President Ronald Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech in 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was one of history’s clarion calls for human dignity and freedom.

It was a prelude to the fall of the Soviet tyranny, which Mr. Reagan’s policies hastened.

So historian and former first lady (and IWF founder, not to forget) Lynne Cheney was heartened to spot a passage from Reagan's famous speech on the new Advanced Placement U.S. history exam that American students will take this spring. Her pleasure was short-lived.

In an essay headlined “The End of History, Part II,” Mrs. Cheney writes:

But when I looked closer to see the purpose for which the quotation was used, I found that it is held up as an example of “increased assertiveness and bellicosity” on the part of the U.S. in the 1980s. That’s the answer to a multiple-choice question about what Reagan’s speech reflects.

No notice is taken of the connection the president made between freedom and human flourishing, no attention to the fact that within 2½ years of the speech, people were chipping off pieces of the Berlin Wall as souvenirs. Instead of acknowledging important ideas and historical context, test makers have reduced President Reagan’s most eloquent moment to warmongering.

The Advanced Placement test is important, Mrs. Cheney explains, because it is taken by the brightest high school students who, if they do well, will get college credit for their high school studies of American history. About half million students will take the AP test this year.

There is a terrible urgency everywhere in society to promote progressive ideas through whatever medium is at hand. This supplants any idea that young people should be taught facts and logic. The AP test reflects this insistence on using any vehicle to promote a particular set of progressive ideals.

Sometimes you have to be alert to catch it. Mrs. Cheney is nothing if not alert:

Evangelist Whitefield, an Irishman who preached in the colonies, was a key figure in the Great Awakening, an evangelical revival that began in the 1730s. Here, however, he is held up as an example of “trans-Atlantic exchanges,” which seems completely out of left field until one realizes that the underlying notion is that we need to stop thinking nationally and think globally. Our history is simply part of a larger story.

This is nothing new. As chairman for the National Endowment for the Humanities twenty years ago, Cheney made a grant to a group to develop national standards for teaching American history. When the results were in, she was confronted by an overwhelmingly negative picture of American history. She wrote an oped headlined “The End of History,” which provides the headline for the current piece.

The AP test appears to be just one more vehicle for promoting a concept of history based on identity politics and other trendy notions. This is one reason our schools are turning out people for whom political debate has become a matter of name calling and smears.

We may no longer have the facts and ability to deal coolly with them that are necessary for a democracy to thrive.