By Joe Darby
It seems to me that many left wing academics these days are playing Dr. Kevorkian to our popular history and traditions.
You remember Dr. Kevorkian. He was the physician who gained notoriety a few years ago for his advocacy of assisted suicide, helping people to end their lives. And, as I said, I feel like many liberal professors are trying to gently — or not so gently — do away with the way that many Americans look to our past. Many people see in that past an effort to strive to make our country a better place and are proud of the efforts of the citizens who came before us.
But these days those achievements of old are being denigrated and put in a different light altogether from the way many of us who are used to looking at them.
The idea for this column was inspired by a review in the Weekly Standard, a somewhat intellectual conservative magazine, of a new book, written by Stephen Brumwell, about the Revolutionary War traitor Benedict Arnold.
The review praises the book, but it was some side comments by writer Gordon S. Wood that really grabbed my attention. I’d like to quote at some length from what Mr. Wood had to say about so many of today’s college-level academics.
He says the story of Arnold was once well known to most Americans, how the brilliant general betrayed George Washington and the United States by trying to turn over the fort at West Point over to the British. Arnold’s name was once a synonym for traitor.
“Not so any more,” Wood says. “Nowadays, many young Americans have no idea who Arnold was. Even those who have vaguely heard the name have little sense of what he did and why ‘Benedict Arnold’ has been a byword for betrayal through much of our history.
“This loss of memory comes in part from a changing view of the revolution. In the hands of present day teachers and professors the revolution is no longer the glorious cause it once was. It is now mostly taught — when it is taught at all — as a tale of woe and oppression, redressing what many academics believe was an over-emphasis on the patriotism of great white men.
To make a long story short, the American Revolution was a revolution of white men, which came at the expense of everyone else, blacks, women and Indians, according to much of today’s academic thinking.
Well. Neither I nor Mr. Wood, in his review, will try to make the case that there were not serious problems during the revolution, including the existence of the horrible institution of slavery. But what the Founders (we should no longer refer to them as the Founding Fathers, you see) accomplished in creating the United States was, I believe, one of the great achievements in history.
No where on earth at that time, unfortunately, were women given equal rights. All native peoples were oppressed in one manner or another. And Africans were sold into slavery all over the Western Hemisphere as well as in Africa and the Middle East.
Judging people of the past by liberal 21st century standards is really not quite fair, is it?
So I’m not going along with this new destructive trend. When I get hold of a book that tells our history objectively and does not spend half of its text “teaching” us what villains our forefathers (sorry, I mean our ancestors) were, I’m ready to curl up with that book, settle back and enjoy it. If a book attacks American values that I still hold dear, I will get rid of that book, even if I paid good money for it.
I’m too old to waste my time with the theories of modern academics who want to tear down, or help do away with, our traditional patriotic outlook on our history.