Too Good to Check, Santorum Edition

A couple of weeks ago, Rick Santorum got into some trouble for saying that Barack Obama was "a snob" for wanting every American kid to be able to go to college. Santorum elaborated that universities today indoctrinate people in dangerous liberal ideas and convince them to abandon their religious beliefs. And now he's offering more details on just how un-American universities are:

I was just reading something last night from the state of California. And that the California universities – I think it's seven or eight of the California system of universities don’t even teach an American history course. It's not even available to be taught.

Shocking! And it would be even more shocking if it were even remotely true. But as Think Progress notes, "In fact, of the 10 UC system schools, just one (San Francisco) doesn't offer American history courses. But that’s because it doesn't offer any humanities courses at all — it's a medical school."

When Santorum says "I was just reading something last night," I think we can treat it like the stand-up comic who sets up a joke with, "I was on an airplane the other day..." We know he wasn't really on the plane the other day, since he's been telling this joke for the past six months. It's tempting to say that Santorum just made this up, but I don't think that's what happened. I think he heard it somewhere—maybe on a conservative radio show, or from somebody he met at a campaign event—and it was, as the saying goes, too good to check. That's because to Santorum, it just made sense. After all, everybody knows that universities are hotbeds of liberalism, and liberals hate America, so why wouldn't they banish American history? And that must surely be doubly true of state universities in California, a state ruled by pot-smoking hippies where the abundant sunshine leads comely young ladies to prance about in clothing so immodest it gives a morally upright fellow like Rick the cold sweats, where the abandonment of American history is just the tip of an iceberg of sin.

Responsible people, however, particularly responsible politicians, don't just repeat crazy stuff they hear. In conversation, you or I might preface such a thing with, "I don't know if this is true, but I heard somewhere that..." But Rick Santorum is a man without doubt. If he heard it, and it sounded good, he'll just tell you that it's true. Just like when he told everyone that in the Netherlands, euthanasia makes up "ten percent of all deaths, and half of those people are euthanized involuntarily, because they are old or sick," and the elderly are so terrified of being put down that they wear bracelets saying "Don't euthanize me." It turned out that too was totally false, but hey, it sounded good, because everybody knows Scandinavians are godless, grandma-killing socialists, right?

So listen, conservatives. The next time you get irritated at liberals for thinking you're all a bunch of conspiracy theorizing fantasists who hate reason and think facts are for sissies and socialists, consider how often it happens that the leaders of your party go in for stuff like this.


Just FYI, there are two separate university systems in California, the University of California (UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, UCLA, etc.) and the California State University System (San Diego State University, Cal State Fresno, etc.).

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