The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Children should learn an accurate history, even if it’s painful

Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin at a campaign rally in Roanoke, Va., on Oct. 27.
Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin at a campaign rally in Roanoke, Va., on Oct. 27. (Steve Helber/AP)
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Regarding the Oct. 28 Style article “Youngkin’s obscene argument against Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’”:

When I was in the eighth grade, I gave a book report on Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl.” It was my first introduction to the horrors of the Holocaust, and it saddened me deeply, then and now, to know there are people alive who could commit those heinous acts. In high school, I learned of the thoughtless destruction in the Crusades, the insane cruelty of the Salem witch trials and the unthinkable death tolls of the American Civil War, two World Wars and other wars conducted around the world. You can’t read a single history book without encountering truly shocking acts of inhumanity.

Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin’s political advertisement claims that a constituent’s son has nightmares after reading Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that recounts the devastating emotional consequences of a formerly enslaved woman’s desperate act. I get it. You don’t have to be in high school to be troubled by that story. You only have to be human.

Should teens be protected from stories or facts about the United States’ history of enslaving our fellow humans? At what age would Mr. Youngkin deem a student mature enough to be exposed to it? Would he limit their access to world history as well? My examples above are but a fraction of the gruesome violence every high schooler today will encounter in history classes, films and video games.

Barbara Brennan, Arlington

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