Americans think they disagree about their national history more than they actually do. Republicans think Democrats want to teach a history exclusively defined by shameful oppression and guilt, while Democrats believe Republicans want to overlook grave injustices like slavery and racism—yet both impressions are incorrect. For example, the proportion of Republicans who agree that “Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks should be taught as examples of Americans who fought for equality” is more than two times more than Democrats think (93% versus 35%). In another example, about twice as many Democrats believe “students should not be made to feel guilty or personally responsible for the errors of prior generations” than Republicans think (83% versus 43%). How can we close that perception gap? First, correcting misperceptions can reduce perception gaps. Second, we can all personally do our best to reduce our own perception gaps. Third, enter into dialogue with someone with a different political viewpoint. Fourth, help build an alternative social network ecosystem of people with a variety of viewpoints.
Can Americans Talk About Their History Without False Antagonism?