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June 19, 1997

Monahan's Well

By Jerry Curry

Twenty-five years ago this week, a bunch of incompetent burglars hired
by the Committee to Re-Elect the then Sitting President, Richard M.
Nixon, broke into the Democratic Party offices at the Watergate in
Washington D.C. That was the beginning of a fandango that eventually
brought down Nixon and gave us a Democratic President Jimmy Carter, who
was so incompetent he started making the nation wish it had Tricky Dick
So Watergate, as the boob tube pundits keep saying this week, was a
milestone, a watershed, if you will of presidential history in these
United States. It got rid of a president who tried to cover up a felony
by some of his shock troops and it gave us a president who, if not a
felon, was at least felony stupid.
All of this, we are told, sans my opinions of the affair, is supposed to
be taught in the history books of these United States.
I don't think it is.
I think history was somehow forgotten when some pedagogue decided Social
Studies was something politically correct to call a history class.
History is many things, but one thing it is not, is politically correct.
So we have a generation of kids now who were taught their history in
something called Social Studies.
I talked to about 20 kids in the past week and none of them, absolutely
none of them, had any idea what the Watergate Affair concerned. Only one
had heard of Richard Nixon, the dethroned president. None of them had
heard of Jimmy Carter. For that Carter gap in knowledge, it is a
temptation to say there was some good news in all this. Perhaps it is
better if we do not remember Jimmy and his brother Billy and Billy's
Beer and brother Billy's hobnobing with a bunch of Arabs who do not now
nor ever will drink beer because Arabs are screaming teetotalers.
All this week has done is then confirm, verify and solidify the results
of a state academic test taken in the Monahans Junior High this past May
in which 65 percent of the kids were able to pass history. I refuse to
call Social Studies history and I refuse to forgo praying in public
Superintendent Cliff Stephens finds some silver in this black cloud of
historical ignorance. Only 61 percent of the kids in Texas who took the
test passed it. We in Monahans did better than the rest of the state. If
this same history test were given nationally, I am certain only about 20
percent of junior high kids would pass it.
One thing I know is the kids in Monahans with whom I spoke were about
evenly divided between junior high and senior high students. It is
possible at least some of them passed the state-ordered history test in
May. But none of them, and that includes the one who had heard of
Richard Nixon, should be given anything but an "F" on any legitimate
history test with which I have ever dealt.
More important, this problem of intelligence on a level with Jimmy
Carter's is not limited to the young.
I did the same survey with adults. Granted this is an unscientific
survey. Unscientific means I did not pay some Ph.D. 20 percent of the
national debt to conduct it.
The adults did better than the kids.
Just barely.
And, depending on how you may interpret it, the adults may have done
All of the adults had heard of Jimmy Carter and at least half of them
admitted voting for him.
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107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
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