Victor Davis Hanson and our miseducated youth
In a just and sensible America, Victor Davis Hanson would be chair of the history department at Harvard, teaching a mandatory and beloved course in the history of Western civilization, to be followed in undergraduates' sophomore year by his equally popular year-long course in American history, both of which would be imitated nationwide by most if not all American colleges and universities.
These courses would be fact-intensive, and unlike the rather hagiographic picture students like this writer received during the '50s, it would not only emphasize the achievements of America and the West, but would honestly and rationally confront their infractions and low points. But the overarching message would be clear: though imperfect, as are all human endeavors, the creative genius of the West has given humanity the vast majority of what has made the modern world superior materially and, through the Judeo-Christian tradition, preferable morally to much of the past, and America can fairly claim to be the finest model of a nation whose governmental and economic system has produced the most fairness, prosperity and ordered freedom, for the largest percentage of its people, of any nation in history.
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But alas, this was not to be. Instead, since the seventies, we have lost the better part of two generations of badly miseducated American youths; and the inability of any American institution today to vigorously refute the patent falsehoods about our nation and the West being spewed by the woke left is a direct consequence of that tragic miseducation.
Mankind seems destined to swing from one distorted extreme to its logical opposite: 19th-century Western man had an arrogant swagger, understandably, given his near total dominance, and that arrogance carried through well into the 20th century in its educational institutions' presentation of history. But now, and for the better part of two generations, our proponents of cultural self-loathing, even more irrationally and reality-averse, have taught the young to believe that all of our achievements and endeavors are mirages, and our entire history is tainted with evil. Nonsense, of course. But the untutored young believe what their elders teach them.
So here we are. Two largely ignorant generations of Americans and Europeans are factually and intellectually unequipped to confront the ludicrous falsehoods and calumnies that are presented to them as revealed woke truth — and are entirely ignorant of how the West's creative genius has been largely responsible for the dramatic elevation of mankind's condition's of life during the last 150 years.
I have a modest suggestion for Victor Davis Hanson, from whom clear, logical, unpretentious historical writing seems to flow in great rivers:
Between columns of lucid commentary, write two brief narrative histories, with the goal of filling the major factual and logical gaps in historical understanding so widely present among today's under-40s. The first, of America; the second of the West as a whole. Such an undertaking, about 300 pages each, would be no panacea for today's ignorance and confusion — but then, for our present condition, there is no panacea. It would be a small step, in a climate of ignorance and destructiveness so profound that small steps, and the long road, are all that's left to those of us who see the tragedy of what is being thrown away.
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