US History and actual History.

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 NEXT
 

There's a pretty big difference between U.S portrayals in media and what we're actually taught. We don't, like, watch "The Patriot" and think 'yeah pretty much.'

My high school history class was pretty unbiased, encouraging us to have debates over issues like joining WWI and dropping the second nuke on Japan. In college, the U.S history course I took was basically "White People Suck" (WPS 072), a long and excruciating look at just how fucking terrible we've been to everyone who isn't the same color as us, and a good few that were as well. It even went beyond the standard issue "things Americans 'don't know' (have heard a billion times) about American history" into more swept under the carpet things, like the fact that the Union didn't give half of a two-bit fuck about slaves, and how the freesoilers were less "Slavery is bad, mmkay" and more "We don't want no negros in our new land!" Basically the roots of abolition were founded in the idea that slavery just wasn't racist enough.

I'm not sure what things are like at public schools, but I can't imagine them being too different. I know there's not a lot good to be said for our education system, but from what I've seen gung-ho patriotism is likely more an artifact of someone's parents than their teachers.

You don't even need to try very hard to find glaring inaccuracies in what we are taught in school.

How many people in the US know that the Revolutionary War was won solely because Benjamin Franklin went to France to seek aid? We are taught in school that we won the war because farmers with muskets used guerrilla tactics.

The USA doesn't have 'history', they're just toddlers compared to Britain and our illustrious record of being invaded by people over the past two thousand or so years! :p

I'm not sure that this is isolated to the States, it wouldn't suprise me to hear that every country wants to paint itself well. It's just that the USA has all of its history crammed in to a few hundred years. On the whole nuking Japan thing, I don't see why they didn't detonate a bomb off the coast of Japan to show them that they were willing to use one rather than slaughtering civilians. But I guess someone wanted to play with their toys.

The most bias I found is within America's founding, especially in younger education. In early grade school it wasn't mentioned that the Native Americans opposed the colonist's expansion over America. The Thanksgiving story was basically as close to the truth as history would go. I don't think any of my history books throughout grade school even mentioned the numerous wars against the Indians, almost all the books basically say that colonists arrived, made friends with the Indians, then opposed the tyrannical rule of the British. It blames everything on the British rule and ignores the fact that the Americans did some bad things too.

Also information on the Vietnam war is rarely consistent between history books.

one big thing that I've noticed that US history tends to ignore is post-revolution interactions between the US government and its agencies and Native American tribes. While history classes will totally talk about the evils of slavery and the fight for women's rights, and the internment camps of world war 2, they'll ignore things like the boarding school system, the wounded knee massacre, the repeated treaty violations, et cetera.

Cold War history as a whole tends to be rather skewed or ignored (part of the reason I am a Cold war historian-in-training) what with Nicaragua, Chile, Guatemala, Panama, and Argentina getting hosed by the US, the depictions of the Vietnam War in media, the USSR in general. So much is either not taught or is so skewed as to be almost outright lies. Hell, right now I ma writing a paper about North Vietnamese counterintelligence and how it was able to not just counter, but actively turn US intelligence operations against the,. Seriously, look up MACV SOG and the CIA Agent Ajax and his preddecessors. Very interesting.

CriticalMiss:
The USA doesn't have 'history', they're just toddlers compared to Britain and our illustrious record of being invaded by people over the past two thousand or so years! :p

I'm not sure that this is isolated to the States, it wouldn't suprise me to hear that every country wants to paint itself well. It's just that the USA has all of its history crammed in to a few hundred years. On the whole nuking Japan thing, I don't see why they didn't detonate a bomb off the coast of Japan to show them that they were willing to use one rather than slaughtering civilians. But I guess someone wanted to play with their toys.

LoL which the British empire more than made up for :P

The explosion of the atomic bombs was decided more than anything to show the commie ruskies not to fuck with 'merica "cus now we have the bomb" which was then followed up with conflicts with every small insignificant country that even dared to tread the path of socialism.

Also the idea of detonating the bomb on a neighboring island was discussed. I guess they believed it wouldn't have the desired effect.

AC10:
I dunno, do they teach you guys about Japanese American Internment?

Not like we're clean of blood either, Canada did the same thing.

They taught that in my school, but it was not covered in detail just like any other subject.

Each topic is just talked about for like a week and something else gets taught after that

the clockmaker:
First off, some people contend that the empire of Japan was willing to surrender, it is by no means accepted fact, in the US or out.

Personally, I feel that the US perception of the war overall is skewed into the Uncle Sam and others show. Russia is neglected fairly often, the European allies show up only to cry for help and be rescued and the rest of the commonwealth is omitted entirely. This is a bug-bear for me, being Australian in that we, along with the Kiwis, Papuans, Indonesians and other islanders, were, for a fair while, the last allied powers actively fighting the Japanese and that gets completely ignored. Even after the yanks showed up, they tended to take the 'glory' assignments and leave the shitty, obscure jobs to the ANZACS. I mean, look at 'the pacific', to the best of my knowledge Australian soldiers only show up to show how ungrateful we are to our glorious fucking american saviours.

Not to mention more bombs were dropped on Darwin (Capital City of Australia's Northern Territory) than all of the US, let alone just Pearl Harbour.

Speaking as a 'historian-in-training' (I'm a military history graduate student), I can say that all countries warp history to meet their own ends. It is particularly bad in high school, which I honestly don't even consider to be real history. More just political indoctrination.

There is a saying in historical circles about the study of history:

"Read one book [on a given subject] and become a clone [of that person's point of view]. Read two books and become confused. Read five books and start to form your own opinion. Read twenty books and start to become wise."

Simply put, you can't just take the first thing you hear about a historical subject at face value. Nor can you believe everything in a book simply because it is, well, in a book. Historians try to be totally objective, but it is simply not possible. We are human after all.

The US can get pretty silly with some of their claims. Particularly around the Vietnam War, War of 1812 and both World Wars. Though as I said before, they certainly aren't unique in that area.

Well, about the nuclear strikes in Japan, I had a teacher tell us that we really don't know if dropping the bombs was the right move, and we'll never know if it actually limited casualites or not, though she personally thought it was the wrong move. She had us each write an essay defending or condemning the nuclear strikes.

AC10:
I dunno, do they teach you guys about Japanese American Internment?

Not like we're clean of blood either, Canada did the same thing.

They sure do. In fact, the majority of my high school history classes were spent learning about what dicks the US has been in the past. Imperialism, isolationism in WWII (yeah, I wasn't taught that we were the conquering heroes, I was taught that we were kinda dickish for waiting so long to get involved) deplorable treatment of Native Americans...The list goes on.

LoneWanderer:
You know what they say.
"History is written by the victor"
Or in the U.S.'s case it written to make themselves more awesome and make everyone jelly.

Mmmm. Hmm-mmm. And what evidence exactly are you basing that statement on?

dyre:

AC10:
I dunno, to they teach you guys about Japanese American Internment?

Not like we're clean of blood either, Canada did the same thing.

They don't teach much about WW2, but they do teach that. But really, I'm not really sure why people bring that up so often...it's among the least of our sins. Us Americans, that is. I'm not really sure how much evil Canadians have done.

Where I did we learned quite a bit of WW2 including the Japanese American Internment and the horrors they had to face. We also did learn about the horrible things we did in Veitnam where we began to kill civies and such because we didn't know who was enemy or not.

Lastly I also did learn that it was mainly because of Russia that Germany fell, not the US.

LoneWanderer:
You know what they say.
"History is written by the victor"
Or in the U.S.'s case it written to make themselves more awesome and make everyone jelly.

Mmmm. Hmm-mmm. And what evidence exactly are you basing that statement on?

A year ago they changed their history textbooks to state that they won the battle of 1812 instead of Canada.
http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/10/11/damn-yankees/
Just so that they could state how awesome they are.

Robot Number V:

Mmmm. Hmm-mmm. And what evidence exactly are you basing that statement on?

The whole tired cliche "If it wasn't for America you'd be speaking German."

One example I heard in another thread was that even before we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, apparently Japan was already gearing up to sign a surrender and then after we dropped the bombs they were almost ready to fully retaliate.

That story's pretty complex, and very few individuals even my non specialized history teachers(It's my major.) there's a translation problem(a certain phrase during the talks had two meanings and was very vague to the translators.) and an infighting within the Japanese government and military with the radicals wanting to take the war on until their last breaths.

Ultimately the message they delivered was that there would be no surrender and they would fight to the death, the bomb was the logical reaction and allowed for a much lower loss of life on both sides, turning the streets of Japan into wake Island 2 was the other option. Inhumane as it was, it was a sound strategic decision given the circumstances.

So, Japan's leadership was willing to surrender but some weren't and did their most to sabotage the effort, those guys won and then even they gave up.

I do believe the most clear example and probably already discussed to death by page three is the war on terror which has some fair reasoning but could have been handled much better. Don't have time to read the entire topic now but I doubt someone actually cleared the nuclear bomb bit.

History will always be biased, I prefer science and math.

Auron:

One example I heard in another thread was that even before we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, apparently Japan was already gearing up to sign a surrender and then after we dropped the bombs they were almost ready to fully retaliate.

That story's pretty complex, and very few individuals even my non specialized history teachers(It's my major.) there's a translation problem(a certain phrase during the talks had two meanings and was very vague to the translators.) and an infighting within the Japanese government and military with the radicals wanting to take the war on until their last breaths.

Ultimately the message they delivered was that there would be no surrender and they would fight to the death, the bomb was the logical reaction and allowed for a much lower loss of life on both sides, turning the streets of Japan into wake Island 2 was the other option. Inhumane as it was, it was a sound strategic decision given the circumstances.

So, Japan's leadership was willing to surrender but some weren't and did their most to sabotage the effort, those guys won and then even they gave up.

I do believe the most clear example and probably already discussed to death by page three is the war on terror which has some fair reasoning but could have been handled much better. Don't have time to read the entire topic now but I doubt someone actually cleared the nuclear bomb bit.

So why was they attempting to get Russia to mediate peace between themselves and the allies in the months before the dropping of the bomb?

When it comes to WW2, America came in late but did help tip the balance and make the war end quicker. I think the Brits and Russia keeping the fight going slowly drained Germans resources. If the Brits gave up then the full German war machine would head to Russia, and if Russia was beaten then then America would have to face the might of 3/4 globe against them. An America couldnt have beaten that.

Other history stuff that annoys me are American movies that make out they did everything. Like U-571. In history that was the Brits and they found the 1st Enigma machine. Thing is if there were battles that America won on there own then fine, i dont expect them to add other countries that were not involved.

Also American Independence, the amount of Americans that have said "we kicked you English out" is surprising and untrue. By that time in history America had the help of the French as they were our enemy and thought this would be a great chance to attack us and thus they declared war on us. Then Spain joined in and declared war on us and Denmark helped give American ammunition etc. The best part of this i like is we lost America, America gained independence (which is good - im English, but each country deserves the right to run themselves), this lead to the us kicking the crap out of France near Jamica when they got cocky and tried to still our sugar trade. Then finally the French revolution which lead to lots of French snobs being beheaded. So the peace of 1783 meant that France had major financial problems while the British and America began doing trade. :-)

But, in all honesty. America has never won a war on its own. Even.....maybe the Civil war i guess. They never beat Vietnam or Korea so the idea they think they saved a whole world from the Germans twice is laughable. Its great to be patriotic and proud of your Army and the great work they do. But you have to take into account the allies.

One of the things that really irritates me about the "If it wasnt for America you'd all be speaking German" attitude is that Britain was actually very important in the US's counter invasion of Europe. If we'd been conquered, the D-Day landings would have been a lot harder, if not impossible. And also the true defeat of the German army came at the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, which no-one seems to give the Russians credit for.

There is a theory that the the Soviet Union not only finished, but also started WW2. The German communist party supported Hitler, giving him the victory. The plan was for the USSR to "save" Europe and convert it to "socialism". It was only a half victory, because they got half of Europe, in stead of the whole thing. The reason? Germany attacked first, leaving most of the Soviet military technology unusable. For example, they had BT tanks, the fastest at the time, by a large margin, they could only operate on well-built roads, though, such as the German highways. There are a lot of other examples, but what's really fascinating is that both popular history and this theory are plausible, meaning that history is really flexible.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_offensive_plans_controversy

Korten12:
I am starting to wonder if this should have been in Religion and Politics... Damn hindsight... If possible and if needed to. It can be moved there, if so Mods allow.

I hope this can be kept civil but after reading another thread it got me thinking. How much of the US History (involvement with other nations), is just censored to make the US look better? Now as a US Citizen who did good in my US history class, I didn't feel it was bias.

What I meant was that it never seemed to shy away from all of the bad things we did and how we were straight up wrong in situations and so on.

One example I heard in another thread was that even before we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, apparently Japan was already gearing up to sign a surrender and then after we dropped the bombs they were almost ready to fully retaliate.

Which is much different than I learned. What I learned was that Japan wasn't willing to surrender and a land invasion would have been more costly and ended more lives than dropping the bombs. After the first bomb was dropped, apparently they didn't surrender and the second bomb is what happened.

Now I just don't know which is the truth, I would like to believe what I was taught, at least if I am remembering my class correctly (it was a bit ago...), is correct but I can't be sure.

So can anyone kind of give me some examples of events that are alerted in US history to make certain events in the history book look more pro-US than what happened?

TLDR:

1. The Japanese were willing to surrender before the bombs, but only with terms that the Allies would never accept.

2. The Japanese were not considering retaliation after the bombs. I don't know who said that, but it is dead wrong and pretty stupid. They did not have the ability to retaliate even if they had wanted to.

3. Dropping the bombs, when compared to a traditional invasion, almost certainly saved lives. Had the invasion gone poorly the amount dead would have been well over a million.

4. There is not a people in the world that do not retell history in a way that makes them look better.

SonOfVoorhees:

-snip-

But, in all honesty. America has never won a war on its own. Even.....maybe the Civil war i guess. They never beat Vietnam or Korea so the idea they think they saved a whole world from the Germans twice is laughable. Its great to be patriotic and proud of your Army and the great work they do. But you have to take into account the allies.

While I am the first to admit that the US does a poor job teaching US history, your lack of knowledge on US history is also rather apparent. Mexican American War, where America was expected to get its ass kicked since Mexico is code for "French" at this point and had a fairly impressive military. Instead, the US got the West Coast. Spanish American war, which wasn't really a surprise, but kicked Spain out of Cuba and some Pacific holding, like the Philippines.

In Vietnam, the US and Co. most certainly did "beat" the North in the sense that after the Tet Offensive, the Viet Cong ceased to be a threat and it was 2 years after the US left until the South fell. While the Vietnam War is pretty horrific and we really shouldn't have been there, it is very much misunderstood in the wider culture of both the US and the world.

Korea is more difficult. The US/UN Allies definitely would have won if anyone had actually cared enough to continue the fight, but it was unpopular and we had a President who didn't particularly care for the war. So they signed an Armistice and left and technically, the North and South are still at war. While China certainly pushed them back when they joined, they were running out of forces and were getting pushed back themselves when everyone said "screw this" and left.

There are other wars, but they are either tiny or enough cooperation existed that America definitely shares credit.

the clockmaker:
First off, some people contend that the empire of Japan was willing to surrender, it is by no means accepted fact, in the US or out.

Personally, I feel that the US perception of the war overall is skewed into the Uncle Sam and others show. Russia is neglected fairly often, the European allies show up only to cry for help and be rescued and the rest of the commonwealth is omitted entirely. This is a bug-bear for me, being Australian in that we, along with the Kiwis, Papuans, Indonesians and other islanders, were, for a fair while, the last allied powers actively fighting the Japanese and that gets completely ignored. Even after the yanks showed up, they tended to take the 'glory' assignments and leave the shitty, obscure jobs to the ANZACS. I mean, look at 'the pacific', to the best of my knowledge Australian soldiers only show up to show how ungrateful we are to our glorious fucking american saviours.

Not sure where people get their shitty education but my history teacher was sure to underline how important the russians were in Europe and how hard it was for the Europeans to hold the line.

That said I hate to tell you but if the USA (Plus canada) hadn't shown up in the Pacific Japan would still own most of it.

A lot of countries held a line and stopped the Japanese from going to far but you guys weren't winning without our military budget and expendable troops.

OT: My biggest nitpick is the American Revolution.

Guess what, the British were NOT nazi's; it was a very grey war overall.

flarty:

Auron:

One example I heard in another thread was that even before we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, apparently Japan was already gearing up to sign a surrender and then after we dropped the bombs they were almost ready to fully retaliate.

That story's pretty complex, and very few individuals even my non specialized history teachers(It's my major.) there's a translation problem(a certain phrase during the talks had two meanings and was very vague to the translators.) and an infighting within the Japanese government and military with the radicals wanting to take the war on until their last breaths.

Ultimately the message they delivered was that there would be no surrender and they would fight to the death, the bomb was the logical reaction and allowed for a much lower loss of life on both sides, turning the streets of Japan into wake Island 2 was the other option. Inhumane as it was, it was a sound strategic decision given the circumstances.

So, Japan's leadership was willing to surrender but some weren't and did their most to sabotage the effort, those guys won and then even they gave up.

I do believe the most clear example and probably already discussed to death by page three is the war on terror which has some fair reasoning but could have been handled much better. Don't have time to read the entire topic now but I doubt someone actually cleared the nuclear bomb bit.

So why was they attempting to get Russia to mediate peace between themselves and the allies in the months before the dropping of the bomb?

When it is said that the Japanese were unwilling to surrender it is meant that they were unwilling to surrender under any terms the allies would accept. You must realize that one of the core goals of the United States in the terms of Japanese surrender was to eliminate them as a potential threat for at least a generation. This meant disarming the Japanese military and changing the Japanese government. The Japanese were unwilling to accept those terms (as outlined in the Potsdam Declaration) and so sought Russian mediation in the hopes that with the weight of the Russians they could get the surrender terms they wanted.

AC10:

dyre:

AC10:
I dunno, to they teach you guys about Japanese American Internment?

Not like we're clean of blood either, Canada did the same thing.

They don't teach much about WW2, but they do teach that. But really, I'm not really sure why people bring that up so often...it's among the least of our sins. Us Americans, that is. I'm not really sure how much evil Canadians have done.

Probably because you guys put George Takei in an internment camp.[/q

Commissar Sae:
[quote="Colour-Scientist" post="18.404776.16781877"]

OP: Most things you were taught in history were probably skewed to make the US look better and more self-important than it was but every country does that. There isn't one who doesn't.

Actually I'm teaching the history of Canada in high school right now. While the curriculum tries to gloss over any of the horrific shit we used to do I always make sure to put it front and center and tell my students about it. A lot of them don't care but some of them pick up on the fact that maybe we aren't as nice a country as we pretend to be.

Really? I remember in High School nothing getting glossed over. Like chinese head tax, residential schools, the treatment of chinese workers during the Grand Trunk Pacfic, attempted Homoingation of aboriginals, japanese interment and the rejection of Kena Maru( I think thats what is was called?) thats just top of my head, that I can remember.

AC10:
I dunno, do they teach you guys about Japanese American Internment?

Not like we're clean of blood either, Canada did the same thing.

Not only did we do it to the Japanese, we did it to the Germans and Italians too...

Also, want to know the difference between History taught in the US, and History taught elsewhere?

Ask who won the War of 1812. I bet you'd get a different answer depending on who you ask.

According to what I learned in History, the American government covered up their compromise during the Cuban Missile Crisis aftermath: the agreement that both sides would withdraw nuclear arms from Turkey(the US) and Cuba(Russia).

This essentially depicted JFK as a hero, since the press didn't mention anything about the withdrawal of missiles from Turkey by the US.

Other than that, I don't know about any other instances.

It's the little things in history that those of (un)lucky enough to receive an education in US schools never get to learn. Like the fact that Columbus was a sadistically violent slave-wrangler, or our attempted intervention in the Russian Civil War, or the fact that MK/ULTRA was actually a thing, or the Phoenix Program, or how the Gulf of Tonkin incident really happened, or one of a thousand other tidbits that Texas-produced history textbooks don't bother mentioning.

To be fair, all of my middle/high school education was during the mid 80s to the early 90s when the schools in my region didn't bother replacing books that were literally decades old. I don't know how much textbooks have changed over the last 20 years, but I would hope that we've seen at least some improvement in historical accuracy.

Here's a good primer book on how much is intentionally left out of US history education: http://www.amazon.com/Lies-My-Teacher-Told-Everything/dp/0743296281

Sean951:
"In Vietnam, the US and Co. most certainly did "beat" the North in the sense that after the Tet Offensive, the Viet Cong ceased to be a threat and it was 2 years after the US left until the South fell.

No way. I'd say the North resoundly defeated the United States. With no small thanks to the result of their ingenious engineering, the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

DrOswald:
snip

The only surrender terms they sought was for their emperor not abdicate, which they got anyway. So even if there was no other choice but to use the bomb to gain unconditional surrender, then the US failed in doing so.

there is something to understand about the japanese internment camps during ww2. they werent set up in isolation as such, there was a history behind them. in 1916/17 people were sabotaging US factories and were even in some cases infecting cargo ships full of horses with viruses to kill all the horses on the way to the allies in europe. that said its still horrific how their country turned on them even though in alot of cases their own family was fighting for the country.

one thing ive never forgotten is the treatment of axis war criminals by the US if they could get something from them. alot of people know about the germans who joined nasa. but the japanese scientists who created biological and chemical weapons not only escaped prosecution but were given gifts and paid for their research after the war.

these were individuals who had experimented on living people who had vivisected upwards of 6000 people, who refered to their test subjects as "wooden logs" as they werent human and the victims of their experiments included allied POW's some of who survived and were forced to remain silent about what they suffered. the end result of those experiments was somewhere around 250,000 people dying of plague

Some people confuse US History with World History. Two different topics, two different classes in school.

-Samurai-:
Some people confuse US History with World History. Two different topics, two different classes in school.

When discussing US foreign policy the two are intertwined.

-Samurai-:
Some people confuse US History with World History. Two different topics, two different classes in school.

Maybe they shouldn't be.

Jodokh:
snip

I'm in Quebec though, so most of the history curriculum is about how badly the British screwed over the French Canadians and not much else. I make sure to throw in the fact that plenty of other people had it pretty bad too and that the Quebecois were right there alongside them screwing other people over.

Imperiused:

Sean951:
"In Vietnam, the US and Co. most certainly did "beat" the North in the sense that after the Tet Offensive, the Viet Cong ceased to be a threat and it was 2 years after the US left until the South fell.

No way. I'd say the North resoundly defeated the United States. With no small thanks to the result of their ingenious engineering, the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Plus the Viet Cong were southern Vietnamese communist insurgents, not northern Vietnamese soldiers. The north was more than able to keep the war going and acted largely independently from the Viet Cong anyway.

Having read an interview with a Viet Cong sniper/infiltrator (a 4 foot woman who was 17 at the time) it becomes pretty clear that the Americans were barely able to secure the major cities, let alone take the fight to Northern Vietnam.

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 NEXT

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked