It is important for youth to have heroes but society cannot ignore the facts and only report on the good side of those heroes. Everyone is human, and they are going to make mistakes. Hopefully they learn from those mistakes, and if those mistakes are brought to light and conveyed to the young people then they too learn from those mistakes.
History has a duty to report on the entire story. To report anything less would be wrong. To just simply say that Columbus was a perfect man who never did anything wrong would paint an unrealistic picture of the past. Mr. Gibbon, the author of this article seems to think that reality is a bad thing and should not be taught in our classrooms. Today's youth however need to be prepared for life in some way. They cannot be fed everything with a sugar coated spoon. If they were given everything on a silver platter like that then when they walked out into the real world for the first time they would not be able to adjust and become a productive part of society.
Today's young people are in search of heroes as Mr. Gibbon suggests, but every person is going to have some skeletons in their closet, hero or no hero. To ask society to ignore the facts just so young people can feel that these people are perfectly squeaky clean is wrong. Society cannot lie to them. There is some value to teaching reality even though Mr. Gibbon doesn't seem to think so.
Mr. Gibbon mentions that there is some sort of "tradition of exemplary lives" in society's heroes that used to exist but no longer does. However there never was such a tradition of wonderfully perfect people with perfect lives. Back then people ignored the facts and decided to believe that these people were perfect when the fact was that they were not perfect, they were just human.
You cannot shield today's young people. You can't just cover their eyes to reality. Reality must be exposed and studied so they can try to understand the world.
I agree with Gibbon that parents are the first and most important educators and they must try to make their lives exemplary so their children will try to do the same, however parents are not perfect, they are human like everyone else and they do make mistakes.
There must be some way to teach moral and ethical education without sacrificing the need to teach reality. Society must not ignore the facts. The importance of moral and ethical lessons do not outweigh the importance of reality education. Society needs to focus their efforts on teaching morals and ethical lessons some other way besides studying "flawless" heroes.