But what should surprise us even more is the number of Americans who don't know these facts. Hard as it is to imagine, according to one recent study, one in five high-school seniors believes Germany was our ally in World War II. Another recent survey found that more than one third of seniors graduating from America's top 50 universities as listed by U.S. News & World Report could not correctly name the major Axis nations.
Our fellow citizens' historical illiteracy may make for great late-night talk- show fodder. Who can help but shake one's head when an unsuspecting interviewee can't guess when the War of 1812 was fought? But it is dangerous and divisive for American citizens to be ignorant of our own history and role in the world, particularly as we fight a difficult and complicated war on terrorism. How is one to make sense of the debate over what to do about the “axis of evil” if one believes Hitler was our friend?
Back to the classroom, I guess.