Those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it...
Recently, a friend of the ministry told me, “People don’t care about history. They just want to know what is going on now.” I explained that our programs and articles about history usually tie past events to the present, but I don’t think that changed her view.
Why is our “state of history” so poor?
According to test results, US students perform worse in history than any other subject, with only one in five testing proficient. In 2010, a majority of fourth graders were unable to explain why Abraham Lincoln matters and only a handful of high school seniors could identify “China as North Korea’s ally in the the Korean War.”
Sadly, it’s unlikely any fourth graders responded that Lincoln “matters” because he started the federal government growing into the unconstitutional monstrosity it is today. As for the high school seniors, was partial credit available for objecting to the premise of the “Korean War” question because it was a “police action,” not a war?
And what of television—that great “learning tool” for children? Going on two decades, The History Channel has committed to a bizarre mix of “reality shows” about truck driving, pawn shops, and garage sales—and, of course, Holocaustianity.
Does PBS fill the void? Their “programming” consists of liberal professors sermonizing on history’s horrors for all but Anglo-Saxon males. Since the election of Trump, they tell us, these “horrors” of the past have returned.
This calls to mind Francis Parker Yockey’s definition of history as “the relationship of the past to the present.” Yockey contended that as the present is always changing, so is the past. Thus, history is a reflection, according to Yockey, of the “spirit of the age.” The establishment history of today—the shaming regarding past events—tells us what we already know about our present.
If only we’d stayed the course set by Martin Luther
The scientific revolution—not by coincidence—took place during the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther stood up against the garbage being shoveled at the universities. He believed the Bible ought to be central to all education—including the study of the past. He recognized that in the Bible, we have history without equal. Who would you rather learn from, God’s Word or men who place all their faith in global warming?
Sadly, it’s been well over a century since students in US common (public) schools learned history from “Parley’s History of the World” by S. G. Goodrich. In the textbook’s first sentence, Goodrich promises, “In this book I am going to tell my readers the history of this world in which we live: how God created it, and placed human beings upon it...” That history is unchangeable—by the present or anything else. It is our past.
Most people have heard the George Santanya quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Yet, in 1948, while speaking in the House of Commons, Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” That sounds more familiar, doesn’t it?
It’s a meaningful one-liner. Speak those words and heads reactively nod. Yet, stop and give those words more thought. There’s an obvious problem. Those who did study history—and usually at very expensive schools—repeated it! One need look no further than the Middle East to see history repeated—often by Churchill himself—right up to the present day and foreseeable future.
But what of Churchill’s alteration? He changed “cannot remember the past” to “fail to learn from history.” I contend Churchill amended it because “the past” could be taken to mean we should learn from past events as they actually happened.
“History” as written by establishment historians is the version accepted by other establishment historians who cite each other’s work in a circular manner. This history does not describe the past as it happened. It’s propaganda—that “reflection” of our present Yockey described.
So, an important aspect to the study of history is the study of those interpreting the history. And it’s a slippery pursuit.
In our terribly polarized times, arming oneself with the knowledge of who actually did what and why allows us a more immediate comprehension of our present—and future.