Jewish World Review May 1, 2003 / 29 Nissan, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Exams spice history | If you think history is stuffy and boring, then you clearly have not been reading the exam papers of college students.

The recently updated book, "I Non Campus Mentis," compiled and edited by history professor Anders Henriksson, is sure to give parents some pause about shelling out $20,000-plus for their son's or daughter's tuition.

Take one student's revisionist history of the Middle East:

"The main problem in the Middle East today is that there are problems."

(I would give full credit for that. It is unarguably correct.)

"There would not be all these problems if the West Bank would lend more money to the Arabs and if the Palaced Indians were not so troublesome."

(I did not know the West Bank is a financial institution. This is yet another failing of the media.)

"Mosques are what the people are required to wear to church."

(No wonder they're irritable.)

"The Baathist Party stands for socialism and personal cleanliness."

(Perhaps they were tired of being called dirty commies.)

"Saddam Hussein is ruler of the Iraquois who used venomous gas and kamakazies against his own people."

(I understand the U.N. weapons inspectors were absolutely tripping over kamakazies but didn't think they were anything to worry about.)

Those nuggets of wisdom came from college freshmen and date to the fall of 2001. But parents shouldn't feel smug; the majority of the book's historical bloopers come from students enrolled in the early '70s. (I'm glad Henriksson chose to omit names, because some of this stuff looks awfully familiar to me, a 1974 graduate of the University of Maryland.)

"Philip II tried to force religious monotony on his empire."

(Maybe if he had booked some rock bands for services, things would have turned out differently.)

"Pope Leo XIII is known as the author of Rectum Novarum, a book of conservative ideas. He was hard-headed, pigmatic, and determined."

(If "pigmatic" isn't a word, it certainly should be.)

"Another reason that the governments of European nations tried to take over other lands was so that they could gain so-called 'cleavage.'"

(Take Anna Nicole Smith. Please.)

"Florence of Arabia fought over the dessert."

(A lot of bloodshed might have been averted if Florence had minded her manners and accepted her portion of cheesecake.)

"One major source of conflict since World War II has been Israel's relations with the Parisians. The Carter administration found itself face to face with this problem during the so-called Iran Hostess Crisis."

(So the Parisians were behind the Hostess Crisis. Another reason to hate the French.)

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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