To the Editor:
An overdue tribute to the late Professor Joseph C. Morton of “On This Day” – a popular historical forum is badly needed.
Life made me an eighth-grade history teacher and high school janitor – 34 years apart. How history was “dumbed down” in that period amazes, amuses and appalls me.
I’ve met sane adults who thought Pocahontas and John Smith were Disney creations; whites taught Indians to scalp their foes; all presidents before Abraham Lincoln owned slaves; women couldn’t vote until 1920 nor blacks until 1964.
Most people don’t know “The Star-Spangled Banner” was four verses; that Texas and Hawaii were once independent nations; the pilgrims were not puritans; the Mormon Church once warred on the federal government; and organized crime predates Prohibition by decades.
Dirty secrets: Some free blacks owned slaves. So did the Five Civilized Tribes, who trod the Trail of Tears. At least three presidents had illegitimate children, another may have been gay. Whites as well as blacks were lynched. Fighting communists, we supported neo-fascists. And it’s hard criticizing the awfully corrupt NYPD since Sept. 11.
And those conspiracy nuts who think all presidents from Wilson to Johnson were pinkos? FDR had advance knowledge of Pearl Harbor; Kennedy was shot by almost everybody but Oswald; the moon landings were Hollywood fakes; the buildings falling on Sept. 11 were sabotaged from within.
I never met Professor Morton, but salute his memory. He told it true.