The Past Is Passé: There Are No Lessons to Learn Much Less Forget.

I always tried to teach my students that though societies, tastes and cultures change, human nature never does.  People are complex creatures and can act well or badly, be criminals or heroes, reprobates or saints, but all must be judged in the context of their time and culture.

It always concerned me that the AP High School Curriculum diminished the learning of events, literature and people in favor of inculcating a set of conclusions about how history has created our present society.  When students learn the conclusions before learning the whole history, it strips historical characters of all humanity leaving them little more than stick figures who are merely sexists, bigots, and zealots.  And never mind that the conclusions students learn belong to others and may or may not be the ones they would come to if they learned the history for themselves.

Teaching cultural history is a necessary antidote for what otherwise becomes a self-indulgent exercise that glorifies people living today.  It is simply not true that contemporary people are better than those who went before.  But believing so makes it easy to turn past heroes into non-persons, tear down memorials, remove historical figures and their literature from textbooks and ultimately reject the beliefs and rights of people who hold a dissenting view of the past.

And we are now seeing the tragic effects of this lack of cultural transmission.  Below is a link to a piece where Mark Steyn writes on the same theme.  I hope you enjoy it and wish all my readers and followers a fun Labor Day weekend.

The Totalitarianism of the Now by Mark Steyn

I had thought the floodwaters of Texas had at least momentarily submerged the left’s war on history. But I see a Hillary Clinton staffer called Logan Anderson has been triggered by a white man with a Confederate flag on his boat rescuing black people in . . .

Source: The Totalitarianism of the Now

 

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2 thoughts on “The Past Is Passé: There Are No Lessons to Learn Much Less Forget.

  1. TCM is showing WWII submarine movies today. I just watched “The Enemy Below”, which stars Robert Mitchum as a US destroyer captain who matches wits with Curt Jurgens who is captaining a German submarine. The movie was made in 1957, just twelve years after the most destructive and bitter war in world history. As the two captains wage mortal combat, it becomes clear that the crews of both ships are flesh and blood human beings, doing what they believe is their duty.

    There is a scene in which the German captain glances at one of his younger officers who is reading a copy of “Mein Kampf”. He looks at his exec and rolls his eyes. The exec looks over and shrugs. In one deft scene, it is made clear that some of them are NAZIs or wannabe NAZIs, but most are just Germans performing their duty. I immediately thought about Antifa and how to them they would all be fascists fighting for the wrong cause.

    As the Left seeks to tear down Confederate memorials, they should stop to think that the Confederate Army and Navy were comprised of Southerners. They weren’t necessarily Democrats like Jefferson Davis and William Yancey. They were Americans fighting for what they believed was right. They were doing their duty. After the Civil War was over, there was an effort to bind the wounds and honor the fallen on both sides. This was part of the process of healing. This was the purpose of statues and the reason for the creation of Memorial Day.

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