Kathleen Parker

That nasty little problem has its roots in a nasty little attitude of contempt toward history as written by and about white males. The spirit of equal outcomes that has dumbed down education also has distorted the teaching of American history. Too much George, not enough Martha.

Obviously, important Americans of both sexes and all races should be included in history books, but not all participants in history are equal, no matter how many stars we wish upon.

The extent to which white males have been devalued can be clearly seen in Washington's face. His portrait, that is.

Once ubiquitous in American classrooms, Washington's portrait has all but disappeared from schools. When Bill Sanders, a New Jersey businessman, noticed the first president was missing from his daughter's classroom, he set out to correct the oversight and started a project called Portraits of Patriots.

He began producing high-quality prints of Washington from an 1862 engraving based on Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait, which he sells for about $250 to cover the costs of printing and framing. He also lobbied for state legislation proposing that at least one Washington portrait be placed in each school district.

Although a bill passed the House several years ago, it died in a Senate committee after the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) objected. Nancy Volte, spokeswoman for the NJEA, summed up the general sentiment to USA Today:

``Requiring legislation to honor one person does a disservice to many individuals,'' she said. ``There are so many others who were also instrumental in securing our country's freedom.''

Maybe so, but only one person was the first president of the United States. Only one man was Gen. George Washington, who led American troops in the decisive battle of the revolution.

Such silly sensitivity has displaced intellectual honesty in American education. We've produced a generation with no sense of national identity and little connection to the nation's collective memory.

In the process, we've traded life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for fat, dumb and happy.

And, of course, cheap sheets.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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