If Our Ancestors Were So Smart, How Come They’re Dead?

The tendency toward what C.S. Lewis termed "chronological snobbery" is probably more pronounced in our own age than at any time in history.

By William Kilpatrick Published on May 2, 2024

Much has been made of the fact that an Arizona law that prohibits abortion was first enacted in 1864. In attacking it, both the mainstream media and President Joe Biden seemed to assume that the mere fact that the law is over 150 years old is enough to invalidate it.

One of the pitfalls of our age is what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.” He defined it as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate of our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that count discredited.” He added:

Our own age is also ‘a period’ and certainty has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those wide-spread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.

It’s “Racist” to Learn About the Past

Thus, in our own times many feel compelled to go along with slogans such as “diversity is our strength” or with compliantly filling out forms which ask us if our sex is “male,” “female,” or “other.”

The tendency toward chronological snobbery is probably more pronounced in our own age than at any time in history. It would not be surprising if the next round of nationwide campus protests demands that history courses deal only with recent history, since the rest of history is outdated. I would suggest 1864 as the demarcation point since that was the year the now-infamous Arizona law was enacted. How could those “Neanderthals” have failed to acknowledge a woman’s right to choose?!?

We know so much more now about everything that there’s no point in learning what people thought back then — or so, many modern students are inclined to think. So let’s draw a line in the sand — and since everything is arbitrary, let’s make that line 1864.

The Past Isn’t Dead. It Isn’t Even Past

But drawing the line at 1864 means that students wouldn’t learn about Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which was the beginning of the end of slavery in the U.S. It would also mean that students would learn nothing about the Act of Parliament to abolish the British slave trade passed in 1807, or the 1834 Slavery Abolition Act outlawing slavery throughout Britain’s colonies around the world.

Modern-minded people might counter that they already know slavery is wrong and they don’t need history to instruct them on the issue. But without an understanding of the reasons that slavery is wrong, such as the reasoning we find in the speeches of Lincoln and William Wilberforce, many young people will simply fall back on their usual method for deciding right and wrong — namely, by consulting their feelings.

For many in this age of chronological snobbery it may seem that slavery is a dead issue — the type of thing that could only have happened long ago in less enlightened times. Yet, according to some estimates, slavery — largely in the form of sex slavery — is more widespread than at any time in history.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Facts

Sex slavery in the U.S and Mexico thrives partly because of a broken border policy that many in the government refuse to fix, but also because it is not a high priority issue for most Americans. Currently, for example, the young and the woke on American campuses seem much more fixated on the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

Indeed, the widespread pro-Palestine rallies and protests in universities across the nation provide an almost perfect example of chronological snobbery.

Students who know next to nothing about the background leading up to the current crisis in Gaza are, nevertheless, sure that they know all they need to know. Yet most of them lack the historical context that would give them some perspective on the conflict. And by “historical context” I don’t mean long, long ago, but relatively recent historical events.

For starters, how many know that in 1948, within 24 hours of the United Nations resolution to partition the British mandate into a Jewish State and an Arab State, the nascent State of Israel was simultaneously attacked by five Arab armies (Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon)? Another war with Egypt ensued in 1956 when that nation refused Israeli access to the Suez Canal. Then in what is called the “Six-Day-War” in 1967, Israel pre-empted a planned attack by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Again, in 1973, Israel repulsed a surprise attack by Egyptian and Syrian forces (the “Yom Kippur War”).

Between 1948 and today, Israel has been forced to fight 15 wars to preserve its freedom — some against major Arab states, some against the PLO and Hezbollah operating out of Lebanon, and some to stop the periodic rocket attacks launched from inside the Gaza Strip.

George Soros Is Here to Help

However, to college students who were born only a couple of decades ago, what happened in 1948 must seem like ancient (and thus, irrelevant) history. So too with September 11, 2001. That happened before most of the college protestors were born, and it’s likely that very few of them know that Muslim terrorists mounted a similar attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.

Yet those two attacks provide valuable perspective. They show us that Islamic terrorists are not just angry at Israel, but at the whole world. Israelis are difficult to find in sub-Saharan Africa, but there are plenty of Christians. And each year, Islamic terrorists manage to slaughter tens of thousands of them. If American students want to stop genocide, why aren’t they protesting the deaths of innocent Christians in Africa at the hands of Islamists?

Why? Because there’s no well-funded “Christians for Justice in Africa” organization on every major college campus. And if there were, the media would surely ignore them. There is however, a very well-funded organization (thanks, George Soros!) called Students for Justice in Palestine, which can be found on just about every major campus, and which receives much media attention.

Oil Sheiks Write Your Kids’ Curricula

The SJP specializes in activism, agitation, and propaganda. And it realized long ago that the group most susceptible to propaganda was not factory workers or farmers, but gullible college students. In short, its founders understood that the people most prone to chronological snobbery (and, thus, least interested in history) were the easiest to indoctrinate.

It helped, of course, that at the same time, wealthy Arab States such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar were (and still are) donating huge sums of money to America’s most prestigious universities in order to launch Arab Studies departments and hire Arab “experts” — some with ties to terror groups — to staff them.

Concurrently, leftist professors and administrators were tightening their grip on colleges and universities, while conservative academics were becoming rare birds on campus. Meanwhile, “red-green” alliances — leftist-Muslim alliances — were popping up in academic and activist circles.

Stealth Jihad on Campus

But the vast majority of students seem blissfully unaware of any of this. They undoubtedly believe that when they embrace leftist or Islamist causes, they are simply thinking for themselves.

And so, here we are. Tens of thousands of students who believe themselves well-informed have been misinformed by their professors and by propagandists such as Students for Justice in Palestine. And the disinformation they receive is only reinforced by most of the mainstream media.

Please Support The Stream: Equipping Christians to Think Clearly About the Political, Economic, and Moral Issues of Our Day.

Long ago, the Muslim Brotherhood groups in America realized they could never defeat America by force. As a result, they embarked on a campaign of “stealth jihad” — a slow and steady long march through the institutions that would eventually end in an Islamized society. As in Europe, it looks like the American universities will be among the first institutions to capitulate to stealth jihad.

There’s always hope, of course, that the Islamists and leftists will overplay their hand and that America’s “woke” students and their teachers will finally wake up and realize that Israel is only the first in a long list of democracies slated for extermination.

 

William Kilpatrick is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including What Catholics Need to Know About Islam; Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West; The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad; and Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Like the article? Share it with your friends! And use our social media pages to join or start the conversation! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MeWe and Gab.

Inspiration
Military Photo of the Day: E-2 Hawkeye Launches
Tom Sileo
More from The Stream
Connect with Us