The Poor State of American History
Both sides of the aisle can’t argue on much, but what they can agree on is that history is whatever they say it is. Obama, in his infinite wisdom, asserted that a recent Polish Medal of Freedom winner by the name of Karski was “smuggled into . . . a Polish death camp to see for himself.” Much to the surprise of the world’s Jewish community, who were almost sure that it was there their ancestors had died. Their mistake, apparently.
President Obama, who was ostensibly born and raised in Hawaii, has also mentioned that a single bomb had been dropped on Pearl Harbor. This follows on a long history, no pun intended, of a slippery relation with what I would call ‘the facts.’ He seemingly believes that JFK talked Khrushchev out of the Cuban missile crisis, right after we built the “Intercontinental Railroad” (was it from Indonesia to Hawaii?); and bragged that his uncle liberated Auschwitz (much to the consternation of prestigious Soviet historians who were almost sure that Auschwitz was located in western Poland).
I know quite a few people are shrugging their shoulders. Who doesn’t tell a whopper? An acquaintance of mine, for almost half-an-hour, maintained an impromptu lecture on the reasons for America’s involvement in the First World War. If you allowed him the benefit of the doubt, we involved ourselves to protect the democracies of the Entente Powers (Tsar, presumably, is Russian for ‘Happily-Elected-Premier’). Yet I cannot quite believe that the standards I hold to people I know are, or should be, the same standards I hold to the President. It’s unfair.
Samuel Chi points out over at RealClearHistory that “Michele Bachmann thought the battles at Lexington and Concord were in New Hampshire; Rick Perry believed the war was fought in the 16th century; and Sarah Palin claimed it all began when Paul Revere warned the British.” Obama’s “opponents” in the political field are hardly better. He just has more time in the spotlight.