Dreamed 1995/9/4 by Chris Wayan
I'm reading a riveting book: "Lies My Teacher Told Me," on why American history classes are so dull: they lie. The author plowed through 12 high school history books and then shows what they censor or outright falsify.
Columbus was not only not the first, he wasn't even third. The book lists solid evidence for extensive pre-Columbian contacts ranging from the Phoenicians to the Vikings to the West Africans to the Bretons to the Japanese. The difference was, Columbus had guns and big money behind him.
North America's population was 20 million OR MORE. Smallpox and measles killed nearly all of them. The death rate in New England was around 95%. That's fact, not estimate: contemporary sources were detailed and open about it. Europeans didn't clear wilderness, they took over cleared fields and farm towns. In the Caribbean, the evidence for millions living on Hispaniola alone before Columbus is quite solid; the number of people worked to death as slaves in the mines on that one isle alone may rival the Nazi holocaust. Books claiming precolumbian North America had just a million or two natives are morally and factually on a par with Holocaust deniers.
The Iroquois contribution to U.S. democracy runs deeper even than I thought; the Iroquois apparently were the first to propose that the bickering colonies form a union and free themselves from the Brits!
I knew the Cherokee applied for statehood... but so did the Delaware, and Indian Territory. They elected and sent representatives to Congress, who were blocked by Southern whites. Any non-racist (let alone nonwhite-majority) state near plantation country was a deadly danger to the owners; slaves would have a refuge to run to. And they did! In the South, exterminating the Indians was all about keeping a buffer zone around slavery, preventing refugee camps and resistance movements from forming.
The slave policies of Revolutionary heroes varied, Jefferson falling in the middle. Some did free slaves; one admitted it was the right thing to do, but couldn't bring himself to do without servants--calls himself a hypocrite! They were quite aware of the moral issue--economics and personal greed and sheer habit, not a moral blind spot or unthinking racism, kept them slave-owners. I don't know if that makes them better than I thought, or worse; but certainly different.
John Brown, portrayed in my history classes as either impractical or crazy, was perfectly sane: he expected his slave-rebellion to fail and that he'd die, but accurately predicted his death would shift the slavery debate. Suddenly, Abolition via law was moderate--mainstream! He made Lincoln's election possible, triggered the war, and forced Emancipation. He was ready to die for that.
Reconstruction was LESS corrupt than the prewar or Gilded Age south; carpetbaggers and incompetent black legislators were Klan propaganda disseminated as fact by a new wave of racists culminating in Woodrow Wilson. This president, praised as effective and progressive in my schoolbooks, was an open white supremacist, and so warlike he outraged the electorate; his hand-picked successor lost by the biggest margin in history against a nobody--Warren G. Harding.
I stay up till two AM, hooked.
It's the 19th Century, but not exactly the same century I recall from MY history books. I'm a revolutionary in the war to free us from Great Britain. Our country is large and sparsely populated. Australia or America? Many of us here are convicts and slaves...
One hero of the revolution is an old friend of mine, Silky--a talking black mare! She's fighting to end slavery of animals as well as humans. People are confused to hear a mare speaking but learn to take it for granted when faced with her daily. There have been other talking animals, scattered through history--they're just rare enough so that scientists (who have perhaps more status to defend than slaves and convicts) never conceded their reality. But if an exceptional mare can learn to speak and reason, how can humans oppress other animals who may have the same potential?
We win the revolution! Diplomatically recognized. We send our first ambassadors to Europe. Silky dares to join us as a diplomat, though she's deeply scared--her first trip outside her homeland, where she's known. What if they ignore their own ears and tie her up and use her as a slave again? She has no hands to fight with--only moral persuasion. Her best friend, a pamphleteer much like Ben Franklin, is very prestigious back in Europe; he writes her a Letter of Introduction she keeps in a locket on her neck; for some scientists who refuse to believe their own ears will trust an Authoritative Document.
A long sea-voyage in a wooden sailing ship. London's in sight when...
IN THE MORNING
I wake to find I nodded off in my car, while stuck in a traffic jam! Back in the dreary all-human world.
I mourn for Silky--grieve because she was just a dream. Around me's the sterile reality.
Then I see a personalized license plate with a word on it from an earlier dream. So that dream was psychic! What do I mean, JUST a dream?
I check my memory--and find it's common knowledge here that rare individual animals ARE in fact born able to learn language. And Silky is a historical figure. Some doubt her, the way right-wing fanatics doubt the Holocaust; but her existence, due to the diplomatic swath she cut thru Europe, is massively documented. Real. She changed history in her own time, AND the treatment of animals for generations to come.
That grim world where everyone knows animals can't think--THAT was a dream!
And I wake AGAIN...
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