Magazine May 18, 2020, Issue

Why We Must Teach Western Civilization

Detail of the Interior of the Pantheon, Rome, by Giovanni Paolo Panini (Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
The legacy of our culture is unsurpassed in human history; to ignore it is an act of rank self-hatred

On Tuesday, December 3, 1940, Winston Churchill read a memorandum by the military strategist Basil Liddell Hart that advocated making peace with Nazi Germany. It argued, in a summary written by Churchill’s private secretary, Jock Colville, that otherwise Britain would soon see “Western Europe racked by warfare and economic hardship; the legacy of centuries, in art and culture, swept away; the health of the nation dangerously impaired by malnutrition, nervous strains and epidemics; Russia . . . profiting from our exhaustion.” Colville admitted it was “a terrible glimpse of the future,” but nonetheless courageously concluded that “we should be wrong

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GDP shrank 5 percent in the first quarter. Who says government can’t get anything done if it sets its mind to it?

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