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The Lies My Teacher Told Me And People’s History Of The United States

1465 words - 6 pages

There is a logical saying in society one should take to heart; that line being, “Don’t believe everything you read.” Just because a text is written and published does not means it is always accurate. Historical facts, similar to words whispered in the child’s game, “telephone,” are easily transformed into different facts, either adding or subtracting certain details from the story. James Loewen, in The Lies My Teacher Told Me, reveals how much history has been changed by textbook writes so that students studying the textbooks can understand and connect to the information. In Howard Zinn’s, People’s History of the United States, the author recounts historical tales through the point of view of the common people. Mainstream media, as proven by Loewen and Zinn, often pollutes and dilutes history to make the information sound better and more easily understood for the society.
First of all, the accounts of Zinn and Loewen are quite different that what textbooks and mainstream media tell children. As mentioned previously, Zinn’s People’s History of the United States conveys the narrative of the travels of Columbus and the beginnings of slavery and racism through the eyes of the common or native people. This point of view enlightens the reader, who most likely believes that Columbus was a good and benevolent American hero, to that fact that Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” out of greedy and self-glorification. In reality, Columbus caused pain, suffering, and death because of his greedy; he captured natives for their ability to perform hard labor and information on where to find riches, primarily gold (Zinn, Ch. 1). The heroic adventures, as portrayed in society, melt down to be the acts of a greedy man who sought glory for himself by any means necessary. Desperation also lead Columbus to cruel acts; since Columbus needed to fulfill ridiculous promises he had made before setting out and a vast number of slaves perished in captivity, Columbus place impossible demands on the Indians. He commanded all slaves of a certain age or older to collect a set amount of gold every quarter year, and those who failed to do so, “had their hands cut off and bled to death” (Zinn, Ch. 1). The Lies My Teacher Told Me also relates how much society corrupts history. Many Americans believe that the pilgrims, the sons and daughters of the revolution, were the first to inhabit the “New World, however this is false. Loewen states that, “Few Americans know that one-third of the United States, from San Francisco to Arkansas to Natchez to Florida, has been Spanish longer than it has been "American," and that Hispanic Americans lived here before the first ancestor of the Daughters of the American Revolution ever left England (Loewen, Ch. 3).
Secondly, many mainstream media outlets glorify the actions and “daring” adventures of Columbus; they also place the pilgrams on a high pedastool while lowering the value of the Indians (Loewen, Ch. 2 & 3). Columbus was not even the...

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