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Profile: Stephen D. Foster
Stephen D. Foster was a participant or observer in the following events:
Members of Tennessee tea party organizations present Tennessee state legislators with a list of action demands, including rejecting the federal health reform process and, in their words, “educating students the truth about America.” According to the tea partiers’ demands: “Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.” The “truth,” they say, includes teaching that “the Constitution created a Republic, not a Democracy,” and the removal of any mentions of slavery from history textbooks that might reflect poorly on the nation’s founders. Their demands read, “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.” According to group spokesman Hal Rounds, a Fayette County attorney, the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another. The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody—not all equally instantly—and it was their progress that we need to look at.” [Commercial Appeal (Memphis), 1/13/2012] Columnist Stephen D. Foster will write in response: “The tea party wants to whitewash American history as if the Founding Fathers were perfect in everything they ever did, which simply isn’t true. The Founding Fathers were great men but they had flaws. They owned slaves, they allowed slavery to be legal, and yes, they did that despite hypocritically writing that all men are created equal. They also took part in the removal of Native Americans from their homelands, an action that resulted in the deaths of thousands. This information is well documented and acknowledged by professional historians and should not be censored. Students have the right to learn the entire truth about our history and not just the parts that conservatives want them to learn. Hiding knowledge is tantamount to lying and that’s what the tea party wants our teachers to do.” Foster will note that similar changes have already been made for textbooks serving Texas students. [Stephen D. Foster, 1/22/2012]
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