June 25th, 2007

The unintended consequences of teaching expurgated history

I don’t know about you, but I hated the subject “history” in school. School history courses were almost uniformly boring, and this is a source of wonder to me because history itself is almost unfailingly fascinating and even gripping. To make history dull, one has to work at it.

But work at it they did. They purposely left out (and continue to leave out—although what is deleted now is different than it used to be) the good stuff.

In my day, what was left out was anything that was too complex, and also anything that conflicted with the perception of America as a righteous and near-perfect place—which included any personal foibles and imperfections of the Founding Fathers (and of course, anything remotely related to sex). What’s left out today is anything that isn’t politically correct on either side (which of course is virtually everything of truth) and anything that might make the US look good (I’m engaging in only a slight bit of hyperbole there, I’m afraid).

In short, anything of interest is left out, as well as anything that would meaningfully connect the teaching of history with the problems we are facing today—which would be what would make it most interesting and most helpful.

The consequences of putting history into a blender and turning it into bland, featureless, and easily digestible pap is not just having students who are bored to tears, although that would be bad enough. Nor is it just that history textbooks now have a strong bias on the Left, although that isn’t a good thing either. The worst effect is that such an approach to the teaching of history creates an ignorant and naive populace that is even more condemned than would otherwise be the case to repeat history’s errors.

I’m convinced, for example, that failure to properly teach the history of the wars that we have fought in the past—their complications, controversies, and errors, as well as what led to them and what was accomplished by them—has led to unrealistic and simplistic expectations of warfare itself.

And, come to think of it, perhaps this is not an unintended consequence; it’s possible that the current overarching Leftist bias of the writers of today’s textbooks include a pacifist agenda, of which this is part.

Or perhaps not. I’m not sure it matters all that much, because the effects are the same: a populace that cannot understand what is happening now because it cannot intelligently analyze its own past and apply it to the present. Of course, how to apply that past to the present is a subject on which reasonable—and even well-informed—people can and will differ.

But even though we can never know the truth of what happened in the past with absolute certainly, we can most definitely approximate that truth far better than we’ve been doing so far in our classrooms. Our future may depend on it.

65 Responses to “The unintended consequences of teaching expurgated history”

  1. stumbley Says:

    Neo, this is how it happens, and why it has happened in America. I’m afraid the KGB succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

  2. stumbley Says:

    PIMF.

    Would have helped to cite the thing I’m talking about:

    http://pajamasmedia.com/2007/06/from_the_kgb_playbook_demorali.php

  3. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Folk music might have been good for something. You may recall the performers intro-ing a song with a short explanation, sometimes of history.
    How can you sing outrage about the Spring Hill Mine Disaster if nobody’s heard of it?
    So, as a kind of accident, a couple of lines from an old album–Gibson and Camp–surfaced.
    “St. Clair was our commander
    Which may remembered be.
    For we lost nine hundred comrades
    In that dreadful territory.”

    Oh,
    “For the tomahawk and
    Scalping knife
    were to be their awful fate.”

    If memory serves–which it frequently does not–that may refer to the Battle of The River Raisin, in one of the many fights in what has been referred to as the Sixty Years’ War, the fight for the Great Lakes Basin.

    Just for fun. If the population of the country was ten million at the time, the impact of 900 dead would have been the equivalent of 27,000 dead today. But it would have been worse, since the units involved came from the thinly populated Old Northwest. So it would be like 27,000 dead from, say, Nevada.

    Stuff like that would be good to know, but most young people today know nothing of such issues, and, in the second place, don’t think such issues should affect what they really feel seriously about. They are, of course, and their feelings, the navel of the universe. Everything else circles at a distance and is not relevant.

    I believe I’ll start looking for the Battle of The River Raisin. It was bad, since the cry, “Remember the Raisin” was current thereafter.

  4. alphie Says:

    “Left-wing bias” = not being pro-slavery?

  5. Richard Aubrey Says:

    alphie.
    Your schtick is worn out. Lame. Boring. Its implication that only those who think (defined as using old mj-fueled speculation) as you do are of the morally superior class has even ceased to be annoying.
    It’s not quite the background noise one can easily ignore.
    It’s sort of like a hangnail.

    Go away.

  6. Gerard Says:

    In California, a state that adopts textbooks for all districts and spends about $400 million a year doing so, the following is “required” of any publisher wishing to sell history textbooks in California:

    “Materials for studying the life and contributions of Cesar E. Chavez and the history of the farm labor movement and of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement shall be included at each grade level, with suggestions for supporting the respective holidays in honor of those men and the accompanying activities (Education Code sections
    51008 and 60200.6, respectively). ”

    That’s each and every grade level, just so kids don’t miss the point.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    Go away.

    Evil never goes away Richard, it just… festers so to speak. Becomes greater and more serious. Eradicate them once, and they will come back.

    Course it is not Alphie’s fault. Just check out what he has been exposed to.

    Brain washing

    When they get you young, and you grow old believing in the same lies that you were fed when you were younger, like the Boomer 60s, then that kind of belief system imprints itself upon your personality. Evil then has taken away your free will, because you are who you are due to the actions and beliefs of others, and not due to your own choices.

    To a certain we are helped by others, but when you shape a person’s personality and his way of thinking, that is not normal help. That is control, and when you control a brainwashed person like that, the brainwashed person no longer has free will anymore.

    Stumb’s link is not working for me, but you can see the youtube vid in my link.

    To Neo, while it may not matter concerning the effects, it does matter concerning the solution. Meaning, what you do to solve unintended consequences are not the same things as you do to solve intended consequences. Unintended consequences may be solved through reason and education and dialogue. Intended consequences must be solved with violence, conflict, execution, and force.

    They must be made to no longer wish to brainwash the new generation. Whereas if people are ignorant and are doing harm on accident, then simply educating them would be enough to solve the problem.

  8. Hyman Rosen Says:

    So, Neo, is it your sense that teaching schoolchildren the details of, say, the Battle of Gallipoli would make them more likely to support the war in Iraq, or less?

  9. alphie Says:

    Haha, Richard,

    Let’s face facts: for some states, American History is nothing but one long tale of theft, slavery, treason, defeat, etc.

    It’s only natural to try to hide this shame behind a cloud of phony patriotism, claims of left-wing bias and…revisionist history.

    Nothing wrong with it really, unless we base American policies on this mythology, of course.

    Then we get things like the Iraq fiasco.

  10. stumbley Says:

    Hyman:

    That’s a little like saying seeing “Saving Private Ryan” would serve the same purpose (my guess is that you think Gallipoli would obviate against war). A lot of young people saw “Ryan”—didn’t prevent them from volunteering or serving.

    Your point?

  11. gcotharn Says:

    Madrassas teach hatred and violence. Our schools teach fantasy and surrender.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    Hyman Rosen: teaching the Battle of Gallipoli in the context of teaching about military history and warfare in general, including that of civil wars and insurgencies and terrorist activities (including, for example, the history of the war against the Barbary Pirates), would be a good idea. And not because it would have a certain effect on the Iraq War, but because it would create an informed populace, which I believe is one of the major goals of teaching history.

    Ymar: I absolutely agree about it mattering as to solutions (I was thinking that even as I wrote the original piece).

  13. Gerard Says:

    “American History is nothing but one long tale of theft, slavery, treason, defeat, etc.”

    Alphie, please not to confuse your personal history with that of the nation. Thank you.

  14. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Gallipoli would militate against screwing up in war. Sounds good to me.
    Problem is, as Robert Leckie once remarked, in the terrible ledgers of war, all the entries are in red.
    War is hell, as Sherman said (who would know) and it cannot be refined.
    The question is what is gained and what is lost.
    And if the study of the Battle of Gallipoli had convinced the Germans not to start WW II, that would have been a great result. But, once the war started, the utility of that study would have been how not to run an amphibious invasion.

    Speculating here, the terrs may have studied either Gallipoli or Desert Storm, or whatever. And decided they had not a prayer of standing up to a civilized nation in conventional war. As Hanson says, the west does that really, really well.
    So the result, hypothetically, of the study of the Battle of Gallipoli would be to go for the assymetric warfare.

    I should say it’s refreshing to see liberals finally concerned about the deaths of US soldiers. Now that they have a political value.

  15. alphie Says:

    When it comes to history, Gerald, as John Edwards says, there are two Americas.

    Dont confuse the two, or conflate them.

    A study of “solutions” should include a study of “problems” also.

    Gallipoli, for example, was an attempt to solve a problem that didn’t exist.

    Ol’ Churchill bounced back from that failure, though.

  16. Tom Says:

    I am happy to agree entirely with Ymar on this one! And of course with Neo.

  17. Good Ole Charlie Says:

    Alphie:

    Psst.

    Pal: you’re a bloody bore.

    come or go, it makes no difference to me. You have nothing to say or contribute, so I just bleep you out.

    You can continue to waste electrons, Alphie. Machts nichts to me.

  18. Trimegistus Says:

    Um, Alphie? Gallipoli was an attempt to solve the problem of unending bloody attrition warfare in Flanders. You’re saying that didn’t exist?

    Maybe you didn’t learn much history in school.

  19. stumbley Says:

    Learned nothing. Anywhere.

  20. alphie Says:

    No, Gallipoli was an attempt to open a hopeless, indefensible supply route to an “ally” that would soon fall to revolution and withdraw from the war anyway.

  21. Lorenzo aka erudito Says:

    Gallipoli would have been particularly good for Iraq because it is a classic case of a military operation ignoring pre-war planning. I believe the Admiralty had studied the problem and concluded the way to force the Dardanelles was in a joint Army-Navy operation. If they had tried that first time around, it would almost certainly have worked.

    There is little doubt that poor (indeed, as far as I can see, perfunctory) after-you-win planning has a great deal to do with how Iraq has turned out.

    As for American history, all countries have bad things in their history. Still, countries where folk risk their lives to try and move there clearly are doing major things right.

  22. expat Says:

    Neo, there must be something in the air because I just pulled out “The Language Police” a few days ago and started rereading parts. I think I was prompted by reading some of the feminist reactions to “The Dangerous Book for Boys.” I was amazed at the picture they had of pre-NOW women. Few seem to know that pre-pill women were in a very different situation and that social institutions had evolved to provide stability to raise children. They talk as though cooking and sewing were hobbies designed to keep women from “real” work. These critics seem totally unable to imagine a world in which a car didn’t come with the 16th birthday, meals didn’t come in microwaveable bags, and recycling meant altering one coat to fit 2 or 3 kids. The unliberated women of my mother’s and grandmother’s generation had lives that were probably more meaningful than today’s journalists who worry about whether they can get another Brittany crotch shot before the next deadline.

    The ignorance of history seems total–about everyday life as well as great events. It is pathetic that our schools and colleges have let it come to this.

  23. Mark Says:

    One thing that studying history would teach is that sometimes there ARE bad guys out there, and that some of them have been at it for centuries.

    Another thing it might teach is that even if the outcome isn’t perfect, it may be a darn sight better than what happens when you don’t try.

    And it might also teach that other ages have had problems, and worked their way through them. “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulties, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so too we must think anew, and act anew.”

    Or, if you like, “… men will still say ‘This was their finest hour’.”

    It would also help to teach the full Star Spangled Banner, including the third verse: “Oh where is that band/Who so vauntingly swore/That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion/A home and a country would leave us no more?/Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.”

  24. Joe the Troll Says:

    Hello, Neo. I came here via Don’s blogroll.

    I haven’t seen the new history books, as I’ve been out of school for about 24 years now, but you are right about the bias that existed back in the day. America was unimpeachable in both act and intent in those books. I think what you’re discussing here is a symptom of a greater ill, and one perpetrated both by schools and parents. That is our current preference for belief over fact. In today’s America, it is par for the course that people demand – and get- respect for whatever they want to believe, rather than what has been proven. You can show people fact after fact after fact, but if you show any disrespect for what people choose to believe, even if the facts contradict it, then you are some kind of awful person. Therefore, the lessons of history are rendered useless, because if people don’t like a fact – for example, the small-pox riddled blankets given to native tribes to wipe them out – then all they have to do is claim non-belief, and it is the onus of everyone else to respect that. The repeated vetoing of funding for stem -cell research is a great example. Bush has “saved” the lives of fetuses that are going to be discarded anyway. They will not grow to be babies, much less Republicans, yet the facts are easily dismissed in favor of a “belief.”

  25. RedPencil Says:

    Trivia of ignorance:

    Just knowing some of the pretty basic sequences of what happened in the recent world wars would help prevent a LOT of knee jerk stupidities.

    For example I have spoken to several people (ranging in age from 15 to 50, I am sad to report, and including an ex boss) who think that Pearl Harbor made perfect sense as retaliation for Hiroshima!

    And when I point out that Pearl Harbor happened FIRST, this is waved away as somehow trivial and irrelevant.

    Sigh.

  26. alphie Says:

    Wow, Mark,

    Your history lessons are what got us into the Iraq fiasco in the first place.

    How about some realistic history lessons?

    I’ll start in the 20th century to avoid offending certain people’s delicate historical sensibilities:

    Phillipine-American War – Empires just ain’t worth the trouble these days.

    WWI – If possible, jump in on the winning side near the end and claim glory.

    WWII – ditto

    Korean War – During a war, avoid making new enemies, especially China.

    Vietnam War – Don’t back losers.

    Gulf War – The perfect war…a clear goal achieved with over overwhelming force.

    Iraq War – See:Phillipine-American War.

  27. Ed Driscoll.com Says:

    Society’s Collective Lobotomy, Applied One Student At A Time…

    Neo-Neocon explores “The unintended consequences of teaching expurgated history”:In my day, what was left out was anything that was too complex, and also anything that conflicted with the perception of America as a righteous and near-perfect place—w…

  28. stumbley Says:

    alph’s 5:38 just proved my 4:06.

  29. Gerard Says:

    Well, Alphy, as the editor of a long and detailed history of the the Phillipine war (David Bain, Sitting in Darkness), I’d have to say that you just don’t know what you’re talking about. Perhaps some more reading of history and less idle opining would be a good thing to do at this point.

    On second thought, since you think the pattern of WWI and II were “jump in on the winning side near the end and claim glory.” you might set aside about 5 years for study.

    We’ll wait here for you.

  30. alphie Says:

    logosjournal.comI see your guy borrowed his title from Twain’s famous anti-Imperialism stement that he made during the Phillipine slaughter, Gerald.

    So, having not read the book, I’ll guess your author actually agrees with me.

    Here’s that Mark Twain statement, To the Person Sitting in Darkness,” about what a fraud “Spreading Democracy” is:

    http://www.logosjournal.com/issue_4.3/twain.htm

  31. Sally Says:

    Joe the troll: In today’s America, it is par for the course that people demand – and get- respect for whatever they want to believe, rather than what has been proven.

    Ah, so true — just look at the Goracle’s adoring masses, for example. Or Mr. Sicko, Michael Moore, and his faithful herds. Or the Rosie O’Donnell fan club! Or, speaking of paranoids, all the sad dupes who think Chomsky still has any marbles left. Etc., etc.

    Or look at our other little troll, alphie, who illustrates that what a whole spectrum of people want to believe these days is that their own country and culture is their enemy, thus making common cause with anyone bold enough to attack it (not them themselves of course).

  32. alphie Says:

    Nice try, Sally.

    I’d respond to your phony attempts to conflate “America” with the fools running our current grubby little attempts at Empire, but, as I linked to Twain, and they apply so well to Iraq, I’ll just post a few of his brilliant words instead:

    It is a distress to look on and note the mismoves, they are so strange and so awkward. Mr. Chamberlain manufactures a war out of materials so inadequate and so fanciful that they make the boxes grieve and the gallery laugh, and he tries hard to persuade himself that it isn’t purely a private raid for cash, but has a sort of dim, vague respectability about it somewhere, if he could only find the spot; and that, by and by, he can scour the flag clean again after he has finished dragging it through the mud, and make it shine and flash in the vault of heaven once more as it had shone and flashed there a thousand years in the world’s respect until he laid his unfaithful hand upon it.

  33. Sally Says:

    Nice try, Sally.

    Don’t mention it, alph. Your attempt to pass yourself off as a Twain admirer, however, isn’t much even as a try. Mark Twain’s critiques had their origins in a respect for his country and its promise that is the polar opposite of the sordid and twisted hate that animates so much of what’s left of the left these days — you know, those people for whom “American History is nothing but one long tale of theft, slavery, treason, defeat, etc.” Such people would hardly notice a flag dragged through the mud — mud’s their natural element.

  34. alphie Says:

    Aaah, nice try again, Sally.

    I didn’t descibe American history that way…just certain states’ history.

    19 months until the flag scrubbing begins.

    I hope y’all will pitch in.

  35. Jim Rockford Says:

    Alphie is an idiot of course.

    The Philippines among other things provided an absolutely necessary proving ground for the men, equipment, tactics, and strategy for successfully fighting the Japanese. Smedly Butler may have later styled himself the “gangster for Capitalism” but it was those expeditionary moments that provided the USMC with the ability to fight the Japanese who were formidable opponents.

    At any rate, Twain besides (who was great as a satirist but sucked as a businessman and strategist, he went bankrupt twice over stupid typewriter investments) whoever grabbed the Philippines first (US or Japan) would rule the commerce in the Eastern Pacific. Since I am American and proud of it, I preferred my country win.

    However, you have to look DEEPER into what motivates Alphie: rigid, priestly defense of privilege.

    Alphie is a PRIEST. His religion is privilege. He defends the old regime, that of liberal privilege, self-loathing, trans-nationalism, and closed ranks. If you think of him in terms of a long-serving Cardinal in the Medieval Church you get the idea.

    Above all, Alphie finds nationalism, conflict, war, and so on profoundly threatening because it can promote men like Ike, or Grant, or Sherman into the forefront. A war allows even ordinary men to advance. Look at the hated GI Bill, which put all sorts of ordinary men into College instead of the old elite.

    OF COURSE Alphie hates America and can take no pride in the mountain of young men who died defending her freedoms. America like all things human is not and never will be perfect. Thus Alphie shows his upper-class status by hating her, and showing how elite he is.

    In former times he would have worn expensive clothes, and lived in expensive houses, but the thing that galls the elite the most is that ordinary people can have nice lives too. Dress like an elite. Even go to Elite schools. Horrors! What can the priesthood do?

    I got it: promote self-loathing and stagnation so that only the truly special in the priesthood already can prosper. [Note the elite, priestly emphasis that America has no enemies and thus no need for soldiers in her defense.] Midway, Coral Sea, the Battle of the Atlantic, etc. were all close-run things that required heroic levels of sacrifice to win.

    Oh and Alphie: the LEFT was the principal reason that the US did not enter into the War against Hitler. Pete Seeger sang against “Mr. Roosevelt’s War” and received a DAR award for his anti-War records. Charlie Chaplin urged workers to “not participate in war” to solve the problem. Both were dutiful slaves to Stalin who at the time 1939-1941 was allied with Hitler. So the Left joined (as today) the isolationist far-Right in staying out of WWII. Because the elites of course were Stalin’s Priests.

    Of course Stalin is dead, as his religion, and the only thing today’s elites worship is their own status. But I think it’s telling that the Flag, Patriotism, love of country, military service all strongly correlate to middle and working class status, and the Left’s hatred of America and it’s military correlates to upper-class twit status.

  36. Jen Says:

    Joe the Troll makes a good point about how our belief systems can interfere with our understanding and interpretation of facts, or even our ability to accept facts. When you know that people, including history professors and journalists, sometimes get things wrong, you become skeptical and your personal belief system can become the measure by which you judge the truth of a “fact”.

    But if we are sincerely seeking truth, we will look for corroboration and apply rigorous logic to facts, and be willing to accept those which still stand up as true, even when they do not accord with our belief system. I think this can be a difficult, even wrenching thing to do, and I think Neo speaks to this in her whole “a mind is a terrible thing to change” series.

    But I think what is most difficult to accept is the idea that your belief system can be BOTH right and wrong. America can be extraordinarily good. America can also be responsible for some pretty terrible things. Our forefathers gave us some of the most brilliant political writings and theories the world had ever known. They also kept slaves. So are we good or bad? I think the only real answer to this is: yes.

    We need to be able to develop belief systems which are responsive to facts and can change as new information becomes available. And we need to really recognize that there will ALWAYS be new information. And for this we need better, more accurate information about the past.

    BTW, Joe. I do note that the specific examples you gave of facts people have had a hard time accepting were aimed directly at the perceived belief systems of the right. I hope you recognize, first of all that this is a problem of the human condition, and hardly contingent upon one’s position on the political spectrum. Secondly, I hope you recognize that, since you actually offered a thoughtful response, your response is receiving the consideration it deserves.

  37. david foster Says:

    RedPencil…”I have spoken to several people (ranging in age from 15 to 50, I am sad to report, and including an ex boss) who think that Pearl Harbor made perfect sense as retaliation for Hiroshima!”

    Please tell me you are making this up. Or that these people are all involved in some kind of work that requires unusually low IQs and general awareness.

    I know there’s a lot of historical ignorance around, but this surpasses belief.

  38. alphie Says:

    What a crock, Jim.

    It was okay to crush the independent Phillipine state just to train some Marines for a fight that happened 40 years later?

    Got any other rationalizations?

    Believable ones?

  39. Ymarsakar Says:

    I know there’s a lot of historical ignorance around, but this surpasses belief.

    Like what, Rosie saying that fire can’t melt steel or that 9/11 is the righteous retribution cause it is blowback for American support of the coup in Iran and occupation of Saudi Arabia?

    These days, David, people are literally insane on the Left. Literally. They are incapable of recognizing reality from fantasy and they even have their own multiple personality disorders as well.

    Dear Neo caught some of the flakk from normally ordinary people that simply metamorphed into chimeras. That metamorphosis is a result of dissociation and various other multiple personality disorders. MPD is a sort of field in which it is caused by the human mind creating compartments in itself, that is locked from the outside. Fully internal and independent, these compatments create their own personality and sense of reality, they have their own personal beliefs, behaviors, and reactions to stimuli. All of it is connected under the Political Identity tree, meaning that all personalities react in defense of their identity, whenever their politics is threatened.

    So long as you don’t threaten their political positions or beliefs, they are calm and most of the time reasonable, if ignorant and slow in thinking.

    I say that the Left has Dissociative personality disorders because they were traumatized in their early childhood and life. Vietnam. Leftist propaganda. Watergate. Internal and infernal media propaganda and psychological warfare against the American people. Decades of this, does indeed classify as trauma. They dealt with this trauma by going insane, by creating compartments in their brains where A is not A, and B is A. There is no consistency there. If the US saves Iraqis, the US is bad. If the US kills Iraqis, the US is bad. If US enemies kills Iraqis, that is good. If US enemies saves Iraqis, that is good. There is no consistency in terms of the Identity Principle, where A is always A and B is always B. Their multiple personality disorders also make their thinking contradictory. Here’s a brief explanation of what I mean, check my recent blog entries if you want a link.

    (1) The Law of Identity–

    Whatever is, is;

    or, in a more precise form,

    Every A is A.

    (2) The Law of Contradiction–

    Nothing can both be and not be;
    Nothing can be A and not A.

    (3) The Law of Excluded Middle–

    Everything must either be or not be;
    Everything is either A or not A.

    It is true to a certain extent that there is paradox in human affairs, meaning contradictions do exist, even if they don’t violate the Law of Contradiction as defined here. To go back to the FF slavery issue, the question becomes an ethical quandary concerning good and evil in human affairs. Is humanity inherently good or evil? Is humanity currently good or evil? You can’t really say, because aside from Original Sin, ethical systems should be applied to people rather than instiutions and governments. It is much harder to categorize the evil or good of a government by itself, without consideration of the people in it. And by definition, any government full of good people will be… good more or less. But since that’s impossible, the FF said that government is a necessary evil. Because it promotes the ambitious and the ones attempting to grab power, in order to have freedom, you must also give freedom of action to evil and to destruction.

    However, there is a way to reconcile evil and good into the statement that America is the greatest nation on Earth and has created more Good in this world than the last 5000 years of human history put together.

    All you have to do is to redefine what good is. After all, if good includes resisting evil rather than being pure and without blood on your hands, then it changes the situation with America so that it does not contradict itself. America can have both good and evil in it, yet still be good, if good is defined as resisting evil successfully. That way A can still be A and B can still be B without violating either the Identity Law or the Law of Contradictions.

    As for Alphie, he’s not a bad chap all together. Certainly there are less reasonable people than him around the net, those who are more vicious and far more annoying. I have friends and people I know that have an inherently wrong look at history, and I know people that are haters that have learned history correctly. Knowledge is after all, not an indication of moral good or evil in my view. Nor is knowledge a guarantee of personal wisdom, which Neo already knows and values. It is wisdom that matters, not knowledge in the grand scheme of things.

    Alphie is like any victim of Leftist brainwashing. He truly believes in the line concerning America and American history. Not much you can do with true believers, just look at the youtube link people on Book’s site.

    Like the Russian said (not Sergei though) the demoralized people will never believe in the evil that they believe in until the boot comes crashing down on them personally. They will not even believe it if you show them the concentration camps that Leftist doctrine has produced or the bodies of Marines killed by Leftist propaganda and monetary support of terrorists.

    A person linked to political identity systems, protects his identity if you try to undermine his politics powered by self-preservation; the strongest instinct of humanity. Only a life or death threat will break through the defense of such a person’s identity. No meer discussion or debate about politics can change the nature of a brainwashed person or even a true believer.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    Here’s a mental exercise to apply the concepts I’ve written about, to the current times.

    When America tolerates the sedition and outright active subversion that the Democrats engage in, this is a necessary evil. But people don’t see it as a necessary evil, because they believe that the Right to Free Speech is the ultimate good. Yet such a right, regardless of its virtues, still promotes evil like the Left. Like Kennedy, Reid, and PillowC. I have a very exacting definition for evil, most of it centered around weakness, weakness that invites in foreign manipulation and bribes. Reid is corrupt, and that is due to his personal weakness, personal weakness that allows evil to fester and Reid knows this. He just doesn’t care anymore. Evil is evil, although some are bigger than others.

    That being said, few would argue that the KKK burning and lynching blacks were not evil. Yet free speech covers them as well. How does the 1st Ammendment remain good if it gives speech to evil?

    Now we run into what occurs when necessary evils no longer are necessary. Meaning, government is necessary because without it we have anarchy, which is much worse than you think. Think Katrina 5000X. Or just look at Hamas if you like anarchy. Eventually anarchy is replaced by totalitarian dictatorships. Eventually of course, after a couple of purges of dissenting families.

    So when is it necessary to tolerate Democrat attempts at subversion? Laws protect Democrats from being murdered and assassinated for good reasons. Murder and assassination are weapons of anarchists, revolutionaries, and terrorists. They also happen to be weapons of intelligence agencies and Special Forces black ops missions. Although usually the SF takes their people alive, not dead, doesn’t mean they haven’t killed their share of targets from a distance. Phoenix Program is a good example of the good (or mebe not so good) guys going wild on VietCong agents (which were definitely not on the good side).

    Are the laws that protect Michael Moore from assassination, a necessary evil? People don’t think of it like that, but they do see the government like that.

    My personal views are that you are required to do a lot of things you will despise and not like to do, if you seek to do good in this world. The Founding Fathers had to tolerate evil, slavery, because they had not the power to destroy it completely. They could barely escape from the British control, they neither had the time nor the resources to have a civil War over the issue at the same time.

    There will be a lot of people that must be eliminated for good to triumph. Not all of those people will have deserved it, or were even threats to the good. Some will die because of mistakes and others will die because the enemy blew them up in a bomb trying to kill us. and I mean in a bomb, check out the six year old strapped to a suicide vest courtesy of the Taliban. Or the two children used to bypass an American checkpoint, and then the drivers blew the children up with the car after the drivers had got out.

    The cause is worth it though, because if we can tolerate offensive speech because the 1st Ammendment is worth it, and if we can tolerate government because safety and prosperity is worth it, why cannot we tolerate using the ultimate tools of destruction on our enemies when the cause is worth it?

    Obviously because the Jihadists and their Leftist allies believe that the goal of prosperity and safety in Iraq is not worth dying for. Well, that’s them I suppose, what can you say for evil except that it is selfish and weak.

    If you aren’t on the side of the Light, then all the things the US has done is meaningless because they were done in an attempt to do good, to achieve prosperity, to ensure domestic tranquility and provide justice to all. If you don’t believe in those concepts, then nothing justifies what the US or Founding Fathers did.

    Just as nothing will justify the Taliban’s cause or AQ’s cause or soc[i]alism’s cause because their cause is evil, pure and simple. Nothing is worth it and if nothing is worth it to bring it into existence, then everything is worth it to stop them. There are no redeeming qualities in their Great Plan. All are methods of control emplaced upon the human heart, mind, and soul. Shackling us to the whims of an elite few, an aristocratic few that rules over humanity through their sick decadence and arbitrary decisions. Instead of 50,000 petty dictators in an anarchy, or a bunch of corrupt bureacrats in our government, we have maybe 10 with ultimate power. What an improvement, eh.

    The United States did not end slavery everywhere, nor for all time. But we ended it as far as our power could reach. That is no longer enough in our day and age.

    [Btw Neo, I'm still wondering why your blog deletes comments if they include soc[i]alism n it. Without the brackets.]

  41. alphie Says:

    Kind words, Ymar.

    I hate to bust your bubble, but I’m a Republican, born and raised.

    Bush didn’t get down to 26% just by losing the “leftys.”

  42. Joe the Troll Says:

    Sally – Can’t argue with any of those examples (although in Chomsky’s case, it’s due to ignorance) and I would also add Coulter, O’Reilly, Malkin, and of course the druggie from Ohio. :-) I find that the “pick a side and root root root” thing works well for football, not so well for the running of my country. You may appreciate what I wrote about Twain – and Coulter- a year ago. If not, my apologies. Bewrae – I got an NC-17 rating not long ago, and I don’t know if you’re old enough! Twain

    Jen – Acknowledged and appreciated. I think we get each other better than you suspect, although I didn’t know that smallpox blankets were a right-wing cause. :-) I could use more reasonable righties around the bridge.

    http://underthebridge.blogdrive.com/archive/cm-06_cy-2006_m-06_d-13_y-2006_o-0.html

  43. douglas Says:

    Alph, why didn’t you just say you were one of those far-right isolationists in the first place? If you really think isolationism is the key to peace and prosperity, I think we really should have ignored your commentary as irrelevant. History has repeatedly shown that isolationism is just about the worst approach in foreign affairs. I’m surprised you’re not a Libertarian. Bircher perhaps? Oh, and who do you believe did 9/11? just wondering.

  44. douglas Says:

    “I find that the “pick a side and root root root” thing works well for football, not so well for the running of my country.”

    Because voting for hopeless third parties is a good idea? Because holding back on your party because they aren’t pure enough gets you more satisfactory results? Mindless cheerleading is problematic, but you better believe I ‘root’ for my side (or at least the one I agree with more than the other viable option).

  45. alphie Says:

    Haha, doug.

    I’m not an isolationist.

    I just think America currently lacks civilian and military leaders talented enough to fight a war bigger than Grenada.

    One thing about St. Ronnie, he was a man who knew his own limitations.

  46. ted Says:

    BAGHDAD – Marwa Hussein watched as gunmen stormed into her home and executed her parents. Afterward, her uncle brought her to the Alwiya Orphanage, a high-walled compound nestled in central Baghdad with a concrete yard for a playground. That was more than two years ago, and for 13-year-old Marwa, shy and thin with walnut-colored eyes and long brown hair, the memory of her parents’ last moments is always with her. “They were killed,” she said, her voice trailing away as she sat on her narrow bed with pink sheets. Tears started to slide down her face. As social worker Maysoon Tahsin comforted her, other orphans in the room, where 12 girls sleep, watched solemnly.

    Iraq’s conflict is exacting an immense and largely unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequences, said social workers, psychiatrists, teachers and aid workers in interviews across Baghdad and in neighboring Jordan.

    “With our limited resources, the societal impact is going to be very bad,” predicted Haider Abdul Muhsin, one of the country’s few child psychiatrists. “This generation will become a very violent generation, much worse than during Saddam Hussein’s regime.”

  47. douglas Says:

    “I just think America currently lacks civilian and military leaders talented enough to fight a war bigger than Grenada.”

    Judging by your earlier list of American activities abroad, we’ve never had those leaders.

    I’ll quit guessing about you, and let you continue to hide in the shadows, as is your preference.

    Ted, I don’t know who Haider Abdul Muhsin is, but given that he is well educated, I’m guessing Sunni. Of course he thinks things were not as bad under Saddam. There were a HELL of a lot more orphans in Japan after WWII. They’ve been pretty peaceful since.

  48. Ymarsakar Says:

    I hate to bust your bubble, but I’m a Republican, born and raised.

    Republican isolationists, Paleo-cons and various other right wing militia groups aren’t any better in a idea sense, they are just weaker and smaller. They, like the Left, have their own beliefs, and their political beliefs oftentimes don’t decide their personal behavior. If they are Republican isolationists that is. My friend of the National Guard and Army is a Republican, but he believes as you do about Iraq. Now if he was raised around Leftists too much, things would be more violent, as Neo found out.

    Some people might remember steve, of the USMC Gulf War 1, before he got out. Now his beliefs were isolationist as well. But he acted reasonably well here on a behavioral level, sort of like Alphie.

    Now, maybe people have noticed a pattern, that only people raised in a Republican setting act with reason, even if they are wrong?

    Certainly you don’t need to be brainwashed to come to the beliefs of the Left. You can do so by your own personal choice, for whatever reasons you have. But I warn you, even Republicans have been educated in much of the Leftist mantra and they don’t even realize it. So do not assume you are immune to the Left and its reach, just because you call yourself a Republican.

  49. sergey Says:

    It never ceases to surprise me how completely mass consciousness can be disengaged from historical reality, even in supposedly free country. For example, when I attended lectures on American culture in Moscow Linguistic University some 15 years ago I was astonished to hear about one particular trait of this culture: fear of “cezarepapizm”. The term historically is associated only with Byzantine culture, and in all history of Western Europe and Northern America there never was a precedent of political realization of this phenomenon. It never got materialized even in Russia, most close ideological heir of Byzantine tradition. So it belongs only to realm of political mythology. How could it happen that this non-existent threat (especially impossible in context of Anglo-Saxon culture and even more so in US, where separation of state and Church is enshrined in Constitution) became a source of pervasive, obsessive, exaggerated and irrational fear — a textbook description of phobia? If my professor was correct, this phobia amounts to universal neurosis, in Freud’s terminology. The same applies to fear of political repressions. There simply never was a precedent of this kind in American history; even McCarthyism did not produce cases of imprisonment people for their views or propaganda dissemination, only for perjury or espionage. Another mass phobia, also completely unfounded. In Soviet Union, on the other hand, we had a rampant spying scare, millions of innocent were jailed or executed for fabricated accusation of spying, while all borders were impenetrable and all contacts with foreigners strictly forbidden and impossible. American borders are existent only as lines on the map, hundreds of terrorists can trespass them every day, lots of international terror organizations openly boast their goals to commit terrorist acts on American soil (with smuggled nukes, perhaps). It took several weeks to erect Berlin wall (and analogue fortifications everywhere at DDR border). Americans, with vastly much more resources and much more real treat, failed to enforce effective border control for 6 years after 9/11. How it can be explained in terms of mental health that collectively people tend to fear most the least probable dangers and eagerly deny the most obvious ones? John Derbyshire’s Hypothesis of Collective Imprudence only postulates this phenomenon, but does not explain it.
    My attempt to explain this is that mass consciousness inherently belongs to realm of mythology, religious or political; only selected individuals possess ability to rational thinking in these and other fields. And even if theoretically history teaching can be wonderful tool to develop these skills, in reality it always used for indoctrination and spreading political mythology. I have in my family library books collected by 4 generations of university students: my grand-grandfather, my grandmother and her brothers and sisters, including their gymnasium history textbooks printed in 1880s. There is a striking resemblance in style and general approach to children indoctrination with Soviet, Communist history textbooks. Agenda, of course, is different, this is outright apologetics of tsarist autocracy and Russian imperialism — but people who have written Communist textbooks certainly were studied using these gymnasium history textbooks and later faithfully reproduced their style and form filling them with a new content.

  50. Sally Says:

    Joe the troll: … I would also add Coulter, O’Reilly, Malkin, and of course the druggie from Ohio.

    Well, I can argue with you about Malkin, and I would think, Joe, that as a troll you’d recognize something kindred in Coulter, O’Reilly, and the other guy. But, that said, I actually agree with you (surprise!) about the inappropriateness — no, the stupidity — of the sports-fan approach to political issues. There are worse things, of course — such as sinking into the sort of withering, corrosive ideological nihilism that eats away everything but hate — but this kind of gotta-support-the-team spirit in politics just leads to the kind of blind partisanship that drove some on the right crazy over Clinton, and now drives much of the left crazy over Bush. All the while, real evil is gathering.

  51. Ymarsakar Says:

    blackfive.netSome person posted a thing about Orphans. Well here’s the counter-propaganda for your purview.

    For every action, there is a counter-propaganda reaction

    Inside the building, a government-run orphanage for special needs children, the soldiers found more emaciated little bodies tied to the cribs, CBS News reports exclusively. They had been kept this way for more than a month, according to the soldiers called in to rescue the 24 boys.

    “I saw children that you could see literally every bone in their body that were so skinny, they had no energy to move whatsoever, no expression on their face,” Staff Sgt. Michael Beal said.

    “The kids were tied up, naked, covered in their own waste — feces — and there were three people that were cooking themselves food, but nothing for the kids,” Lt. Stephen Duperre said.

  52. Joe the Troll Says:

    “Because voting for hopeless third parties is a good idea?”

    No, because thinking about issues individually, instead of adopting a stance that’s pre-set according to the team you pick, is a good idea.

    “that as a troll you’d recognize something kindred in Coulter”

    A misapprehension – I’m not called “Joe the Troll” because I use vitriol and untruth to start harsh arguments. I’m called that because I live under a bridge and eat baby goats. It’s an ethnic thing.

    “such as sinking into the sort of withering, corrosive ideological nihilism that eats away everything but hate”

    Well, of course it sounds bad when you put it THAT way………………… :-)

    Anyway, you get my gist. It seems that many people these days care more about what’s good for the party they’ve chosen than what’s good for the country itself, and I’ve observed this on both “sides.” Politics is the art of negotiation, and that is hard to do when people put more effort into excoriating each other for the team they’ve picked than actually trying to negotiate answers to our problems.

  53. Nyomythus Says:

    I heard that. I consider myself a liberal, though I mulled the idea of neo-conservatism and they are still my allies for their hatred of our religionist enemies and moral decisiveness in former Yugoslavia, Kuwait, Iraq, and support for other democratic allies around the world. I see very few people under the democrat banner who I would vote for.

    Most Democrats, i.e. Leftist, resort to loving the enemies of Liberalism because they think it’s cute and funny to jab at the seriousness that conservatism at least contends with. I’m not a conservative but as long as conservatives champion liberalism they are my friends; freedom of speech, enlightenment and reason, contends with terrorism and genocide.

  54. douglas Says:

    Nyomythus, I think it’s the distinction between Liberalism and liberalism you’re pointing out. An important distinction, indeed.

  55. a guy in pajamas Says:

    Joe, I kinda think you are half-right. I think many Dems & Reps both hate the other party &, as you say, spend more time attacking their opponents than getting anything done themselves.

    But I’m not sure that these same people over-identify with their own party. I think they are passionate about a particular worldview, and parties are merely useful tools. Many commentators on the right have the attitude that ‘the Republicans are bad, but the Democrats are a lot worse.’ Ditto with some of the netroots types I’ve run across – last I heard, they were unhappy w/ their party for not removing Bush from office already. (Um, a little hyperbole there, maybe.)

    So, I think maybe each side’s positive identification is w/ a particular worldview, and the negative identification (i.e., the Opponent) is often by party.

    Yeah, or maybe it was a long day and I need some ice cream.

    Jya ne.

  56. Teri Pittman Says:

    I have a theory for this. It’s because people teach history as though the results were foreordained. If you look at it from the perspective that the people of those times didn’t have a clue how things would turn out, it becomes interesting again. People living through WWII did not know who would win. Same thing with just about any other historical event you could name. Yet we teach it as though there was only one possible way for things to work out.

    I once wanted to be a high school history teacher. It’s probably a shame that I didn’t go that route as I find it interesting. Then again, I’d be stuck using those dreadful things that pass as textbooks these days.

  57. Teri Pittman Says:

    And since I’ve now read the comments, let’s talk about the revisionist history above. Gallipolli also had to do with bad intelligence. They had a very wrong picture of the terrain they were in. They thought there was a hill they could reach that would give them a view of their opponents. They were wrong and lost a lot of men as a result.

    The smallpox blankets. Well, I guess if you like to think of Indians as victims, you can focus on that. They were warriors first and yes, they also committed atrocities. And the people living through those times were reacting to the events they knew about or heard about.

    Honestly, if you want to learn about history, you need to stop protecting your own precious point of view and try to read some conflicting viewpoints. Try reading a few contemporary accounts too. The libraries are unfortunately as full of this nonsense as the history books, but you can find other viewpoints if you try.

  58. BRD Says:

    hauskat.netAlphie sez:

    American History is nothing but one long tale of theft, slavery, treason, defeat, etc.

    Alphie then sez:

    I’ll start in the 20th century to avoid offending certain people’s delicate historical sensibilities:
    Phillipine-American War – Empires just ain’t worth the trouble these days.
    WWI – If possible, jump in on the winning side near the end and claim glory.
    WWII – ditto
    Korean War – During a war, avoid making new enemies, especially China.
    Vietnam War – Don’t back losers.

    And Alphie goes on to sez:

    “I’m not an isolationist.”

    and caps this off with:

    I hate to bust your bubble, but I’m a Republican, born and raised.

    Am I the only one here who would like to cap that off with a Great Big WTF?

    I have no earthly idea how you can even claim to reconcile all those, let alone in the same thread.

    I’m just baffled.

  59. ahem Says:

    I see you have in herited the dread dimwit troll, alphie. Too bad. He’s a total waste.

  60. Joe the Troll Says:

    “The smallpox blankets. Well, I guess if you like to think of Indians as victims, you can focus on that. They were warriors first and yes, they also committed atrocities.”

    I think that the fact that they were defending their own land, despite what France, Spain, and the US had to say in their little treaties, justifies some fighting. We’re not even in danger of losing our home, yet many people don’t mind ignoring – or even encouraging – equal or greater atrocities today.

  61. Nyomythus Says:

    Much of what transpired between Native North Americans and the settlers, goes to what Hitchens is stating in his current book tour, that we are, altogether, a poorly evolved species.

    And to add my bit, I think this is what you get when two civilizations, particularity in regards to weaponry, of vastly different states of evolution, you can call it ‘differences’ if you want to, come in contact with the other. Look at what happens when ants meet termites. This may also show how stupid the idea extraterrestrials visiting earth is.

  62. Ymarsakar Says:

    I think that the fact that they were defending their own land, despite what France, Spain, and the US had to say in their little treaties, justifies some fighting.

    Most of the Native Ameris did the same things against each other. You can justify inter-clan warfare all you want, but it does nobody any real good. But good is after all, a higher standard than simple “justifies some fighting”.

    equal or greater atrocities today.

    Like what?

  63. Ymarsakar Says:

    Am I the only one here who would like to cap that off with a Great Big WTF?

    Hey, ever since 9/11 people should not be surprised at the irrationality of folks. Not anymore.

  64. Ymarsakar Says:

    I’m just baffled.

    Only smart people with high IQs may hold 50 different contradicting beliefs in their head at once.

    But even those of average intelligence can hold a handful or so.

  65. has our ignorance of history doomed us? « the lower casefiles Says:

    [...] our ignorance of history doomed us? Jump to Comments This is a pretty old post from neo-neocon, but I noticed it as a related link over at Pajamas Media, and it makes a very good point about the [...]

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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