Today’s post is a guest column from the Heritage Foundation’s Glen Billings*
The 23rd of May next year will mark the 400th anniversary of the Defenestration of Prague, an event that many see as the spark which ignited The Thirty Years War, Europe’s most destructive war prior to the two world wars of the 20th century. In fact, it was considered to be the worst catastrophe ever to befall Germany until the Second World War. And yet few millennials know anything about the suffering and pain caused by this pivotal conflict.
In a recent survey conducted by the Victims of Religious Wars of the Early Modern Era, 54% of millennial respondents said that they preferred to live under the rule of a Holy Roman Emperor than in our free market capitalist system. A further 45 percent said they “mostly agree” with the Catholic League, and one out of five millennial respondents said they considered Imperial military leader Albrecht von Wallenstein to be a “hero.”
This is extremely disheartening to see in our modern era, in a time when proponents of restoring the Holy Roman Empire and spreading the Catholic faith by fire and sword are experiencing a surge in popularity and influence not seen in nearly four centuries. If youth are not made aware of the slaughter, the looting, the destruction of towns and villages, the witch hunts, pestilence, and famine that were caused by that horrendously bloody conflict so long ago, it isn’t a stretch to say they might fall for the false promises of Catholic populists who claim to have all the answers. We could very well travel down that same road again, and the results will not be pretty.
American youth, not being European, are particularly at risk, which is why the same public education system people like me constantly deride and try to defund on a regular basis needs to step up to the plate and do a better job of educating our youth about the horrors of the Thirty Years War and the ideas that led to it. I would suggest making room in the course syllabus by removing more trivial episodes in history, such as the genocide of the Americas’ indigenous peoples, slavery, European colonization of Africa, the Civil Rights struggle, the Vietnam War, and especially that Iraq War people keep bringing up for some incomprehensible reason. Youth need to be taught what matters, and what matters is that we live in a great, prosperous liberal democratic free market capitalist Republic which is the best system on Earth and always will be till the end of our sun and human life itself. And we have the Peace of Westphalia to partially thank for that.
If we fail to learn from history, we are sure to repeat it. The sad thing is that modern youth live in such wonderful prosperity, with unprecedented stability and real prospects for a satisfying life, and yet so many of them seem to desire the religious persecution and authoritarianism of the Holy Roman Empire. They may soon get just that.
*Real author’s note. Glenn Billings does not actually exist and is a fictional character. Therefore this entire piece is SATIRE and you cannot possibly criticize it or make any judgments about me or my values based on the content of what I write. This is an entirely rational thing to believe.