President Obama’s Bad History Lesson

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Of all the ridiculous things in President Obama’s prepared remarks for America’s schoolchildren, this is the funniest and saddest:

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best. It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation.

Of course, many of America’s founders did not sit in school, let alone a compulsory, government, mindless-drone-factory school as we have today because they didn’t exist and weren’t necessary. For example, George Washington dropped out of school at age twelve. Benjamin Franklin dropped out of school at ten, then proceeded to educate himself, as he documented in his must-read Autobiography.

If these men had been subject to compulsory schooling controlled by a central government, we probably never would have heard of them, and we definitely wouldn’t have had a revolution. The founders were deeply flawed, of course, but such virtues as they had are precisely the virtues government schools attempt to destroy in the interest of forming unthinking obedient citizens. As usual, Mencken put it best:

The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever pretensions of politicians, pedagogues other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else…. Their purpose, in brief, is to make docile and patriotic citizens, to pile up majorities, and to make John Doe and Richard Doe as nearly alike, in their everyday reactions and ways of thinking, as possible.

And of course that’s the purpose of Obama’s speech, too. What a brazen attempt to rewrite history — and to pound into their heads that it’s always been this way.

8:11 pm on September 7, 2009
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