Column: American stuff

COURTESY PHOTO The Liberty Bell.
COURTESY PHOTO The Liberty Bell.

With Independence Day, we’re back in the business of bemoaning that Americans are woefully weak when it comes to having any real knowledge of the history of their country.

As a great sage — the name escapes us — once said, “Those who forget history are … are … you know, like … stupid.”

Even the president has gaps. He proudly admits he’s never read a biography of a president. “I never have,” he told the Washington Post. “I’m always busy doing a lot.”

But Mr. Trump shouldn’t be scorned because he’s as dimwitted as his fellow Americans when it comes to the history and/or general knowledge of the U.S. There are many polls of our fellow countrymen and women on history and current events with results finding that we are a nation of dunces.

On Independence Day last year, National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” tweeted the text of the Declaration of Independence, 140 characters at time. The reaction was swift, coming from all parts of the country, with responses such as, “Are you drunk?” “So, NPR is calling for revolution.” “Glad you’re being defunded, your show was never balanced.”

Are you ready for the Gimme Shelter Independence Day We Know Stuff quiz testing your knowledge of the homeland? We have faith in you. Answers at the bottom. Cellphones in the basket on my desk. Eyes on your own paper. Begin … now.

1) How many of the 58 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in the United States?
A. 47
B. 24
C. None

2) Which president didn’t swear on a Bible when he was inaugurated?
A. Franklin Pierce
B. Barack Obama
C. Millard Fillmore

3) Which president said: “I don’t know much about Americanism, but it’s a damn good word with which to carry an election.”
A. Warren G. Harding
B. Donald Trump
C. Barrack Obama

4) How many presidents have been elected without winning the popular vote?
A. One
B. Two
C. Five

5) What is ‘The Fair Deal?’
A. Teddy Roosevelt’s policy toward Panama.
B. A crack down by the Police Department on card sharks at the Senior Activity Center’s weekly Poker Table.
C. President Harry Truman’s nickname for his domestic policy.

6) What is the newest National Park?
A) Pinnacles National Park in California
B) Mar-a-Lago
C) Augusta National

7) Who was William Floyd?
A) Will “Iron Hands” Floyd, personal bodyguard to Robert Moses.
B) The only Long Islander who signed the Declaration of Independence.
C) Billy “Sandman” Floyd, president and CEO of Mastic’s Dig This Inc., indicted, never convicted, for bid rigging on concrete contracts for the parkway project.

8) What was the most vicious attack made by one elected official on another in Congress?
A) Senator Charles Schumer, who attacked Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for holding up President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination.
B) Senator Dianne Feinstein telling Senator Ted Cruz not to condescend to her when speaking abut the Constitution.
C) Representative Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner unconscious with a cane on the Senate floor.

9) What was the whiskey rebellion?
A) Alcohol prohibitionists smashed cases of whiskey outside bars in New York city in 1920.
B) People in Pennsylvania in 1791 violently protested the federal government’s tax on whiskey. George Washington called out the militia and the rebellion was crushed.
C) Seven patrons of the Harbor Inn refused to pay bar bills until the stock of Old Overholt was replenished.

10) Who said, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
A) Ronald Reagan
B) Donald Trump
C) Newt Gingrich

Happy Independence Day. Class dismissed. You’re free.

Answers: 1) C. When they signed, there was no United States. 2) A. Pierce instead affirmed, rather than swore, placing his hand on a law book instead of a Bible. 3) A. 4) C. John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1886, George W. Bush in 2000, and Donald Trump in 2016. But the last one was rigged, according to Mr. Trump. 5) C 6) A 7) B 8) C 9) B 10) B