’t even taught in K-12 schools, to try to claim that they love America more than Democrats because they only want to talk about the positive aspects of the country’s founding.
It’s no coincidence that some of the loudest Republicans on this issue, including Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, are potential contenders in the 2024 presidential race. Both governors have touted their efforts to pass laws to ban schools from talking about critical race theory — which, again, is not even taught in K-12 schools.
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