Oklahoma Looks To Ban AP US History To Preserve 'American Exceptionalism'

by John Haltiwanger

An Oklahoma legislative committee just passed a bill that would ban the teaching of Advanced Placement (AP) US History in the state's schools, Tulsa World reports.

It passed 11-4, with all of the Republicans in the House Common Education Committee voting for the bill and all of the Democrats voting against it.

State Rep. Dan Fisher (R) introduced the bill earlier this month.

Fisher and other Oklahoma conservatives feel that the current AP US History curriculum is too negative in terms of the way it presents American history. They contend it doesn't properly espouse the notion of "American exceptionalism."

In their view, the current AP US History course overwhelmingly concentrates on the unfavorable aspects of our country's history.

The bill calls for AP US History to be defunded in Oklahoma until the College Board reforms the curriculum.

Additionally, it demands the state Board of Education formulate a US History course to replace the now-banned AP class.

Many have interpreted this controversial move as a blatant attempt to rewrite and ignore history and have taken to Twitter to express their sentiments on these developments.

Oklahoma votes to ban teaching AP History- will replace it with BS history. — Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) February 18, 2015
Oklahoma, Georgia, and other southern states seek to ban, alter, or reject AP History b/c they don't like it points out we aren't perfect. — Ryan LaFlamme (@trickybluemage) February 18, 2015
So does the American Exceptionalist AP history class even have a chapter on slavery or is that not patriotic? #Oklahoma — Beard Czar (@jiggatravels) February 18, 2015
Oklahoma advances a bill to ban AP US History. What will they replace it with? I hope it's Westeros History. Or Middle Earth History — Tim Royers (@bugeatergames) February 18, 2015
Are you kidding me, Oklahoma? I'm so grateful for my AP US History course and the eye-opening perspective it gave me. — Emily Smith Pearce (@emilysmithpearc) February 18, 2015

It comes as no surprise that people are frustrated by this move.

The fact of the matter is that US history has both inspirational and shameful segments, but we can't only tell one side of the story.

It's vital that we have honest and open conversations about the past in order to understand the convoluted nature of the present. This is the only way to build a better and brighter future.

While it might be painful and difficult to acknowledge the darker chapters of American history, it's also necessary.

Conservatives in Oklahoma want to ensure students continue to believe in "American exceptionalism." Perhaps they should entertain the idea that this country would be truly exceptional if it didn't gloss over its many transgressions.

The United States is far from perfect, and only through candid conversations about its past can we hope to address its many shortcomings. True patriotism is defined by the desire to see one's country improve.

This can never happen if we attempt to sugarcoat our history.

It's no secret the US has engaged in many dubious activities both domestic and international throughout its existence.

Even recently, this country has betrayed the values upon which it was founded.

From slavery and Vietnam to torture and drone strikes, this country has often fallen short in terms of setting an example for both its citizens and the wider world.

This doesn't mean America hasn't also accomplished great things, nor does it suggest it doesn't have the potential to improve.

Yet, by denying or ignoring even minute aspects of our history, we sacrifice any hope of establishing a truly exceptional America.

Citations: Oklahoma legislative committee questions legality of Advanced Placement courses in public schools (Tulsa World), Oklahoma House Panel Votes To Eliminate AP US History Course (Talking Points Memo), Meet The Man Behind The Rights AP History Freak Out (Talking Points Memo)