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Letters to the Editor: You can think America is deeply flawed but also a global force for good

Kids wave American flags on Main Street during Huntington Beach's Fourth of July parade in 2019.
(Gary Ambrose)

To the editor: Richard T. Hughes asserts that Americans believe the United States is a “wholly innocent nation.” The straw man of total innocence is easy to slay, but it’s an assertion that hardly anyone makes.

Rather, what many of us do believe is that the impact of this country on its citizens and the world has on balance been overwhelmingly positive. That’s a claim supported by the freedoms, opportunities and prosperity we enjoy and have helped others throughout the world reach. The migrants flocking to this country further testify to the quality of life that Americans enjoy.

All of that in no way denies that this nation has also committed grievous errors that need to be acknowledged. However, fairness and wisdom require recognizing that a nation is not just its mistakes, and overall the U.S. continues to inspire a better world.

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Andrew G. Kadar, Beverly Hills

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To the editor: As a former U.S. history teacher, I found myself in absolute agreement with Hughes’ op-ed article on Americans coming to terms with our complete history — the good, the bad and and the ugly of it all.

I was lucky enough to work for a district that had the wisdom to provide “history alive” materials, which did teach that perspective.

So, while we never used the term “critical race theory,” we not only taught how white Americans obsessively oppressed anyone who got in the way of “Manifest Destiny,” we also validated the experiences of oppressed groups, including women, Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, Mexicans, the Irish, Jews and Catholics, and how they all contributed to the beautiful fabric we call the United States.

My nonwhite students finally “paid attention” and no longer felt invisible. We will never solve our problems as a country unless we teach it all.

Sandy Mishodek, Running Springs

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To the editor: The need to teach a more honest (in other words, brutal) version of U.S. history has been on my mind for a while now.

I remember in 2019, when the first episode of the HBO series “Watchmen” came out, seeing the sheer shock people had when they found out that the Tulsa massacre was a real event. And while I’d heard about it as a kid thanks to family members wanting to teach me some Black history, I had no idea just how horrible the actual event was until much later.

The same is true for how I learned about Manifest Destiny, which I was taught was the belief that helped Americans expand across the continent. What I didn’t know until much later was how it was also used to excuse the killings and removals of Native Americans.

All of this is to say that I agree we need to teach U.S. history more honestly. I know it will be hard for some people to reckon with this knowledge, but to properly “heal,” we must face the hard facts.

Dijonna Terry, Inglewood


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