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Ignorance is strength

By Bruce Walker
web posted October 31, 2005

I have started to write this article several times, and several times I have backed away, hoping that I did not see what I saw. The persistent reality, however, will not go away: ignorance – gross, patent and profound ignorance – is pandemic in modern society.

The gluttonous ignorance of the Left needs little elaboration. Howard Dean believed that, as president, he would be able to "order" states to adopt "Right to Work" laws – and this, after his only governmental experience was as a state governor! – and Dean referred repeatedly, in a question about the problem of a nuclear Iran to our need to include "the Soviet Union" in the process, oblivious to the fact that the salient geopolitical fact of the last fifty years has been the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Kerry spoke of taking counsel from "Pope Pious XXIII," a person who has never lived, and making this as a way of showing off his knowledge of history. Before that, he spoke of his service in Vietnam when Richard Nixon was president, although a grade school child could - at least, a few decades ago - have pointed out that Lyndon Johnson, not Richard Nixon, was president during the years of which Kerry spoke.

Sometimes the ignorance of the Left reaches pinnacles which transcend the power of parody. Maxine Waters, for example, spoke several years ago of her desire that Bill Clinton run for a third term, citing the unconstitutionality of the Twenty-Second Amendment, blissfully unaware, apparently, that a constitutional amendment amends the Constitution, and that none of the few amendments after the Twenty-Second Amendment dealt with the term of a president. What, in the world, could the woman be thinking of? How can a sentient human counter such mental infirmity?

The penchant to lie, of course, is part of the problem. As General MacArthur famously quipped once about FDR "He never told the truth when a lie would do just as well." The tangled web woven by the Left reflects a messiness, an indifference, a sloth which invites nonsense.

If the loss of facts was simply confined to the grim Bedlam of Leftism, then decent men and women could make sure that the inmates were given compassionate care, prayers could be offered to a Blessed Creator for their eventual cure, and the madhouse itself segregated from normal society for the good of all.

Sadly, however, the sewage of sloppy knowledge has leaked out. The History Channel, often the only thing worth watching on television, recently had a series on the evolution of the bomber. In noting an Italian engineer who left Italy for Soviet Russia, the documentary relates history something like this "When Mussolini came to power in 1923, he left for the Soviet Union." Any student of history, however, knows that the March on Rome and the ascension of the Duce was on October 28, 1922 – it was not in 1923. Now, if this had been a pundit speaking at fast clip in an interview, that does not matter much; but this was a documentary with dates and facts. There was no need to mention when Mussolini formed his government at all, but if it is mentioned in a History Channel documentary, it should be right.

Mistakes like this pop up all the time in History Channel documentaries. Presentations about the First World War will show "Germany" in its current, constricted boundaries of West Germany and East Germany, sans East Prussia, Silesia, the Polish Corridor, Alsace-Lorraine and other pre-1914 territories. Programs dealing with Germany in one world war will have a map of Germany in the other world war.

One documentary, perhaps not on the History Channel but on that family of networks, in describing Admiral Canaris and the Holocaust, actually described the Abwehr as "an anti-Nazi organization." Any modest student of the Second World War knows that Abwehr was the military intelligence organization of the German military in the Second World War, and that it was often very effective. Canaris and some Abwehr officers did secretly object to Hitler and then began to act on that opposition, but calling Abwehr an "anti-Nazi organization" would be like calling the KGB an "anti-Soviet organization" because some key KGB agents worked secretly for America.

What has happened is that the bias of Leftism to inventing history has contaminated otherwise innocent and serious people. The reason this has happened is because it is so much easier to guess than to study. Ignorance is strength…and all too easy.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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