Concentrating Only on the “Now”

Last week Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen took issue with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after she criticized student pro-Palestinian protestors for not knowing enough about the history and politics of the Middle East and, for that matter, history in general. Van Hollen insisted that the protesters understood the current situation.

Yes, they probably do understand the terrible loss of civilian lives taking place right now, if only because that’s what the media is currently emphasizing, but Clinton is absolutely right in insisting that the vast majority of students aren’t all that knowledgeable about in-depth history and politics, including the history and politics of the United States.

Although recent tests of U.S. students’ proficiency in civics and history show a marked decline over the past four years, Americans have never excelled at history, which makes the latest declines even more worrisome. Americans have, for better or worse, never concerned themselves much with the past, as exemplified by Henry Ford’s contention that history was “bunk.” What Americans have always had trouble realizing is that the past determines the future, and our current media-centric concentration on the “now” means that fewer and fewer Americans have the knowledge base to realize just how much the past matters and how it influences the present.

Some of those student protesters have such a short attention span that they seem to have forgotten what happened on October 7th, barely six months ago. Most of them appear to have no understanding of how and why the creation of Israel occurred. Nor do they understand the past brutality of Hamas, or the fact that some two million Palestinians supported or acquiesced in allowing Hamas to take over Gaza with the avowed goal of destroying the only Jewish nation in the world.

Is Israel perfect? Hardly, and Netanyahu is little better than a Mafia don in silk suits, trying to hang onto power by cultivating and placating the worst elements in the Israeli government. But Hamas is far worse, with leaders who’ve made no secret of the fact that they’re willing to sacrifice the vast majority of the Palestinian people in an effort to destroy Israel.

Yet all too many of the student protesters in the United States have little or no comprehension of a history of anti-Semitism that extends some 3,000 years into the past. Not only that, but those so-idealistic student protesters conveniently overlook the fact that the Palestinian people themselves support or allow the subjugation and brutalization of their own women.

As one old saying goes, the past is prologue, but since the U.S. student protesters don’t read history, much less understand it, and apparently don’t want to, how could they know?

1 thought on “Concentrating Only on the “Now””

  1. KevinJ says:

    Overheard by a friend over forty years ago, coming out of a class called Introduction to Nuclear Power:

    “I don’t know why they’re teaching us how it works.”
    “Yeah, we don’t need to know that to know it’s wrong.”

    History, nuclear power, you name it. Not much has changed.

    (It doesn’t help, that the media don’t often give enough context or background.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *