02 June 2010

We the (ignorant) people...

I was surfing the web earlier today, and came across this article that proved to me our society is headed down a long and dreary road of ignorance, and after reading some of the facts about our country that the majority of citizens don't know, I am gravely concerned about the future. When important decisions will be made by the offspring of these people who are so ignorant to basic facts of American civilization, there's really no telling what kind of shape our world will end up in.

Here's the part of the article that really bothered me (emphasis mine):
A recent poll gauging U.S. knowledge of civics and Revolutionary-era history pointed up all sorts of sobering gaps. The American Revolution Center sponsored a national survey of 1,001 U.S. adults who took a multiple choice test. Before the test, 89 percent of respondents expressed confidence they could pass it; 83 percent went on to fail. Among the findings:
  • More Americans could identify Michael Jackson as the composer of "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" than could identify the Bill of Rights as a body of amendments to the Constitution.
  • More than 50 percent of respondents attributed the quote "From each according to his ability to each according to his needs" to either Thomas Paine, George Washington or President Obama. The quote is from Karl Marx, author of "The Communist Manifesto." [This one I can somewhat forgive - the average person isn't familiar with Marx.]
  • More than a third did not know the century in which the American Revolution took place, and half of respondents believed that either the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation or the War of 1812 occurred before the American Revolution.
  • With a political movement now claiming the mantle of the Revolutionary-era Tea Party [or as I call them, Tea Baggers], more than half of respondents misidentified the outcome of the 18th-century agitation as a repeal of taxes, rather than as a key mobilization of popular resistance to British colonial rule. [And I would be willing to bet that half of these misinformed people are part of the new Tea Party. Are we sure that we want these people taking over our country?]
  • A third mistakenly believed that the Bill of Rights does not guarantee a right to a trial by jury, while 40 percent mistakenly thought that it did secure the right to vote.
  • More than half misidentified the system of government established in the Constitution as a direct democracy, rather than a republic - a question that must be answered correctly by immigrants qualifying for U.S. citizenship.
Okay, I probably expect a lot more out of the average citizen than most people because I have a B.A. in History, but come on - these are things that everyone should know. The average American should know the basic principles of our history and government -- I mean for God's sake this stuff is usually taught in 5th Grade -- and it's sad that so few take the time to learn these things. I know most people don't enjoy reading the Constitution and studying the Bill of Rights, but everyone should at least know what those documents are and be able to answer basic questions about them.

If the results of the referenced survey are true, then I'm afraid of what our future holds. Parents, please take the time to educate your children on the basics of American Civics, because we can't afford to grow any more ignorant than we already are.


  1. I don't hold a B.A. in History and I can tell you that was a Marxist comment. People don't care about the history, they care that the news interrupt the television show.
    They care that a pedophile is now a god because his doctor decided to "take care of it."
    They want choices which consists of BK, McD's or Taco Bell. When the general public votes, its not for government issues, it's for Dancing has beens and wanna be singers.
    When cities try to pass levies people shut them down because they don't like the taxes.

    We call ourselves citizens but we don't even know what that word means and it makes me sad.

    The past dictates our future and the only way we can ever make it into something wonderful is by understanding what when wrong....

  2. -A: I couldn't have said it better myself.

  3. Well done BDub. I like this a lot