History has been in the news a lot lately. Specifically, the ignorance of it.
When our homeschooled children were young, we had some trouble finding American history texts that met our requirements. Christian-themed material leaned a bit too heavily into the importance of every missionary to ever hit the pioneer trail, and modern texts were such a morass of misinformation as to make them more fantasy than fact. We ended up finding a series of politically incorrect books written in 1962 that covered history with greater accuracy. We supplemented modern history with other materials.
Sadly, public schoolchildren are not as fortunate when it comes to learning this critical subject. Instead, they’re spoon-fed a selection of cherry-picked events that paints history as, well, more fantasy than fact. As a result, Thanksgiving has become an event for public flagellation and the 1619 Project assures tender young schoolchildren that America is a place of evil intent and nefarious crimes.
But why is history so important? In this highly connected age of the Internet of Things, why is it necessary to understand anything that happened before the invention of smartphones?
In a poll conducted by Victims of Communism, only 57% of millennials believe the Declaration of Independence (which made free men out of slaves) better guarantees freedom and equality over the Communist Manifesto (which makes slaves out of free men). Fifteen percent of millennials think “the world would be better off if the Soviet Union still existed.” Seventy percent of millennials said they are likely to vote socialist.
Well, why not? They’re being taught the Instagram version of socialism in which everything is perky and beautiful. They’re never taught the version of socialism that has claimed hundreds of millions of lives in the 20th century. They pretend the current events in Venezuela don’t exist (or perhaps can be blamed on Trump).
“So far, we have escaped the curse of socialism, which leaves societies broken, dispirited, and impoverished,” writes author and commentator Jarrett Stepman. “But a troubling collapse in a basic understanding of our history, along with the malignant attempt to reframe our country’s origins to make us more susceptible to doctrines outside our tradition, means that the specter of socialism now hangs over us. We accept socialism only by rejecting America’s most essential qualities.”
Rewriting history is a popular pastime among leftists – often right in front of our eyes. (Witness what’s happening with the Capitol riots less than two months ago.) History becomes nothing more than a political tool.
This is why history is so important.
In fact, the left knows precisely how important the teaching of accurate history is. That’s why they’re not permitting it in public schools and universities. The current lies taught in American public schools – the joys of socialism, the absolute refusal to acknowledge its legacy of horrors and economic tragedy – means generations of schoolchildren are being taught propaganda purely for political gain. Y’know, just like what happened in Soviet Russia. Oh wait, that’s not taught in school either. (To understand how Soviet propaganda worked among children, read this sobering article.)
Now we have people who honestly believe that Josef Stalin (whose legacy of collectivism, famine, terror campaigns, disease, war and Gulag mortality resulted in as many as 20 million deaths) was just a swell guy, and the “achievements” of Mao Zedong (whose Communist régime was responsible for the death of as many as 76 million Chinese citizens) outweigh his “mistakes.”
“Today’s leftists, socialists and progressives would bristle at the suggestion that their agenda differs little from that of past tyrants,” noted the incomparable economist Walter Williams. “They should keep in mind that the origins of the unspeakable horrors of Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism did not begin in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. Those horrors were simply the result of a long evolution of ideas leading to a consolidation of power in the central government in the quest for ‘social justice.’”
The present is always embedded in the past. Always. That’s why history is important.
Ironically, there seems to be a yearning among ignorant students to learn the truth about our unique heritage of rights and freedoms. Consider this: Bill Jacobson (founder/publisher of Legal Insurrection and clinical professor of law and director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell Law School) was asked to speak at über left-leaning Vassar College on the subject of hate speech and free speech. Predictably, the campus “completely melted down.” Rumors were passed that he was a white supremacist, security was intense, and students and faculty were spoiling for a fight.
What followed was amazing. Jacobson covered the true meaning behind the Bill of Rights. Apparently you could have heard a pin drop in the lecture hall as students learned – apparently for the first time in their academic lives – what these rights are, why they’re so critical and the reason the Founding Fathers saw fit to outline them. The question-and-answer period following Jacobson’s lecture lasted well into the night as students asked intelligent and penetrating questions.
“One thing it taught me is that there is a hunger out there on behalf of students to learn about what you would think are basic civic lessons that they’ve never had,” related Jacobson. “And they’ve never had anybody explain it to them, and why it’s important, and why even allowing speech you consider offensive is really important.”
This, folks, is the history our younger generations are actively being prevented from learning.
The seduction and siren-call of a promised communist utopia is hard to resist, despite the hundreds of millions of dead bodies littering the wayside. (I don’t see a stampede to cross the border into North Korea.) When people are ignorant of history, their minds can be filled with whatever propaganda power-mad tyrants (intent on controlling them) can provide. Good becomes evil and evil becomes good.
George Orwell said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Writer G.K. Chesterton noted, “Liberty is traditional and conservative; it remembers its legends and its heroes. But tyranny is always young and seemingly innocent, and asks us to forget the past.”
But we cannot forget the past … or we are doomed to repeat it.
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