Cultural Amnesia

  We've all heard the stories about kids who don't know who won the Civil War, or adults who couldn't identify Woodrow Wilson if their life depended on it. But one respected observer is now saying that things may be so bad in America as to threaten our country's future. Syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer writes that the signs of national memory loss are clearly evident in results of several recent studies. A recent Roper Poll, for example, shows that even our most elite college seniors apparently slept their way through civics class. Almost 100 percent of them had no problem identifying Beavis and Butt-head. But only one-third knew that the Constitution was the document that established the division of powers in the U.S. government. Even worse, Stephen Bertman, the author of the book Cultural Amnesia, reports that Americans finished dead last in a nine-nation survey asking basic geography questions. Fourteen percent of the American adults surveyed could not even find the U.S. on an unmarked map. Geyer attributes this ignorance in part to the "intellectual fracturing within the history profession." This fracturing has taken place, she says, because of the infiltration of our culture by Marxist and leftist academics. These ideologues have deliberately recast history for political purposes. For example, feminists have dismissed much of Western history as the irrelevant myths of Dead White Males. Then there are black scholars who see history through the lens of Afrocentrism. Some insist that the great figures of Western history were actually black, from Plato to Jesus Christ. In the same way, gay activists are constantly combing through history to augment their cause, claiming that many historical figures were gay. These folks are tearing up history by the roots and replanting it in their own ideological garden. Is it any wonder Americans no longer know what to believe? And it may only get worse, Geyer notes. "Since so many cannot agree on what American history means, they prefer not to teach it at all." Unbelievably, only half of our states even require the teaching of civics in public school. The result is that we are gradually forgetting the ideas our country was founded on -- and this puts our future in jeopardy because people lose their sense of connection with and debt to those who have gone before. We lose sight of the ideals that make this nation worth working to preserve and fighting for if necessary. Here's one issue where Christians ought to be on the front lines -- because Christianity is firmly rooted in key historical events. Christianity teaches that Jesus was born 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. That He performed miracles, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead. These historical events are not incidental to our faith, they are its very basis. Our spiritual teachings rest squarely on divine acts in history. But the revisionists are treating history as though it can be stretched and manipulated to accommodate every special interest group. If that's the case, Christians would be reduced to just one more special interest, interpreting history through the prism of our own personal preferences. We urgently need to help people to understand what is at stake. The place to start is to teach your kids our own history. The revisionists may control the schools but we control our homes. And it's important. If we fail, we may end up with an America our Founders would not recognize.


Chuck Colson


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