The History channel’s 'America: The Story of Us' premiers its six-part series this Sunday.
By Gloria Goodale
“America: The Story of Us” debuts with a lead-in from no less a figure than President Obama, extolling the virtues that make up the American character and encouraging Americans to help shape the nation’s future through understanding a shared past.
“Our American story has never been inevitable,” the president says in the introduction. “It was made possible by ordinary people who kept their moral compass pointed straight and true when the way seemed treacherous, when the climb seemed steep, and when the future seemed uncertain. People who recognized a fundamental part of our American character: that we can remake ourselves–and our nation–to fit our larger dreams.”
The filmmakers clearly hope to tap a resonance between early settlers and the headlines of today, from reminding viewers of the Mayflower settlers yearning for religious freedoms, as well as their partnership with one tribe of Indians that helped to wipe out a rival tribe of native Americans, to the early tobacco farmers in Jamestown and the first black Americans, including the first to die in the Boston Massacre. The early militia’s fateful encounters with British redcoats, not to mention the first tea party activists in Boston Harbor are but a few more of the same lines clearly drawn from the present day to our past.
Sounds like Obama is whitewashing America's past again. As with his Inaugural Address, he's afraid to tell Americans anything but a fairy-tale version of history. Which may explain why he won't sign the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights or utter the word "genocide."
Will the first episode of America: The Story of Us cover the Mystic River massacre or King Philip's War? What will it say about the colonists' bounty on dead Indians or participation in the slave trade? Not a whole lot, judging from this article.
For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.
Below: "Actors play Powhattan Indians, near Jamestown settlement, in the new history channel series 'America: The Story of Us.'" (Charlie Sperring/AETN)