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Friday, August 16, 2013

“Don’t know much about history . . . Don’t know much about geography.”

Victor Davis Hanson laments the President of the United States' boorishness when it comes to history and geography. Of course, that boorishness helps him to follow his instincts and to be anti-Israel.
In the case of geography, Harvard Law School graduate Barack Obama recently lectured, “If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina; or Savannah, Georgia; or Jacksonville, Florida . . . ” The problem is that all the examples he cited are cities on the East Coast, not the Gulf of Mexico. If Obama does not know where these ports are, how can he deepen them?
Obama’s geographical confusion has become habitual. He once claimed that he had been to all “57 states.” He also assumed that Kentucky was closer to Arkansas than it was to his adjacent home state of Illinois.
In reference to the Falkland Islands, President Obama called them the Maldives — islands southwest of India — apparently in a botched effort to use the Argentine-preferred “Malvinas.” The two island groups may sound somewhat alike, but they are continents apart. Again, without basic geographical knowledge, the president’s commentary on the Falklands is rendered superficial.
When in the state of Hawaii, Obama announced that he was in “Asia.” He lamented that the U.S. Army’s Arabic-language translators assigned to Iraq could better be used in Afghanistan, failing to recognize that Arabic isn’t the language of Afghanistan. And he also apparently thought Austrians speak a language other than German.
The president’s geographical illiteracy is a symptom of the nation’s growing ignorance of once-essential subjects such as geography and history. The former is not taught any more as a required subject in many of our schools and colleges. The latter has often been redefined as race, class, and gender oppression so as to score melodramatic points in the present rather than to learn from the tragedy of the past.
The president in his 2009 Cairo speech credited the European Renaissance and Enlightenment to Islam’s “light of learning” — an exaggeration if not an outright untruth on both counts.
Closer to home, the president claimed in 2011 that Texas had historically been Republican — while in reality it was a mostly Jim Crow Democratic state for over a century. Republicans started consistently carrying Texas only after 1980.
Recently, Obama claimed that 20th-century Communist strongman Ho Chi Minh “was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson.” That pop assertion is improbable, given that Ho systematically liquidated his opponents, slaughtered thousands in land-redistribution schemes, and brooked no dissent.
Those who ignore the past are destined to repeat it. And those who cannot find a place on a map cannot appreciate its challenges. Obama is a disaster. 

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