Thursday, 17 June 2004

The Lessons of History III

From the Herald-Sun :
I know Big Brother hardly represents a cross-section of normal Australians, yet the following conversation between two of the inmates rings a big, booming bell of warning -- not least because one of the two, Wesley, was the captain at his private boys school in Queensland, and the other, Ashalea, is in the education business, even if only as a part-timer in a kindergarten.

Wesley: Ah, 1991, was that the year that the Berlin Wall came down?

Ashalea: What wall?

Wesley: The Berlin Wall.

Ashalea: Where's the Berlin Wall?

Wesley: You don't know about the Berlin Wall?

Ashalea (giggling): No.

Wesley: In Berlin there used to be, like, a communist country and there used to be a big wall between East Berlin and West Berlin, where, like, the people on the West, I suppose, couldn't come to the East, or was it the other way around, because the East was where the rich people lived and the West was where the poor people lived.

I've written before about the decline in the knowledge of history among the young, thanks largely to our schools, so it's perhaps not surprising that even a private school captain or a kindergarten worker don't understand what the Berlin Wall was -- physical proof of the imprisonment of a whole people by a tyrannical communist regime.

Not for nothing did Monash academic Mark Peel, author of A Little History of Australia, warn a national inquiry into teaching history to the young: "Indeed, their sense of the world's history is often based on intense moments and fragments. The 20th century is largely composed of snatches, moments that rarely gel into a longer narrative".
Nor should it surprise anyone that anti-war activists can be manipulated with historic falsehoods, such as the lie that America was a close ally of Saddam and sold him weapons of mass destruction. It's not surprising that they can be so anti-Israeli, either, not knowing how Israel was born, and the wars it's had to fight for its very existence.

It's not surprising they can be anti-American, not knowing of the tyrannies the United States fought and the debt we owe it from World War II.
Who needs a Ministry of Truth, when so much that's contradictory to a currently fashionable world view can be conveniently forgotten?

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