U.S. schools provide a great deal of useful information, but also leave out a great deal. Please see whether you can answer the following questions before scrolling down and clicking a link at the bottom for the answers. How many can your kids answer? Can your kids' teachers answer them? Can your parents answer them? Can your uncle who tells you whom to vote for and what to think answer them?
These questions are not intended to comprise an ideal comprehensive course in U.S. or world history. They are intended as a quick sampling of the sort of material that would be included, along with other material, in a basic education that wasn't twisted by the interests of the U.S. government. There might be many questions I would have chosen to include in the place of some of these if I knew more. I was educated in public schools in Fairfax Country, Va., where the schools were ranked among the best in the country. I have a Master's in philosophy from the University of Virginia. I didn't learn the answer to a single one of these questions in any school.
If you can give a generally accurate response to most of these questions, you have almost certainly gone out of your way to learn things not taught in U.S. schools. If you find most of them difficult to answer, I would urge you not to quickly conclude that this is because the topics asked about are of minor importance. Please consider with an open mind whether these questions are not in fact central and vital to the education of a citizen of the United States. And please consider how they relate to what you would expect people in other countries to learn about their own histories.
1. Should German schools teach how many people Germany killed in World War II?
2. How many was it?
3. Should U.S. schools teach how many people the United States killed in wars on Native Americans, in the Philippines, in Vietnam, or in Iraq?
4. How many was it?
5. How many Africans were put on ships to the United States in chains?
6. How many made it there alive?
7. How many people lived enslaved in the United States before slavery was officially ended?
8. How many after that?
9. Who was Olaudah Equiano?
10. What percentage of deaths in wars of the past half-century have been civilian?
11. How many people has the United States killed in wars, large and small, since 1950?
12. How many democratic governments has the U.S. government overthrown?