COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama, speaking to an audience at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md., compared Republicans who look askance at his alternative energy schemes to people who believe that Earth is flat, according to Politico.
In so doing, Obama demonstrated a certain ignorance of history.
"If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society," he said. "They would not have believed that the world was round."
Actually, in 1492, the round Earth was an accepted fact and had been since the time of Aristotle, according to an education page maintained by NASA. People who opposed Columbus did so because they thought he had underestimated the size of the Earth, meaning that his fleet would not have reached Asia before running out of provisions. It turned out, those people were right. However, the Americas happened to be in the way between Europe and Asia.
One has to wonder at the value of the education Obama got at Columbia if he adheres to that common misconception. Or perhaps one should not be surprised since, according to a story in the New York Sun, a study conducted by Intercollegiate Studies Institute found that students at Ivy League institutions of learning score low on exams testing history knowledge.
One also wonders what other things the president knows that aren't so.
Obama also mischaracterized the nature of the opposition to his green-energy schemes. Most Republicans do not object to alternate-energy research. They do object to the president's war on fossil fuels that provide the bulk of America's energy needs in the year 2012.
Newt Gingrich, for example, suggests opening up land and offshore leases for oil and gas development and using the royalties paid to the government to finance alternate energy research.
The "they laughed at Columbus" is an interesting gambit. However all has to do is to respond, "They laughed at Donald Duck as well."
Obama demonstrated an off putting quality of intellectual arrogance that is not backed up by an intellect. Before he makes another faulty historical analogy, he would be advised to take a remedial course in history.