Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The Culture: A Corps That Needs Rediscovery

The Wall Street Journal reports on the tepid commemoration of the Lewis and Clark bicentennial. This part struck me:

Most Louisvillians would be hard pressed to repeat these facts. A slew of elementary-school field trippers trekked through the exhibits last week, along with hard-core history buffs from the surrounding area. But for most, this historic re-enactment was a nonevent.

Just ask Emily Isaacs, age 10, a fifth-grader and a friend's niece. Did you study Lewis and Clark in school?

"We did a little bit," she said sheepishly, "last year."

What can you tell me about them?

"I can't think of anything," she said after an awkward silence.

And while she didn't know much about Lewis and Clark, she knew a lot about Columbus.

"He brought over diseases," she said eagerly.

It reminded me of the time I asked my nephew what he'd learned in school about World War II.

"Well, I know the Germans were bad," he said with equal trepidation. "But I know we were bad, too."

In their defense, neither is the class dunce. They're merely repeating what passes for history these days.
That's chilling. And that's what makes books like Tom Bowden's new The Enemies of Christoper Columbus critical.

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