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GOP Anti-CRT Bill Would Ban Teaching This Republican’s Autobiography
“It seemed that the United States, outside of the barbarian world, were the only defenders of slavery, per se, and its avowed propagandism.“
Cassius Marcellus Clay
This is bad.
Like, really bad.
This book I’m reading. It’s dangerous.
Some call it heretical.
Others want to ban its messages from being taught to American children.
I can see why.
It does not present America’s devotion to slavery in the positive light that the GOP demands.
It’s a book that will likely get swept up in the flurry of anti-CRT bills that have passed (and are likely to pass) in several GOP-controlled states where the realities of American history have forced legislatures to carve out safe spaces in public schools for cowardly conservatives and their fragile children.
It’s not a new book, but it reveals how long these ideologies have been here.
Festered, the GOP would argue.
The book is Cassius Clay’s autobiography, and no, not that one.
C. M. Clay was born into a wealthy Kentucky slave-owning family, gifted with its spoils and poised to inherit humans; he instead chose to make it his mission to overthrow slavery in the US. As he fought to abolish it, he had to arm himself from roving rabid state-backed terrorists tasked with silencing any talk of liberty or freedom for Black Americans, First Amendment be damned.
He fortified the office where he printed anti-slavery screeds with armored plating. He installed canons to fend off would-be attackers. He hid weapons throughout the office and even rigged the building to explode, ready to go down fighting to protect his writers should the attackers overrun his newspaper.
In 1843, a man shot Clay in the chest while he was giving an anti-slavery speech. Clay grabbed his Bowie knife, which had earned the nickname “Arkansas Toothpick,” and attacked his attacker, demonstrating the knife’s anatomical utility by gouging out the man’s eye and cutting off his nose before tossing the shooter down an embankment.
Six years later, he was attacked again, but this time, a mob stabbed and beat Clay, though Clay was able to fend them off, killing one of the attackers. Two years later, in 1851, he ran on the Emancipation Ticket, determined to do the right thing in the face of death.
An all-American badass, right?
Not according to New Hampshire Republican Alicia Lekas, who introduced a Teacher Loyalty bill late last year that would like to see Clay’s autobiography, curtly titled, “The Life Of Cassius Marcellus Clay: Memoirs, Writings, and Speeches of Cassius Marcellus Clay showing his Conduct in Overthrow of American Slavery, the Salvation of the Union and the Restoration of the Autonomy of the States,” banned from curriculums across her state.
A big thank you to Popular Information for tracking these bills!
According to her, books like Clay’s would lead to further indoctrinating American children into hating the US of A. She told the Concord Monitor, “Too often I’m running into too many students who don’t know anything real about history and stuff like that.”
The bill is fascist fodder from conservatives upset that facts are destroying their long-established myths. It prohibits a teacher from advocating “any doctrine or theory promoting a negative account or representation of the founding and history of the United States of America in New Hampshire public schools which does not include the worldwide context of now outdated and discouraged practices.”
For Lekas, presenting the enslavement of thousands and its enshrinement in US law must be presented in a way that doesn’t make American children think the US was a racist outlier. She wants to spin a violent core colonial American value into a positive pillar of America’s exceptionalism.
Except America was an outlier according to some of the first Republicans, like Clay, who founded the party’s Kentucky chapter.
She defended the bill, telling the publication that “Slavery was a terrible thing, but a lot of people don’t know slavery happened all over the world, that’s the setting you need to be teaching. If you’re going to teach about the founding of the country, you need to teach it in its proper setting so you know what was happening in the rest of the world so you have a better idea of why people did the way they did.”
Boy, she will hate what Clay wrote:
“In the meantime Great Britain, France, and the leading nations had abolished slavery, and the slave trade. Portugal, Spain, Brazil, and Russia, struggling in the same direction, it seemed that the United States, outside of the barbarian world, were the only defenders of slavery, per se, and its avowed propagandism.” — p. 92
It would seem that it is Lekas who does not know American history, which is unsurprising for a party that now debauches it for its own pleasures and power.
Clay is far from a perfect American hero, but he is better than most of the GOP debutantes the party rolls out to rile up voters who think they are defending America when they head to the ballot box. However, one does not have to wonder too hard as to why there are far more Robert E. Lee statues today than ones of Cassius M. Clay with people like Lekas leading the party’s anti-American policies.
More from Clay, and other Americans, to come.
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