Peter Wood Speaks at the White House Conference on American History

John David

CounterCurrent: Week of 9/20


American K-12 history education is in dire straits. The 1619 Project-inspired curricula developed by The New York Times and the Pulitzer Center are but the latest example of the anti-American, anti-historical history “education” that pervades American public schools.

In response to this crisis, President Trump hosted the first ever White House Conference on American History, an event that assembled heavy hitters in American history, scholarship, and education to discuss how our country is fighting the indoctrination of our children through ideologically biased, factually flawed American history curricula. Speakers included such esteemed figures as Wilfred M. McClay, Allen C. Guelzo, and Mary Grabar, as well as Vice President Pence and President Trump himself.

The National Association of Scholars’ very own President Peter Wood also spoke at the conference, delivering a speech that illustrated how culture is downstream of the academy: the campus radicals quashing academic freedom in American higher education and the violent rioters storming our cities are, in many cases, cut from the same cloth. Indeed, many of today’s urban agitators received their ideological training while in college, as countless schools effectively operate as progressive seminaries rather than disinterested institutions dedicated to the pursuit of truth. Even those that were not trained in college reflect a radical agenda that was born and developed in the academy.

In this week’s featured video, Dr. Wood expounds on the common threads between these two groups, including the people involved, the places they go, and the anger with which they are filled. To quote him somewhat at length:

The current wave of protest grew from the decades of efforts by the radical left to turn our colleges and universities into incubators of profound dissatisfaction with the American way of life. Colleges learned to package this disdain for America behind the beguiling rhetoric of diversity, but in all too many cases, they left their graduates a legacy of cynical contempt for their own civilization—and in some cases a proud delight in destruction for its own sake. Higher education shuns this verdict and sees itself as part of a noble enterprise of promoting positive systemic change. Those of us who cherish Western Civilization need to hold higher education accountable for the systemic change it has actually accomplished, in the form of the misguided people in the streets, some of whom have an Ivy League diploma in one hand and a Molotov cocktail in the other.

In his own speech, President Trump announced the formation of The 1776 Commission, “a national commission to promote patriotic education” that will “encourage our educators to teach our children about the miracle of American history and make plans to honor the 250th anniversary of our founding.” Dr. Wood said in response, 

I welcome the 1776 Commission as an official push-back against the NYT's "1619 Project" and other propagandistic effort to undermine the teaching of accurate American history in our schools and colleges. … I hope it will alert the public, especially parents of school-age children and members of school boards, to the substantial displacement of accurate American history by courses, textbooks, and curricula that teach children that America is founded on political and economic oppression of minority groups. I also hope that the general public will be vividly reminded that our political liberty and economic prosperity are rooted in the American Founding, and that these achievements can easily be lost if we fail to teach that history and the values expressed in that history to every new generation.

Here’s hoping the Commission will do just that.


CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’  weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Administrative Associate John David. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: Daniel Schwen, Public Domain

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