The Census estimates that approximately 18,508,926 people in the U.S. population are black males, of all ages. In 2013, 1,437,363 were in college, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Prisoner Statistics Program reports that in that same year, 526,000 were in state or federal prisons, and, as of mid-year 2013, 219,660 were in local jails, making for a total of about 745,000 behind bars. The millions of black men not included in those numbers, of course, have already finished college, already served a prison sentence, have a life trajectory that does not involve college or prison, or are too young for either to apply.
I saw a review on Salon of Candida Moss’s new book, “The Myth of Persecution.” I had one immediate reaction, “She’s got a great publicist.” I’d never heard of her before, which isn’t surprising since she received her PhD only in 2008 and her first book came out in 2011, after I left the ivied halls of academe.
What drew my attention is that this is a case of someone popularizing what has been basic historical consensus for decades, if not longer. When I was a grad student (now 30 years ago), the myth of widespread Roman persecution of early Christians had already been debunked. Christians were not thrown to the lions in the Coliseum, and there were in fact very few periods when there was a systematic attempt to suppress Christianity by the emperors.
So why all the attention to this book? Well, because Moss is making a connection with the persecution complex of contemporary Christianity.
It’s always interesting when you actually talk to a real historian rather than the fake ones the right wing likes.
We’ve talked about this here many times, but this an excellent article with lots of interesting tidbits to nibble on, so you might want to bookmark it for future reference.
The idea that the United States has always been a bastion of religious freedom is reassuring—and utterly at odds with the historical record
By Kenneth C. Davis
Smithsonian magazine, October 2010
Wading into the controversy surrounding an Islamic center planned for a site near New York City’s Ground Zero memorial this past August, President Obama declared: “This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.” In doing so, he paid homage to a vision that politicians and preachers have extolled for more than two centuries—that America historically has been a place of religious tolerance. It was a sentiment George Washington voiced shortly after taking the oath of office just a few blocks from Ground Zero.
But is it so?
In the storybook version most of us learned in school, the Pilgrims came to America aboard the Mayflower in search of religious freedom in 1620. The Puritans soon followed, for the same reason. Ever since these religious dissidents arrived at their shining “city upon a hill,” as their governor John Winthrop called it, millions from around the world have done the same, coming to an America where they found a welcome melting pot in which everyone was free to practice his or her own faith.
The problem is that this tidy narrative is an American myth. The real story of religion in America’s past is an often awkward, frequently embarrassing and occasionally bloody tale that most civics books and high-school texts either paper over or shunt to the side. And much of the recent conversation about America’s ideal of religious freedom has paid lip service to this comforting tableau.
From the earliest arrival of Europeans on America’s shores, religion has often been a cudgel, used to discriminate, suppress and even kill the foreign, the “heretic” and the “unbeliever”—including the “heathen” natives already here. Moreover, while it is true that the vast majority of early-generation Americans were Christian, the pitched battles between various Protestant sects and, more explosively, between Protestants and Catholics, present an unavoidable contradiction to the widely held notion that America is a “Christian nation.”
This is a really healthy sign for the future, I wish more science teachers would adopt this course.
The description of a new course being offered this fall at the College of Lake County pretty much sells itself to students who think science is stuffy.
Piggybacking on the myth-busting bent of popular culture, CLC is trying to soften the hard edges of the traditional science curriculum with “Great Mysteries of the Earth.”
“Is Atlantis real? Will the Yellowstone super volcano erupt? Would California ever fall into the ocean? What is really going on with climate change?” reads the website teaser.
Though the high-octane topics may be a lure, the intent is to teach critical thinking and the difference between science and pseudoscience.