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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rick Santorum: Don't Know Much About History

Posted By on Tue, Apr 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM

click to enlarge Rick Santorum, pictured here with his smart glasses
  • Rick Santorum, pictured here with his smart glasses
Rick Santorum, pictured here with his smart glasses

It's a shame the "Shit X says" meme is dying out, because Rick Santorum is on a roll. In related news, the "Rick Roll" meme seems to have died, too. Shame, that.

It was American philosopher George Santayana who famously noted that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But you and I wouldn't know that, according to GOP presidential hopeful Santorum. Per the candidate, "seven or eight of the California system of universities don't even teach an American history course. It's not even available to be taught."

Since Santorum has claimed President Obama only wants more Americans to attend college so they can be indoctrinated into a secular worldview -- he really said this -- perhaps it's for the best we can't take American history courses here. Except we can. Of course we can. You can take American history courses in the history department of every California State University and University of California school (you can even study the history of health sciences at UC San Francisco, a medical school).

But while Santorum was inescapably wrong and his speech was a pretty good real-world definition of the term "blathering," this much is true: Just because California college students can take American history courses doesn't mean they have to. 

Per the graduation requirements of the CSU and UC systems, American history requirements can be satisfied via high school courses, Advanced Placement tests, or community college work.



High school-level history and college-level history aren't quite as different as high school-level physics and college-level physics -- but it's close. It's a shame that most Americans will never take a university-level history course. But it's also hardly a new development. Mandating students to take college history courses -- and, for the record, UC Santa Barbara does this -- would require a concerted interest and augmented funding to the field. In California, this is not happening.

In fact, not only is the state starving its university systems, by hiking tuition skyward, it helps ensure fewer students of limited means will ever sit in a college classroom of any sort. Those who do attend may no longer be able to satisfy their desire to take history courses when the major doesn't exactly lead to surefire lucrative post-graduation employment.

Today's Americans aren't forgetting the past -- they never knew of it to begin with. As such, we're still condemned by present-day iterations of demagogic know-nothings stoking -- and exploiting -- our ignorance.

Santorum should think twice before criticizing the status quo. A more historically literate population would have laughed him and his sweater vest off the national stage long ago.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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