When I was a freshman in college I was required to take American history. I signed up for a class, foolishly thinking, “American history, I got this.” The class covered something like the Revolution to the Civil War timeframe. What I failed to grasp was that the tenured professor was a Marxist, an out and out proud vocal self-proclaimed communist who took immense pride in the FBI once upon a time putting an undercover person in one of his classes. Our ‘American history’ education consisted primarily of learning all about Ho Chi Minh. We read Ho Chi Minh speeches and we read Ho Chi Minh writings, so on and so forth. We learned that Thomas Jefferson was a ‘proto-communist’. We had assignments such as to read a Thomas Jefferson speech then read a Ho Chi Minh speech and then compare and contrast the speeches for Marxist themes. Seriously, that was an actual American history assignment.
We really did not learn much American history but we were taught what a great guy Ho Chi Minh was and what a great thing communism was. The professor conveniently skipped over events such as the Viet Minh charging into 15,000 hamlets and killing the primary land-owner in each hamlet and killing the eldest person in each hamlet. Killing the landowners was self-evident for communist but the communist killed the eldest person in each village in order to make the statement that the Vietnamese tradition of revering elders would be coming to an end. Only the communist aristocracy would be revered going forward – upon penalty of death. Funny the communist professor never once mentioned those events.
We were not afforded the opportunity to compare and contrast communist mass murder with anything Thomas Jefferson did. Those pesky realities did not fit the narrative.
For my next semester of American history I surely did not want that professor again, so I made certain the class I signed up for had a different professor. The next semester of American history was basically the Civil War up until the present, which was 1981 at that point. To my dismay I showed up for the first day of class to discover that the Ho Chi Minh worshiping out and out proud vocal self-proclaimed communist professor has traded classes with the professor I thought I had been signing up for. Consequently I spent that semester re-learning what a great guy Ho Chi Minh was and learning that Abraham Lincoln was a ‘proto-communist’ and comparing and contrasting Ho Chi Minh speeches to Abraham Lincoln speeches.
For my next semester of history I tried to split from the program entirely and signed up for Russian history – which fascinatingly enough was not taught by a Leninist! Who would have thought? I already could name all the Tsar’s in chronological order so that class was pretty easy and required no study of Ho Chi Minh speeches what so ever. I did not even have to compare and contrast Lenin or Trotsky to Jefferson or Lincoln. The phrase ‘proto-communist’ never even came up! We studied real communist and what they really did – and at that time were still doing in Russia.
For my final semester of history, I signed up for a brand new class with a brand new professor. This was American history from the point of view of the southwest rather than from the East-Moving-West. I thought, ”That could be interesting.” How naive I was! Taught by another Marxist it was simply a semester of America bashing while quite conveniently ignoring topics such as what the Spanish/Mexican approach to dealing with Indians included. At least there were not any Ho Chi Minh speeches to compare and contrast.
I have to thank these professors for having provided me an invaluable education – it certainly was not an education in American history and even learning all about Ho Chi Minh has not been especially useful in my life – but it was invaluable in teaching me that a government employee who essentially cannot be fired can get away with not doing their job for years and there is nothing that can be done about it. These people did the job they wanted to do and not the job they were hired to do – short story there.