"Political history is far too criminal and
pathological to be a fit subject of study for the young.
Children should acquire their heroes and villains from fiction."
by:
W. H. Auden
[Wystan Hugh Auden] (1907-1973) Anglo-American poet
Source:
A Certain World: A Commonplace Book (1970)
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Reader comments about this quote:
Far too much truth in this quote. There are though, the virtuous, noble, and heroic, such as George Washington, that have been removed from the young's study because of their virtuous, noble and heroic character. Today's vile and obscene statist theocracy cares far more for its criminality and pathological means than assisting our children to acquire personal hero status.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Mike can you prove that the study of Washington has been "removed from the young's study". I think the study of history, the good and the bad, in the end should make us "gooder". Maybe a little more cynical but ultimately better. The American people studied the history of the last eight years and then elected Barak Obama. So study of the bad is important also.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    It isn't just history. The politicians of today are criminal to the point of treason.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    We certainly have no "heroes" in Washington now!
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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    Waff, we are studying the bad. They are the ones running things now, or should I say ruining things now.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    Waffler, YES !, I can prove that George Washington has been removed. For one, ask any student you know about the famous picture of George Washington kneeling in prayer beside his horse. I could go on and on, needless to say, the principles of the Constitution and the men that brought it about has been eliminated from study.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Love it!
     -- RBESRQ     
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    For the most part, but we should learn early of the pathological criminality of politicians throughout history.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Mike I just googled "American History teaching in US schools today". I clicked on one site that described the grant from the US Dept of Education to 123 out of 400 applications for the improvement of history teaching. It appears Sam is doing his part in teaching traditional teaching. Your objection to Washington and his horse is a little obtuse I think. I always admired the painting of Washington kneeling in the snow at Valley Forge. His religiosity has probably been a little bit mythologized but I take second place to none in saying that he was a great man and humble leader. As time marches on I think it is a natural human trait to downplay the past. The further away it is the less relevant it may seem to many. Maybe you are showing your age my friend.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler, I have no way to prove it but, if I were a betting man, I would place a large wager that the majority of the grant got eaten away long before it did any real benefit and that which was added was modified from the real events to match today's political correctness. This nation was a Christian nation, not because the majority were Christians - as the politically correct would have you believe, but because the foundation of all government and law was based on the law of nature or of nature's God and/or positive law. Such association to the founders has also been perverted or left out all together to further demonstrate history removed (in the name of political correctness) Kinda funny, you first demonstrate that frns have been issued towards history then you counter that saying people keep becoming less interested in history. hmmm, thanks for proving my point. Also, you know of the painting in which I referred, but how many 6th graders know of its origin or history?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The founders and framers were circumspect men who did not wear their religion on their sleeves. They knew for the new nation to be successful with numerous denominations and sects it had to be politically above religion so to speak. I feel certain Mike that while you would like history to be more emphasised in todays schools (at least history the way that you know it) you probably don't want to personally pay for. I was only suggesting Mike that 500 years from now Old George will not seem as important as he did to Americans in the 1800s, and also less than he did to you and I when we studied him. Only downhere in the Good 'Ole South are old times not forgotten. Time marches on my friend time marches on. PS: I grew up in Philly and visited Valley Forge so the impression and history is probably stronger with me than with even many adults my age let alone todays young children.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Hero worship is idol worship and if a man be judged good or bad it must be measured against the moral virtues that respect the rights and thus life of the individual. IF anything need be worshipped it is the self evident truth of their natural existence and their absolute potential to set all of mankind free from oppression imposed by others thus freeing the world to fulfill its true destiny as each individual is first free to discover his true destiny. Natural law says you can't have the second without the first and this is what men who love to rule despise, though they can alter natural law perception in your mind by perverting its meaning and smoke screening the real truth of it, they can't change the law nor can they stop the flow of its eternity in time. Just look at the quantity of laws in America and the extent of the measures needed and taken to stem and withhold the truth of this natural flow and the effort it takes to accomplish such a feat. Jefferson, Washington and others like them are no different than Rosthschild or Rockefeller in that they are men that like the rest of us live our lives compared to these eternal principles whether we like it or not or know it or not, There is no existence without these principles because it is these principles that make existence possible and without them we would kill each other off or others would do it for us. We live by these eternal perfect principles every moment of our lives in reality but reality has become what others desire reality to be for everyone. Reality is their way and there is no other way and so most believe this true because they lack the whole truth. I hope mankind learns the lessons of time this time after the present and coming troubles judge their past actions and deliver the consequences once again inevitably when the respect of the individual's naturally provided rights as part of his life and the freedom to express them freely as essential to his survival is taken away for the cause of the common good. The goal that is for the common good was reached 230 years ago with the absolute total respect of the rights of the individual and the freedom it provides mankind. Any thing that claims it takes from what's good for the common man (no idol worship allowed), his rights, for the common good, is an affront to freedom from the start and where the machinations of slavery begin for those who would choose to live off the labor of others to keep them in luxury. What's good for the common man stops with the respect of his absolute eternal rights and that's it. This is what America has lost, these principles are still law on earth, but are no longer law in the hearts of Americans.
     -- Anon     
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    Seems too many take these quote too seriously. This was a little bit of tongue in cheek mixed in with a whole lot of truth. Great quote.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Waffler as always you are wrong. Most, including Washington were very religious. The countries founders things up to protect religion and its practice. They knew that if religion was run by the state or visa versa it would be a disaster for both our freedom and the future of Christianity as a whole. They were keenly aware of the tyranny of state dictated religion and did not want to see it here.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Warren do you have long or short term Alzheimers? Just above you said I was correct. In the rest of your paragraph above it seems that you agree with my observation that the founders did not beat each other over the head with their various denominational differences. They saw a need to keep politics above the religious differences that existed in the colonies. Washington was probably no more religious than his contemporaries but would appear religious by the standards of some today. I think his appearance of religiousosity and uprightness is comparable to Obama who may be the most upright politican in recent memory. As a young man he was earnest and generally pure, not "when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible" as GW said he was. He is the husband of one woman, never divorced as John McCain was. His family and its values seem consistent and upright not willy-nilly and weird like Sarah Palin's and her $200,000 politcal wardrobe. He dedicated himself as a young man in helping others as did Washington when he embarked upon his expedition to Pittsburgh etcetera. Need I go on!
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    The solemn calling of any parent is to be a gracious facilitator of his or her child's development of adversity conquering Sovereign Character.

    Everything else is incidental.
     -- Patrick Henry, Red Hill     
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