# The "ignorant American" - a fair prejudice?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by GRO$$, Jan 7, 2005. Thread Status: Not open for further replies. 1. ### OphioliteValued Senior Member Messages: 9,232 Marv, this may, by chance, be a very bad example. The restriction of the teaching of German history to post WWII was a deliberate policy intended to prevent any resurgence of naziism. [I guess they didn't believe Santayana.] From recent news articles I understand they are seriously re-evaluating this. Indeed it may already have changed. On the general topic of the thread here is one thing to consider. I could fly from Aberdeen, in the north of Scotland to Amsterdam, take the train through the Netherlands, Belgium and northern France to Paris, hire a car and drive to the channel, ferry across, on to London and a flight back to Aberdeen. Four countries (five if you count Scotland seperately), three capital cities (four counting Brussels, five if you accept Aberdeen as the 'oil capital of Europe' Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! ). Now make a similar trip in the US (in most cases without the benefit of a train) . How about Houston, Midland/Oddessa, San Antonio, Houston. And I haven't even set foot outside Texas. It is a huge country. Its relatively high degree of self-sufficiency means that for work or pleasure the average American does not need to leave the country, and if she does so it is logistically much more complex than it is for a European. That said when I lived in the US I did tend to feel that The Dallas Morning News considered something about Oklahoma to be international news. Parochialism? I'm on a roll. There is a story that the Aberdeen Press and Journal carried a headline in the early part of the 20th century which read Three North East Men Drown at Sea. The article was about the Titanic. 2. ### Google AdSenseGuest Advertisement to hide all adverts. 3. ### marvJust a dumb hillbilly...Registered Senior Member Messages: 743 How about separating wheat from chaff, aka 'a history test'? A simple question, which American President first went to war with an Islamic nation over Islamic practices? 4. ### Google AdSenseGuest Advertisement to hide all adverts. 5. ### UndecidedBannedBanned Messages: 4,731 While I seriously doubt many American high school students have any real knowledge of Bismarck, outside of maybe having heard the name itself, I would be curious to know how many average German high school students learn about an American like say Teddy Roosevelt, Historically Teddy Roosevelt had no effect on Germany or on that matter on much of the world. Bismarck did, it’s like comparing a historical apple and orange. Yes Teddy was important to the US but that’s about it, Bismarck literally shaped the world in a new light Teddy simply did not. I mean why don’t we learn about Atlee? He was more important then Roosevelt. I admit I knew nothing of the chancellor when I was in high school (there were no 'honors' courses way back then), and wasn't exposed to the man and his significance in any depth until I took freshman world civ in college. Some schools in the US don’t even teach history because it isn’t counted on this no child left behind thing, or something like that. 6. ### Google AdSenseGuest Advertisement to hide all adverts. 7. ### UndecidedBannedBanned Messages: 4,731 A simple question, which American President first went to war with an Islamic nation over Islamic practices? Going out on a limb here...Jefferson? Against the Barbary states because they were seizing US shipping in the Mediterranean. 8. ### OphioliteValued Senior Member Messages: 9,232 Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! Let me saw the limb off with you sitting on it. Unless Marv is being very broad in his use of terms, I don't think seizing shipping constitutes a normal Islamic practice. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! I am fighting down the temptation to google the answer, and instead to work it out by deduction. I am thinking a Phillipines connection at the moment. 9. ### UndecidedBannedBanned Messages: 4,731 I didn't even notice that...I don't think its a "Islamic practice" either, just a practice that took after the British...pirates. It's like saying "which Christian nation over an Christian practice"...pretty stupid eh? 10. ### surendererRegistered Senior Member Messages: 879 An excellent book I purchased kinda on this subject was: Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong By James Loewen One of the most telling things this book says is that in American textbooks We(Americans) have never commited a "crime" or unjustice....despite treatment of Native Americans or Africans (or most other minorities) we have always been about fair and equal treatment for everyone 11. ### GRO$$Registered Senior Member

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I agree, it'd bet a paycheck that 98% of Americans 15-18 have no clue if Bismarck is a person or city.

Maybe I should just post the entire dinner conversation here, but I came to the subject of "American ignorance" when I was criticizing an obsession with consumerist entertainment that is very stereotypically American-- we like to consume without producing. Americans are too used to instant gratification-- they have been 'spoiled' by McDonald's and Disney, following the logic that since time is money, money invested in a dinner is the equivalent of cooking it yourself; money invested in the movie is the equivalent of time invested in reading the book (not to say that all movies are bad, just that there are a lot more good books than there are good movies).

As a result, we have not been doing much real research on what's been going on around us-- this is why 74% of those that support Bush think he supports the Labor Standards and Trade Agreements (see p.12 of my earlier link), and only 13% know that he opposes it? Noam Chomsky's famous (among his fans, at least) anecdote rings along the same lines:

"You'll be pleased to know that the Pentagon recently downgraded the threat of Cuban conquest of the United States. It's still there, but it's not as serious as it was. The reason, they explained, is the deterioration of the awesome Cuban military forces after the end of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union stopped supplying them. So we can rest a little bit easier; we don't have to hide under tables the way we were taught to do in first grade. This elicited no ridicule when it was publicly announced, at least here. I'm sure it did elsewhere; you might recall the response of the Mexican ambassador when John F. Kennedy was trying to organize collective security in defense against Cuba back in the early '60s in Mexico: the ambassador said he would regretfully have to decline because if he were to tell Mexicans that Cuba was a threat to their national security, 40 million Mexicans would die laughing."​

12. ### UndecidedBannedBanned

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To be fair it seems pretty obvious the point is to make Americans ignorant of their history so they don't question their governments motives in a time of war, I was watching the Daily Show last night and the guest a author called “Zinn” sorry don’t know him but seems to be famous, said (paraphrasing) “If Americans knew about the atrocities committed under our name you wouldn’t have a single recruit at the recruiting stations”. Which is I suspect very true, most Americans can’t even point to their home town on a map, most Americans have no idea of their own history let alone anyone else’s, and what they do know is glamorized misrepresentations from Hollywood. American’s are sheeple of no fault of their own really… their government has failed them.

13. ### GRO$$Registered Senior Member Messages: 304 Funny little thing-- I called my girlfriend fifteen minutes ago or so and asked her if she'd heard of Bismarck. She said 'no'. I asked if it was a country in Europe, she didn't think so. A city? She didn't think so either. A famous person from Europe? She said no. She was getting aggitated by then, so I thanked her and hung up. She just called me back-- said "The capital of North Dakota" and hung up. Well, it's not like she was wrong... Last edited: Jan 7, 2005 14. ### SpykeRegistered Senior Member Messages: 1,006 In your rush to make a point, you missed my point. Bismarck's alliance system was certainly a factor leading to the Great War, although definitely not the only factor, but still he is very influential in history, but mainly in European history. By the same token Roosevelt was very influential in US history. He was one of the leading advocates in the late 19th/early 20th centuries for the US becoming a Great Power and becoming influential in world affairs. If you consider Bismarck a factor leading to the Great War, and therefore important for him to be included in American high school World Civ courses, then equally, if European high school students are to understand how America came to be involved in European affairs beginning with the Great War, they would have to be exposed to Roosevelt and like thinkers of the era. Regardless of the generalization, I would still suspect he was referring to Jefferson and the Barbary War. 15. ### GRO$$Registered Senior Member

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Undecided-- I'm so glad you mentioned him. I love Stewart for having him on. He is famous in certain circles. I just got his best known book (mentioned a couple of times on The Daily Show) for Christmas, and it's amazing!

16. ### UndecidedBannedBanned

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In your rush to make a point, you missed my point. Bismarck's alliance system was certainly a factor leading to the Great War, although definitely not the only factor, but still he is very influential in history, but mainly in European history. By the same token Roosevelt was very influential in US history.

Exactly…that is my point as well, I guarantee you there is no disagreement. The problem is that the US at that period in time was not very important to the world’s geo-political order which was dominated by the UK, and the only nation that threatened the UK in any serious manner was Germany. Teddy was important in the US, I alluded to that but not important outside that context, the unification of Germany is one of the most important events in world history, and its architect is one of the most important men. Bismarck is important because his invention makes WWI a possibility, and affected US history. Teddy you must admit did not even come close. Now Wilson, yes they should learn about him…

He was one of the leading advocates in the late 19th/early 20th centuries for the US becoming a Great Power and becoming influential in world affairs.

Rhetoric and reality are two different things…not every American president is important...

If you consider Bismarck a factor leading to the Great War, and therefore important for him to be included in American high school World Civ courses, then equally, if European high school students are to understand how America came to be involved in European affairs beginning with the Great War, they would have to be exposed to Roosevelt and like thinkers of the era.

No, because the reason the US became involved was because of Wilson, not Teddy. He had nothing to do with it, if anything Europeans should learn about American isolationalism which was further enhanced by Teddy. America got involved in European affairs out of necessity not choice.

Regardless of the generalization, I would still suspect he was referring to Jefferson and the Barbary War

In your rush to make a point, you seemed to miss I already anwered that question.

You should delete one of your posts Spyke...

Last edited: Jan 7, 2005
17. ### GRO$$Registered Senior Member Messages: 304 the quote by Howard Zinn, by the way, was: "If young people going to school knew the history of American expansion-- first on the continent, and then in the world and if they knew the history of lies and the history of massacres that took place alongside this expansion nobody would go to a recruiting station to sign up for any war. Nobody." --Howard Zinn on The Daily Show, Jan 6, 2005 18. ### marvJust a dumb hillbilly...Registered Senior Member Messages: 743 You win the prize, Undecided. The "Islamic practice" I referred to was the taking of captives to be held for ransom, or failing that, for slavery. Zakat, something we in the West would call extortion, could be paid for "protection". Of course, how much "protection" a nation received was determined by how much zakat was paid. (A Muslim will tell you that zakat has an entirely different meaning.) Jefferson, even before he was President, advocated military intervention in the Barbary states. Thomas Jefferson was the George W. Bush of his time. Our conflict with the Barbary pirates solved both our problems and those of Europe. Jefferson did the same things for the same reasons as Dubya did starting with Afganistan. Moving on to Howard Zinn, he forgets that the "native Americans" were not native to America at all, but imigrants from Asia. Further, the Europeans who first explored the New World found canabilism, human sacrifice, slavery, and constant warfare to be the norm between the various tribes. I always chuckle when I hear someone talk about how white settlers "destroyed" the idylic life-style of these natives who communed so with nature. Hell, these natives so in tune with and loving of nature had already killed off the mastodon, the North American camel, native horses, a species of giant bison, and who knows what else before we got here. 19. ### GRO$$Registered Senior Member

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Oh, OK. So because their ancestors migrated from somewhere else 12,000 years ago (that's twelve thousand), killing some estimated 10 million people, raping, and lying was allright. Mybad. That civilization had it coming; every one of them deserved to die.

Obviously you have not read much of Mr. Zinn's, as he takes your view into careful consideration and counters it quite masterfully (read The People's History of the United States). Or, if you're completely anti-Zinn, or if you want more than one chapter's worth of the immorality of American expansionism in the 19th century, try Dee Brown's "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee".

20. ### UndecidedBannedBanned

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You win the prize, Undecided.

Well in reality I shouldn’t have, an American should have…

The "Islamic practice" I referred to was the taking of captives to be held for ransom, or failing that, for slavery.

Mind showing us the passage in the Quran in which such a practice is advertised? Because there is a difference btwn being a country, and being religious. If we are to use your logic thus far, was British pirateering was an exercise in Christianity? I doubt it…so please before you state it is an “Islamic practice” show us where in the Quran it states as such.

Moving on to Howard Zinn, he forgets that the "native Americans" were not native to America at all, but imigrants from Asia.

Then using that logic Europeans aren’t native to Europe, Chinese aren’t native to Asia, etc. The only place where we are all “native” is a cave in South Africa on the coasts of the Indian Ocean. Since we all migrated somewhere, sorry but the Natives of America were the first human inhabitants of this land and as a result are the original owners of it.

Further, the Europeans who first explored the New World found canabilism, human sacrifice, slavery, and constant warfare to be the norm between the various tribes.

Even if this were true, this doesn’t justify our colonialization of the land in the way we did it. I don’t necessarily object to the colonialization of America, what I object to is the manner in which we did it. I mean if the situation was reversed they would have found our religions, our inquisitions, our wars, our diseases, and our bigotry to be reasons to “civilize” us. This idea of “civilize” is so relativist it loses all meaning.

I always chuckle when I hear someone talk about how white settlers "destroyed" the idylic life-style of these natives who communed so with nature.

True their lives were not idyllic, but it was better then, then it was under American (meaning continent wide) white enslavement, and native holocaust. If anything we are the barbarians not them for killing upwards of 30 million to some estimates.

Hell, these natives so in tune with and loving of nature had already killed off the mastodon, the North American camel, native horses, a species of giant bison, and who knows what else before we got here.

Well how many creatures have Western Europeans killed off? No one is innocent...

21. ### TheMatrixIsRealRegistered Member

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I would have to agree with tiassa on this point. Americans are ignorant of history for two basic reasons: the history education they recieve in school sucks, and once they graduate they have no real need for it. How many people do you know who study 19th century European history in their spare time? The sad fact is most Americans don't need to, or want, to learn more than they need to do their job. They make money, spend it on something enjoyable (and to most learning is not something enjoyable; HDTV's, new cars, sports, movies, sex toys, video games are), and then repeat the process. That's most Americans summed up right there.

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There are many stupid people in the USA makes me sick. Most of that is caused by woman's rights activists saying how woman should expire to be highly educated but still be super models. Then they tell guys that they need to be stuid jocks and if they are smart and get great grades they are considered dorks, nurds, and losers. So more or less Men are dang near forced to be jocks/thugs and women are more exepted to be smart but are still told they must be mindless super models also.

If the states droped the need for super models and jocks/thug rapers and prased the efforts of the smart with out beating them into the ground the USA would be a better place. Jocks and models are fine thugs are worthless because of the way of life they think is cool and hip. But if some one is smart they should not be degraded for it.

This just brings up why we need to geneticly engeneer a few generations. So everone can be rocket engeneers and football playing models 8)...

ya I can't spell I have Dislexia live with it... Just one more reason for genetic engeneering.

23. ### SpykeRegistered Senior Member

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Wilson is important to the Great War in the same vein as Wilhelm II, simply because they were the leaders of the moment, so yes, Wilson should be in European high school history texts as the Kaiser should be in American HS history texts. But Bismarck has no more reason to be in American HS history texts at the high school level that Roosevelt does in European HS texts. Bismarck is significant to Europeans because of German unification, and because of his secret alliances. That's not any more significant to an American high school student as is Roosevelt's being say the first Progressive president, or setting the standard for an increasingly powerful executive office in the 20th century (and he did that without even being a war-time president), or for the Panama Canal, or the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Donctrine, or his Big Stick policy, or the Great White Fleet should be to a European HS student.

Not particularly important to a German high school student maybe, I agree, although Roosevelt is certainly important in American history by any standard (and why he ranks in the top 5 in every presidential ranking I've ever seen (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR generally being the other 4). But by the same token, there's no reason to expect Bismarck to be of any more importance to an American HS student.

Bismarck had nothing to do with the war itself either, however, it was policies of both Bismarck and Roosevelt during their tenures that made their two nations involvement in the war probable, Bismarck through his secret alliances, Roosevelt through his aggressive doctrine, his build up of the navy, and his belief that great nations (which he wanted the US to be) were nations that took action. Wilson even tried to keep the US out of the war for the first 3 years, while Roosevelt, as a private citizen, increasingly publicly criticized Wislon for not getting involved, arguing that the US should fight for what she believed in.

Are you serious? Teddy was anything but an isolationist. He argued that if the US was going to be a great nation she should act like it. He believed the US should be involved in world affairs. According to him, the nations that didn't, withered away. He was an advocate of the war with Spain, of Hawaiian annexation, of Philippine annexation, of the Panama Canal so his navy could be a 'two-ocean' navy, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for arbitrating an end to the Russo-Japanese War at Portsmouth. he was anything but an isolationist.

Of course there was a choice. No one attacked the US or declared war on her. The death of a few American civilians due to u-boats, while tragic, or the affront to the US by the Zimmerman message, did not make US involvement 'necessary'.

Yep. I didn't realize until I logged back on that I had double posted.