September 23rd, 2013

More historical ignorance…

…on the part of the American public.

We keep reading polls such as this one about how few Americans know the basic facts of American history.

So we shouldn’t be surprised to read another. But oh, how very depressing it remains (and how well it explains certain recent events):

Only 27% of Americans knew which country we fought in the Cold War – the Soviet Union — and even fewer, 25%, knew the name of the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which is John Roberts.

And this makes no sense:

Scholars agree that one reason for the poor results is that America has a complex political system, which can take years to fully understand.

Poppycock. And what’s that got to do with learning what country we fought in the Cold War? How complex can that be?

Of course, if you keep people in ignorance of history, they are much easier to manipulate.

42 Responses to “More historical ignorance…”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    Ask them whether Lincoln and MLKj were Democrats. Also ask them about why the South only blamed Republicans for the civil war, not the Northern Democrats in their “War of Northern Aggression”.

    Because if Democrats on both sides were in it together, then it wouldn’t be no war of northern aggression. It’d be Democrats vs Republicans, slaves vs pro slavery.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    The passing blather (“America has a complex political system, which can take years to fully understand.”) has nothing, nada, zero, zilch to do with the poll and everything to do with a kind of verbal fetish stick shaken against the darkness that is the continuing self-willed failure of what passes for “the deaduncational system” …. a system dedicated and carefully tuned to keep most Americans loyal to falsehoods and ignorant of basic historic facts. They’ve been utterly Zinned. To state something as simple as the system of government as specificed in the Constitution is “complex” is to prepare the credulous for believing that only through anointed media “experts” can the world be explained.

  3. London Trader Says:

    I’m not American although I’ve lived here for twelve years. However I had a pretty good understanding of the US system as soon as I was able to understand politics generally which was many years before I moved here. Its not that complicated.

  4. Sam L. Says:

    It’s the lies we’re told.

  5. Michael Says:

    He is right. The ‘political system’ is complex. On purpose I should think.

    However the structure of the government and the Constitution is incredibly simple. If it were not for the education system I would think the average citizen stupid.

  6. Lem Says:

    “Of course, if you keep people in ignorance of history, they are much easier to manipulate.”

    Forget the past, doomed to repeat it.

    BTW, Congratulations to our Boston Red Sox. I’m looking forward to the playoffs.

  7. Don Says:

    Note what they teach in college. My sister in law thinks that our federal system was copied from the indians. The claim is based upon the fact that Iroquois had a crude for of federalism. However, there are other relevent facts: there is no actual factual indication the Founders based our system of the indians system (only one mentioned the Iroquois, Ben Franklin), the actual system the indians used was not like ours in detail, and the English were familiar with federal systems prior to contacting the Iroquois or even coming to America; in fact English colonists created the New England Confederation in the 1640s, before they encountered the Iroquois.

  8. Ann Says:

    Leaving aside the leftist ideology in most textbooks, there’s been a heavy emphasis since the 1960s on students bringing their own ideas and feelings to a subject, rather than learning tired, old, boring facts.

  9. Don Says:

    Also, I always recall the American Revolution being taught starting no farther back the the French and Indian War. While the war was a proximate cause of the Revolution, to understand things correctly you really need to start with the English Revolution in 1688, at the latest.

  10. KLSmith Says:

    I feel very sorry for people with young children in public schools.

  11. Don Says:

    One of my co-workers, a man in his 40s with school kids, told me that Grant engaged in genocide against the indians. He read that in his children’s schoolbooks.

  12. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Going around with a couple of history teachers about how much less kids know than half a century ago when I graduated HS.
    “There’s so much more history.” So, say history started 5000 years ago. Fifty years is one percent more. What, I asked, had the kids learned that made it impossible to teach them stuff like WW II, and so forth.
    No answer.

  13. Charles Says:

    Diito what Ann just said; there has been an emphasis on what the student “contributes” to the understanding of history rather than on facts.

    Leftists believe that history is something that isn’t true except for what one believes about it. Sadly, this isn’t just history that this has happened to; a lot of the “humanities” are the same way.

    Western literature classics are now subject to “deconstructionism” which means the student (influenced by a leftist professor, of course) must “deconstruct” the work to be something other than what the author says.

    For example; “deconstructing” Romeo and Juliet would have the student not see a play about tragic lovers, rather it would require the student to see the male-dominated society obsessed with violence and taking a woman’s virginty, all while treating woman as property.

    And so, “deconstructing” the American revolution would require the student to “learn” (and write a paper about) how hypocritical the founders (don’t dare call them Founding “Fathers.” That would be sexist!) of the United States were as they called for freedom while still allowing slavery.

    This leads to students either buying the crap (and then become a part of the leftist establishment) or the majority of students do just enough to get a good grade and then try to forget the whole nasty business.

    Our society is worse off because of the leftists creating their own reality and ignoring the truth.

    P.S. Neo, I’ll bet that you’ve done a post about this “deconstructionism” problem before; if not, you could fill a couple of posts about this plague!

  14. RickC Says:

    The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has been tracking this trend for some time. At this point, is there really any doubt that this is purposeful? I mean how else to explain our young people making it through the educational system (including college) and still be ignorant of the basics of civics.

    From the website:
    “In 2006 and 2007, ISI administered a sixty-question multiple-choice exam on knowledge of American history and institutions to over 28,000 college freshmen and seniors from over eighty schools. In both years, the average freshman and senior failed the exam.

    In 2008, ISI tested 2,508 adults of all ages and educational backgrounds, and once again the results were discouraging. Seventy-one percent of Americans failed the exam, with high school graduates scoring 44% and college graduates also failing at 57%.

    Last year, ISI examined the real-world impact of both college and civic knowledge on public opinion and discovered diverging influences. College made graduates more liberal, while greater civic knowledge led adults to be more supportive of America’s constitutional traditions.”

  15. rickl Says:

    Lem Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Forget the past, doomed to repeat it.

    Or as I prefer to put it: “Those of us who do remember history are condemned to repeat it anyway because those who don’t are in the majority.”

  16. Eric Says:


    Like the song says, the fundamentals apply as time goes by. Studying history is always striking about how much people haven’t changed. Things happen for a reason and the reason is often rooted in who we are socially. It’s why activists who focus on idealistic principle rather than tribal power tend to become disillusioned.

  17. expat Says:

    I was just talking to a young friend of mine yesterday. I asked him how his AP American History class was going. He said they were now talking about how Americaans had treated the Native Americans. I told him not to forget that some tribes allied themselves with settlers in order to conquer other tribes. I also told him that we had very different understandings of things like property rights, so there were communication failures on both sides.
    Funny how Spain never seems to get blamed for wrongdoing. And funny how everyone thinks that today’s sensibilities and norms applied across the world hundreds of years ago.

    Fortunately my friend is a pretty avid reader and tends to think for himself.

  18. NeoConScum Says:

    A very recent poll found that 7% of Americans can name the first 4-presidents of the US. Yep, more than that knew Washington as first…. But, after that, fuhgetaboutit. Sorry Mr.Adams, Jefferson and Madison.

    The Age of Obama. Ahhhhh…Are we NOT blessed??

  19. Paul in Boston Says:

    If the English colonists had encountered the Iroquois in 1640 they might have decided that persecution in England was a more peaceful way to live. They were hated and feared from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic and south to Virginia. Or as they liked to brag, we killed all the Hurons and the Delaware are our women.

    The problem with real history is that you have no delusions about the goodness of mankind after studying it a while. There are definitely better and worse civilizations but human nature is the same every where and great care must be taken to prevent evil men with a lust for power from rising to the top. The genius of our Founding Fathers was that they recognized this and designed a government that would automatically restrain bad politicians by limiting their power and placing them in constant conflict with each other so the rest of us could live our lives in peace. Our trouble is that we may be unwilling spectators at its breakdown with a lawless President and his wlling accomplices in the Democratic Party and the press.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    Obama has always been the President of the US. Obama has never not been the President of the US. Obama will always be the President of the US.

    2084 vs 1984?

  21. Oldflyer Says:

    expat, I think you touched on an essential element; i.e. the failure to teach historical context. Actually, if this were stressed, most people would marvel at how human society has progressed; with exceptions of course.

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    Btw, don’t forget the schools that make girls kiss each other in front of the entire school assembly, as a way to teach “sensitivity” to gays.

    These “people” in the education sphere are nothing but a bunch of child molesting gays, rapists, and various other “sorts”.

    These are the little tyrants that the bigger totalitarian leaders depend on to enforce the decrees.

  23. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    “Of course, if you keep people in ignorance of history, they are much easier to manipulate.”

    They’re being kept this way? Deliberately?

    No, the information is out there. Not just that, but it’s given to us in ways we are forced to hear. They, we, are taught these things in the public and private schools (and no, not all public schools are terrible). We get it at college (where an increasing percentage of people go), and heaven knows it’s available on the Internet.

    So why don’t people pick it up? I don’t know. Certainly it’s not because America has a “complex political system, which can take years to fully understand.”

    As you say, that’s poppycock. But it’s equally simplistic to say that we’re being kept this way so as to manipulate us. Come on, we can do better here.

  24. Mr. Frank Says:

    The collapse of academic standards is almost complete. Grade inflation, the self esteem movement, multiculturalism, and employment opportunities for bright women have taken a toll.

    Half of all young children in the U.S. are black or Hispanic. Someone better find a way to teach them.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    Tom the Redhunter:

    It is being “kept” from them not in the sense that it is secret information. But compared to even as recently as my own youth, these things are not being drummed into today’s young people anywhere near as much. Plus, when they are taught about the founding fathers, the context is often anti-heroic, as in all the sins they supposedly committed, and how wonderful the others were (the native Americans, et al) in contrast.

    No wonder kids don’t remember much about them.

    In addition, there’s much less taught about the way the government works—civics, or whatever it’s called nowadays.

  26. Mike Says:

    The ignorance is intentional. “Educators” have followed the plan. Plato was correct – The two MOST IMPORTANT things about any society is who teaches the children and what they teach them.

    America is now ripe for conquest and control. The Soviets won in the end. The Marxist/Socialist/Fascist/Darwinian Materialists have won.

    The only possible hope is a spiritual awakening that changes the calculus. It’s happened before but is presumptuous to expect it. It must be prayed for. That’s the only way.

    Is that extreme? Is 75% don’t know we fought Soviet Marxist Materialist Russia in the Cold War extreme?

    Just an historical minute ago that was simply unthinkable, unimaginable. Today it is a rock solid reality.

  27. Mike Says:

    But, they say, Democrats are good people at heart. Yes, Nazis and Maoists were too. Stalin was a gem of a man. A fine leader and very progressive. Jim Jones? Wonderful guy. Like Liberals today, their hearts were all in the right place.

  28. jon baker Says:

    Brings back into focus my intent to purchase Rush Limbaughs new book for kids on American Heroes and then, if it passes muster, buy a copy for my niece and nephew for Christmas.

  29. jon baker Says:

  30. expat Says:

    Tom and Neo,
    I think also that too many kids and youth are allowed to devote themselves to the pursuit of “cool.” They are turned out into society at ever younger ages and then are totally distracted by fashionable clothes, electronic gadgets, sports, and Facebook. I doubt that there are many discussions of America’s founding posted on the latter. Kids don’t seem to have as much time to just think about things today. I wonder how many parents watched John Adams or Gettysburg with their kids. How many ever saw a movie like Johnny Tremain? They aren’t getting the signals that history might be important.

  31. Matt_SE Says:

    Two major reasons, neither of which are nefarious:
    1) Unionized teachers. Their primary goal is to take care of themselves, not your children. So it becomes impossible to fire incompetent teachers and their ethos spreads like a cancer through the whole system.
    2) Distraction culture. Video games, pop icons, etc. The emphasis on the importance of education for self improvement is lost. Even now, college-goers are usually only doing it to improve their job prospects.

    I don’t see the need to turn this into a big Gramscian march conspiracy (although there are a few like that).

  32. Sgt. Mom Says:

    That’s why I took up writing historical fiction – in part to wrap real and un-PC-distorted history in a gripping and thrilling yarn. After blogging on various historical events at the original mil-blog, I was overtaken by a conviction that we had to teach our history somehow – and outside of the perversions of Zinn and his ilk. So – I started writing away.
    I wouldn’t despair entirely, though; there is a lot of amateur interest in history around, especially our own. Look at how popular reenactment groups are, and the last couple of reenacted events that I went to in Texas, there were large numbers of teens and twenties aged people participating.

  33. rbee Says:

    “The bribery of the free thinking mind” has many takers…

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    I don’t see the need to turn this into a big Gramscian march conspiracy (although there are a few like that).

    The way this sentence is phrased, it almost sounds like someone doesn’t believe there is such a march of institutions, that the concept, like Alinsky, is being “fabricated” for entertainment purposes….

  35. Ymarsakar Says:

    The people that play games like Rome Total War, have more knowledge of history than the FPS shooters and teacher unions combined. Even with games, there is a very large demographic spread.

  36. Don Says:

    Tom the Redhunter said:

    “They’re being kept this way? Deliberately?”

    Yes, yes we are. Via books like Zinn’s Peoples History of the US, etc. Most people don’t bother to read history on their own. They rely upon what their teacher taught them. What they are taught is how bad we treated indians, blacks, and Mexicans.

  37. Don Says:

    With respect to games, you can learn a lot about WW2 from some games. On the other hand, Creed Assassins creates an fake history that makes the Night’s Templar the force of evil and the Assassins (an Islamic death cult that gave us the word assassin) become forces for good. How many parents recognize the fact that the Assiaains in the game are derived from a historical group?

  38. Don Says:

    “Two major reasons, neither of which are nefarious:”

    Ah, but there are other reasons that ARE nefarious. Start with the New Left of the ’60s, and how they created the gender/ethnic grievance departments (which now dominate history departments). Add in crap historical works like “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee” and Zinn’s communist history book (the most popular high school history book). Add in efforts like Bill Ayer’s efforts to achieve the revolution via education.

    There is a sizable amount of junk content throughout the education system, and the teachers union and pop culture are insufficient to explain it.

  39. Don Says:


    “I think also that too many kids and youth are allowed to devote themselves to the pursuit of “cool.” They are turned out into society at ever younger ages and then are totally distracted by fashionable clothes, electronic gadgets, sports, and Facebook.”

    I think a starting point for this was the large schools designed by the progressives of the late 1800s. The intent was to educate the students with minimal input from parents. This schooling system contributed to the “youth culture”, something which did not previously exist. When kids are forced into large schools a child culture become possible.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    Japan still holds to the creed that school rooms should be kept intact as possible, to nurture social connections. So seats may change, but elementary kids don’t change class rooms per class or per grade. Junior high kids don’t change class rooms every subject hour.

    I’ve had the benefit of seeing both sides, where the classroom was held in tact (teachers came in to teach subjects, and homeroom was just some person talking about things pertaining to the day) and high school, where you wander around school to visit the rooms of teachers. Not rooms for kids or students, but rooms of the “teacher’s”. The staff office wasn’t their room so to speak, or was an additional room.

    Japanese staff offices are, to be honest, huge and much like corporate cubicles where people are expected to be Most of the Time.

    It was much easier keeping a social cohesion with people when you saw them for most of the day, instead of just 60 minutes at a time.

    The Left understands how to break down and brainwash kids. The public, does not. Thus when they see such things, they cannot understand what the consequences are.

    If you do not love your classmates as if they were family and treat them as strangers, it is much easier to condition someone to kill them. And if a person can be conditioned to kill those they see once a day, they can be conditioned to kill Republicans or Christians that they have never seen. This distancing makes it much less stressful to pull the trigger.

    The Left is not just creating zombies. They are creating shock troops and using the schools as experimental laboratory rats for their field tests on black thugs and SWAT teams on police forces.

    Those who thought the Left was always talk, no action, always words and no substance, may be surprised at just how much substance is beneath their methodology, their evil.

  41. Matt_SE Says:

    “…it almost sounds like someone doesn’t believe there is such a march of institutions, that the concept, like Alinsky, is being “fabricated” for entertainment purposes…
    I have no doubt that the Gramscians/Alinskyites/What-have-you take themselves very seriously…too seriously. They are more motivated and ruthless, which is why they always seem to be at the head of these things.
    In terms of the Judeo-Christian society that America used to be, these people were the Have-nots. Whether because they came late to the party or because of their temperaments, they did not have power and they pined for it.
    At the deepest level you can define them by two words: ambition and envy.
    Leftism is simply a vehicle for them to become the Haves. If leftism were eradicated tomorrow, these same types would find some other vehicle to promote their rise. They may not know this or may never admit it, but that’s the crux.
    Leftism, this great white whale upon which we pile the sum of our miseries is but a symptom. The real fault is with human nature, which is why we will never be rid of it.

    To explain my point a bit more clearly:
    I think maybe leftists take more credit than is due. They pin fancy names and theories to what is instead easily explained. The exploitation of human weakness. Their “philosophies” are little more than mental masturbation dressed up in fancy lingo that is itself a product of physics envy. They desire to seem as solid, reliable and predictive as the physical sciences. They want to be esteemed like the physical sciences, never realizing this esteem came from accomplishment.

    I think there are impersonal forces at work; forces of human nature. The left are just posers in a sense.

    …not that that means they don’t need to be fought. But it might be more effective to neutralize the scourge at its source than to be constantly shadow-boxing.

  42. Ira Says:

    KLSmith Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 5:31 pm
    I feel very sorry for people with young children in public schools.

    While private schools might be better at getting kids to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, some private schools are filled with leftist teaching staffs. A few years ago, my kid returned home from a very expensive private high school class convinced that cold weather was evidence of man made global warming.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About Me

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.


Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
Betsy’sPage (teach)
Bookworm (writingReader)
Breitbart (big)
ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
Contentions (CommentaryBlog)
DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
Fausta’sBlog (opinionated)
GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

Regent Badge