A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be included in a group meeting with a former adviser to President Trump. At one point, this former adviser asked me what I thought conservatives needed to do to win over younger Americans. I replied that the most important step conservatives could take was to make sure that younger Americans were introduced to history.
The left, I said, has made sure that a sense of pervasive oppression is all most young Americans know about the past. The young would not necessarily view history the way we do, but in knowing it better, they would realize that present arrangements were not inevitable or even necessarily desirable. Above all they should know that history is political. George Orwell was right: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
In recent decades the left has used its growing cultural power to paint the darkest possible picture of the history of our country and our civilization. This became apparent as the protests, triggered by the horrific, filmed death of George Floyd, devolved first into riots and then into an incipient Maoist-style cultural revolution. In place after place, rioters targeted statues, monuments, and other commemorations of American and Western history. Statues of Christopher Columbus were toppled or vandalized in several cities, as were statues of Confederate leaders.
Most politicians were all too eager to...