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Stop the Propaganda in school history lessons

Comment 22nd August 2010

For the majority of people under 25 their history lessons at school seem to have consisted mainly about learning about the second world war and about the evils of Nazi-ism.

Stop teaching our children that history is nazi-ism and that our national identity comes from winning world war 2. 

While this may not seem like a civil liberties issue at first, it's laying the foundations for an errosion of our civil liberties.  If our children are only ever taught about their identity in terms of what they're not – ie "What does being British mean to you?" "It means fighting the nazis and winning world war 2", it means they will never have a full sense of what it means to be British in a positive way.  All the positive aspects of our history – our part in the industrial revolution, our lack of religious wars, our expertise in trade and discovery, our openness to new ideas from the places we travelled to – all of this disappears into the simple fact that we were on the winning side in a war.  And if we as a country have no sense of our national identity, no sense of who are are, then it is so much easier for a government to tell us who we are – who they want us to be.

In addition, education about World War 2 is framed in terms of Good (Us) and Evil (Them), and Hitler and his regime are demonise to such an extent that children believe that there is no subtlety to evil – that evil is easy to recognise and easy to avoid.  If no-one accepts that there was a seductive and rational side to Hitler's policies, then how can we ever learn the lessons of history?  The next evil dictator may be just around the corner – he (or she) may be telling us that we need to increase police power for our own protection, that we need to lock terrorist suspects up for our own protection, that we need to shoot innocent people for our own protection, that we need to disenfranchise poorer elements of the population for our own protection – and because they keep giving us money we're happy to go along with it, because our history lessons have shown us that evil is obvious and evil never as any good to it.  

I'm not saying that any of this has already happened, but I'm saying that if we never teach children the history of our country beyond WW2 and never teach them a pride in that history, then we are opening ourselves up to this kind of manipulation.

Why does this matter?

If the education our children receive is framed in terms of good and evil – as it is with world war 2 – it indoctrinates children with a message of fear – and is a perfect base on which to increase the power of the state and the power of the police.  People are indoctrinated in the message that they need to be protected from such evil, making the erosion of civil liberties so much easier.  And because no-one really knows who we as a country really are, we have no real protection from such manipulation.

Pride in one's country is vital, and pride that comes from beating someone else isn't really pride in your real accomplishments.

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