- Sunday, February 18, 2024

Republicans should try to avoid feeling smug about the president’s memory problems.

So he thinks that the leaders of France and Germany are men who have been dead for decades. He confused the presidents of Mexico and Egypt, and he can’t quite recall the years he was vice president.

At 81, President Biden is the oldest man to serve in the Oval Office, and it shows.

But like our president, America, too, is suffering from memory loss.

On Monday, we’ll celebrate Presidents Day, which takes two real holidays and rolls them into one that’s surreal. Once upon a time, we observed the birthdays of George Washington, the man more responsible than any other for our independence, and Abraham Lincoln, who saved the Union during the Civil War.

Now we have a holiday to honor everyone who has ever held the office, including such towering figures as William Henry Harrison, James Buchanan and Jimmy Carter.

Like tearing down statues, this is part of the process of erasing our history.

A survey by the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Fellowship showed that 37% believed Benjamin Franklin, not Thomas Edison, invented the lightbulb. In a 2017 survey, 43% of college graduates did not know that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. And to think there are those who question the value of higher education.

This is the product of a relentless assault on teaching American history.

In his book “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Moral and Cultural Case for Teaching the Great American Story,” Timothy S. Goeglein identifies the principal culprit as Marxist historian Howard Zinn, whose “People’s History of the United States” is assigned reading for millions of high school and college students.

Zinn, coincidentally one of my professors at Boston University back in the 1960s, used history to indoctrinate. He taught that the American saga is one of genocide, exploitation and aggression. His book should be subtitled “Learn How to Hate Your Country in 729 Pages.”

Zinn’s successors include author Nikole Hannah-Jones, a race-hustler whose 1619 Project asserts that the most salient development in our history was when the first slave was brought here.

If U.S. history — real history, not Marxist mythology — were taught in our schools, Americans might understand the significance of that revolutionary document, the Declaration of Independence. They might comprehend the genius of the Constitution and what it took to fashion 13 disparate states into a nation.

They would learn something of our westward expansion, of the sacrifices made by pioneers and settlers to create a new civilization, about the great cattle drives, and the building of the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway system.

They’d learn about the wars we fought to liberate humanity from monarchy and totalitarian tyranny. They might come to understand the unprecedented prosperity achieved when humanity is freed to innovate, produce and build.

For a person to forget his past is sad. For a people to forget theirs is tragic.

In consequence of this indoctrination, in a 2021 poll, only 36% of adults ages 18 to 24 said they were “proud to be an American,” compared with 86% of those over 65, who went to school before the hardcore brainwashing began.

The war on American history is by design. It’s easier to control those who are ignorant of the past. It’s easier to manipulate citizens who don’t understand that in this country, the word “insurrection” grew up in a certain context that had nothing to do with protests over vote-counting.

A people are more pliable when they don’t understand how the government is supposed to work — that there’s something terribly wrong with a system that creates speech-suppression zones around abortion clinics but allows protesters to wail like banshees outside the homes of Supreme Court justices.

To pick a contemporary example, 37% of those under 35 are more sympathetic to the Palestinians than to Israel, the highest level of support for the former since Gallup began polling here.

That support might be eroded if more Americans knew that there has never been an independent state of Palestine in the region and that Israel’s claim to its land goes back over 3,000 years.

Americans don’t know much history, and they never will as long as the left controls education. It’s in its interest to keep us wandering around in a fog.

And so it is, with no small measure of irony, that I wish you a happy Millard Fillmore Day.

• Don Feder is a columnist with The Washington Times.

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