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Are Liberals Killing the Study of History?

by Sterling Rome Friday, Jun. 04, 2004 at 9:53 PM

A 2001 Colonial Williamsburg Foundation study revealed that a quarter of American teenagers didn't know what Independence Day is supposed to celebrate.

These same teens didn't know who fought in the Civil War, and couldn't even name the three branches of their government. Rather than confront the actual problem, let's imagine some of the stupefying excuses we are likely to hear regarding this study:

Maybe questions about American history are "culturally biased?" Perhaps the test didn't factor in the importance of self-esteem? Perchance, the concept of asking student's questions and expecting them to recite the answers isn't progressive? Why can't teenagers be tested on things they care about; like Playstation or Brittany Spears? Isn't American history just an invention of the "patriarchy" to hide their guilt anyway?

Don't laugh. These questions have all been asked before, and the folks that ask them do so with a straight face.

In a continuing effort to discredit or minimalize inconvenient facts that obstruct their world view, many "progressives" have embraced revisionist history. It is not enough to shape the politics of today; they also must erase any knowledge of the past that might not correspond with their current argument.

The results of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation study simply reflect the effectiveness of attacking history. If we cannot actually get students to study history, then we can at least dumb down instruction to the point that people won't know anything anyway.

In either case, the outcome is a dependent people who willingly submit to an all-wise, all-powerful government of elites whose assertions go unchallenged.

Revisionist history in arcane publications or remote debating societies is a danger to no one in particular, but when the teaching of history is watered down to the point of obsolescence, teenagers get their history from only one source - the establishment media.

Although there are many wonderful and expert sources for accurate historical information in our society (like the library!), the establishment media does little to offset the growing trend of disregarding our past.

For every 'History Channel' there are ten channels devoted to music videos or celebrity gossip. For every thousand who deem a series like "The American President" entertainment, there are millions who deem Oliver Stone's film "JFK" a documentary.

The crux of the dilemma over teaching, understanding, and honoring history is the inherent difference between liberal and conservative.

Many conservatives have great regard for history as a guide and as an indication of what to expect from the future, while many liberals have a utopian view of society that requires a suspension of disbelief in order to be seen as practical.

Because much of current liberal politics is built on theory rather than practice, history can be an awful inconvenience.

So-called 'Progressives' can ill afford an electorate versed in political and cultural history, so their only option is to debunk historical truths that contradict them, or to argue that history is always relative to interpretation.

Herein lies the real danger to society as a whole. Questioning history in an effort to uncover the truth is healthy. Refuting a truth (regardless of its validity) because it doesn't support a political theory is the death-knell of liberty.

My good friend Joe teaches history at a public school in Pennsylvania. Joe tells me he is constantly frustrated by the paltry amount of time history receives in the modern curriculum. He is not only asked to teach history to his students, he is asked to find a way to make them understand why it is important to know in the first place.

Since our progressive society has emboldened our children to deem themselves worthy of deciding what they need to be taught, history doesn't stand a chance.

Not knowing where society has been, or what earlier generations have had to suffer through leads to the next generation being both overly self-righteous and virtually incapable of respect.

A further side effect is the current deification of the "self" - as young people come to believe that nothing can be more important than their own selfish whims and desires.

Ignorance to the importance of history, and thus the importance of liberal democracy, is a fairly good explanation as to why voter turnout in our nation continues to fall, and why so many of our disassociated youth do not even recognize the hypocrisy of, for example, protesting against global trade - and then buying a Japanese video game.

If our society forgets the sacrifices that led to our founding, to our Constitution, to our Union, and to our dominant role in the world, then it will soon be as if none of those sacrifices were ever made.

Even those citizens who so openly revile our country have cause to fear such an occurrence, for when freedom is lost, it is lost even to those who rebuke it.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 5 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
OneEyedMan KPC Friday, Jun. 04, 2004 at 10:03 PM
Throw the kids into the army or jail ... or factories American Enterprise Institute Friday, Jun. 04, 2004 at 10:19 PM
Challenge to Debate: 'JFK' Is Real History, Though Incomplete Carolina Friday, Jun. 04, 2004 at 11:48 PM
Please explain Sheepdog Saturday, Jun. 05, 2004 at 12:00 AM
leftists LOVE history more rational Saturday, Jun. 05, 2004 at 5:13 PM

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