Babbling into the Void

History Class
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Remember when you were in elementary school and you had that fat old social studies book and you added your name and the year to the grid on the inside cover marking it as yours for that year? There was a quick, single-chapter on Greek and Roman civilization, streaking through the development of Europe before taking a more leisurely chapter-stroll through early American history.

Remember when you got to the chapter on World War II?

Remember how you read and re-read and then looked at your teacher like he was insane? "How on earth," you asked in naive wonder, "could an entire nation support a guy like that? How could all those people let such awful things happen?"

Your teacher may have had a thoughtful reply about sociology or scapegoating, but all your final assessment was: Those guys in Germany were SOOOO mean! And those guys in Europe were SOOO dumb to just let the mean guys take over. Thank goodness people aren't like that now.

"No, no," you said in your innocent ethnocentricity, "We believe in human equality now. We believe in taking down tyrants who invade other countries to amass more power. We aren't the mean ones or the stupid ones. In our country 'freedom' means more than 'greed'. 'Equality' means more than 'money'. "

Thank goodness.

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