One of the depressing things about having studied history is that one can see when it begins to repeat itself. What is even more depressing is realizing that so many of one's fellow citizens are not well-versed enough to see it as well. Over the last several years, many people have been very concerned about what they perceived to be a dearth of science, engineering, and math students, but at the same time, we have seen so many people go through the educational system and emerge without a solid grounding in the humanities, including history, civics, and world affairs. I believe this is in part responsible for the current sad and uninformed shape of the American electorate.
We have seen this sort of thing happen before. It is really no mystery to anyone with an understanding of history as to what happens when a politician resorts to scapegoating minority populations and blaming foreigners for perceived economic woes. There is no real mystery as to what happens when the government is taken over by corporate interests and generals. The lesson history teaches us is that these developments are merely harbingers of far worse to come. I wear a tattoo on my arm that is a quote from the late Senator Daniel Inouye, a veteran of World War II who literally gave his right arm in the defense of American democracy. The quote is "lessons learned must remain", a portion of his speech at the dedication of the memorial to those Japanese-Americans who were placed in internment camps during World War II. This was a warning that we must all remember what was done before so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Unfortunately, I think that too many Americans have forgotten, and consequently we will have to learn these hard lessons once again. I can only hope that the price of acquiring this wisdom is not too high.
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