Education: The Great Prop

Along with all the other things they like to say about the U.S., some Europeans insist that Americans have no sense of history. To Historian C. Vann Woodward of Johns Hopkins University, that notion is pure bunk. Says he, in the Johns Hopkins Magazine: Americans have such an exaggerated sense of history that they use it as a prop to explain or excuse every conceivable type of policy or position. The result: Americans can no longer "believe our own history."

This swollen sense of the past, says Woodward, comes partly from the fact that "history has had to serve Americans as a...

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