With Independence Day this week, we are back in the business of bemoaning that Americans are woefully weak when it comes to having any real knowledge of the history of their country.
Well, not actually bemoaning. Maybe a bit concerned? Amused? Anyway, as a great sage — the name escapes us — once said, “Those who forget history are … are …” You know, something bad will happen.
Even the president has gaps. At a White House event this year celebrating Black History Month, President Trump stated that, “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job,” even though the abolitionist died in 1895.
But Mr. Trump shouldn’t be scorned because he’s as dimwitted as his fellow Americans when it comes to the history and/or general knowledge of the U.S. There are many polls of our fellow countrymen and women on history and current events with results finding that we are a nation of dunces.
A few years ago, for example, three questions were asked of Texas Tech students: “Who won the Civil War?” “Who is our vice president?” and “Who did we gain our independence from?”
A startling number of the scholars answered, “I have no idea” to all three questions.
But they were dead on about facts concerning Brad Pitt’s romantic history.
Well, that’s Texas, we can hear some of you saying, and others whispering that you don’t mess with Texas. But just remember — Mr. Trump is a New Yorker, got a prestigious degree from a university far above the Mason Dixson Line, and said in a speech to CIA employees in January: “Trust me, I’m like, a smart person.”
So, are you ready for the Gimme Shelter Independence Day We Know Stuff Quiz testing Islanders’ knowledge of the homeland? We have faith in you. Answers at the bottom. Eyes on your own paper. Begin … now.
1) How many of the 58 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in the United States?
2) What president had shoes thrown at him by a journalist at a press conference?
A. Barack Obama
B. Donald Trump
C. George W. Bush
3) Who said: “Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change government.”
A. Donald Trump
B. Ronald Reagan
C. Abraham Lincoln
4) What political leader compared himself to Charles DeGaulle, Margaret Thatcher, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, Marion Barry and Ho Chi Minh?
A. Anthony Weiner
B. Newt Gingrich
C. Ted Cruz
5) How many presidents have been elected without winning the popular vote?
6) What does the Japanese word “Bushusuru” mean?
A. Mangling the English language
B. Stealing an election
C. Publicly vomiting
7) In Thomas Jefferson’s editing of his Declaration of Independence, what did he change to make the final “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”
A. “… life, liberty and the pursuit of the indolency of the body and the possession of outward things”
B. “… life, liberty and property”
C. “… life, liberty and the pursuit of slaves”
8) What American said: “ … we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
A. Michael Flynn
B. Bill Clinton
C. Benjamin Franklin
9) How long was the lengthiest speech in the United States Senate?
A. 9 hours, 12 minutes
B. 24 hours, 18 minutes
C. 73 hours, 2 minutes
10) What is written on the back of the original Declaration of Independence?
A. “Tom Jefferson’s Declaration. You take, I break, your nose.”
B. “We have sworn by this document to fight for the freedom of all under tyranny.”
C. “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.”
11) Who said: “What’s the point of having great knowledge and keeping them all to yourself?”
A. George W. Bush
B. Andrew Jackson
C. Donald Trump
12) Who said: “Democracy is a constant tension between truth and half-truth and, in the arsenal of truth, there is no greater weapon than fact.”
A. Joseph Pulitzer
B. James Madison
C. Lyndon Johnson
Happy Independence Day. Class dismissed. You’re free.
ANSWERS: 1) C. There was no United States when the signers were born.
2) C. Mr. Bush had finished his remarks in Baghdad in 2008 and was waiting for questions when an Iraqi journalist let fly with the footwear.
5) C. John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1886, George W. Bush in 2000, and Donald Trump in 2016. But don’t tell Mr. Trump. He’ll call you a liar. Repeatedly. Loudly. Big league. Don’t worry about it.
8) C. After signing the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock remarked, “Gentlemen, we must now all hang together.” To which Franklin responded: “Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
9) B. Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in 1957, speaking against civil rights legislation.