Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York recently took to Instagram, as she tends to do when she wants to entertain us. The most current post, as of this writing, was a doozy.
“Is the new generation too delicate? No! I don’t think they’re too delicate at all. I think that they’re badass. I think that young people are more informed and dynamic than their predecessors. I think that they are more sensitive, in a positive way, in that they actually care about other peoples’ experiences and lives. One thing that I love so much about mill — this new generation is the radical acceptance that I see from so many and they actually take time to read and understand our history, the history of the labor movement, civil rights, history of racial struggles, history of economics, history of the United States, history of colonialism.”
She went on to say, after boasting about her generation’s knowledge of history, “I think this new generation is very profound and very strong and very brave because they are actually willing to go to the streets.”
AOC seems to have forgotten that long-ago decade known as the 60s. The 1960s were filled with protests of all sorts, for civil rights, against the Vietnam War, and for women’s rights. Indeed, the gay rights movement started with an uprising at a bar called Stonewall as the sixties drew to a close.
Protest movements have defined American history. The abolitionist movement, founded in part by one Benjamin Franklin, flared throughout the first two-thirds of the 19th Century, only resolving itself with the Civil War. Indeed, the American Revolution started with protests against taxes and, just before the Battles of Lexington and Concord, against gun confiscation. Women protested for the right to vote for the latter half of the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century until women finally got the right to vote and hold office in 1919.
After the sixties, protests about various issues flared both on the streets and the ballot box. They included the anti-tax protests of the late seventies, the anti-nuclear protests of the early 1980s, and the Tea Party of the past decade.
AOC, therefore, displayed a conspicuous lack of knowledge of American history. Indeed, that ignorance seems to be widely shared by the millennial generation, as Fox News noted.
“Baby Boomers may take exception to Ocasio-Cortez’s slight, especially given studies that indicate a lack of knowledge millennials have when it comes to history. An April 2019 study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany revealed that two-thirds of millennials polled were not familiar with Auschwitz, and 22 percent said they either had not heard of or were not sure if they had heard of the Holocaust.”
An editorial in Investors Business Daily suggests that schools are not teaching history, except as part of leftist indoctrination. The piece suggests that this ignorance is related to the love of socialism and lack of patriotism exhibited by millennials. The article also notes some profound gaps in millennials’ historical knowledge.
“High school students were also least likely to know who is on Mount Rushmore. Only 35% of them got it right, compared with 71% of boomers. Only 11% could name the rights enumerated in the First Amendment. And more than half of today’s high schoolers believe Barack Obama was a more consequential president than George Washington.”
The IBD article suggests that some reform of how history is taught in public schools is in order. All things considered, AOC and her fellow millennials might do with some remedial education.
Some analysts have noted that if one were to have conducted surveys of the boomer generation, say around 1970, one might get similar results, at least in attitudes if not in historical knowledge, as with the millennials. The boomers proved that maxim to being liberal when young, but more conservative when older. Many hippies of the sixties cut their hair, bought three-piece suits, and became the yuppies (young urban professionals) of the eighties, supporting President Reagan.
Many hold out the hope that the same process with change the millennial generation as they grow older, get jobs, and start getting married and having families. They came of age during a time of economic privation during the Obama years, but with the economy roaring, millennials may discover the joys of capitalism and that their country is not such a bad thing after all. That is the theory anyway.