Posted on May 25, 2010



In the late 1840s, following a brief war with Mexico, the United States acquired the present day states of California, Nevada and Utah, along with parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming. Counting Texas, which was annexed before the war, about a third of the continental United States is former Mexican territory.

Was the Mexican War a victory for the “Empire of Liberty,” as its advocates maintained, or did America prey on a weaker neighbor to advance its imperial designs?

Those aren’t questions you’ll hear in most public schools’ U. S. history classes, which simply assume American righteousness. But you’re also unlikely to hear these questions asked in “ethnic studies” classes, which often assume the opposite.

We need to treat students as individuals and engage them in the controversies of our nation’s history. All people should be treated as individuals in our great nation, and not on the basis of race.

We can start with the Mexican War. Among Americans criticizing that War were Abraham Lincoln and Henry Daniel Thoreau, who famously spent a night in jail to protest that war.

Let us expose people to the great diversity of people and ideas that make up America. And most of all, individuals should make up their own minds about America, Mexico and everything else.