Mexia News Editorial: Proper treatment of history critical

History is important for reasons beyond the need to memorize facts and stories. It is important to honor the accomplishments of those before us, but every bit as important as a way to learn from our mistakes.
There has been an assault on historic “truth” in textbooks used by Texas students in recent years and another example bent truth or sugarcoated facts reared its ugly head this week.
A mother in Pearland, Texas brought attention to a passage in her son's high school geography textbook that referred to African Americans brought to the United States in the slave trade as “workers” rather than slaves. The mention was included in a chapter on immigration, further clouding the message and details of the slave trade.
Some history is ugly, dark and shameful. That doesn't mean we should gloss over it or ignore it. No one today is responsible for the salve trade or how blacks were treated in the 19th century, but choosing to dress up the reality with nicer terms and take some of the sting out of what happened is a new injustice today.
If we are not willing to admit those mistakes, learn from them and be willing to discuss them with our children, how do we expect to keep from repeating them?
The Texas State board of Education has been on a crusade in recent years to bend history and give it a more conservative slant. It is impossible to take all leanings out of our interpretations of the past, but to interject new facts or change words that clearly change meanings is dishonest and dangerous.
Our children should read about the salve trade and they should be a little uncomfortable with the whole idea of what happened and why. Those are signs they understand how wrong it was.
We would not say the Nazis killed a few Jews in World War II. We would not refer to those killed in the Holocaust as civilian casualties or collateral damage. The Nazis exterminated millions of Jews in the most horrific genocide in history. We want our children to understand that, but our own national transgressions we are not so eager to be honest about.
History is to be learned from. It is something we study to grow, to transcend and honor when appropriate. The idea today that all history is glowing and should be seen in the light of American Exceptionalism is dangerous and deceptive and could prove to be what steals our greatness in time because we are no longer willing to learn from our mistakes.