Essay on Humanity's Heroes: Heroification

Essay on Humanity's Heroes: Heroification

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Loewen defines heroification as “a degenerative process (much like calcification) that makes people over into heroes” (Loewen 11). During this process, negative or controversial facts are often ignored or altered in regards to these heroes, which create “perfect creatures without conflicts, pain, credibility, or human interest (Loewen 11). When one changes or omits facts concerning figures in history for this type of glorification, we are left with an invented story of the event or person; in other words, history has become a myth. History textbooks are filled with these types of glorifications, especially older texts. The purpose of heroification is to present events or people in a favorable light and to give ideal role models in which to follow. In my own words, I call Loewen’s heroification an effective form of brainwashing. For example, I was always taught that the Civil War was fought to free slaves, but later learned this war was about states succeeding from the Union. Many people still believe the Emancipation Proclamation’s purpose was to free the slaves; however, it was actually the last resort Lincoln used to win the Civil War. Of course, this is not how these events were portrayed to most of us in History class. Heroification alters the purpose of these events so that we, as citizens, can feel proud that America did away with slavery because our forefathers felt it was morally wrong. Loewen also points out how heroification can lead to role models in the case of Helen Keller, “the blind and deaf girl who overcame her physical handicaps, as an inspiration to generations of schoolchildren” (Loewen 12). The problem with Keller being used as an exemplary model for American schoolchildren is that only her early life is portr...


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...luded his attitude towards blacks. He appointed whites to offices reserved for blacks, segregated the navy, and threw African American leaders out of his office. Of course, textbooks omit these facts about Wilson because his behavior was disgraceful and offensive. If these facts were known, Loewen feels “No black person could ever consider Woodrow Wilson a hero” (Loewen 20). I personally have not studied Wilson in-depth, but did realize he fell into the category of a racist. I also believe that “Americans need to learn from the Wilson era, that there is a connection between racist presidential leadership and like-minded public response” (Loewen 21). I think this an important factor when considering who to vote for at the polls.



Works Cited

Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: Touchstone, 2007.


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