Don’t Know Much About…

What do you think the odds would be on a bet that if a handful of protesters were chosen at random from within the CHAZ, even one of them could name the last ten presidents of the United States in order, with a reasonably accurate bit of information about each?

I’m sure you’ll agree that the odds would be long. Knowledge of American history – which, after all, is the most immediately relevant context out of which our present circumstances were woven – is not a particularly conspicuous strength of the foot soldiers of the would-be Social Justice Revolution. I’d be surprised if more than one or two of the same five randomly chosen protesters could describe the respective roles of the three branches of our government, or even give the term lengths of the president, members of the House, senators and federal judges.

And none of them could describe how the federal reserve works – but I understand that: almost nobody does.


As to the radicals’ thought leaders, I also doubt that many of them could pass the same tests. If that supposition is correct, what we’re seeing are the products of the belief within American higher education that young people shouldn’t spend their time learning facts, but rather, how to think. Why should anybody memorize facts when everything can be Googled? Even grammar, and sometimes logic, are now widely disparaged in the academy as being classist and – what else? – racist.

Consequently, recent liberal arts* majors, even from the most prestigious colleges, can’t be relied upon to know any particular facts. I have seen their ignorance – and their lack of well-honed writing skills – from my former vantage point as an employer.

To some professors, teaching courses – even the ones that are not lodged in Victimhood Studies departments – in the language of Social Justice is probably much more fun than accepting the seemingly dry irrelevance of focusing only on history, great literature or whatever. With a Social Justice focus, you see, both the professors and the students can gain a righteous sense of superiority to the world outside. They are struggling against the machine!

The kinds of knowledge that lead to genuine wisdom are vanishingly rare among the politically indoctrinated. With a Manichean vision that divides the world into people who are caricatures of good and evil, all that’s lost is … an appreciation for history and the arts in their own terms, and an opportunity for students to wonder at the profoundly interesting (and beautiful!) moral complexity of mankind.

The world becomes a simple place, this moment, all. Such professors are not teaching how to think, as they imagine they are, they’re teaching what to think, and they want their graduates to all be good little reflections of the leftist academic zeitgeist.

When, in 1987, Jesse Jackson led students from Stanford in a chant of “Hey hey, ho ho, western civ has got to go” he might not have known how literally many in the academy would take their words or how thoroughly they would seek to implement them.  


Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times, wrote The 1619 Project to recast American history as the story of racism writ large. Among other canards, it claimed (contrary to the opinion of virtually all actual, y’know, recognized historians of the period), that for many the principal raison d’être of the American Revolution was preserving slavery. It ignored the historical (and global) context of slavery at the time of our nation’s founding and the role that the ideas of individual liberty that inspired the Founders played in the eventual eradication of that evil institution here and in greatly reducing it elsewhere.

Notwithstanding (or was it it because of?) Hannah-Jones’s tendentious and starkly misleading take on our nation’s history, The 1619 Project won the Pulitzer Prize and is now being prepared for use in … teaching American history to high school students nationwide. 

And not two days ago, on CNN Don Lemon asked “’how can you not be racist’ if you grew up in America?”


Not only have our legacy media given up their roles as impartial reporters, they now actively distort facts to suit a political agenda that is at odds with the vision of God-given (and Constitutionally enshrined) individual rights that underpinned Americans’ innumerable historical achievements and, to no small extent, fostered the growth of the richest nation the world has ever seen. Like Social Justice –oriented professors, they revel in their political relevance at the expense of their institutions’ former reportorial (or educational) credibility.


Who can blame the idiots – or rather, ignoramuses; I don’t know that they’re idiots – in the CHAZ for thinking that America is a systemically racist country with a thoroughly rotten system when that’s precisely what is being taught on college campuses and by the legacy media?

I don’t for a moment think that America is a perfect society or that our nation has ever fully realized the ideals so brilliantly set out by the Founders. We have made great strides toward realizing those ideals, though, and the world is better off in many ways because of the direction in which the Founders pointed. We should all be grateful for their efforts, notwithstanding their all-too-human failings, just as we hope that those who follow us will forgive our own shortcomings, which will only become clearer over time.


It’s astounding to me that so many young Americans are as ignorant of America’s history, governance and foundational ideals as they seem to be. How did my generation – the older generation – ever let that happen? And, more important, how can we turn it around?  

M.H. Johnston  

*Seriously, does anybody think that doctors and engineers are running things in the CHAZ? Data scientists? Mathematicians? Didn’t think so.    

8 comments to Don’t Know Much About…

  • Anonymous  says:

    The current president couldn’t pass the test either.

  • Anonymous  says:

    The current president is really really smart and has a really really high IQ.

    He has Michael Cohen threaten to sue any institution that divulges his scores because he is very very modest.

  • Ronald Davenport  says:

    While a random group selected from CHAZ probably could not name the last 10 presidents, I’ll bet that each member of the random group could list the last 10 books that they read — something President Trump would certainly have a hard time doing.

    • M Johnston  says:

      I’d take that bet, old friend – but who could verify that they weren’t just making them up?

  • Anonymous  says:

    Some longstanding tools and systems of American greatness (recently aka white supremacy) are battling with a lot of the people on the streets this week. But besides that, CHAZ is a reference to what exactly? Not knowing that reference indicates lack of familiarity or membership in what group?

  • Bill  says:

    The critical issue of this essay is the state of education in the US. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 24% of 12th graders are proficient in Civics and 12% are proficient in US History. Reading and writing are 37% and 27%. And “proficient” is not a very high bar. Those numbers should alarm both DT and CHAZ supporters/haters. Dismissing the study of Western Civ. as a fundamentally racist project is colosally ignorant and conveniently lazy for both students and those charged with educating them.

    • M Johnston  says:

      Precisely right, Bill; thanks.

  • Vivian Wadlin  says:

    I love it when people post anonymously. But at least they are willing to have a dialogue, which is more than I can say for so many on the left who recognize that the force of their arguments won’t work, so they are justified in using physical force. Might makes right. You become what you hate.

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