Independence duh

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, a new poll reveals that 26 percent of Americans don’t know what country the U.S. declared independence from, a new poll finds. From NBC News:

The 26 percent includes 6 percent that are unsure that the United States fought any war of independence at all. Other respondents gave a range of countries that included France, China, Mexico, Spain and Japan, according to the pollsters at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

For the record, it was Great Britain we broke away from.

Confirmed:  Quarter of the Population Really Stupid, writes JammieWearingFool.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    I have this notion, which may be wrong because I’m too old to separate the public schooling I got from the general information one encounters even as a youngster.
    If you never went a day to school, chances are you’ve been exposed to the idea of Great Britaion and whatnot.
    That a quarter don’t know means something removed the knowledge otherwise gained.
    Well, I was going around with some history teachers on the question of why, if the sentiment for independence was equal with the loyalist sentiment, more folks showed up to fight for independence.
    The teachers sneered at me for being a patriot. I hadn’t asserted anything except that more folks showed up for independence, which is unassailable. Simply asking the question. And, in their book, “patriot” was about as bad a thing as one could be called.
    So, no, I don’t dismiss the deliberate negative effect of public education on such subjects.

  2. SuperSub says:

    Here I am a science teacher disgusted at the fact that so many of my district’s high schoolers know anything of pre-Civil War US history.
    Earlier this year I happened to have a discussion with students about flag protocol… most of them had no idea what a half-raised flag meant or that the US flag is supposed to be the highest of any flags displayed.
    On a discussion of the pop term “benjamins,” students were amazed to learn that it referred to Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation’s forefathers.
    Lincoln, they found out, did not establish this nation nor did he sign the Declaration of Independence. Oh, and he wasn’t buddies with Washington.
    If I remember correctly, I learned all this in elementary school.
    They have learned, however, that our country is an imperialist, war-loving, slave-owning state that has only done good as an unintended byproduct of its own selfish goals.

  3. Cranberry says:

    I give credit to NBC New York for linking to the poll. However, the writer misstated the poll. The NBC writer stated,

    “A Marist poll finds that 26 percent of Americans don’t know whom the United States declared its independence from.”

    If you bother to click on the link to the poll, you’ll read this description:

    “About three-quarters of residents — 74% — know the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776. The bad news for the academic system — 26% do not. This 26% includes one-fifth who are unsure and 6% who thought the U.S. separated from another nation.”

    There’s an enormous difference between “residents” and “Americans.”
    An estimated 11% of the country’s population was foreign-born at the time of the 2000 census. (

    Why single out history? After all, 20% of adult Americans reportedly believe the sun revolves around the earth. (

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Cranberry.The Earth-centric model works perfectly well unless you’re trying to get your GPS to get you to, say, the second moon of Neptune.
    There’s ignorance and then there’s ignorance that counts.
    Was a story recently about a middle school, iirc, in which some of the kids wanted to say the Pledge. It wasn’t happening, hadn’t happened, and there was some confusion as to whether it was positively banned or simply ignored. The principal said he’d be okay with it but the problem was finding a teacher who knew it and/or was willing to say it.

  5. SuperSub says:

    Richard –
    It was a high school in Arlington MA.

    The principal stated that the pledge was not recited to respect the diversity of the student population. They must have a really high percentage of foreign exchange students for so many to be offended by the pledge…

  6. “They must have a really high percentage of foreign exchange students for so many to be offended by the pledge…”

    If I was visiting any halfway-normal country, I wouldn’t be offended by people reciting their version of the Pledge. If it was Nazi Germany or present-day Venezuela, yeah, I would be offended.

    I’d guess that either the principal has a very fragile personality structure and is exceptionally easily offended–and projects this weakness on the students–or believes that the U.S. falls into the second category of countries above.

  7. Cranberry says:

    “I’d guess that either the principal…”

    But, you’d be wrong in that slanderous guess. The Arlington Advocate has a much better report on the issue than Fox News (not a surprise.)

    “He had just come tantalizingly close to realizing his dream: he wanted every student Arlington schools to have the chance to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each school day.

    But in spite of Harrington’s impassioned speech citing mothers who lost children in Iraq and aging Baby Boomers left mentally shattered after Viet Nam, the committee vote was tied 3 – 3, and the measure failed.”
    “In the 1930s and 1940s, courts in Massachusetts and West Virginia ruled that children who were Jehovah’s Witnesses and had been expelled from school for refusing to recite the pledge and salute the flag had been deprived of their right to freedom of expression and religion.

    “There was a lot of persecution against Jehovah’s Witnesses back then, and I don’t want to return to that at all,” said Pierce.”

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    First, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then He made school boards.
    The idea of persecution…. Nuts. Just shows one of the folks, who were going at it when I was in school about half a century ago, who collected sins of the US to show how much more they knew than us unthinking “patriots”.
    I suspect that La Raza or Muslim Student Association could get a few things done in this system.
    Come to think of it, they did, in California. You’ll recall the US flag thing. Mexican flags okay.
    But, anyway, in this atmosphere, even teaching objective history is seen as “patriotism”, depending on the subject, and could spark a similar result.
    Some people are more equal than others.

  9. SuperSub says:

    There is a BIG difference between expelling a student for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and not forcing them to, which is pretty much the standard in most schools. All we ask of students in our school is that they stand silent while others say the Pledge.
    Note that the school is violating Massachussetts law in not performing the Pledge of Allegiance. While the Supreme Court has ruled that teachers and students cannot be punished for not reciting the Pledge, the school could probably be compelled by the state to perform it, and administrators could face some sort of penalty for failing to perform their duties to provide an opportunity to perform the Pledge.

  10. Cranberry says:

    SuperSub, you haven’t been to Massachusetts recently, have you? No Massachusetts politician will try to compel the Arlington school board to make the pledge mandatory, in the face of a Supreme Court decision on the issue of free speech. See

    The whole thing appears to be a Fox News-induced outside-of-Massachusetts frenzy.

  11. SuperSub says:

    I never said that anyone would take action against the school, simply that the state likely could if it wanted. Remember, all it takes is one bureaucrat in state ed to have a grudge against the superintendent and all hell could break loose. Not likely, hardly possible, but it would be fun to watch.
    As for it being induced…I’d say that it became a big deal when national representatives signed a high schooler’s petition. The Pledge is a big deal, whether you are a Fox News watcher or not.


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