President Barack Obama’s address to the nation last night on the threat of ISIS and his strategy to deal with it demonstrated clearly that the American people are no longer a serious people. Prior to the speech, I gave serious consideration to a point by point analysis. After reading the text of the speech, I decided that it was really not worth the effort. The speech was simply a parade of clichés and buzzwords strung together by someone pretending to be a Commander in Chief. As Erick Erickson demonstrated here, the president’s remarks were not even supported by his own intelligence community or by previous remarks made by the same president and his administration. The problem however goes a lot deeper than just President Obama and the feminized elite with which he surrounds himself. It reveals a larger society that is simply no longer serious about the things needed for that society to survive.
A good case in point is the condition of diplomatic and military history programs on the university campus. In the aftermath of World War II and the advent of the Cold War, diplomatic and military history programs blossomed as society took seriously the challenges of the postwar world and the survival of western civilization. Unfortunately, as with many good things, that all began to change in the 1960s and for the past five decades, diplomatic and military history programs have largely been in decline. When one of the finest military historians of the era, Dr. Edward M. Coffman, retired from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the administration dropped their emphasis on military history and replaced him on the faculty with a political hack from the Clinton administration. The incident has been repeated at numerous universities. Outside of a maybe a half-a-dozen schools, comprehensive military history programs simply do not exist anymore. This is a dangerous trend because diplomatic and military history deals with issues of national survival – and that is simply not taught anymore to the general public. Everyone, including liberals, claim that war is a serious business, but it is not serious enough for us to teach it and strive to learn from it.
General American history and Western Civilization courses are little better. Many of the professors in these courses simply ignore politics and war to focus on “gender studies,” “cross cultural studies,” or whatever the hot button issues are of the day. I once heard a student complain that the Civil War history course he was taking was surprising free of anything to do with the actual war itself. They were however learning about women’s fashion between 1861 and 1865. Political, diplomatic, and military history are derided by many in the historical community as simply the study of dead white men so they ignore those areas to focus on groups that they feel need empowering. The quest for empowerment is how we end up with whole textbook chapters entitled: “Hispanics in the American Revolution.” Many of these things border on the absurd and are laughable until we realize that these students will one day have to grabble with issues of national survival. It would be nice if they have a historical foundation from which to draw knowledge and wisdom.
The inclusion of all the leftist political correctness in the teaching of American history and Western Civilization ensures that more important topics are minimized or neglected all together.* A professor’s time is not unlimited. At best he has sixteen weeks a semester and the inclusion of “Hispanics in the American Revolution” guarantees that George Washington and the actual American Revolution receive less attention. Many professors are fine with this because they see the United States as the problem with the world and associate many of the things with it as evil. I once heard a colleague openly discuss in a faculty meeting how he considered George Washington to be a proto-fascist. From his remarks, it was quite clear that my fellow Ph.D. had no idea who George Washington was or what exactly it meant to be a fascist. Facts, however, are not important to those on the left – even many academics on the left. It is all about the agenda.
If we were a serious people, then we would treat matters of national survival more seriously.
If we were a serious people, who treated matters dealing with our national survival seriously, then Barack Obama would not be President of the United States and the courtiers of leftist ignoramuses who surround him would not control the levers of power. And that is the crux of the issue. Once the American public becomes familiar with Presidents like Washington, military leaders like Grant, Eisenhower, and Marshall, and diplomats like Benjamin Franklin and Elihu Root, then they will realize that men like Barack Obama and John Kerry are simply not adequate to the task.
In Dan McLaughlin’s inspiring piece, “Where I Was On September 11,” he told the story of how Aragon and the Rangers of the North protected the Hobbits (unbeknownst to the Hobbits) and how that protection allowed the Hobbits to be unserious in their pursuits. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where Aragon son of Arathorn has been replaced by a man on a golf course. He not only refuses to battle the orcs threatening the West, he refuses to acknowledge that orcs exist. (See the excellent piece by Victor Davis Hanson here.) “Baseball still matters” and perhaps matters even more in the midst of evil and darkness. But, at least for a time, as we enjoy such pursuits, we also need to find time as a people to dust off our Clausewitz and Thucydides and train up a new generation in the realities of life in a fallen world.
*Jesse Jackson and many on the left consider the mere existence of a course on Western Civilization to be racist and imperialistic. The actual protest chant in the 1980s was “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Western Civ has got to go!”
**Dan essentially says the same thing in his last paragraph.