Jim Leach is the former congressman who is the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. We’ve been following Leach’s tenure as he has undertaken a series of speeches seeking to spread the gospel according to Barack Obama. Shortly after his installation as chairman Leach undertook a 50-state tour preaching the gospel. The tour is in progress and the song remains the same. Most recently, we posted a week-long series on the Quotations From Chairman Jim.
The subject of history has been in the news. According to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress test results, American students don’t know much about history. As for President Obama, incidentally, likewise.
Leach took the occasion of National History Day to comment on the importance of the subject. Listen up:
The most critical issue of our times is the capacity and willingness of peoples of the earth to respect and understand each other. If there is mutual respect and understanding, cooperative relations are likely. Conflict can be avoided. If respect is lacking, diplomacy is vastly more difficult. Any and all agreements become temporary at best.
History is important because it is the basis for mutual understanding. Without understanding there can be no meaningful respect, no sustaining diplomacy.
So my charge to you is to learn and to care and then share your learning and your caring with others. The planet will be in a world of problems if every day is not history day. If, on the other hand, peoples treat their neighbors near and far as if it were, the earth will be a better place to live and a safe haven for mankind.
I don’t think that’s a persuasive case. Indeed, it’s a poor case, made in Leach’s characteristically opaque style. Perhaps on National English Day we can have his remarks translated into good English.
My inspiration for the title of this series came from the Little Red Book of Quotations From Chairman Mao. For comparative purposes, I thought I would call on the Chairman Mao Saying Generator, via Chinese Posters: Quotations From Chairman Mao, to discover what Mao had to say about history. Listen up:
You can’t solve a problem? Well, get down and investigate the present facts and its past history! When you have investigated the problem thoroughly, you will know how to solve it. Conclusions invariably come after investigation, and not before. Only a blockhead cudgels his brains on his own, or together with a group, to find a solution or evolve an idea without making any investigation.
As between Leach and Mao on history, I think Mao has the better of it. Witness the case of Jim Leach himself.