So the other day the boy and I went down to the Lincoln Memorial. We started at the President’s house. He then wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial, because Lincoln is the best president. Why was he convinced that Lincoln was the best president? Well, he asked me, once he got over his consternation at learning that Barack Obama will not always be President, “Who was the best president?” Really, not a hard question.
So we scooted over from the White House, down the Mall, to the Lincoln Memorial.
There is a tiny little bookstore inside the Memorial. My boy being like his father, he couldn’t resist. He ran in before I could intercept him and spotted a book by Laurie Calkhoven, called I Grew Up to be President, a bunch of short presidential bios accompanied by cute depictions of what the presidents probably looked like as little boys.
And ... the book is terrible. Really really bad. And really bad for a simple reason: it whitewashes 19th-century American history to the point of doing violence. But it does so in this annoying lawyerly way, so that you can’t outright say they’re leaving things out ... but which will also allow irresponsible parents to be able to pretend that American history is all sweetness and light until sometime in the early 1970s and the only bad presidents were Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.
What sent me over the top was, of course, Abraham Lincoln. Here is the ridiculous passage:
By the time Lincoln was inaugurated, seven states had left the Union to form the Confederate States of America. They believed that Lincon, who was abolitionist, threatened their right to make their own decisions.
What the fuck?
Andrew Jackson is worse. Nothing about him killing a man in a duel or the veto of the Second Bank of the United States, but I could forgive that. What I cannot forgive is this:
Instead of letting Congress lead the way in passing new laws, Jackson took charge and vetoed bills he didn’t like. Only one major law, the Indian Removal Act, was passed in his eight years in office.
Yes, that’s true. And that’s really all they have to say about that particular piece of legislation??
Listen, my children will be as flag-wavingly patriotic as they come. More than most, in fact, since at least one of their parents will want them to serve time in uniform. And they can handle the fact that Andrew Jackson was a racist genocidal maniac and the South seceded in order to keep their distant cousins in bondage.
Scholastic should be ashamed of itself for publishing this dreck.