Vero possumus

Victor Davis Hanson formulates ten random, politically incorrect thoughts. As a one-time Latin teacher, I relish this one:

Four years of high-school Latin would dramatically arrest the decline in American education. In particular, such instruction would do more for minority youths than all the “role model” diversity sermons on Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Montezuma, and Caesar Chavez put together. Nothing so enriches the vocabulary, so instructs about English grammar and syntax, so creates a discipline of the mind, an elegance of expression, and serves as a gateway to the thinking and values of Western civilization as mastery of a page of Virgil or Livy (except perhaps Sophocles’s Antigone in Greek or Thucydides’ dialogue at Melos). After some 20 years of teaching mostly minority youth Greek, Latin, and ancient history and literature in translation (1984-2004), I came to the unfortunate conclusion that ethnic studies, women studies–indeed, anything “studies”– were perhaps the fruits of some evil plot dreamed up by illiberal white separatists to ensure that poor minority students in the public schools and universities were offered only a third-rate education.

Professor Hanson omits one salient fact that might weigh in favor of implementing his educational proposal. As the Obama campaign demonstrated, Latin is easily adaptable to the Age of Obama. The campaign featured “Vero possumus” (yes we can) as the motto on the Great Seal of Barack Obama. Surely the Obama youth corps would enjoy formulating its creed into Latin: “Credimus in unum Obamanum” (we believe in the One Obama).

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