I received this story from a great friend who has long been concerned about the quality of education (more accurately, the 'lack of') in our public school system. In the combined six years his two girls have been in a well-regarded high school in northern Virginia, neither has had any instruction in 'modern history' stretching from WWII through the post-Cold War period. Of my three kids, only one is old enough to have completed high school so I have fewer data points but my insights are similar. Our kids simply aren't receiving much, if any, education about 'how' and 'why' our world is the way it is, what forces have shaped it in the modern age or even explanation of the various regimes and/or ideologies that vied for dominance across the 20th Century. I guess it shouldn't be surprising to see Che Guevara shirts or hammer-and-sickle graphics adorning our youth if they don't have the slightest notion of the terrible cost in human lives and squandered opportunity exacted by communism from hundreds of millions of people.
In a similar way, one can't expect people to vote on policies, or the people who espouse them, with any sense of historically-based understanding if they've never been exposed to the harsh realities of our own history. I believe the truth of the matter is that most parents have largely ceased to care about such things...not all, of course, but a majority sufficiently large enough such that state governments and local public school systems are allowed to teach whatever drivel they choose without having to worry about being held accountable by the very population they are failing. What a shame.
By Paul Kengor, September 27, 2012, FoxNews.com
“What do you think of this?” So began a phone call from Todd Starnes of FoxNews Radio. Starnes called me for a comment on a shocking story: A band at a high school near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania performed a halftime show titled, “St. Petersburg 1917,” a musical commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution, replete with hammers and sickles, military uniforms, and red flags.
“No way,” I responded. “Are you sure this wasn’t a joke, a parody?”
It wasn’t. And parents of the students aren’t laughing.
The superintendent of the school genuinely pleaded innocence. “It’s a representation of the time period in history, called ‘St. Petersburg 1917,’” she said. “I am truly sorry that somebody took the performance in that manner. I am.” She continued: “If anything is being celebrated it’s the music…. I’m just very sorry that it wasn’t looked at as just a history lesson.”
Well, as a history lesson, I give it a giant, red “F.”
To be fair to the superintendent, she sincerely doesn’t seem to understand what’s so bad about this incident, and why it’s in bad taste. In fact, therein is the basic problem: We have failed to teach the horrors of the Bolshevik Revolution specifically and of communism generally.
Those horrors include over 100 million corpses generated by communist governments, starting with the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917—that is, “St. Petersburg 1917.” For perspective, 100 million is twice the combined deaths of World War I and II, the two deadliest conflicts in history. Even then, 100 million dead, which is the estimate provided by the seminal Harvard University Press work, "The Black of Book of Communism," is a conservative figure. The latest research claims that Mao Tse-Tung was responsible for the deaths of at least 70 million in China, and Joseph Stalin alone may well have killed 60 million in the USSR.
And yet, far too many American are ignorant of this catastrophe, especially younger Americans. I know. I’ve been observing it carefully for years. I could give a thousand examples, but here are just a few: