In response to questioning from Paul Waugh, the Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, has detailed exactly what he would like to see in the history curriculum. Details are in the Evening Standard, and what strikes me is the way it skips past the historical clashes between the Christian west and the Islamic Middle East.
That phrase is a huge simplification of a complicated and nuanced theme stretching over many years, yet military conflict between Christian and Muslim forces were a regular part of European and Mediterranean history. Not just the crusades, with their large and direct British involvement, but the siege of Malta (the first one, not the one with the Royal Air Force), armed conflict in Italy in the Middle Ages and battles in the Balkans right up to the gates of Vienna.
Distortions of that history are often peddled by extremists in an attempt to justify all sorts of outrageous and inhumane behaviour in the modern world, most particularly both in the Balkans and in relations between the western world and Islam.
If history is of any contemporary use, and I believe it is, then surely understanding the true issues that lie behind the extremists’ justification of their contemporary actions should be there on the curriculum?