Whatever happened to American history?

2012-10-09T01:00:00Z Whatever happened to American history?BY HARRY MOSLEY The Southern
October 09, 2012 1:00 am  • 

One day, after my students and I had discussed an essay about the Civil War, I decided to give them an impromptu oral quiz on American history.

“Who was the president during the Civil War?”

A long silence followed as the students stared at me like deer caught in headlights.

Finally one brave student raised a hand and asked timidly, “George Washington?”

I thought to myself, “These students didn’t learn much from their American history class.”

However, I may have been wrong. The problem might not have been that the students had not learned American history.

The real problem may have been that their high school teachers had not taught it.

Since then, I have heard several parents claim their children’s teachers are not teaching traditional American history. From high school juniors to college seniors, students are being exposed to “progressive” teachers and radical college professors who preach the party line of socialism and put their own personal spin on our nation’s history. And the students, for their part, just passively accept all this pontificating as if it were gospel truth.

“Our Constitution is old and outdated and no longer relevant to our modern American society,” these teachers claim. “The founding fathers are just dead white men.” And the following statement is often heard before Thanksgiving break: “The Pilgrims held their feast to thank their Indian friends for teaching them to plant corn.” Not surprisingly, in this revisionist version of the first Thanksgiving, God is absent.

What can be done?

First … parents, talk to your children about school. Ask them about the ideas and ideals they are being taught in their classes, particularly in American history class.

Secondly, examine their textbooks. Look at the illustrations and their captions. Read a page or two. Is there anything you do not like, any statements with which you disagree or any ideologies or philosophies which you do not want your children to adopt?

If so, then get upset. Discuss the situation with teachers, the principal and the school board. Since parents’ taxes pay for the public schools, then parents should have some say in determining what their children are taught. We don’t pay taxes so that ultra-liberal teachers and radical college professors can brainwash our children with dangerous dogma from Marx and Lenin.

In his 1959 visit to America, Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev made this chilling promise: “Your children will grow up under communism.” If we do not monitor what our children are being taught in their schools and colleges (especially about our nation and its history), then we are helping Khrushchev’s disturbing prediction come true.

Parents, here is an easy little American history quiz. If your children have been taught their American history properly, they should pass with flying red, white and blue colors.

1. What was the purpose of Paul Revere’s ride?

2. According to tradition, what did Betsy Ross do?

3. What was Patrick Henry’s famous patriotic quote?

4. What were Nathan Hale’s last words?

5. What is the title of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet?

6. Which animal is America’s official symbol?

7. What are our three “unalienable rights” specified in the Declaration of

Independence?

8. Which country was America’s foe during the War of 1812?

9. What are the three branches of our government?

10. Why is there no Benedict Arnold University?

HARRY MOSLEY of Carterville is a retired professor of English.

Copyright 2015 The Southern. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(39) Comments

  1. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 11, 2012 7:42 am
    Old Joe: No stories this time, just questions concerning Barf's post. I think boone and I raised good, legitimate questions which deserve answers.
  2. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 11, 2012 7:39 am
    I second the motion on anything Edmund Morris wrote, especially regarding TR.
  3. OLD JOE
    Report Abuse
    OLD JOE - October 11, 2012 7:16 am
    DeeJay doesn't sugar coat his stories very much. DeeJay just says it the way he sees it. That is one of the reasons I like DeeJay,

    As far as American History goes, most Americans don't know the history that is being made today.

    When DeeJay and I was in school, we helped Paul Revere saddle his horse before he went on his historical ride. There wasn't a lot of history to know back then. But today there is a lot of history!

    Now If MickeeD and MMike is selected to write the new history books, the only history is will say, It's Bush's fault lol.

  4. boone76
    Report Abuse
    boone76 - October 11, 2012 7:10 am
    Thank you for the suggested reading. I've always found Theodore Roosevelt beyond an enigma....
  5. boone76
    Report Abuse
    boone76 - October 11, 2012 7:06 am
    "Why did you want my opinion in particular btw, boone?"

    You made a comment without content. I was just curious if you had an opinion on the topic. It's important that we all get feedback from non-ideologues.
  6. WTF
    Report Abuse
    WTF - October 11, 2012 6:43 am
    HA! I just re-read my post and it sounds like there's an echo. I guess that's what I get for trying to type and hold a conversation at the same time. :)
  7. Ishmael
    Report Abuse
    Ishmael - October 11, 2012 6:41 am
    "He points out that Lincoln was a Republican, presumably to imply that Republicans are the good guys or Republicans aren't racist, but I'm sure he would accuse a textbook of liberal bias if it correctly pointed out that the Democrats pushed through all the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s and that racist Southern Democrats left the party and became Republicans in the 70s, after being actively courted by the Republicans in their "Southern Strategy." " - Barf

    "Ishmael.......Regardless of your obvious disdain with DeeJay, do you feel Barf is posting a racist label on the Republican party or would you prefer to abstain?" - boone76

    The way I read Barf's (run-on) sentence is he is accusing Mr. Mosley of right wing bias. He believes Mr. Mosley is attempting to deflect the left's usual charge of Republicans being racist and that they attempt to re-write history by minimizing the impact of the left's accomplishments.

    In short, it appears to me he's doing the same thing DeeJay / EffKbz did in this thread except from an opposite direction. He implied some left wing conspiracy to downplay the role of religious believers among text book authors, while Barf is accusing Mr. Mosley of exaggerating the role of Republicans on race related issues.

    Why did you want my opinion in particular btw, boone?
  8. WTF
    Report Abuse
    WTF - October 11, 2012 6:41 am
    TR is my favorite President. He was a great statesman, and one of this country's best leaders. I read a couple of good books about him written by Edmund Morris. If your interested in TR I would highly recommend them. .
  9. boone76
    Report Abuse
    boone76 - October 10, 2012 9:53 pm
    Ishmael.......Regardless of your obvious disdain with DeeJay, do you feel Barf is posting a racist label on the Republican party or would you prefer to abstain?

    Just asking......
  10. Ishmael
    Report Abuse
    Ishmael - October 10, 2012 9:30 pm
    DeeJay / EffKbz, you are attacking Barf with implication and innuendo. He didn't say anything about believers in the Bible other than to say both sides of the slavery issue used the Bible to defend their position. Which is not the same thing you said even though you say you did; all you've done in this thread is lament that text books leave out the role religion played.

    You're attempting to accuse Barf of religious bigotry and that is in the same vein as race baiting my schizophrenic friend.
  11. boone76
    Report Abuse
    boone76 - October 10, 2012 9:00 pm
    The whole political party "thang" is way over played. Good people and bad people are not defined by politics. Political parties are just artificial labels.

    Example: Theodore Roosevelt

    Very much in favor of growing US military mite yet one of the greatest environmentalists in American history.

    Good or bad? He was Republican but so what?
  12. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 10, 2012 8:56 pm
    Yes Mr. Barf, and do you think that believers in the Bible are racists?

    In my earlier post I said that religion played a central role in the Civil War era. Your statement about the role of religion in that era is correct, and the same thing I said. Is there some other message you are trying to convey?

    Three interesting questions...

    Your answers will be even more interesting.
  13. MickeeD
    Report Abuse
    MickeeD - October 10, 2012 8:34 pm
    I wonder if this was a reading exercise. If so, it seems Professor Mosely's students have poor English comprehension skills. I assume of course he wasn't teaching history.

    Quite frankly, I think it's good to know Abraham Lincoln was a Republican but other than that, who cares? His kind transcends party affiliation. As does Dr. King and others.
  14. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 10, 2012 8:19 pm
    boone76: Yes, that's a shame. I remember studying Geography in the first grade.
  15. boone76
    Report Abuse
    boone76 - October 10, 2012 8:12 pm
    Mr Barf........

    While I can appreciate your disagreement with Mr Mosley, I'm sure I just misunderstood your connection with Republicans and racism. You tried to connect it twice. Do you consider Republicans as racists?

    Please feel free to confirm or deny my misunderstanding.
  16. boone76
    Report Abuse
    boone76 - October 10, 2012 8:01 pm
    "The problem these days is just plain neglect of American history. I agree with you about Geography. "

    DeeJay & MickeeD.....you both have become much smarter today! :-)

    Just a joke but both of you guys have hit home runs on this topic.

    History has become a side story in public education and I never had a formal Geography lesson until I took a side class up at Elgin Community College (several years after graduating from SIU).

    What a shame......
  17. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 10, 2012 7:44 pm
    I should clarify my position a bit. In the late sixties on into the mid-seventies, the years just following the Supreme Court's school prayer decision, many school administrators/teachers were afraid or over-zealous regarding teaching about religion in the public schools. There were anti-religious ideologues as well. As time as gone by, court cases have been decided, the religion question has mostly been settled. The problem these days is just plain neglect of American history. I agree with you about Geography.
  18. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 10, 2012 7:37 pm
    WTF: I agree with you.
  19. Barf
    Report Abuse
    Barf - October 10, 2012 7:31 pm
    Oh please. The author has no clue what he is talking about, and he has no clue about American history either. Judging by his quiz, he thinks American history stopped in 1812. He points out that Lincoln was a Republican, presumably to imply that Republicans are the good guys or Republicans aren't racist, but I'm sure he would accuse a textbook of liberal bias if it correctly pointed out that the Democrats pushed through all the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s and that racist Southern Democrats left the party and became Republicans in the 70s, after being actively courted by the Republicans in their "Southern Strategy." And yes, religion was important in the abolition movement, but religion was equally important to the pro-slavery side! Slavery supporters always used the Bible to justify and defend slavery. History class should not be about bashing America, but it should also not be about brainwashing kids with patriotic propaganda either. It should be honest.
  20. boone76
    Report Abuse
    boone76 - October 10, 2012 6:46 pm
    Fair enough

    Sorry I missed your point.....it appears we agree. :-)
  21. WTF
    Report Abuse
    WTF - October 10, 2012 6:04 pm
    I conceded I did stray a bit from the topic. The point I was trying to make was trying to make extremes at either end of the scale can be bad for our country.
  22. MickeeD
    Report Abuse
    MickeeD - October 10, 2012 12:17 pm
    Not the way Mosely thinks it is. If anything Geography is an area severely neglected.
  23. Gillsburgher
    Report Abuse
    Gillsburgher - October 10, 2012 11:42 am
    I share Mosley's despair on the disintegration of knowledge of history. I have on my shelf a high school book, "A History of our Country". The last date in it is 1939. It is 850 pages, with no illustrations. It is a fascinating read. I have another book from the 1990's, 650 pages, with about 1/3rd illustrations and big type. It contains less than half the words. The earlier book that our grandparents used is much better.

    Today, children are usually not taught the understanding that our country was founded as a collection of sovereign states, with a clearly defined and limited sovereign power ceded to a federation, the purpose of which is to protect, not infringe upon, the natural rights of individuals. This has been lost. As the Federal government becomes more powerful, the states are evolving into Provinces. That is not desirable.

    Children are not taught that Lincoln was a Republican. But those in California have the life of Harvey Milk (a San Francisco city politician that was murdered, but he happened to be gay, so they make a huge deal out of it) and the Communist activism of Caesar Chavez drilled into their heads, every single year of school. Being the largest state, and the only one that is failing faster than Illinois is why what they do is important to the rest of the country. Pay attention.
  24. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 10, 2012 11:29 am
    A textbook author who overlooks the role of religion during the Civil War Era has no business writing textbooks. He/she would be incompetent.

    boone76: Yes, American history is definitely being neglected.
  25. Gillsburgher
    Report Abuse
    Gillsburgher - October 10, 2012 11:19 am
    His students sound very typical of a large minority, if not a majority of people under 30.

    I think most everyone who grew up in Illinois knows that Lincoln was from here (a smaller number know he was born in Kentucky, and even smaller still that he lived in Indiana for a while). But how many people do you think know that he was a Republican? Not very many at all. I was talking to a black college girl from Cook County the other day. She believed Lincoln to be a great president for having freed the slaves (sort of). I asked her which party he was. She paused, then said, Democrat. I corrected her, and she said "I had no idea." She had no idea of much of anything having to do with history or economic systems, but she did not know that she did not know, much like Obama.

    Same is true for Martin Luther King. People today assume he was a Democrat, but he was not. He made a deal with Kennedy to deliver the black vote in exchange for Kennedy getting civil rights passed, something Republicans in Congress had been proposing nearly ever year for a decade or more.
  26. boone76
    Report Abuse
    boone76 - October 10, 2012 10:02 am
    Mickee and DeeJay.....


    Regardless of the politics do you two not agree that American history is being pushed to the back burner?
  27. MickeeD
    Report Abuse
    MickeeD - October 10, 2012 8:31 am
    No. An oversight yes.
  28. boone76
    Report Abuse
    boone76 - October 10, 2012 7:16 am
    Mosley's message is being lost in the fact that American's need to pay attention to what's being taught to our kids......nothing more, nothing less.

    Mr WTF......."American Consumerism" is nothing really that novel .......After the Great Depression and World War 2, Americans had done without for quite some time. Our population was ready to finally have some "stuff". It has driven our economy for decades. We can be a bit judgmental about what consumers purchase BUT as long as they are still buying........
  29. WTF
    Report Abuse
    WTF - October 10, 2012 6:29 am
    Mr Mosely stated that " If we do not monitor what our children are being taught in their schools and colleges (especially about our nation and its history), then we are helping Khrushchev’s disturbing prediction come true." Unfortunately something almost as bad has already come to pass on the current generation of Americans; no not communism but mass consumerism. If the pendulum swings too far in either direction, left or right, the consequences to our great nation are not good.
  30. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 09, 2012 4:39 pm
    Would you call it indoctrination when public schools teach the Civil War era and the efforts to free slaves with no mention of religion?
  31. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 09, 2012 4:37 pm
    Have you ever watched some of Jay Leno's interviews with people on the streets, particularly the young folks?
  32. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 09, 2012 4:35 pm
    I agree, bureaucrats easy to solve (on paper). But getting those union boss types out of education would be very difficult, and messy. The superintendent of the Washington DC school district made great strides, while the union howled. They eventually succeeded in getting her fired. I've spent a lifetime dealing with the parent part (not as a teacher, but as a caseworker/counselor), and you are correct. Things are worse now than when I started. I finally burned out.

    As mainman is fond of saying, God help our kids. And, God help the poor classroom teacher who really cares about those kids. The bureaucrats, the union bosses, and the kids who had kids (parents is too generous a term) will beat the idealism out of them in a few years.
  33. USN420
    Report Abuse
    USN420 - October 09, 2012 3:51 pm
    DeeJay... I respectfully disagree. It would be a really short discussion regarding the failure of American Education.

    Only two topics... Huge Incompetent Bureaucracies and Poor Parenting.

    Fixing one is easy... get rid of most of it. Fixing the other... difficult. Very difficult. As they don't think they have a problem. (Bad parents, that is.)
  34. MickeeD
    Report Abuse
    MickeeD - October 09, 2012 2:55 pm
    Seems to me Mosely is more concerned with indoctrination than history. Or he's an advocate for history but only from his ideological view point. Anything else is Communism. How quaint.
  35. colt18
    Report Abuse
    colt18 - October 09, 2012 2:24 pm
    "One day, after my students and I had discussed an essay about the Civil War, I decided to give them an impromptu oral quiz on American history.

    “Who was the president during the Civil War?”

    A long silence followed as the students stared at me like deer caught in headlights." - Mosley

    I'll take a guess and say his "students" are two high school drop-outs.
  36. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - October 09, 2012 12:56 pm
    Agreed. Mosley ran off the rails this week, although I agree that our kids are leaving the public schools sadly lacking a basic education. I remember my high school history course of the Civil War era included no mention of religion at all. Religion played a central role in opposition to slavery. That is an example of revisionist history. But it was not the classroom teacher's fault! Incompetent bureaucracies, ill-equipped parents...we could have a long discussion about reasons for the failure of our educational system. A good place to start would be in American homes.
  37. Bell Smith
    Report Abuse
    Bell Smith - October 09, 2012 12:38 pm
    After reading this nonsensical column, it is clear what happened to American History: radically partisan teachers like Harry Mosley revised it, distorted it, and buried the parts which conflicted with his ideology.
  38. MMike
    Report Abuse
    MMike - October 09, 2012 9:52 am
    There are similar problems with science education, grammar and writing, geography and so on. These problems are noting new. Mosley's "analysis" is based on hearsay: " I have heard several parents ...". He hasn't reviewed textbooks or curriculum guides or national surveys. Then he goes off on a paranoid rant about Khrushchev! Mosley seems to have forgotten a little piece of history himself: The USSR collapsed!
  39. Michael Moore
    Report Abuse
    Michael Moore - October 09, 2012 8:43 am
    As a newly retired teacher, I have to take umbrage with the good retired professor on his stance regarding the sad state of history education. He simplistically attributes the lack of knowledge regarding basic historical information to ‘liberal’ teachers attempting to promote the communist takeover of America. I would suggest that before he makes such a charge he check out two sources, first the Illinois State Standards for Social Studies, which is long on in-depth analysis and short on basic facts, and second, the Texas state standards.
    The Illinois standards have so much flotsam about economic, social and environmental analysis, even in the early primary grades, that the basics of who did what and what happened when are lost. This is not some conspiracy of history teachers to advance an agenda, it’s the result of pinheads at the state level (many of whom have never actually taught) coming up with verbiage to justify their salaries. Unfortunately, the teachers in the classrooms must deal with these standards, or put their positions in jeopardy.
    Not much else to say about Texas, but their insistence that Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, be dropped from the list of influential 18th century thinkers, pretty much says it all. (They don’t like the idea that he coined the phrase “separation of church and state”) And, their approach to science is even more airheaded.
    I’d suggest he go to the local café and check in with the folks who were educated before the ‘liberal takeover’ of history education. Ask the questions in his 10 question list. I think the results may increase his chagrin about the current state of knowledge.
    Finally, I agree it would seem that a long, hard look at the state of history education is in order, but attributing all the problems to some sort of liberal conspiracy is nonsense. The pinheads are skulking in the shadows on both ends of the political spectrum.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Follow the Southern Illinoisan

Pinboard

Deals & Offers

Special Sections

Southern Business Journal

Southern Business Journal

The American mall. What's the state of regional shopping malls?

April 07, 2015 8:30 am(0)