Ideological Subversion

In a follow-on to Monday’s post, TL;DR comes a column from Townhall from June 24 entitled Don’t Know Much About History

There’s a world-class understatement.


First, the good news: The nation’s eighth-graders are doing better in history class. Now, the bad news: They’re not doing much better. Gains in test scores are small, made by the lowest performers, and only 17 percent of those tested are “proficient,” or competent.

It gets worse. Only 12 percent of high-school seniors, who are getting ready to vote for the first time, have a proficient knowledge of history. If you’re looking for a tinsel lining, you could point to 20 percent of fourth-graders who are described as proficient, but that means eight of 10 haven’t learned very much during their tender years in the classroom

The standardized test results known as the “nation’s report card,” issued by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, are based on tests taken by thousands of schoolchildren in both private and public schools. Such dismal percentages once sounded alarms for parents and teachers, but now mostly get a bored yawn. What else is new?

The next paragraph give us the Quote of the Day:

“We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” says historian David McCullough in The Wall Street Journal. “I know how much these young people — even at the most esteemed institutions of higher learning — don’t know. It’s shocking.” McCullough, who has lectured on more than a hundred college campuses, tells of a young women who came up to him after a lecture at a renowned university in the Midwest. “Until I heard your talk this morning, I never realized the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast.”

This, from a high school graduate – not one of those who dropped out.

And this ignorance is no accident:

McCullough has learned first-hand how formidable the obstacles have become. Emotional appeals in politically correct courses — women’s history, African history, environmental history — take the place of chronological and conceptual study across the educational arc from tiny tots to graduate students.

From the early grades, our children learn how horrible slavery was, but spend little time studying the how, why and when we righted that wrong and the wrongs that followed. Who we are comes from what we reject as much as from what we embrace.

The problems with our schools run deep, not only affecting how the next generation is learning to make reasoned choices in determining public policy, but how ignorance undercuts pride and patriotism, the sense of America’s core identity. It’s not merely academic.

Indeed not. Nor is it unintentional. Another recent story tells us that Independence Day is now a “rightwing” holiday. A July, 1 Hoover Institute column, American Amnesia expands on this:

For the past ten years or more, virtually every glimpse into American students’ views on citizenship has revealed both a lack of understanding and a lack of interest. An American Enterprise Institute study earlier this year found that most social studies teachers doubted that their students grasped core U.S. citizenship concepts such as the Bill of Rights or the separation of powers. A recent Department of Education study found that only nine percent of U.S. high school students are able to cite reasons why it is important for citizens to participate in a democracy, and only six percent are able to identify reasons why having a constitution benefits a country. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) has reported a decades-long, step-wise decline in interest in political affairs among college freshmen—from over 60 percent of the population in 1966 to less than half that percentage in our current period.

Remember, it was award-winning educator John Taylor Gatto who said that the education system changed radically beginning in 1965. There was a goal:

For the past ten years, our research team at Stanford has interviewed broad cross-sections of American youth about what U. S. citizenship means to them. Here is one high school student’s reply, not atypical: “We just had (American citizenship) the other day in history. I forget what it was.” Another student told us that “being American is not really special….I don’t find being an American citizen very important.” Another replied, “I don’t want to belong to any country. It just feels like you are obligated to this country. I don’t like the whole thing of citizen…I don’t like that whole thing. It’s like, citizen, no citizen; it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s like to be a good citizen—I don’t know, I don’t want to be a citizen…it’s stupid to me.”

Such statements reflect more than an ignorance of citizenship—though they may provide us with clues about the source of students’ present-day lack of knowledge. Beyond not knowing what U.S. citizenship entails, many young Americans today are not motivated to learn about how to become a fully engaged citizen of their country. They simply do not care about their status as American citizens. Notions such as civic virtue, civic duty, or devotion to their country mean little to them. This is not true of all young people today—there are exceptions in virtually every community—but it accurately describes a growing trend that encompasses a large portion of our younger generation.

And it has been going on long enough that it affects not only the current generation, but their parents. By all means, please read my April, 2006 essay, RCOB™. contributor Nina Burleigh was shocked, shocked to discover that the Narrowsburg, NY public school she enrolled her five year-old son into taught patriotism!

I cringed as my young son recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But who was I to question his innocent trust in a nation I long ago lost faith in?

Shocked and upset to the point that she felt it necessary to indoctrinate her five year-old herself:

…to counteract any God-and-country indoctrination he received in school, we began our own informal in-home instruction about Bush, Iraq and Washington over the evening news.

Nina was relieved when she moved away from Narrowsburg:

Now it has been almost a year since my son scampered down the steps of Narrowsburg Central Rural School for the last time. We’ve since returned to the city, driven back to urban life more by adult boredom than our children’s lack of educational opportunities. Our son is enrolled in a well-rated K-5 public school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side;not surprisingly, the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer part of his morning routine. Come to think of it, and I could be wrong, I’ve never seen a flag on the premises.

No, I imagine not.

Is it any wonder that our public schools are turning out this product?  They’ve been at it since 1965.  In 1985 Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov named it “ideological subversion:”

To change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite of their balance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community and their country.

It’s a great brainwashing process which goes very slow, and it is divided in four basic stages. The first one being demoralization. It takes from 15-20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years it takes to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy.

In other words, Marxism-Leninism is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students, without being challenged or counterbalanced with the basic values of Americanism, America patriotism.

It’s been forty-five years since 1965, and it’s still ongoing with no end in sight. More Bezmenov, and remember this was twenty-five years ago:

The result? The result you can see. Most of the people who graduated in the sixties (drop-outs or half-baked intellectuals) are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media, [and the] educational system. You are stuck with them. You cannot get rid of them. They are contaminated; they are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a certain pattern. You cannot change their mind[s], even if you expose them to authentic information, even if you prove that white is white and black is black, you still cannot change the basic perception and the logic of behavior. In other words, these people… the process of demoralization is complete and irreversible. To [rid] society of these people, you need another twenty or fifteen years to educate a new generation of patriotically-minded and common sense people, who would be acting in favor and in the interests of United States society.

The demoralization process in [the] United States is basically completed already. For the last 25 years… actually, it’s over-fulfilled because demoralization now reaches such areas where previously not even Comrade Andropov and all his experts would even dream of such a tremendous success. Most of it is done by Americans to Americans, thanks to [a] lack of moral standards.

As I mentioned before, exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who was demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him. Even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures; even if I take him by force to the Soviet Union and show him [a] concentration camp, he will refuse to believe it, until he [receives] a kick in his fat bottom. When a military boot crashes his… then he will understand. But not before that. That’s the [tragedy] of the situation of demoralization.

So basically America is stuck with demoralization and unless… even if you start right now, here, this minute, you start educating [a] new generation of American[s], it will still take you fifteen to twenty years to turn the tide of ideological perception of reality back to normalcy and patriotism.

The next stage is destabilization. This time [the] subverter does not care about your ideas and the patterns of your consumption; whether you eat junk food and get fat and flabby doesn’t matter any more. This time—and it takes only from two to five years to destabilize a nation—what matters [are] essentials: economy, foreign relations, [and] defense systems. And you can see it quite clearly that in some areas, in such sensitive areas as defense and [the] economy, the influence of Marxist-Leninist ideas in [the] United States is absolutely fantastic. I could never believe it fourteen years ago when I landed in this part of the world that the process [would have gone] that fast.

The next stage, of course, is crisis. It may take only up to six weeks to bring a country to the verge of crisis. You can see it in Central America now.

And, after crisis, with a violent change of power, structure, and economy, you have [the so-called] period of normalization. It may last indefinitely. Normalization is a cynical expression borrowed from Soviet propaganda. When the Soviet tanks moved into Czechoslovakia in ‘68, Comrade Brezhnev said, ‘Now the situation in brotherly Czechoslovakia is normalized.’

This is what will happen in [the] United States if you allow all these schmucks to bring the country to crisis, to promise people all kind[s] of goodies and the paradise on earth, to destabilize your economy, to eliminate the principle of free market competition, and to put [a] Big Brother government in Washington, D.C. with benevolent dictators like Walter Mondale, who will promise lots of thing[s], never mind whether the promises are fulfillable or not. He will go to Moscow to kiss the bottoms of [a] new generation of Soviet assassins, never mind… he will create false illusions that the situation is under control. [The] situation is not under control. [The] situation is disgustingly out of control.

Most of the American politicians, media, and educational system trains another generation of people who think they are living at the peacetime. False. [The] United States is in a state of war: undeclared, total war against the basic principles and foundations of this system. And the initiator of this war is not Comrade Andropov, of course. It’s the system. However ridiculous it may sound, [it is] the world Communist system (or the world Communist conspiracy). Whether I scare some people or not, I don’t give a hoot. If you are not scared by now, nothing can scare you.

But you don’t have to be paranoid about it. What actually happens now [is] that unlike [me], you have literally several years to live on unless [the] United States [wakes] up. The time bomb is ticking: with every second [he snaps his fingers], the disaster is coming closer and closer. Unlike [me], you will have nowhere to defect to. Unless you want to live in Antarctica with penguins. This is it. This is the last country of freedom and possibility.

It hasn’t gotten to everyone, but it’s reached enough so that now our country is more divided than any time since 1860.

That was the goal.  We’re “enjoying” the results, and they’re worldwide.

Time’s up.

Quote of the WEEK

Quote of the WEEK

From this YouTube video taken at a Washington Town Hall with Rep. Brian “Brownshirt” Baird:


As a Marine, as a disabled veteran that served this country, I’ve kept my oath. Do you ever intend to keep yours?

David from Camas, WA

His Nancy Pelosi line was a close second.

Due Process?

A couple of posts down, the comment thread derailed a bit. One of the topics taken up was “asset forfeiture,” a subject that makes me a bit hot under the collar. A couple of the comments:

“Drug possession in the context you described is a catch-all bludgeon that the police can use to put people in jail because collecting evidence for real crimes was too hard. It’s a bullshit victimless crime, just like having an unregistered .50 BMG rifle sitting in a hypothetical California closet.”

It goes further than that, Oz.

In some states (or perhaps it’s a federal law, I don’t really know), a law enforcement agency can simply sieze your property, your vehicle, cash, and what-have-you, claiming that it is the result of illegal drug activity, all without arresting you, charging you, arraigning you, indicting you, trying you, or sentencing you. The gubmint can simply steal from you without the slightest pretext of due process of law.

It’s a really sad state of affairs when you can be the victim of your own gubmint and be called the victim of a victimless crime, even when there was no crime at all.DJ

The gubmint can simply steal from you without the slightest pretext of due process of law.


DJ, I like you, but as much as stickler for detail as you, you’re shockingly wrong there.

There’s complete due process of law. Your item is arraigned, charged, and convicted before asset forfeiture kicks in.
Very processed.

(Nitpicks aside, Asset Forfeiture was a bad idea gone very wrong. The “Due Process” that is conducted is so slanted that Kangaroos are known to complain about the courts. )Unix-Jedi

Theft under color of authority occurred before “asset forfeiture” was a legal gambit, and will occur if it’s not(sic) allowed. It’s something completely bloody different.Unix-Jedi

Unix-Jedi’s point in the thread is that there’s a difference between “asset forfeiture” – which has due process attached – and simple “Theft under color of authority.”

To me, that’s a distinction without a difference, and (risking a diagnosis of Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect) here’s an example of why:

Texas town’s police seize valuables from black motorists

Chicago Tribune

TENAHA — You can drive into this dusty fleck of a town near the Texas-Louisiana border if you’re African-American, but you might not be able to drive out of it — at least not with your car, your cash, your jewelry or other valuables.

That’s because the police here have allegedly found a way to strip motorists, many of them black, of their property without ever charging them with a crime. Instead, they offer out-of-towners a grim choice: voluntarily sign over your belongings to the town or face felony charges of money laundering or other serious crimes.

That would be “asset forfeiture with due process of law” – at least from the town’s perspective. (My emphasis.)

More than 140 people reluctantly accepted that deal from June 2006 to June 2008, according to court records. Among them were a black grandmother from Akron, Ohio, who surrendered $4,000 in cash after Tenaha police pulled her over, and an interracial couple from Houston, who gave up more than $6,000 after police threatened to seize their children and put them into foster care, the court documents show. Neither the grandmother nor the couple were charged with or convicted of any crime.

Hearkening back to that comment thread, that doesn’t mean they weren’t guilty of something, right? (Again, emphasis is mine.) This is “theft under color of authority,” but the law behind it is ASSET FORFEITURE.

Officials in Tenaha, situated along a heavily traveled state highway connecting Houston with several popular gambling destinations in Louisiana, say they are engaged in a battle against drug trafficking, and they call the search-and-seizure practice a legitimate use of the state’s asset-forfeiture law.

Of course they do! We can trust our “Only Ones,” can’t we?

Can’t we?

That law permits local police agencies to keep drug money and other property used in the commission of a crime and add the proceeds to their budgets.

“We try to enforce the law here,” said George Bowers, mayor of the town of 1,046, where boarded-up businesses outnumber open ones and City Hall sports a broken window. “We’re not doing this to raise money. That’s all I’m going to say at this point.”

Sure you’re not.

But civil rights lawyers call Tenaha’s practice something else: highway robbery. The lawyers have filed a federal class-action lawsuit to stop what they contend is an unconstitutional perversion of the law’s intent, aimed primarily at African-Americans who have done nothing wrong.

So if they do it primarily to whites, it’s OK?

Tenaha officials “have developed an illegal ‘stop and seize’ practice of targeting, stopping, detaining, searching and often seizing property from apparently nonwhite citizens and those traveling with nonwhite citizens,” asserts the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.

The property seizures are not just happening in Tenaha. In southern parts of Texas near the Mexican border, for example, Hispanics allege that they are being singled out.

A prominent Texas state legislator said police agencies across the state are wielding the asset-forfeiture law more aggressively to supplement their shrinking operating budgets.

(Emphasis mine.) Gotta keep that .gov hand-me-down armored personnel carrier fueled up, you know!

“If used properly, it’s a good law enforcement tool to see that crime doesn’t pay,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee. “But in this instance, where people are being pulled over and their property is taken with no charges filed and no convictions, I think that’s theft.”

You think correctly – but you guys in the legislatures are the ones responsible for writing these laws, and you have an uncanny knack of squealing “We never meant THAT!!!” when they get stretched and twisted.

David Guillory, a lawyer in Nacogdoches who filed the federal lawsuit, said he combed through Shelby County court records from 2006 to 2008 and discovered nearly 200 cases in which Tenaha police seized cash and property from motorists. In about 50 of the cases, suspects were charged with drug possession.

But in 147 others, Guillory said the court records showed that the police seized cash, jewelry, cellphones and sometimes even automobiles from motorists but never found any contraband or charged them with any crime.

(Emphasis – you know.) Don’t you feel safer already?

Of those, Guillory said he managed to contact 40 of the motorists directly — and discovered all but one of them were black.

“The whole thing is disproportionately targeted toward minorities, particularly African-Americans,” Guillory said. “Every one of these people is pulled over and told they did something, like, ‘You drove too close to the white line.’ That’s not in the penal code, but it sounds plausible. None of these people have been charged with a crime, none were engaged in anything that looked criminal. The sole factor is that they had something that looked valuable.”

In some cases, police used the fact that motorists were carrying large amounts of cash as evidence that they must have been involved in laundering drug money, even though Guillory said each of the drivers he contacted could account for where the money had come from and why they were carrying it, such as for a gambling trip to Shreveport or to buy a used car from a private seller.

Once the motorists were detained, the police and the Shelby County district attorney quickly drew up legal papers presenting them with an option: waive their rights to their cash and property or face felony charges for crimes such as money laundering — and the prospect of having to hire a lawyer and return to Shelby County multiple times to attend court sessions to contest the charges.

There’s your “due process” right there! Signed and notarized!

The process apparently is so routine in Tenaha that Guillory discovered presigned and prenotarized police affidavits with blank spaces left for an officer to fill in a description of the property being seized.

It’s an assembly-line!

Jennifer Boatright, her husband and two young children — a mixed-race family — were traveling from Houston to visit relatives in East Texas in April 2007 when Tenaha police pulled them over, alleging that they were driving in a left-turn lane.

After searching the car, the officers discovered what Boatright said was a gift for her sister: a small, unused glass pipe made for smoking marijuana.

Although they found no drugs or other contraband, the police seized $6,037 that Boatright said the family was carrying to buy a used car and then threatened to turn their children, ages 10 and 1, over to Child Protective Services if the couple didn’t agree to sign over their right to their cash.

“It was give them the money or they were taking our kids,” Boatright said. “They suggested that we never bring it up again. We figured we better give them our cash and get the hell out of there.”

So, what happens if the cops try this with someone who believes in personal sovereignty?

Several months later, after Boatright and her husband contacted a lawyer, Tenaha officials returned their money but offered no explanation or apology. The couple remain plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit.

Except for Tenaha’s mayor, none of the defendants in the federal lawsuit, including Shelby County District Attorney Linda Russell and two Tenaha police officers, responded to requests from the Chicago Tribune for comment about their search-and-seizure practices. Lawyers for the defendants also declined to comment, as did several of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

But Whitmire says he doesn’t need to await the suit’s outcome to try to fix what he regards as a statewide problem.

On Monday, he introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would require police to go before a judge before attempting to seize property under the asset-forfeiture law — and Whitmire hopes to tighten the law so that law enforcement officials will be allowed to seize property only after a suspect is charged and convicted in a court.

Well, gee, why didn’t you think of that BEFORE? Of course a lot of seized property (cars, boats, etc.) sits in storage lots and rots – for months or years – before forfeiture determinations are made, so perhaps that isn’t the panacea it’s made out to be, either, but it’s at least a start.

“The law has gotten away from what was intended, which was to take the profits of a bad guy’s crime spree and use it for additional crime fighting,” Whitmire said. “Now it’s largely being used to pay police salaries, and it’s being abused because you don’t even have to be a bad guy to lose your property.”

No, you just have to fit the profile.


(h/t to The Club)

And in Related News,

And in Related News,

Michael Bane reports on a door-to-door confiscation practice run scheduled for April in Arcadia, Iowa. Like Michael, I’m printing the whole thing for archival purposes:

Guardsmen to conduct urban training at Arcadia in April

Staff Writer

The Carroll National Guard unit will train on urban military operations by holding a four-day exercise at Arcadia.

The purpose of the April 2-5 drill will be to gather intelligence, then search for and apprehend a suspected weapons dealer, according to Sgt. Mike Kots, readiness NCO for Alpha Company.

Citizens, law enforcement, media and other supporters will participate.

Troops will spend Thursday, April 2, staging at a forward operations base at Carroll. The next day company leaders will conduct reconnaissance and begin patrolling the streets of Arcadia to identify possible locations of the weapons dealer.

The primary phase will be done Saturday, April 4, when convoys will be deployed from Carroll to Arcadia. Pictures of the arms dealer will be shown in Arcadia, and soldiers will go door to door asking if residents have seen the suspect.

Soldiers will knock only at households that have agreed to participate in the drill, Kots noted.

“Once credible intelligence has been gathered,” said Kots, “portions of the town will be road-blocked and more in-depth searches of homes and vehicles will be conducted in accordance with the residents’ wishes.

“One of the techniques we use in today’s political environment is cordon and knock,” Kots explained. “We ask for the head of the household, get permission to search, then have them open doors and cupboards. The homeowner maintains control. We peer over their shoulder, and the soldier uses the homeowner’s body language and position to protect him.”

During this phase of the operation, troops will interact with residents and media while implementing crowd-control measures and possibly treating and evacuating injured persons.

The unit will use a Blackhawk helicopter for overhead command and control, and to simulate medevacs.

The drill will culminate in the apprehension of the suspected arms dealer.

Alpha Company will conduct a review of the drill on Sunday, April 5.

A meeting to give residents more information and accept volunteers will be held 7 p.m. Monday, March 2, in the Arcadia American Legion hall.

Kots said the exercise will replace Alpha Company’s weekend drill for April.

“We have a lot of extended drills this coming year,” he added.

In addition to surveillance, searching and apprehension, the exercise will also give the troops valuable experience in stability, support, patrol, traffic control, vehicle searches and other skills needed for deployment in an urban environment.

“This exercise will improve the real-life operational skills of the unit,” said Kots. “And it will hopefully improve the public’s understanding of military operations.”

The pre-drill work with residents is as important at the drill itself.

“It will be important for us to gain the trust and confidence of the residents of Arcadia,” said Kots. “We will need to identify individuals that are willing to assist us in training by allowing us to search their homes and vehicles and to participate in role-playing.”

“We really want to get as much information out there as possible, because this operation could be pretty intrusive to the people of Arcadia.”

I won’t fisk it, because Michael already has. As he says, “If this article doesn’t ice your blood, I’m not sure what will”.

It’s coming, ladies and gentlemen. It’s coming. And “frightening the white people” isn’t going to stop it.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

The whole thing is simply drenched in evil.

Money is taken from us, both individually at corporately, at gunpoint, on authority that ranges from dubious, at the very best, to outright usurped.

This Money is then handed over to men, granted them unauthorized power to decide to whom to distribute it, and even more unauthorized power to decide what conditions to place on its disbursement.

Thus, we are transformed from gold havers and rule makers to supplicants. We apply for the highly conditional privilege of being bribed with our own gold, because failing to do so places us at a competitive disadvantage compared to another in a similar situation.

Too many of us view this as natural, right, and just.

Too few of us hold the whole thing in the disgust and contempt it so richly deserves.
– The GeekWithA.45, It Took The Parasites Less Than 24 Hours To Line Up.

I ♣ Moral Equivalence

I was listening to the morning AM talk show today, and the topic (of course) was Ayers, since Sara Palin brought the subject up again in her speech in Clearwater, FL this morning.

The show takes a lot of calls from the audience. The Call came in, just about the way I expected it to. “David” proclaimed that Ayers wasn’t a terrorist, he was a Vietnam war protester, and the McCain/Palin campaign were just trying to make him look like an Islamic terrorist.

If Ayers was a terrorist, “David” proclaimed, then so was George Washington!


I got on the phone and got in queue. There were about six respondents in total, and I was the last before the show ended, but I got my $6.95 in (my 2¢ with inflation, value added tax, sales tax, excise tax, luxury tax, FICA witholding and fuel surcharge).

“David” is the successful end result of the de-moralization, the “ideological subversion” Yuri Bezmenov described in such detail. He’s a “useful idiot,” and he’s not alone. As I explained to the host, “David” is the product of decades of our “education” system, and what better way to illustrate that than through Barack Obama himself?

When questioned by George Stephanopoulos about his relationship with Ayers during the primary debates, Obama’s response was

This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago, uh, who I know, and who I have not received some official endorsement from – he’s not somebody I exchange ideas from(sic) on a regular basis. The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts forty years ago when I was eight years old, ah, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense, George.

No. Ayers is a professor of EDUCATION. In other words, he teaches future teachers.

And that ought to frighten the almighty PISS out of you.

Ayers doesn’t just live in Obama’s neighborhood, they’ve worked togetherON AN EDUCATION PROJECT.

And THAT ought to frighten the almighty piss out of you.

Mr. Ayers’ agenda is open for anyone to see. He’s written 15 books, most on the topic of teaching, and in particular the teaching of that wonderful all-encompassing “progressive” phrase, “Social Justice.”

Ayers is so enamored with the idea of using the schools to promote “social justice” (rather than, you know, teaching kids how to read, write, and do math) he even recently traveled to Argentina where he stood next to Hugo Chávez and proclaimed:

This is my fourth visit to Venezuela, each time at the invitation of my comrade and friend Luis Bonilla, a brilliant educator and inspiring fighter for justice. Luis has taught me a great deal about the Bolivarian Revolution and about the profound educational reforms underway here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution, and I’ve come to appreciate Luis as a major asset in both the Venezuelan and the international struggle—I look forward to seeing how he and all of you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.

I have to ask, if Bill Ayers is so certain that “capitalist education” is failing, just what is he teaching our future teachers?

As Sol Stern says in his City Journal piece today, “Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer.”

Obama pulled the “moral equivalence” bit himself in that same debate:

The fact is I’m also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions. Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn’s statements because I certainly don’t agree with those either.

That’s moral equivalence. Coburn thinks that the power of law perhaps ought to be applied against an act he believes to be the murder of innocents. Coburn works within the system to try to implement his beliefs. Coburn makes statements.

Ayers was involved in a group that detonated bombs.

Obama works in the Senate with Coburn. He doesn’t have a choice. He worked with Ayers voluntarily, in both the Annenberg Challenge and the Woods Fund. Ayers is far more than just “a Professor of English in Chicago” who just happens to live in the same neighborhood as Obama. Ayers has described himself as a communist (“small ‘c’ “), and by his appearance in support of Chávez, he still is. From the same speech quoted above:

I began teaching when I was 20 years old in a small freedom school affiliated with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The year was 1965, and I’d been arrested in a demonstration. Jailed for ten days, I met several activists who were finding ways to link teaching and education with deep and fundamental social change. They were following Dewey and DuBois, King and Helen Keller who wrote: “We can’t have education without revolution. We have tried peace education for 1,900 years and it has failed. Let us try revolution and see what it will do now.”

I walked out of jail and into my first teaching position — and from that day until this I’ve thought of myself as a teacher, but I’ve also understood teaching as a project intimately connected with social justice.

Ayers too is a “useful idiot,” fitting perfectly into the description Yuri Bezmenov gave. Sol Stern warns us in his City Journal piece:

Ayers’s school reform agenda focuses almost exclusively on the idea of teaching for “social justice” in the classroom. This has nothing to do with the social-justice ideals of the Sermon on the Mount or Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Rather, Ayers and his education school comrades are explicit about the need to indoctrinate public school children with the belief that America is a racist, militarist country and that the capitalist system is inherently unfair and oppressive. As a leader of this growing “reform” movement, Ayers was recently elected vice president for curriculum of the American Education Research Association, the nation’s largest organization of ed school professors and researchers.

William Ayers is one of those responsible for our George Orwell Daycare Centers. And Obama works within and is comfortable within groups that think Ayers is a fine and wonderful human being.

Because he’s the moral equivalent of George Washington!

Where’s my club?

The George Orwell Daycare Center

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” – H.G. Wells, 1920

“Give me a child for his first seven years and I’ll give you the man.” – Quote attributed to the Jesuits

“All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.” – Aristotle

“A recently reprinted memoir by Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) has footnotes explaining what words like ‘arraigned,’ ‘curried’ and ‘exculpate’ meant, and explaining who Job was. In other words, this man who was born a slave and never went to school educated himself to the point where his words now have to be explained to today’s expensively under-educated generation.

“There is really nothing very mysterious about why our public schools are failures. When you select the poorest quality college students to be public school teachers, give them iron-clad tenure, a captive audience, and pay them according to seniority rather than performance, why should the results be surprising?

“Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity.

“In a democracy, we have always had to worry about the ignorance of the uneducated. Today we have to worry about the ignorance of people with college degrees.” – Thomas Sowell

“It is only from a special point of view that ‘education’ is a failure. As to its own purposes, it is an unqualified success. One of its purposes is to serve as a massive tax-supported jobs program for legions of not especially able or talented people. As social programs go, it’s a good one. The pay isn’t high, but the risk is low, the standards are lenient, entry is easy, and job security is pretty good…in fact, the system is perfect, except for one little detail. We must find a way to get the children out of it.”—Richard Mitchell, the Underground Grammarian.

This essay started out as a philippic against a group of teachers and their self-righteous, self-congratulatory story of manipulating a bunch of eight year-old kids and indoctrinating them into socialism using “Social Justice!” as their battle-cry.

It got a little complicated. Then it got a lot more complicated. And the process repeated a few more times.

The essay initially began thus:

Orwell wrote in his dystopian masterwork 1984: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.” It was appropriate for that novel, and his prediction has been extrapolated by others to our modern world, but I think that vision is wrong. In the West, it won’t be a government stormtrooper’s jackboot stamping on a human face, it will be an underpaid government nanny wrapping us in swaddling, wiping our faces and changing our diapers. Badly. With disinterest.

Until the money runs out.

It ran on a couple (OK, a few) thousand words, and then I set it aside to simmer, so to speak. In the mean time, my copy of Jonah Goldberg’s best-seller Liberal Fascism came in, and I was between (non-fiction) books at the time, so I started reading it.

Here’s one of the first things I ran across in it (a previous “Quote of the Day” here, as a matter of fact):

For generations our primary vision of a dystopian future has been that of Orwell’s 1984. This was a fundamentally “masculine” nightmare of fascist brutality. But with the demise of the Soviet Union and the vanishing memory of the great twentieth-century fascist and communist dictatorships, the nightmare vision of 1984 is slowly fading away. In its place, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is emerging as the more prophetic book. As we unravel the human genome and master the ability to make people happy with televised entertainment and psychoactive drugs, politics is increasingly a vehicle for delivering prepackaged joy. America’s political system used to be about the pursuit of happiness. Now more and more of us want to stop chasing it and have it delivered.

OK. Stop the presses.

From the time I began writing this piece there has been an almost daily deluge of blog posts, editorials, or news stories that I have earmarked “Use in the education piece.” Little did I know then, for example, that we’d have evidence of “Two Minute Hates” in kindergartens! This has been going on since March. I feel like I’ve been drinking from a fire hose. But here we go on my latest attempt. If I don’t do it now, I’ll be overwhelmed!

A while back, several bloggers posted links to a piece entitled Why We Banned Legos, published at an education site, Rethinking Schools Online. I found it via Say Uncle.

My initial reaction? RCOB. Now surprisingly enough, I don’t have this reaction often. The last time also involved the education of young children so perhaps this indicates a trend, but I knew I needed to let this one sit a bit and ferment before I attempted to write about it. I forwarded the link to a couple of people. I printed out the piece for a couple more to read. Then I asked them what their opinions were, just to gauge if my reaction was… excessive.

One of the people I sent it to was Sarah, “Stickwick Stapers” (now Doctor Stapers) of Carnaby Fudge. Sarah has, in comments here and in her own posts, related the tales of her upbringing by parents who could have been stereotypical members of the Left, up to and including their move to Canada to get away from Imperial Capitalist Amerikkka. At some point, her father had an epiphany and abandoned socialism. Here’s his response to the article, from which I took the title of this essay:

My God! The George Orwell Daycare Center.

The kids wanted to play with Lego, and were doing fine, but they get 5 months of communist reeducation and groupthink. When the commies do this sort of thing with cows and chickens instead of Legos, they kill tens of millions of people. The next step would have been Lego-Siberia concentration camps for all the little unrepentant individualists.

OK, there’s one vote for “not excessive”! And the rest were about the same.

So, if you’re interested in the topic, get yourself a beverage and a snack, settle in, and read the rest of another patented, rambling überpost™©®.

It has been my position for some time that the disaster that is America’s public education system is not an accident. I have on numerous occasions quoted something that Connie du Toit wrote quite a while back:

The other day our Carpenter’s helper heard me say something along the lines of, “it is difficult to conclude that incompetence is the reason why our public schools have deteriorated. There comes a point where you have to suspect sabotage, or a conspiracy.”

He asked me if I really meant that. I gave him the five minute explanation of John Dewey’s known affiliation with communists, his frequent essays and articles about the wonders of the Soviet education system, and his quote, “You can’t make Socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent.”

I then went on to tell him about how public schools changed at the turn of the last century. That there were others involved in turning Americans from free-thinking individualists to factory drones. I also added that many people probably went along with it because it seemed like a good idea, but there were certainly enough people behind the scenes, who knew that the goal posts had been moved. THAT is a conspiracy.

Yes. There does come that time when you are forced to don the tinfoil hat.

The incompetence excuse only works once. Incompetence this great is impossible to attribute to accident.

The last time I quoted her, Connie commented:

“Slight correction, however. That Dewey quote cannot be verified. It was used once (I believe) by The Skinny One, but no other source/attribution can be found.

Dewey did design the schools for the USSR, however, and wrote many essays about that experience. (The USSR later threw out his design because his model/approach turned out thugs and gangsters. Surprise, surprise. It is still the model we use today.)

Regardless, I am of the carefully considered opinion that both our media and our educational system have been largely taken over by people who are acolytes of the Holy Grail that Socialism promised, and who put themselves in those positions in the belief that it is up to them to help create the New Men that Socialism cannot succeed without. Our schools, especially, have become centers for the teaching of collectivism, “identity politics,” and for want of a better term, “rage against the machine.”

And to some extent, it has worked.

To a larger extent, it has not.

What has resulted are the unintended consequences of declining standards, high dropout rates, functional illiteracy and innumeracy, almost no general knowledge of geography, history, or civics, and nearly complete ignorance of science – both general and applied.

Schools should be the foundry through which the raw material of our youth is run, coming out the other end with strong and tempered minds well prepared for the world. The ore hasn’t changed, but the ratio of dross to valuable product has grown precipitously.

For example:

Less than half of the nearly 1,100 students who entered ninth grade at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California in 2001 graduated with that class in 2005:

For students at Birmingham, the act of dropping out was generally the last twist in a long downward spiral. Sometimes it began as early as elementary school. Year after year, students were allowed to fail upward, promoted despite a trail of Ds and Fs.

“Here you can get straight Fs,” said Barbara Mezo, a teacher at Mulholland Middle School, which sends students to Birmingham, “and the best they can do is keep you out of eighth-grade graduation ceremony.”

Then came high school, where credits were granted only for passing grades. Failing students found themselves on a treadmill, never reaching their goal of 230 credits for graduation. And with an increased focus on improving student performance, schools have little incentive to keep those who fail.

RTWT. It’ll take a while.

75% of the graduates of the Dallas school systems who are headed for Dallas-area community colleges “can’t read above an 8th grade level, and others can’t add or subtract.”

Many kids in the LA school system don’t get to graduate, not just the ones attending Birmingham High:

When the Los Angeles Board of Education approved tougher graduation requirements that went into effect in 2003, the intention was to give kids a better education and groom more graduates for college and high-level jobs. For the first time, students had to pass a year of algebra and a year of geometry or an equivalent class to earn diplomas. The policy was born of a worthy goal but has proved disastrous for students unprepared to meet the new demands. In the fall of 2004, 48,000 ninth-graders took beginning algebra; 44% flunked, nearly twice the failure rate as in English. Seventeen percent finished with Ds. In all, the district that semester handed out Ds and Fs to 29,000 beginning algebra students — enough to fill eight high schools the size of Birmingham. Among those who repeated the class in the spring, nearly three-quarters flunked again.

Read that whole piece, too. (I’m not a fan of the LA Dog Trainer but these are good in-depth pieces.)

30% of students in the Tucson school districts fail basic subjects, but 90% are promoted to the next grade anyway. Plus, investigation suggests that up to a quarter of the students receiving passing grades should not be. (For the innumerate out there, that’s possibly over half, in total.) Nor is this limited to the Southwest.

The AP reports:

More than 50 percent of students at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks. That means they could not interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

College students. The “successful” end product of our primary and secondary education systems. The 50-60% or so who actually get a high school diploma or GED.

According to a 2007 study cited by Harvard professor of economics Greg Mankiw:

After adjusting for multiple sources of bias and differences in sample construction, we establish that (1) the U.S. high school graduation rate peaked at around 80 percent in the late 1960s and then declined by 4-5 percentage points; (2) the actual high school graduation rate is substantially lower than the 88 percent estimate of the status completion rate issued by the NCIS [National Center for Educational Statistics]; (3) about 65 percent of blacks and Hispanics leave school with a high school diploma, and minority graduation rates are still substantially below the rates for non-Hispanic whites. In fact, we find no evidence of convergence in minority-majority graduation rates over the past 35 years….A significant portion of the convergence reported in the official statistics is due to black males obtaining GED credentials in prison.

The question left unanswered there is how many of those students, graduates or dropouts, are functionally illiterate and/or innumerate? Because it appears that a significant chunk of the ones who think they have a shot at college really shouldn’t be racking up the student loans. They should be the ones unable to give you correct change at McDonalds.

And that leaves the dropouts… where, exactly?

I believe there has been little meaningful opposition to this decline in part because our elected officials like it when the electorate is ignorant and thus either apathetic or easily manipulated. Moreover, the teacher’s unions have become an almost immovable voting block constantly demanding more pay, better benefits, and reduced accountability. Also, we are entering our fifth or sixth generation of this indoctrination so many (by now perhaps most) parents don’t know enough to question it. For too many, school has become tax-payer provided day-care, warehousing kids for much of the day while parents try to earn a living. Homework? Many parents can’t help – the school systems have changed the way they teach “language arts” and mathematics so much, they can’t understand the instructions – and the children have to do it per the procedure or it doesn’t count! (Ask me how I know.) This joke goes back several years now:

In 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four fifths the price. What is his profit?

In 1970: (traditional math): A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 80% of the price. What is his profit in dollars?

In 1970: (new math): A logger exchanges set L of lumber for set M of money. The cardinality of set M is 100 and each element is worth $1. Make 100 dots representing the elements of set M. The set C of costs contains 20 fewer points than set M. Represent set C as a subset of set M, and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set P of profits?

In 1980: A logger sells a truckload of wood for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

In 1990: (Outcome-Based Education): By cutting down beautiful forest trees, a logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class discussion: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?

In 2000: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $120. How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60?

In 2010: El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. La cuesta de productiones…

For the few who know better and protest? There are still private schools and homeschooling, but few can afford either without major lifestyle changes even fewer are willing to make. There are charter schools, but those vary vastly in quality and availability, and there is active resistance against all of the above by the State and the teacher’s unions (please watch the entire video). The latest example of this resistance was the recent California Court of Appeals ruling that made home schooling illegal if the instructor was not an accredited teacher – a more stringent requirement than Charter schools there have to live up to.

I’m not making a claim of an active “communist conspiracy.” These people don’t have monthly meetings to plan the next step in Lenin’s Great Plan. It just requires social utopists to go into certain fields and then act to influence others, and they have done just that. Worse, I think that today most of the “true believers” don’t even understand what it is that they’re advocating. They want to teach “fairness,” and “self-esteem,” “social justice,” and “awareness” etc. Who could be against that? They know all the buzzwords, but they don’t have a coherent philosophy behind it – not even the flawed one of socialism. They are themselves part of socialism’s failed outcome, acting as sand in the gears of the education system and our nation. Here’s an example from the piece on requiring algebra for graduation:

Although experts widely agree that algebra sharpens young minds, some object to making it a graduation requirement. “If you want to believe you’re for standards, you’re going to make kids take algebra. It has that ring of authenticity,” said Robert Balfanz, an associate research scientist with the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “But you’re not really thinking through the implications. There may be no good reason why algebra is essential for all high school students.”

In a piece I linked to in an earlier post, an opposing argument is made:

Even if you accept the argument that geometry in general, and proofs in particular, are unnecessary for students to learn, at least algebra should be taught properly, since algebra is the common language of, and gateway to, all of higher math. The absence of clear explanation and logical development left students I later tutored in algebra as lost as my geometry student. Their textbooks (and, probably, their teachers too) encouraged them to use a graphing calculator. Operations with algebraic fractions, like a¼b + c¼d, were given little attention, to say nothing of quadratic equations, once the pinnacle of any first-year algebra course. Instead, the quadratic formula is presented for the students to memorize and apply—if it is even mentioned at all.

Barry Garelick has an excellent point. Algebra is indeed the gateway to all higher maths, and it does sharpen young minds – when taught properly. And given Garelick’s experience it doesn’t seem surprising that algebra is being so poorly taught in the LA school system (and elsewhere). (Somebody bring back Jaime Escalante!)

The frustrating part for the real True Believers, however, must be the same thing that confounded Marx and Lenin – the proletariat won’t rise up against the bourgeoisie, being too distracted themselves with the base acquisition of material wealth and mindless entertainment. (You know, widescreen HDTVs that proliferate in homes all across America for example, upon which the children of the proles play HALO2 on their X-Boxes and watch Jackass (Unrated) in full 1080p and 7+1 channel Dolby.) It’s tough to motivate the proletariat toward social justice when that will prevent them from watching Lost, Tivo or no Tivo.

Why We Banned Legos is just another strut supporting my belief – and it’s a BIG, loadbearing one. If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest you do. I’m just going to excerpt one small part (throwing away literally thousands of words I’ve already written in favor of this sixth seventh eighth rewrite):

A group of about eight children conceived and launched Legotown. Other children were eager to join the project, but as the city grew — and space and raw materials became more precious — the builders began excluding other children.

Into their coffee shops and houses, the children were building their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys — assumptions that mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive. As we watched the children build, we became increasingly concerned.

(Emphasis mine.) I bet they did. Spontaneous capitalism! Imagine the horror! Why, unchecked, they might grow up to drive SUVs, eat as much as they want, and keep their thermostats at 72º year-round!

If people are free to do as they wish, they are almost certain not to do as we wish. That is why Utopian planners end up as despots, whether at the national level or at the level of the local ‘redevelopment’ agency. —Thomas Sowell

A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it … gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. – Milton Friedman

The left is not interested in education, they are interested only in indoctrination. – Zendo Deb

That does seem to me to be a fair assessment of the “teachers” in Why We Banned Legos. It also seems to be the mindset of the instructors in the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American/Raza Studies program, which targets somewhat older students. It also appears to be something that the San Francisco school system is ramping up.

Recently I was accused: “You aggressively advocate an “alternative” education to the “socialist crap” being taught in our “collapsing” schools and yet it is clear to me that what you really desire is dissemination of propaganda….”

Now to be fair, pretty much all early education is and must be indoctrination. The questions are, what should be taught, and why?

It is not generally realized that education can never be more than indoctrination with theories and ideas already developed. Education, whatever benefits it may confer, is transmissive of traditional doctrines and valuations; it is by necessity conservative. It produces imitation and routine, not improvement and progress. Innovators and creative geniuses cannot be reared in schools. They are precisely the men who defy what the school has taught them. – Ludwig von Mises, Human Action pg. 314

Well, yes and no. Yes, early education is indoctrination with theories and ideas already developed. No, those theories and ideas are not necessarily “conservative” (see above). But in either case it is almost absolutely true that innovation and creative genius are not served by traditional schooling, and most especially public schooling. But I believe what is happening now is that students in the system are being indoctrinated, but some in socialism and some in the traditional values that schools have taught for decades (as demonstrated in the earlier piece on Nina Burleigh and her 5 year-old son). Those who receive the traditional version the social utopists then shatter like someone telling an eight year-old that Santa isn’t real just for the shock effect. Of course, they still hide their own uncomfortable truths.

“The reason this country continues its drift toward socialism and big nanny government is because too many people vote in the expectation of getting something for nothing, not because they have a concern for what is good for the country… If children were forced to learn about the Constitution, about how government works, about how this nation came into being, about taxes and about how government forever threatens the cause of liberty perhaps we wouldn’t see so many foolish ideas coming out of the mouths of silly old men.” — Lyn Nofziger

Perhaps not. But it would be nice, if they taught those things, to also teach about how the native Indian populations were treated, how different immigrant populations were treated, and how these behaviors (and others) compared to the actions of other nations around the world during the same periods – and why. But the evidence suggest that they do not even teach much of the basics. My daughter graduated from a Tucson Unified School District high school in 1997. She just recently earned a 2-year Associates degree in business. I had her take the American Civics Literacy Quiz. She got 16 correct answers out of 60, and admitting to guessing at many of those. My wife, who was born in Okinawa, came to the U.S. at age 9 and hasn’t been a student since graduating from high school early in 1976 took it and got 29 correct. According to the ISI, the average score for a college senior is barely over 50%. (For the record, I missed four, but I’m largely self-taught.)

Yet I think commenter “Mastiff” hits close to the mark:

If the non-socialist end of the political spectrum cannot create a political philosophy that is both good theory and emotionally appealing, we’re doomed.

Any political philosophy that is not self-reinforcing is by definition not the best political philosophy. Libertarianism (with a small “l”) features a stoic acceptance of individual risk (i.e. the lack of government intervention) for the sake of long-term freedom and prosperity–yet takes no measures to ensure that the society educates its young to maintain that acceptance of risk. The equilibrium, if it ever exists in the first place, is unstable and will collapse.

This aside from the fact that libertarianism is emotionally cold and unfulfilling to most people, who have not trained themselves to consider lack of outside restraint to be worth cherishing.

And that is part of the education I think our kids ought to be receiving, but the state doesn’t teach it. That leaves it to the parents… who by now are almost all products of state education systems. Any political philosophy that is not self-reinforcing is by definition not the best political philosophy.” I believe the “best political philosophy” already exists and has for centuries, yet it isn’t necessarily “not self-reinforcing,” that philosophy has been deliberately displaced.

My accuser also said:

(Y)ou want schools to turn children into your type of drone. Do you know the one I am talking about? The kind that believe that we are in Iraq to protect our nation. The kind that think that the free market is something to be worshiped. The kind that believe that sick people…that poor people are only that way because they are weak and didn’t take responsibility for themselves.

Well, having them understand that they are expected to be responsible for themselves would be a nice start… But no, that’s not what I want. I want our children to grow up into adults with a good grounding in history, a thorough understanding of governments (ours and others) and the ability to reason from the facts. But indoctrination does go on. Interestingly enough, in that California decision essentially outlawing homeschooling the judge declared:

A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.

Of course, the question of what “good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare” means has changed a bit over the last, oh, fifty or sixty years – especially in California. That may explain why California Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) wants to repeal the law that allows “teachers and other public employees to be fired for being members of the Communist Party.” You know, the kind of employees that find the “class-based capitalist society” “unjust and oppressive,” and who define “the public welfare” a lot differently (at a minimum) than I do. But the bill does more than merely protect them from firing. According to Cryptic Subterranian the text of the bill states:

This bill would delete provisions that prohibit a teacher giving instruction in a school or on property belonging to an agency included in the public school system from teaching communism with the intent to indoctrinate or to inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism. The bill would also delete provisions that a teacher may be dismissed from employment if he or she teaches communism in that way.

Somehow I get the feeling that the judge in the case didn’t intend that kind of indoctrination.

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps. – H.L. Mencken

Then again, maybe he did.

Berkeley Liberals and Falwell actually agree much more closely with each other than either does with me.

Both believe in using the power of the state to “do good” by directly interfering in the lives of citizens and applying legal sanctions to those who don’t live good lives. They disagree about what that means, of course, but both are strongly illiberal in believing in active government interventionism in our lives in ways which go well beyond the minimum needed to keep us safe and free. Falwell would use the law to punish immoral behavior (according to his morality) which would include such things as recriminalizing homosexuality and recriminalizing pornography.

And the Berkeley Liberals also want to use the power of the state to do good, only what they wish to ban is much deeper, for they want to infringe my freedom of thought and of expression much more profoundly.

Equally, both of them wish to use the power of government to deeply indoctrinate the citizenry, especially the schools. Falwell wants the schools to teach Christianity; the Berkeley Liberals want to use it to indoctrinate children with their own version of “right thinking”. – Steven Den Beste, Liberal Conservatism

Some time back I wrote a piece specifically on the topic of indoctrination. I will quote again the words of economist, humorist, and very early “neo-con” Leo Rosten from an interview with Eric Sevareid from August 24, 1975:

We’re practically using the colleges as a dump into which to put youngsters we do not know what to do with. There are today 45 million people between the age of roughly 7 and 24. Their parents don’t know what to do with them. They want them to go to college and they often think that they’re being trained for jobs. But they’re not getting training for useful employment.

Someone has said that education is what remains after everything you’ve learned is forgotten. The purpose of educating young people is not only to illuminate their spirit and enrich their memory bank but to teach them the pleasures of thinking and reading. How do you use the mind? As a teacher, I always was astonished by the number of people in the classroom who wanted to learn as against those who just wanted to pass. I took pride in my ability to communicate. Generally “communicate” meant one thing. Now the young think “communicate” means “Agree with me!”

The student rebellions of the 1960’s exposed the fact that our entire educational system has forgotten the most important thing it can do prior to college: indoctrinate. I believe in the indoctrination of moral values. There’s a lot to be said for being good and kind and decent. You owe a duty to those who have taken care of you. You owe a duty to whatever it is that God or fate gave you – to use your brain or your heart. It’s senseless to whine, to blame society for every grievance, or to assume that the presence of a hammer means you have to go out to smash things.

The young want everything. They think they can get everything swiftly and painlessly. They are far too confident. They don’t know what their problems are, not really. They talk too much. They demand too much. Their ideas have not been tempered by the hard facts of reality. They’re idealists, but they don’t sense that it’s the easiest thing in the world to be an idealist. It doesn’t take any brains. This was said by Aristotle 2300 years ago. Mencken once said that an idealist is someone who, upon observing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, assumes that it will also make better soup.

And now those young people he was talking about are probably parents and possibly grandparents themselves.

The first question I have is “When should we begin teaching our children philosophy?” Followed by Which philosophy should we be teaching?” In another comment my one self-described Jewish reader noted:

In a more positive light, education is a powerful tool to make society better—and the most durable sociopolitical systems (such as traditional Judaism) place a tremendous emphasis on rigorous education, according to a particular program of morality meant to deliberately affect the behavior of the student.

I worry about America most of all because our education program does not know what it wants to achieve.

I’m not sure that’s really the case. I think there’s a conflict between two rival philosophies that appears to the uninvolved as dithering and indecision. There are essentially only two in conflict here as I have noted before: Locke and his descendants versus Rousseau and his branch. Socialism/Communism is the outgrowth of Rousseau’s concept of “the social contract.” America is the outgrowth of Locke’s “life, liberty, property.”

“The monstrous evils of the twentieth century have shown us that the greediest money grubbers are gentle doves compared with money-hating wolves like Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, who in less than three decades killed or maimed nearly a hundred million men, women, and children and brought untold suffering to a large portion of mankind.” – Eric Hoffer, True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

For me the choice is simple and obvious. I’m an engineer, I like what works. Teach the successful one. Point out its flaws and foibles, by all means – engineers love to change things – but don’t chuck it all out the window because it seems “unjust and oppressive.” If history proves nothing else, it proves that all government is unjust and oppressive, but our class-based capitalistic society has resulted in a system where the poorest 10% of the U.S. population was still wealthier than two-thirds of the rest of the world. (Apparently that’s because we don’t share well.)

But of course, that’s not what is happening, because the people we entrust with educating our children mostly follow Rousseau, and not Locke.

My accuser proclaimed to me: “I don’t really have a belief system, other than my belief in Christ.” He very well might believe that, but he’d be wrong.

In 1974 Ayn Rand gave a speech to the graduating class at West Point entitled “Philosophy: Who Needs It?” Here’s a pertinent excerpt:

You might claim – as most people do – that you have never been influenced by philosophy. I will ask you to check that claim. Have you ever thought or said the following? “Don’t be so sure – nobody can be certain of anything.” You got that notion from David Hume (and many, many others), even though you might never have heard of him. Or: “This may be good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.” You got that from Plato. Or: “That was a rotten thing to do, but it’s only human, nobody is perfect in this world.” You got that from Augustine. Or: “It may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” You got it from William James. Or: “I couldn’t help it! Nobody can help anything he does.” You got it from Hegel. Or: “I can’t prove it, but I feel it’s true.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s evil because it’s selfish.” You got it from Kant. Have you heard the modern activist say: “Act first, think afterward”? They got it from John Dewey.

Some people might answer: “Sure, I’ve said those things at different times, but I don’t have to believe that stuff all the time. It may have been true yesterday, but it’s not true today.” They got it from Hegel. They might say: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” They got it from a very little mind, Emerson. They might say: “But can’t one compromise and borrow different ideas from different philosophies according to the expediency of the moment?” They got it from Richard Nixon – who got it from William James.

You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principle. Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions – or a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew.

As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation – or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind’s wings should have grown.

Your subconscious is like a computer – more complex a computer than men can build – and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don’t reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance – and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted.

Everybody has a philosophy, a belief system. Everybody. Some are just more jumbled, flawed, self-contradictory, and useless than others. Balls and chains, instead of wings.

Our school systems are churning out tens of thousands of ignorant students filled with self-doubt rather than knowledge and understanding, and they’ve been doing it for literally decades. Knowing this makes the current race for the office of President of the United States much more understandable.

The relative, diminishing hardships of everyday existence, together with more extensive academic instruction, has laid a foundation of knowledge for most people that is less tested by experience and affirmed more by internal feelings and passions. More people may be better educated these days, but they are also more insulated and more naive. —Richard Reay, letter to the Wall Street Journal, published 6 August 2003.

Except the evidence seems to indicate that people are not “better educated these days” than they were in the past – but “more insulated and more naive,” “affirmed more by internal feelings and passions”? Absolutely.

My sister was studying for a high school civics exam the other night and had to ask me what rights were protected under the 1st Amendment. She got “speech” and “press” but not freedom of religion, assembly, and right to petition.

Apparently they (very briefly) studied the 15th, 19th, and 26th (voting rights) amendments and a handful of others but didn’t even focus on the 1st ten in the BOR. She had no idea what the 3rd, 9th, or 10th were (although most schools generally ignore those as much as they do the 2nd) What was probably even more astounding is she couldn’t even name a single sitting Supreme Court Justice. I even gave her hints, I.E. “name the black guy” or “Name a woman” but she didn’t have a clue. Then again, in my Con Law Commerce Clause class we were asked to name the sitting justices on the final and a good portion of the class couldn’t do it. That’s disgusting considering we studied Con Law the entire semester.

This is in an Honors Level Junior year Civics class and my sister is a bright girl. Apparently they now combine Civics and Econ into one class and Civics gets the shaft most of the year. When the Constitution and the principles and fundamentals surrounding it are never taught or merely glossed over it’s not surprising that people eagerly vote for hope, change, and socialism.

Oh, and she uses the same textbook I used in high school. Those books were quite a few years old when I took the class. Another Gun Blog“And I Wonder Why Young People Vote Liberal…”

The first and so far only comment is priceless.

One more excerpt from Legos:

Children absorb political, social, and economic worldviews from an early age. Those worldviews show up in their play, which is the terrain that young children use to make meaning about their world and to test and solidify their understandings. We believe that educators have a responsibility to pay close attention to the themes, theories, and values that children use to anchor their play. Then we can interact with those worldviews, using play to instill the values of equality and democracy.

But not meritocracy and capitalism. In short, these teachers did what Antonio Gramsci advocated from his prison cell – they used education to try to make little Marxists, because they will not form “naturally.” But individualist meritocratic capitalists can, and we can’t have that!

Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like political freedom: the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery. The nineteenth century and early twentieth century in the Western world stand out as striking exceptions to the general trend of historical development. Political freedom in this instance clearly came along with the free market and the development of capitalist institutions. So also did political freedom in the golden age of Greece and in the early days of the Roman era.

History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition. – Milton Friedman

Complete equality isn’t compatible with democracy, but it is agreeable to totalitarianism. After all the only way to ensure the equality of the slothful, the inept and the immoral is to suppress everyone else. – Iain Benson

A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both. – Milton Friedman

If a consensus of the majority is all it takes to determine what is right, then having and controlling information becomes extraordinarily important. – Masamune Shirow

It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people. -James Madison

So yes, I believe Lyn Nofziger is right – we are drifting into socialism because that’s what our children have been learning in school – in greater or lesser amounts – since the turn of the previous Century. There has also been a nearly complete collapse of education in many places, mostly inner-city schools, aided and abetted by teacher’s unions and the federal Department of Education. In my opinion, that collapse is the understandable outcome of a philosophy that doesn’t work crashing into the real world.

But with a cockroach resiliency it just shakes itself off and charges on.

You want to know why so many people vote “Liberal”? George Orwell Daycare Centers that begin in kindergarten and go through High School. They don’t know any better because no one has taught them.

Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been found that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. — Benjamin Disraeli, found at Ninth Stage


Further suggested reading (that I couldn’t work into this post):

College Daze: The “Great Conversation” is now the sound of chaos

The Diplomad: About Those “Highly Educated Voters”

Parental Involvement Strongly Impacts Student Achievement (From the Dept. of “DUH!”)

Locke and Rousseau: Early Childhood Education (a PDF file)

Upside Down Education

Students Fail — and Professor Loses Job

A Modest Proposal for Saving Our Schools by Tom McClintock (who is running for the House of Representatives, BTW.)

Enough Already with the Kid Gloves


Political Correctness Pervades History Textbooks

Story Time

Social Justice High: Classrooms Meet the (Not So) Real World

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower

And, from America’s petri dish:

Drop ‘middle-class’ academic subjects says schools adviser

Education, education, education

UPDATE:  The original JSKit/Echo comment thread for this post is available due to the herculean efforts of reader John Hardin, here.


Glenn Reynolds linked to a piece by Nina Burleigh:

“I cringed as my young son recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But who was I to question his innocent trust in a nation I long ago lost faith in?”

Who, indeed? Reader Wagner James Au, who sent the link, writes: “My question is, why do anti-war liberals get so offended when people question their patriotism, when they spend so much time questioning it themselves?”

I read her piece, Country Boy, and my response to it was, almost literally, a RCOB.

Ms. Burleigh and I have worldviews so divergent that we might as well be of different species. There is no common ground upon which we could even begin to attempt rapprochement. And what bothers me most of all is that I see the land that we both live in becoming more and more divided between people like her, and people like me.

Let me fisk, for it is about the only thing I can do to purge myself of the emotions her piece inspired in me:

Country Boy

I cringed as my young son recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But who was I to question his innocent trust in a nation I long ago lost faith in?

By Nina Burleigh

Apr. 17, 2006 | When people give directions to the upstate New York hamlet of Narrowsburg, they always refer to the big red brick schoolhouse at the stoplight. Narrowsburg Central Rural School has been on the hill on School Street since 1929, educating four generations of local children.

Hardly anybody in town remembers a time when the campus — with its white doors, sloping green lawn, and Stars and Stripes snapping in the breeze — was not there. But last year, bankrupted by local fiscal mismanagement and the woes of the post-9/11 New York state economy, the little school was shuttered. When the last student skipped out of its double doors in the summer of 2005, janitors moved in with packing tape and boxes from a nearby egg farm to empty the classrooms. Among the pupils left behind was my son, a member of the last kindergarten class.

Our family first arrived in Narrowsburg in 2000, as city people hunting for a cheap house. For barely $50,000 we were able to buy the “weekend house” we thought would complete our metropolitan existence.

“Metropolitan existences” apparently come, without question, with “weekend houses?”

But soon after we closed on the home, we moved to Paris, spurred by the serendipitous arrival of a book contract. When our European idyll ended after two years, and with tenants still subletting our city apartment, we moved into the Narrowsburg house. After growing accustomed to the French social system — with its cheap medicine, generous welfare, short workweek and plentiful child care — life back in depressed upstate New York felt especially harsh. We’d never planned to get involved in the life of the town, nor had it ever occurred to us that we might send our son to the Narrowsburg School. But suddenly we were upstate locals, with a real stake in the community.

So, France is idyllic? I guess the Burleigh family (assuming they all use a common last name, which I find highly unlikely) left France prior to the, shall we say, recent unpleasantness the French have experienced. Cheap medicine and generous welfare? Paid for by those who actually work during that short workweek? France has an unemployment rate of between 9 and 10% (depending on your source), but its rate for the 26-and-under crowd is in excess of 22%. I guess Nina didn’t have to go shopping for a job during her two-year idle, er idyll.

Nothing like being insulated from reality to put rose-colored glasses on one’s outlook, is there?

In the fall of 2004, we enrolled our son in kindergarten at the Narrowsburg School. The school’s reputation among our friends, other “second-home owners,” was not good. “Do they even have a curriculum?” sniffed one New York City professor who kept a weekend home nearby. Clearly, Narrowsburg School was not a traditional first step on the path to Harvard.

Coming from a New York City professor, my first reaction is that he felt the hicks wouldn’t introduce Marxism until the second grade.

As far as I could tell, though, no one besides us had ever set foot inside the building.

No one in her circle that is.

When my husband and I investigated, we were pleasantly surprised. The school had just been renovated and was clean, airy, cheerful. The nurse and the principal knew every one of the 121 children by name. Our son would be one of just 12 little white children in a sunny kindergarten class taught by an enthusiastic woman with eighteen years’ experience teaching five-year-olds.

Isn’t that special! “Twelve little white children!”

I’m sure she felt properly guilty about that.

Still, for the first few months, we felt uneasy. Eighty of Narrowsburg’s 319 adults are military veterans and at least 10 recent school graduates are serving in Iraq or on other bases overseas right now.

In other words, “These people are not like us!

The school’s defining philosophy was traditional and conservative, starting with a sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline, leavened with a rafter-shaking reverence for country and flag.

Imagine that! Requiring children to sit down in their seats! The Neaderthals!

Every day the students gathered in the gym for the “Morning Program,” open to parents, which began with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a patriotic song, and then discussion of a “word of the week.” During the first few weeks, the words of the week seemed suspiciously tied to a certain political persuasion: “Military,” “tour,” “nation” and “alliance” were among them.

No, indeed. These people are NOT LIKE US!

But it wasn’t until our boy came home with an invitation in his backpack to attend a “released time” Bible class that my husband and I panicked.

PANICKED. Her word.

She and her husband are panicked by an invitation to a BIBLE CLASS.

Now, I make no bones about being an atheist (small “A”), but panic? What about the great Liberal openness? The dedication to embracing diversity?

As long as, I suppose, the diverse don’t include, you know, actual Christians.

We called the ACLU and learned this was an entirely legal way for evangelicals to proselytize to children during school hours. What was against the law was sending the flier home in a kid’s backpack, implying school support. After our inquiry, the ACLU formally called the principal to complain. She apologized and promised never to allow it again. While we were never identified as the people who dropped the dime to the ACLU, there was clearly no one else in the school community who would have done so — and the principal never looked at us quite as warmly again.

And why should she? The Burleighs contacted the ACLU (which probably doesn’t have a Narrowsburg branch office) rather than the principal directly.

Another characteristic of the Left – having other people fight their battles for them.

Shortly afterward, another parent casually told me that she wanted to bring her daughter’s religious cartoon videos in to share with the class, but couldn’t because “some people” might object.

Here I’m not sure if the other parent was trying to pass a message, or hadn’t been informed by the Great Christian Cabal that the Burleighs were Satan incarnate yet.

When we later learned that the cheery kindergarten teacher belonged to one of the most conservative evangelical churches in the community, we were careful not to challenge anyone or to express any opinion about politics or religion, out of fear our son would be singled out.

You mean like Liberals do when they outnumber Conservatives?

That’s called “projection.”

Instead, to counteract any God-and-country indoctrination he received in school, we began our own informal in-home instruction about Bush, Iraq and Washington over the evening news.

The kid is FIVE YEARS OLD.

Politically, Narrowsburg is red dot in a blue state.

What planet is this woman from? According to this map (PDF) of the red vs. blue counties in the 2004 Presidential election, New York is well over half red.

A “red dot in a blue state” my aching sphincter.

But that, too, is a characteristic of the Left – what they perceive is reality. Don’t confuse ’em with the facts.

It is not named for any small-town frame of mind, but for the way the Delaware River narrows at the edge of town, then widens into a serene, lakelike eddy that at twilight mirrors the lights of town and the ranch-style houses on the flats. The towering pines along the river are nesting spots for bald eagles that soar year-round in pairs above Main Street and swoop down into the river to sink their talons into trout sighted from a hundred feet up. That year, driving to school every morning along the water, my son and I witnessed the wind gradually scrape away the bright foliage, snow fall, and the ground freeze. In the white, leafless months, we could see the entire span of the Delaware River valley from the car, a long arc of pastoral perfection.

If you knew nothing else of the world, if you were just 5 or 6 or 10 years old, and this place was your only America, you wouldn’t have any reason at all to question the Narrowsburg School’s Morning Program routine. Hand over heart, my son belted out the Pledge with gusto every morning and memorized and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I never stopped resisting the urge to sit down in silent protest during the Pledge. But I also never failed to get choked up when they sang “America the Beautiful.”

“I never stopped resisting the urge to sit down in silent protest during the Pledge.”

They’re not anti-war – they’re the other side.

But it’s OK, because “America the Beautiful” makes her choke up.

Listening to their little voices, I felt guilty for being a non-believer. When I was 5 years old, in 1965, did I understand what my lefty parents were saying about the Kennedy assassination, Watts and dead-soldier counts?

Apparently not, but it was enough to warp you into the woman you are today!

Who was I to deprive my son, or his eleven kindergarten chums, of their faith in a nation capable of combining “good with brotherhood?” In a 5-year-old’s perfect world, perhaps such places should exist.

But you didn’t let that stop you from counteracting any God-and-country indoctrination he received in school, by beginning your own informal in-home instruction about Bush, Iraq and Washington over the evening news!

That November, at the school’s annual Veterans Day program, the children performed the trucker anthem “God Bless the USA” (one of the memorable lines is “Ain’t no doubt I love this la-aand, God bless the USA-ay!”), as their parents sang along. About a dozen local veterans — ancient men who had served in World War II, and men on the cusp of old age who had served in Korea and Vietnam — settled into folding chairs arranged beneath the flag. When the students were finished singing, the principal asked the veterans to stand and identify themselves. Watching from the audience, I wondered if anyone would speak of the disaster unfolding in Iraq (which was never a word of the week).

Wait for it…

No one did. The men rose and stated name, rank and theater. Finally, a burly, gray-bearded Vietnam veteran rose and said what no one else dared. After identifying himself, he choked out, “Kids, I just hope to God none of you ever have to experience what we went through.” Then he sat down, leaving a small pocket of shocked silence. No one applauded his effort at honesty. On the contrary, the hot gym air thickened with a tension that implicitly ostracized the man, and by extension — because we agreed with him — me and my husband.

No one repudiated the Iraq war. No one applauded the hope that these children be spared the need to go to war (or be spit on when they come back).

Not even the Burleighs.

That’s another characteristic of the Left – complete unfamiliarity with people who have served in the military.

I have relatives who served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. I work with Vietnam veterans. NO ONE I know who has ever been in combat has ever suggested that they thought it would be a wonderful, uplifting experience for the next generation.

War sucks. People die. Often horribly. But if you ask them whether what they did was worth it, they – almost to a man – say “yes.” No one hopes that the next generation will see war. Expressing that sentiment is universal, and in no way requires applause for validation.

A “small pocket of shocked silence”? I doubt it seriously. Oh, I’m sure she interpreted it that way, but that’s not what it was. It was silent agreement. But Burleigh does not understand Red New York. It’s an alien environment to her.

After all, these people are religious!

A month later, just before Christmas, my son and I drove together into New York City with bags of children’s clothes and shoes that he and his sister had outgrown. The Harlem unit of the National Guard was putting on a Christmas clothing drive for Iraqi children. On the way into the city, I tried to explain to my son what we were doing, and — as best I could — why. As we crossed the George Washington Bridge and the Manhattan skyline spread out below us, I began to give him a variation on the “Africans don’t have any food, finish your dinner” talk. I wanted him to understand how privileged he was to live in a place where bombs weren’t raining from the sky. It was a talk I’d tried to have before, but not one he’d ever paid much attention to until that day, trapped in the back seat of our car.

In simple language, I told my son that our president had started a war with a country called Iraq. I said that we were bombing cities and destroying buildings. And I explained that families just like ours now had no money or food because their parents didn’t have offices to go to anymore or bosses to pay them. “America did this?” my son asked, incredulous. “Yes, America,” I answered. He paused, a long silent pause, then burst out: “But Mommy, I love America! I want to hug America!”

Out of the mouths of babes…

A month after the Christmas outburst, the first rumors that all was not well with the school began circulating. Fiscal mismanagement, high fuel and retirement costs, and the depleted state economy had created a huge and unexpected cash shortfall for the tiny district. The parents at Narrowsburg School soon had a figure: It was going to cost just over $600,000 to keep their school open for another year. Chump change in Washington and New York City, but impossible to collect in a town where the median family income is barely $45,000.

But NYC denizens can afford to come to the town and drop $50k on a “weekend home.”

By late June 2005, the little school’s fate was sealed. To my surprise I found I was deeply sorry about it.

The patriot-ization of our son was thorough enough to survive the summer. He decorated his birthday cookies with red, white and blue sugar, and in his summer camp program, when doing arts and crafts, those were the colors of paint he favored. “I made the stars red, white and blue — like the flag!” he exclaimed, holding a paper mobile he’d strung together.

Now it has been almost a year since my son scampered down the steps of Narrowsburg Central Rural School for the last time. We’ve since returned to the city, driven back to urban life more by adult boredom than our children’s lack of educational opportunities. Our son is enrolled in a well-rated K-5 public school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side;

I’m sure it has a curriculum.

not surprisingly, the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer part of his morning routine. Come to think of it, and I could be wrong, I’ve never seen a flag on the premises.

Of course not. That would be provincial.

But no one should question their patriotism.

My husband and I realized, though, that Narrowsburg did more than mold our boy into a patriot. He can, it turns out — despite the warnings of other city parents — read at a level twice that of his new peers.

Amazing how that “sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline” contributes to, you know, LEARNING.

Since we returned to the city, he has learned how to ride a bike, long for an Xbox, practiced a few new swear words and, somehow, learned the meaning of “sexy.” He has pretty much stopped favoring red, white and blue.

The kid is what, six? And she considers learning “a few new swear words” and understanding the meaning of “sexy” to be positive. So too, no longer “favoring red, white, and blue.”

But don’t question her patriotism. She tears up at “American the Beautiful.”

How soon childish national pride is shed, I sometimes think now, and not a little wistfully.

Ah, yes. National pride is childish. No country is better than any other, and we mustn’t make judgments. (But America is always wrong)

Just don’t question her patriotism.

Only once it was gone did I realize that, after our initial discomfort, my husband and I had begun to see our son’s patriotism as a badge of innocence. His faith was a reminder to us that the reason we are devastated by the war in Iraq and the Bush presidency is that we too love America. We too want to believe in its potential for good and brotherhood.


Love America? You don’t understand America. You denigrate America. You protest it, spit on it, defecate on it. It’s a foreign fucking country to you.

You want it to be FRANCE, with its idyllic cheap medicine, generous welfare, short workweek, plentiful child care, and expansive socialism.

That’s not America. Nor is it sustainable, as the French are unwilling to learn, but will.

Our family now visits the Narrowsburg house only on weekends and holidays. Sometimes we pass the stately red brick school building, so recently renovated with thermal windows and elevators for the disabled, a town landmark for 75 years. The flag still flies there, but the doors are padlocked and the windows are black.

But at least they don’t hold Bible study there anymore.

Ms. Burleigh, move back to France. We won’t miss you.

UPDATE: Burleigh gets hate mail. Like I said at the top of the post, Ms. Burleigh and I have worldviews so divergent that we might as well be of different species. There is no common ground upon which we could even begin to attempt rapprochement. Therefore I did not forward this piece to her. I knew in advance it would be useless.