Friday, December 19, 2008

Those who don't read history...

...are doomed to get their facts from Hollywood.

I love this quote. I post it at the end of my emails and I make sure that my students have this saying memory and entrenched in their skulls full of mush. Unfortunately, Hollywood has dictated how we understood history for the past 60+ years. It's ridiculous. Now out of the mouths of politicians, we are given this little tidbit of historical wisdom:

"America has failed to invest in its infrastructure for the past 50 years, and the bill is coming due." It's just flat-out not true. Investing in infrastructure, by the way, includes building new projects, and I know for a fact we have built new bridges. There are a couple of them down here where I live, one of them was falling apart because whoever designed the first one, it had wood pilings and there was some kind of mite, some kind of stupid bug that was eating the wood. They had to build a temporary bridge, shut down the main bridge, and then build a new main bridge. That's called investing in infrastructure. It happened in the past ten years.

"The situation is reminiscent of the ancient Roman Empire, which grew strong because of its advanced aqueduct system, but which fell into decline when that feat of engineering tumbled into disrepair."

OK, who said this? None other than the Governator himself, Arnold! Now, I don't recall any film that Arnold did where he played a Roman. He did play Hercules in Hercules in New York (one of his first roles and his voice was dubbed), but I don't think that counts.

Now the Guvernator is completely, completely, horribly, atrociously, egregiously mistaken and flat-out wrong. Rome did not fall because the Roman government failed to invest in its infrastructure. Have you been to Italy lately? Those aqueducts STILL work. Those roads are STILL being used. You ever heard the phrase "They don't build them like they used to." Well, hello!

What's worse is that the Governator is calling upon "his version" of history to justify why this country needs to invest in a radical federally financed program of improving roads, bridges, etc. Now, this is a separate issue but I'll just say that this is a state issue and should not be dictated by any federal administration and that includes the president-elect. Of course, the governator invoked Rome because everyone knows Rome fell and fell hard in the West in 476 though its doomed had been sealed since Alaric and his Visigoths came over the 7 hills in 410, sacked and burned Rome. It never fully recovered. So, Rome is invoked because we don't want to go that way do we? Because what happened after Rome? That's right, the Dark Ages! Oh, no. Not that! Even though most people are also historically ignorant about this time period as well (thanks a lot to Hollywood), people still regard that time period as one of barbarism, superstition, out of control religious zealotry, no technology. Rome, on the other hand, was the golden age.

This is nothing than pandering on behalf of the governator. If people were actually educated in history, they would call him out on it and blow so many holes in his flawed premise that it would make his head spin. Unfortunately, we are a country that revels and celbrates and rewards ignorance. And though hardly anyone reads what I write or cares, I'm right and as long as we continue to persist in our ignorance, then we will do nothing more than sign our liberties away and give rise to fascists who want to control us all under the pretense that they are doing such things to save us from ourselves. Wake up people and read! And put it into practice.

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