It’s getting hard to keep track of all the un-American things that are destroying our country. There’s gay marriage, Obama, minimum wage, contraceptives, foreign cars, pretty much any form of social media more advanced than two tin cans and a piece of string, paper money, the existence of non-Christians, and Obama. But co-director of the Institute of Studies of Religion Rodney Stark has identified another harbinger of America’s destruction: the lack of emphasis on historical knowledge in our education system.
College students these days, Stark asserts, are graduating with little to no knowledge of world history. Worse than that, they’re graduating with no knowledge of American history. Instead, colleges and high schools are allowing students to fulfill American history requirements with thoroughly irrelevant courses like “History of Mexicans in the U.S”, “Mexican-American Women, 1910-present”, and “The United States and Africa”. Yeah, readme can’t see any way those classes could have anything to do with America or history at all.
More than that, though, these classes teach our children the “poisonous lies” that white people didn’t actually invent everything worth inventing, that foreign cultures were just as sophisticated as their European counterparts, and that America is maybe kind of not entirely perfect. For instance, Stark says, some such classes claim that the ancient Greeks stole much of their culture from black Egyptians, which he points out is impossible because apparently there weren’t any powerful black people in ancient Egypt. Um. Besides, he adds, Herodotus made it quite clear that the Egyptian culture was far inferior to that of the Greeks anyways, and it’s not like that that ancient Greek historian could possibly be biased toward ancient Greece or anything.
Next on his bizarre homage to Mythbusters, Stark tackled the “myth” that Europe became fabulously wealthy through uneven trade with its foreign colonies. While true on a ‘real’, ‘actual’ level, Stark points out that Europeans as a whole didn’t actually benefit from trade with colonies. After all, the average Brit had to pay taxes to cover the costs that made the hideous violation of native rights that was the colonial system possible, while only a few British folks actually profited in ludicrous droves. Well, now readme just feels silly; obviously, it doesn’t count as theft if only a few people profit from it!
Clearly, Stark concludes, our nation faces a crisis. If we as a country are ever to once again reach the great heights that, according to his conception of history, we never left, we will have to make sure our students learn “the basics of American and world history”—that is to say, the parts of American and world history that won’t shatter Stark’s precious worldview that no society has ever in any way been more advanced than America or its ideological predecessors and that only educated white men have ever done anything of historical note. You know. The basics.
readme will say this much for Stark: he’s certainly convinced us that some Americans have a stunning lack of knowledge of world history. We really ought to consider adding a mandatory course to our history curriculum so people like that will have the knowledge they need to function in our society. We could call it ‘The World Does Not Revolve Around You: A History’.