At the end of yesterday’s Impromptus, I published a letter from a reader who said he had a left-wing high-school history teacher, bent on “spreading the party line.” I know, I know, what a shock. He said that he himself was an eager follower of the teacher, and so were several others. There was one guy in class, however — the son of Polish refugees — who dissented. And everyone dumped on him terribly.
Our reader, of course, changed his mind over the years. And four decades “after scoffing and sneering at Ed, I wish like heck I could call him and apologize. He was so right, we were so wrong, and our teacher should have been and still should be ashamed for allowing us to rant and squawk and belittle the only person who knew what the f*** he was talking about.”
This letter provoked much, much sympathetic mail. I thought I would publish one of these letters here in the Corner, particularly for one morsel in it:
That letter brought back memories of my own experience in AP American history. My teacher, too, was a predictable anti-American ideologue who maintained his own rogues’ chorus to shout down thoughtful dialogue. Following the first exam, he thought to insult me by saying that he was tempted to play a recording of John Philip Sousa while reading my exam.
This teacher required us to read a horrid little screed by William Appleman Williams [oh, yeah] and utilize its arguments if we wished to pass the course and have any opportunity of taking the AP exam in history.
Sounds very, very familiar. And what did you think of that crack about John Philip Sousa? To many ideological ears, Sousa’s tunes are the music of fascism. To more open ears, they’re more like the music of freedom and joy.
Or maybe they’re just marches. Anyway, an interesting letter, as were they all.