Tuesday, December 02, 2003

...don't know much about history...

The St. Petersburg Times ("General News From St. Petersburg and Russia"? Mmm...) reports that " [a] textbook on modern Russian history that invites students to discuss whether Putin is an authoritarian leader and has formed a police state may be banned in high schools." For his part, Mr. Putin
[...] told a meeting of historians at the Russian State Library on Thursday that history books should not become a political battleground. "Modern textbooks for schools and universities must not become a ground for new political and ideological fighting," he said in televised remarks. "Textbooks should provide historical facts, and they must cultivate a sense of pride among youth in their history and country."

Seems to me the trick would be to take the covers off of all history books, stick them on other, completely unrelated material (like comic books, cook books, Harlequin Romances, etc.), mix them up, and give a different one to each student in the class. Imagine the fun students could have trying to interpret the teacher's history lesson through the lens of "The Joy of Cooking" or "The Justice League of America".
Of course, on the topic of history, the Russians are much better at this sort of thing than the Japanese, who are still busy re-writing stuff from the first half of the 20th century.
Speaking of Japan, the deaths of two Japanese diplomats in Iraq seems to have sucked what little life there was out of any desire to go and help out with the reconstruction effort. I imagine that the Japanese will be ready to go to Iraq round about the time Iraq is ready to join NATO... Meanwhile, PM Koizumi, sounding a bit like GW, is talking tough on terror. Not that I'm a big fan of whoever is behind these attacks in Iraq, but since when is it "terrorism" to engage occupying forces? Maybe we should take the history book idea above and try it out on a dictionary...