This week I learned from our associate Louis Rago in Chicago that an Illinois state representative received a packet of letters from a suburban 5th grade class asking him to nix Columbus Day. Their “research” had revealed that the explorer was a mass murderer and liar.
Also, this week my brother Dennis showed me a two-page NY Post op-ed piece by conservative pundit Ben Shapiro claiming Western Civilization as a joint venture of “Jerusalem and Athens.” Neither Italy nor Rome (pagan and Christian) was given even passing acknowledgement. The usual attribution of our humanist Western culture is “Greco-Roman.”
Both these hatchet jobs on history are becoming the norm as identity politics and revisionism spread their tentacles across an increasingly ignorant nation. There is no longer a consensus of knowledge. Traditional Euro-centric scholarship is considered racist. Facts are now subject to popular vote.
Palatine, IL teacher Melissa Hoeft, who felt her 5th graders (10- & 11-year olds) were mature enough to take down Christopher Columbus, gave her class, in her words: “one simple question – What is the true story of Columbus?” I do not know what their 5th grade textbook had to say on 1492, but clearly Ms. Hoeft felt it wasn’t true enough. So, where did she point her impressionable students – the school or town library? No, the internet. Not surprisingly, all eighteen pupils reached the same negative conclusions from similar websites, written in the identical format of reasons #1, #2, #3 against Columbus.
Ms. Hoeft merely bundled the student letters without vetting the “facts” they found, even though they were blatantly ridiculous. Example: ‘Columbus took credit for proving the earth was round when everyone already knew that, therefore he was a liar.’ ‘Columbus spent 70 years in the New World.’ Actually, the navigator was there only 10 years and died in Spain at age 51. Is this a teacher you would want in your school district?
In my school district on Long Island, I pay $7,000 in school tax annually. For that money, my school district is expected to educate its students in a responsible way. Sending them to the internet is a form of home-schooling, I would say. Assigning 10-year olds a research project without guidance or correction invites poor academic skills. Were Ms. Hoeft in my school district, I would demand her immediate dismissal for incompetence and political manipulation. By the way, Palatine is a majority White community.
Try Ms. Hoeft’s method of education with, say, “What is the true story of Jews?” I did just that. My first page of Google sites included The Ugly Truth and the Atlantean Conspiracy. Both are pro-Nazi sites denying the Holocaust, praising Hitler, and accusing Jews of leading Communism and ruining the world. No need to belabor this, Palatine taxpayers have lost control of their elementary school.
As for Ben Shapiro’s NY Post op-ed (3/17/19), based on his new book The Right Side of History, I’m 90% with him on the premise that our new society is becoming anti-Western. My problem is his not-so-subtle glorification of Jerusalem as an epicenter of scholarship and humanism. It was neither. Athens truly was the font of most Western wisdom in every discipline. Jerusalem was, and still is, a quagmire of religious fanaticism and intolerance. In Shapiro’s absurd cadence “if you believe in individual will you are a product of Jerusalem and Athens;” “Jerusalem and Athens built science;” “Jerusalem and Athens built America;” the city of David is an interloper riding the coattails of Athens and Rome. Clearly, his Orthodox Judaism does not permit him to praise the Eternal City – the Rome that exiled Shapiro’s people from Jerusalem.
Whether Shapiro will admit it or not, that exile or diaspora made the Jewish people what they are today, one of the most creative and talented people on earth. It was leaving Jerusalem and living among the Greeks and Italians that first brought forth the secular genius that Jews are now known for – in science, in the arts, in the humanities, in academia. Before that, they were businessmen par excellence but their claim to fame was only monotheism.
Beware self-promotion at our expense! -JLM