Please permit me a small rant. I am a hardcore history student. I love it, I am passionate about its preservation, and I become intensely annoyed when people get it wrong, especially when the fault is intentional. Cicero wrote in his De Oratore, “The first law for the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true.” While this principle may be the first law for historians, I think, especially when dealing with our own country’s history, everyone should make this a goal. It is bad enough that many Americans are inexcusably ignorant of their nation’s history, but it is even worse when those in power want to get it wrong. I am referring to the decision in Texas last year to revise history curriculum in public schools. You know, the decision where they wanted to remove Thomas Jefferson from textbooks. Also there was the recent proposition in Tennessee by Tea Party lawmakers to revise the curriculum in order to make the Founding Fathers more appealing, glossing over their involvement in slavery, their displacement of native people, etc. I’m afraid the Tea Party version of the Founding Fathers does not really line up with the version that existed in reality. Every history in every nation is filled with the good, bad, and ugly all of which must be embraced if we want to come as close to that truth thing Cicero was talking about as possible. We cannot pick and choose our history, and it is extremely dangerous to do so for our future generations’ sake. The secular saints that built our nation did a great deal of good, this is true, but they also did a great deal of bad, or what we view as bad (as we well should) in a twenty-first century mindset. The study of history is not selective.
Okay, I feel better, and now to supplement my mini-rant I present to you a video for Wolfgang Gartner’s “Illmerica” directed and animated by Ryan McNamara. McNamara creatively recounts the last four hundred years of American history in five minutes and forty seconds through animation reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s work for Monty Python’s Flying Circus but on extra sinister steroids. McNamara presents our history in a way that would definitely go unapproved by the Texas Board of Education. The song is pretty awesome too. Check it out on Video Static here. It is really something else. I also recommend watching it several times so you can pick out all of the details like the Tesla (aka “Electric Jesus”) cameo. Good stuff.