April 18, 2006

The Advanced Placement U.S. History Test for non-Boys

A reader writes:

Your reference to the AP US History test excluding all military history took me back to my high school. In 10th grade I took "Honors World History;" not an AP class (those were only offered to Juniors and Seniors), but intended for those who were on an eventual AP track. My 10th grade teacher had a whole unit on WWII, and it certainly wasn't the PC pap that would leave a kid with the impression that the only things that happened between 1939 and 1945 were Rosie the Riveter and the Japanese internment. We learned about honest-to-goodness battles and one week even had an assignment where we had to design an alternative to the Allies' North African campaign!

I came up with some nonsense about attacking Vichy France's "soft underbelly" with an amphibious landing across the Mediterranean - cut me some slack, I was 15. The point was that it was an assignment that actually tried to get us to think about history and war in way that didn't leave out the actual war.

By contrast, when I took AP US History the next year, the material on the Civil War failed to mention even one significant fact about an actual battle. Phrases like "Pickett's charge," "the Wilderness," "Little Round Top," "Battle of the Crater" and the like were never mentioned. Much focus was given to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, the first black unit.

The AP class was based on a nationalized standard, since there was a test you could teach to. The Honors class was much more up to the whims of the inidividual teacher. I was lucky enough to get an old guy. He retired that year.

So, the great majority of the future verbal elite of America study no American military history during high school. Besides benefiting girls over boys, one purpose of this exclusion is to reduce the politically incorrect surplus of white male heroes in American history. Thus, Ulysses S. Grant is merely a bored and lackadaisical President, not the unflappable commander who turned terrified recruits into a victorious army during the desperate fighting at Shiloh in April 1862, or who conjured up an extraordinary strategy for capturing Vicksburg.

And what of the only man ever promoted on the battlefield by Grant, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, that peerless combination of modesty and valor, the college professor from Maine who might personally have saved the Union during the crisis at Little Round Top in the Battle of Gettysburg? Well, who needs to know about him these days?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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