President Donald Trump receives fire from his many opponents for all sorts of reasons, including policy and his somewhat acerbic personality, However, some on social media let him have it for some remarks he made when the Italian Prime Minister Sergio Mattarella came to call at the White House, according to the Washington Examiner.
“The United States and Italy are bound together by a shared cultural and political heritage dating back thousands of years to Ancient Rome.”
The statement and its posting on Twitter on the White House account caused a complete meltdown among the Never Trump crowd. With perhaps a little more zeal than English comprehension, several people mocked the president for suggesting, in their view, that the United States was around during the time of the Caesars.
The response of John Fugelsang, who describes himself as “a comedian and an actor and a broadcaster” was typical.
“He literally said the US & Italy share heritage dating back thousands of years to Ancient Rome 2 days after the 527 year anniversary of Columbus’ arrival.”
Jacopo Della Quercia, who describes himself as a scholar, though he is not the Italian Renaissance sculptor, was even more caustic. “FACT CHECK: The United States of America (1776 – present) never had ties with Ancient Rome (753 B.C. – 476 A.D).”
However, as Newsweek notes, the president did not say that America and Italy coexisted during the time of Ancient Rome. His assertion that both share a cultural heritage that goes back to ancient times is entirely accurate.
The Founder Fathers, unlike many people who are products of modern universities, were steeped in ancient history. Many were able to read ancient texts in the original Greek and Latin. They used the government systems of Greece and Rome as models for the new republic that they were creating at the Constitutional Convention.
From Greece, they derived the idea that the people would vote to make decisions on how their government would operate. Before Greek democracies such as Athens, Kings or other kinds of tyrants would make such decisions, and the people were obliged to obey.
From Rome, the Founders derived the ideas of elected officers, representative government, the separation of branches of government, and the idea that a country would be governed by law and not by the will of one ruler or group of rulers.
Rome also contributed to culture, art, and architecture to the nascent American Republic. The Washington Mall, with its neoclassical buildings with columns and arches, was modeled after the Roman Forum.
The president’s critics got some considerable pushback, according to Newsweek.
“Multiple historians and journalists came to Trump’s defense. Mike Duncan, a best-selling author, and podcaster who became famous for his work on ancient Rome wrote on Twitter, ‘My scorching hot take is that what he said is basically fine.’
“ABC News correspondent Terry Moran concurred. ‘Trump was absolutely 100 percent correct that Italy and the USA share a political and cultural history dating back to Ancient Rome,’ he explained. ‘The Senate, for instance. Look it up. Also Cicero, Cato, Cincinnatus, etc. If you are tweaking Trump for this, you’re embarrassing yourself.’”
The question arises, why the outrage at what Trump said when the president was demonstrably correct? One explanation seems to be the long-term decline in the teacher of history and civics, not just in High School, but in colleges and universities.
As early as 1985, Diane Ravitch deplored the phenomenon in a piece in the New York Times. Even then, the public-school system was turning out students with a profound ignorance of American and world history.
The reason for this dysfunction in education has been ascribed to the rise of liberal academics who believe that history is just recounting the deeds of “dead white men” which, at best, have no relevance for the modern age and at worse sugar coats the evil people like Columbus and Washington allegedly committed to official victim groups. “The People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn is a standard text in High Schools and universities for a reason.
Trump learned history before all of this social justice slinked its way into the teaching of the same. Thus, he has a great advantage over most of his critics.