|The Breed's Hill Gazette October 2009|
Who is Killing American History?
By Dan Shippey & Michael Burns
First of a 3 part series
September 18, 06:00 hours: BHI office. The following report comes out in the newspaper Tulsa World:
one in four
We know it’s happening. American history is not just being ignored, or forgotten; it is being terminated. Is this a natural illness, a sort of cultural dementia? Could it be accidental, like we just forget to teach history? For years, reports and studies have been coming out demonstrating students’ alarming lack of knowledge of our own history. With each new study, we fret for a moment before we return to our denial and go on with our lives. Very few people ask the big questions:
1) What or who is causing this?
2) Can we stop it?
I don’t have a team of detectives or D.N.A experts, but I’d done a fair amount of historic research. Like any T.V. investigator, I decided to begin collecting evidence at the scene. We get our history from three sources: school, entertainment, and the home, so those were my crime scenes. The blood was everywhere. I decided I would start with the first and arguably most likely scene--the schools.
Education is a top-down system. The universities set the standards, decide the philosophy and train the teachers and administrators for everything from preschool to doctorate degrees. If you want to know what is and is not being taught and why, this is where it begins. Everything from how a high school teacher teaches, to what they teach, and even how to think about teaching comes from the universities. Even the U.S. Department of Education (signed into law by Jimmy Carter in 1979 and expanded in power by George Bush under No Child Left Behind 2001) gets the standards that they are supposed to enforce from the university academics. But most of the elite colleges and universities have no American history requirement, and only one-fifth of colleges require any history course at all. When tested in their freshman and senior years, some students at prestigious schools like Yale, Brown, Cornell and Duke actually show negative learning. This means the unenlightened freshmen scored higher than the educated seniors. Is this a mistake, an error in the system, an oversight?
I had the lab results for the cause of death: traumatic asphyxia. History was being choked out. I still had to find the suspect and establish a motive. I started to look around at what had been stealing the oxygen, started asking questions. I quickly found out that my thinking was all backwards, a generation of philosophy long past. The question was not, “Why aren’t you teaching American History?” The question was, “Why would you teach American History?” My hours were suddenly being taken up with Michel Foucault, Social justice, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, Post Modernism, Cultural Theorists, Howard Zinn, Political Correctness, Relativism, Critical Pedagogy and Multiculturalism. This is in no way a complete list of the philosophies or methods being employed in the university today, but it’s a sample. If I could break it down into one common thought that they all held, one cultural unifying theory it would read like this:
The current society and culture is an oppressive product of Western civilization; any celebration of their system of thought, history or values would only reinforce and continue that oppression.
Here is a very brief rundown of the suspects…er…thinking we are dealing with. Consider this a higher education in three minutes; you can pay me the tuition later.
Foucault (Philosopher, sociologist, historian): “Do not look for progress or meaning in history; do not see the history of a given activity, of any segment of culture, as the development of rationality or of freedom; do not use any philosophical vocabulary to characterize the essence of such activity or the goal it serves.”
Social Justice Philosophy: contends that economic equality can be achieved through progressive taxation, income redistribution and property redistribution resulting in a state of “equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.”
Rousseau (Philosopher & writer):
“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said ‘This is mine,’ and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor.”
Postmodernism Philosophy: opposes any norms, unities, consensus, standing theories or established ideologies.
Marx (Philosopher, political theorist):
“The history of all previous societies has been the history of class struggles.”
(note: Marxists believe they hold the blueprint of a “moral society”)
Relativism: says you can't judge other cultures by the standards of your own, so why teach your culture or standards?
Howard Zinn (historian & political scientist):
“If the gods had
intended for people to vote, they would have given us candidates.”
“Objectivity (in history) is impossible, and it is also undesirable.”
Critical Pedagogy: espouses that all education is inherently political and all pedagogy (teaching) must be aware of this condition.
Multiculturalism: advocates extending equal status to all ethnic, religious and cultural groups without encouraging any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central.
Let’s take just the last system of thought on our list—multiculturalism--and run it up against foundational American history. The Declaration of Independence reads,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
But Multiculturalism stands against, “encouraging any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central.” Therefore this specific cultural statement of values cannot be encouraged as “central, predominant, essential or fundamental.” You can run the same statement from the Declaration up against any other theory or thinker on the list and it meets a similar end.
So I found motive, but there was no weapon here, no smoking gun. Old style historian (and old school patriot) David McCullough once said,
“You can't be a full participant in our democracy if you don't know our history.”
But did these academics really want to prevent students from becoming “full participants in our democracy”? Then I found this one:
“Allegiance to a nation is the biggest stumbling block to the creation of international government. National boundaries and the concept of sovereignty must be abolished. The quickest way to do this is to condition the young to another and broader alliance. Opinion favorable to international government will be developed in the social studies curriculum in the public schools.”
Who said that? Go ahead and take a guess. Was it Karl Marx?
Perhaps one of the others on the list above? Nope. It came
from inside the
Now I knew it was pre-meditated, but I still had two crime scenes that remained to be processed. It wasn’t like a game of Clue. In Clue you eliminate suspects; my list was growing. I left the world of Academia, and as I did I looked around at the students. Passed a couple of kids that stunk of patchouli. One was wearing a shirt with Che Guevara on it; the other kid’s simply read “Hope.” Not in this place.
Next episode: Entertainment.
For past articles, click HERE