What is the price, the cost, of ignorance? How much does it steal from all of us when ignorant people are allowed to not only foist their mental shortcomings upon us, but also enact changes in standards and laws?
In particular, how much cost to out great nation, and collective American culture, does ignorance exact? How much has America lost over the past few generations because of how we teach history? How many Americans today have no clue as to what America’s history is?
A couple of very recent examples might help to illustrate the extreme cost of historical ignorance in America. A recent poll conducted by America On Line sought to see which America was considered the greatest of all. Well, a truly great American, Ronald Reagan did in fact win. In addition, two other true greats George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were fourth and fifth respectively.
That is the good news, now the bad. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, made the Louisiana Purchase, and was the third President, failed to make the top ten! Now before you let that upset you too much consider that James Monroe failed to make the top 100. Most galling, however is the exclusion of perhaps the most influential Founding Father, James Madison. He was not included in the top 100 either!
How, how, how can this be the case? There is no America without the United States Constitution is there? Moreover, who is rightfully called the Father of the Constitution? James Madison! Let’s be crystal clear here, to exclude Madison from this list is like excluding Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, or Willie Mays from the top 100 baseball players list.
There is absolutely zero justification for such historical stupidity. When some of the folks who did make the list instead of Madison are considered, it becomes even more sickening. Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Mohammed Ali, and Elvis Presley all made it, but NOT James Madison. What else, other than historical cluelessness can be blamed for such an omission?
Are we even teaching about the Founding Fathers anymore? If we are then how can the millions of Americans who voted in this poll NOT have placed Madison at or near the very top? Clearly too many of us are not educated about the beginnings of America. For Thomas Jefferson not to make the top ten is frankly disgusting, for Madison to be excluded altogether is beyond belief.
As disturbing, as the omission of Madison from the greatest American list is there is an equally disturbing and troubling story out of Palm Beach County, Florida. There, a middle school is soon going to be changing their name. Why is that a troubling example of historical ignorance? Well the soon-to-be changed name is Jefferson Davis Middle School. Yep, that is correct; the school is named for a great man who politically correct historians have effectively blacklisted.
Consider the description of Davis by the incredibly intellectually deficient Debra Robinson, a school-board member. “I don’t think we should name a school after Adolf Hitler. It is really that level with Jefferson Davis. I don’t think we should name schools for anyone that represents intolerance or straight-up hatred.”
So why, some of you may be asking, should any public school honor the President of the Confederate States of America? After all, doesn’t history teach that he was an evil White Southern slaveholder? Doesn’t history teach us that he led the attempted destruction of the Union to defend slavery in the South?
Well let me assure y’all if you have been taught such history, it is time you learned the truth about Jefferson Davis! First of all, yes, Davis did own slaves. He was quite different from many slave owners though. He educated his slaves, allowed them to have their own court system, to earn money, to marry. In fact, his deeply held belief was one-day slavery would thankfully end. He felt it the duty of the White Southerner to prepare the slaves for freedom. Unlike Lincoln who considered Blacks inherently inferior, and saw shipping them out of America as a solution, Davis saw a day when the races would be equal. Got that? Equal! He was possibly the most progressive thinker of his day in regards to slavery and the conditions of the races.
There is even more to Davis’s character that must be told though. He is the only, American President ever to adopt a Black child into his family! What is that? You ask. In 1864, his wife Varina Davis saw a young slave being beaten by his abusive owner. She stopped her carriage, saved the child and soon he was part of the Davis family. Jim Limber, the boy who became the greatest evidence of Davis’s compassion and love for all Southerners has, of course been whitewashed from history. Frankly a Black slave being adopted by the evil Confederate President does not fit the script politically correct historians want to teach us.
Sadly, foolish people like Debra Robinson have never learned the truth about Jefferson Davis. They look at him through intellectually challenged glasses! He owned slaves; slavery was bad so, therefore he was bad. Never mind that he was a brilliant statesman and orator. Never mind he was an incredibly honest man. Never mind he was a man who wanted both freedom AND equality for Blacks, and worked to achieve it.
Never mind all of that, he was a slave owner so therefore he was a mirror image of Hitler to the historically clueless! How pathetic that so many, including many on the political right are so historically bankrupt! So back to my original question. How much does this ignorance cost us? How much does it cost us when we forget great men like James Madison and James Monroe? How much does it cost to underestimate the importance of great men like Thomas Jefferson? How much is the cost of demonizing great men like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee?
To determine how great the cost really is consider the deteriorating condition of our American culture. Consider that schools named for Jefferson, Davis, Washington and Lee are being changed. Consider that the history of America is rapidly being erased or rewritten. Consider that groups like the ACLU are winning and the Constitution is losing in court case after court case.
What is the cost? Eventually, my friends the cost is our nation.