I was appalled by much of what I learned in the first part of Module 1, ranging from the use of Zyclon B at the Mexican border, to the forced adoptions of Native Americans, to the use of slave women as guinea pigs for painful medical procedures. That said, I found myself making excuses for the atrocities committed, because I deeply want to believe that people are good at heart. I told myself that maybe it made sense to try to ensure the cleanliness and prevent disease by "treating" migrant workers at the border - surely the people administering these chemicals didn't know their harmful effects. I told myself that the social workers removing Native Americans from their homes did so with the best intentions, believing that their lifestyle was not safe for these children (Native Americans interviewed talked about a large number of family members sharing a single home). I can forgive civilians who are brainwashed into believing that they are doing the right thing, because I see a bit of that in myself - that naivety and willingness to trust others.
But what is inexcusable is the role of the US government, who encouraged and enforced these racist ideologies and practices. I was most surprised to learn of medical experiments performed on black men in New York, a relatively socially-liberal state, as recently as the 90s! Even more damning is the way these policies have been intentionally excluded from history books, while US students spend months judging Germany for the crimes they committed in the Holocaust. Maybe if we knew our own history of racism we could feel appropriate shame as a country that would inspire us to do better now and in the future.