Tea Party: Don't Mention Founding Fathers and Slaves

The group is demanding that references to the Founding Fathers owning slaves be removed from history textbooks.

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President George Washington (Think Progress)

The Tennessee Tea Party is at it again.

About two dozen Tea Party activists held a news conference recently and then met with lawmakers individually to present their list of priorities and "demands" for the 2012 legislative session, according to Think Progress.

The proposals calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curricula and for textbook-selection criteria to require that "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.”

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group's main spokesman during the news conference, said 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," reports say.

“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," he said, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Nearly two years ago, the conservative-controlled Texas Board of Education created an uproar when it changed the state's history curriculum for 4.8 million public school students. The board changed references to the nation's first black president to read "Barack Hussein Obama" and required students to "contrast" Confederate President Jefferson Davis' inaugural address with Abraham Lincoln’s philosophical views. It also proposed that textbooks refer to the slave trade as the "Atlantic triangular trade."

This is ridiculous. We hope the Legislature rejects these revisionist proposals. It is impossible to ignore the fact that many of the nation's first leaders owned slaves, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Jefferson had children with Sally Hemings. The Tea Party is right that it is an ugly part of history, but it can't be erased simply because it makes some people uncomfortable.

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