Winners and Losers, America, and Life and Death
School districts from coast to coast are banning games such as tag, kickball and dodgeball on the playground and in many cases are doing away with physical education programs as a whole. They do so out of worries that schoolchildren will be irreparably injured, or that childrens’ psyches will be irreversibly damaged because he or she was picked last in gym class or was the first one knocked out of the game.
Baseball fields at every corner of every county across the United States are filled with kids receiving shiny trophies regardless of how their little league team performed on the diamond and in the batter’s box. There are no “losers” in little league — participating in itself is enough to warrant an empty feeling of “victory.”
Classrooms throughout the nation are packed with students who can never answer a question incorrectly, instead providing an “interesting alternative perspective to weigh and consider.” Book reports and math tests are no longer graded in red ink out of concern that the color itself is too jarring and conveys too well the message that a wrong answer or misspelled word was given or provided.
Now, instead of addressing childhood obesity on the school gymnasium floor, we are blaming the school districts for the food they provide and commencing legal action against McDonald’s and Burger King and Wendy’s and Taco Bell and Checkers and Kentucky Fried Chicken for turning our children into the human equivalent of an avocado standing on a pair of toothpicks. Now, instead of addressing, on the playground and the gymnasium floor, overexcited student behavior and underwhelming student attention spans, we are over-diagnosing and over-prescribing Ritalin, Adderal and Concerta (the latter of which, by the way, I currently take for adult ADD) and robbing children of the ability to do what they do best — be children.
In short, we are coddling our children and ourselves to death, and the effects of this cultural shift can be seen far from the outer reaches of the classroom, playground, gymnasium and baseball diamond.
The Mortgage Crisis
Yesterday, at the federal courthouse here in downtown Philadelphia, I ran into Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, fresh off his near fourth-place finish for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. As an aside, I wonder if he received a shiny trophy?
As it turns out, Sen. Dodd and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. were in town for a congressional hearing of sorts regarding the current mortgage crisis. I’m not so sure about Sen. Casey, but I know that Sen. Dodd is all for exponentially increased government involvement in the banking and lending industry.
Just like there are no losers in little league baseball, there apparently are no losers among the ranks of bankers, lenders and homeowners in America. Lenders who entered into bad loans have nothing to fear, as the government will be there to bail them out; Homeowners who purchased a house they couldn’t afford because of a sub-prime interest rate or leveraged themselves to the hilt due to other factors likewise do not have much to worry about, as Dodd and his Federal Homeownership Preservation Corporation will be more than happy to reward irresponsibility with empty “victory.”
If mommy and daddy refuse to acknowledge that their son or daughter’s serious weight problem derives from their steady diet of Big Macs and Triple Bacon Cheeseburgers, their children are likely to face a shortened life filled with joint problems, Type-2 Diabetes and heart disease. Much in the same way, unless we are able to understand the reasons behind the lending and credit crisis, unless we are willing to acknowledge that the spend-happy American populace does not need rebate checks to spend, we will be doomed to repeat these problems and may never allow the cyclical nature of our economy to help America recover.
Federalism and the Nanny State
The common theme from the mortgage and economic crisis is “how can the government bail me out?” and it has been echoed by homeowners and banking institutions alike. This very concept, that government can, will and should be there to catch us when we fall or rescue us when we fail plays directly into the hands of the Democrats, into the hands of those who hope for and work towards a “nanny state,” and into the hands of those who fail to possess even a basic understanding of the intentions of the brilliant but imperfect souls who founded this country.
The founders of this country did everything in their power to establish a form of government that would never regress into the tyrannical and overbearing state from which they fled. The First Amendment allowed for the free political speech and freedom to peaceably assemble that they never enjoyed; The Fifth Amendment laid the foundation for innocence until proven guilty and, along with the Fourteenth Amendment, helped establish our criminal justice system; The Third Amendment was written in response to the forced quartering of British soldiers in colonist’s homes, and the Fourth Amendment was written in response to warrantless searches of colonists’ homes for tax stamps and signs of necessary smuggling; The Second Amendment, of course, was written and adopted to serve as a reset button of sorts for all of the others. Our founding documents and the limited central government established by America’s founders were no accident, no mistake. Now, those words and the intentions behind them have become perverted by fat-cat, power-hungry politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. only to forget those who sent them there and the power that such constituents are supposed to hold.
Just as the plight of the obese children has contributed to fundamental changes in and, in some cases, the total elimination of physical education programs, the sub-par performance of the bloated federal education system has been an excuse to introduce even more government interference into our lives and into the education of American children.
The “No Child Left Behind Act” takes federal involvement to an exponentially higher level, treating schools and students in rural Idaho just like their counterparts in inner city Cleveland and forcing districts to look at the satisfaction of testing requirements as yet another reason to eliminate physical education programs–not to mention art, music and drama as well–so teachers can teach to the tests rather than follow a curriculum best tailored to their individual classes. While the Department of Education needs to be eliminated, the same blame-shifting culture which sues McDonald’s and Burger King for its expanding waistlines embraces the idea that both the problem and solution lie in increased government involvement. Neither could be further from the truth.
Now, Congress is investigating Major League Baseball–whatever happened to “a thousand sparks of genius,” anyway?–in an attempt to somehow keep steroids out of the hands of our nation’s children. Just like the glorification of legal action against fast food chains shifts the burden of responsible child-rearing away from Mommy and to McDonald’s, the increased government involvement in baseball of all things, enabled by our soft, “loserless” culture, does nothing but further shift the responsibility for our children’s well-being away from parents and into the halls and hearing rooms of our nation’s capital.
Affirmative Action and Race Relations
By definition, it is both hypocritical and impossible to simultaneously advocate for affirmative action and racial equality. The two concepts are diametrically opposed — one looks to completely disregard skin color, while the other tosses everything else aside save for race alone.
For years, black Americans were treated as second-class citizens. The struggle has indeed been immense and there are still some formidable hurdles to clear, but the possibility that an African-American man named Barack Hussein Obama could very well be the most powerful man in the world by this time next year says something for how far America and Americans have come. The opportunity is out there, and is within the grasp of anyone who chooses to take the reins.
The heavyset kid in gym class, picked last for dodgeball or basketball or baseball is without a doubt starting from further behind than many of his classmates. He has more obstacles to overcome, and little by little that kid is perfectly capable of shedding weight and building speed and refining strength, yet the government chooses instead to step in and eliminate the very physical education programs and activities which may facilitate such a transformation and foster the achievement of highly obtainable goals. Likewise, government programs and ideas which look past merit and experience in favor of skin color do nothing of merit for anyone involved. Such programs weaken the American workforce, cheapen the American higher education system, and do a catastrophic disservice to those capable of overcoming obstacles on their own. America still has Title VII, it still has the ADA and the ADEA — for the sake of the pastime and the country, America needs to save the shiny trophies for those who work to achieve them.
Just like we blame McDonald’s and Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken for our obesity, our diabetes, and our heart disease instead of apathy and a home life which embraces the lack of involvement required by such a diet and such establishments, increases in violent crime and drug use nationwide are blamed on everything but the people committing the crimes and doing the drugs and the family and cultural issues which have spawned both.
In Atlanta and in Dallas, an outright ban on baggy pants has been thought to be, in part, the answer to the rising violent crime among those who embrace the hip-hop culture. In Chicago, city officials discussed banning tiny Ziploc-type bags to stem the rising tide of drug use on Windy City streets. In Philadelphia, we hear daily talk of new and more stringent gun laws intended to combat the average of four shootings each day in the City of Brotherly Love.
Even the mere consideration, among elected officials, of bans on clothing and plastic bags does nothing but legitimize the shifting of blame. Furthermore, with regard to guns, more legislation is not the answer. The District of Columbia has in place a complete ban on handguns, and no measurable good has come from it. Looking at Pennsylvania, if the 400-plus murders in Philadelphia in 2007 was somehow a direct result of loose gun control laws, why then has Pittsburgh, with the very same laws in effect, seen nowhere near the increase in firearm-related violence?
Attempting to abate violent crime with new legislation is akin to treating a boisterous and creative child with Ritalin without scrutinizing any of the extrinsic factors that may be causing such behavior. Just as a lack of physical exercise, a diet high in sugar and a failure to adequately provide a challenge in the classroom will very well cause a child to act out in a hyperactive manner, violent crime is largely caused by a missing stable family structure, a dearth of pride in the community, and an overall lack of respect for human life.
Shifting the blame in order to take the easy way out–pointing the finger at Ronald McDonald instead of Mom and Dad or looking for a remedy in Ritalin instead of reason–is a hallmark of this soft, “loserless” culture we’ve forced upon ourselves, and left unchecked it can and will do far more harm than a revisited credit crisis, an excessively bloated government, a widening racial divide, or further increase in violent crime.
The Global War on Terror
Apologists for Iran and radical Islam say that the distinction between good and evil is only a question of perspective. I disagree. Sometimes, a kid just can’t make a free throw.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the world today that his country has powered up 6,000 more centrifuges than originally thought, and is currently in the process of testing newer technologies which could make the uranium enrichment process quicker and more efficient. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, in response, called for a “diplomatic surge” and talks with Iran.
Like he has done on several occasions before and since, Ahmadinejad delivered a speech on October 26, 2005 in which he called for the destruction of Israel, of the United States, and of Western civilization as a whole.
“Many who are disappointed in the struggle between the Islamic world and the infidels have tried to spread the blame. They say it is not possible to have a world without the United States and Zionism. But you know that this is a possible goal and slogan,” said Ahmadinejad. “Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime [Israel] has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world.”
Similar intentions, over and over again, have been made clear by many who adhere to and are willing to die for fundamentalist Islam. Over and beyond the rambling statements made by Osama bin Laden and his cave-dwelling disciples, passages taken directly from the Q’uran ominously shed light on just how deeply Jihad is ingrained within those who, like Ahmadinejad, wish for our demise in the name of Allah:
9:29-30: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
38:101: Fight those who do not believe in Allah…nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.
This is evil, and it is real. It is tangible, it is functional, and it is out there. Some of our leaders in Washington, D.C.–along with many Americans–prefer to deny it or simply keep their heads in the sand, prefer to think that all kids are capable of hitting a jump-shot or scoring a goal or hitting a grand slam or mastering the parallel bars if they are just given the chance. Just as there are no true “losers” when it comes to children and sports, there apparently are no true evil people when it comes to the human race.
Now, we get to sit back and watch such a perspective in action as England, Spain, France and The Netherlands fall to the forces of Jihad From Within due to appeasement and accommodation and blame-shifting and political correctness. We watch as the Archbishop of Canterbury admits that Sharia Law is inevitable, as French law enforcement officials refuse to enter certain Parisian neighborhoods under Islamic rule, as members of government and the artistic community alike in Amsterdam fear for their necks and lives because they dared expose radical Islam for what it truly is.
However, instead of identifying and calling out evil where it resides, we endure cries for increased diplomacy. Instead of taking Vladimir Putin for the chekist holdover that he is, we hear endlessly about his wonderful soul, visible to our president through his eyes (undoubtedly gleaming due to residue from Polonium-210). Now, as Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress, we once again see our own elected officials ready their white, surrender-monkey flags and prepare to bring our brave fighting men and women prematurely and precipitously home from Iraq to satisfy George Soros, MoveOn.org, Code Pink, et al. and the political games and infighting they foster and feed upon.
Somewhere along the line, people forgot that there are winners and indeed losers in life, on the baseball diamond, in the classroom, and beyond. These politicians fail to understand that America will receive no shiny trophy for participation in Iraq and in the Global War on Terror. Bringing our soldiers home with anything short of victory will have far worse consequences than even the absence of honor inherent in such a retreat, and Americans will pay for any of the Democrats’ accommodations to Islam and appeasement of the political Left with their blood, with their heads, and with their lives.
There may be no “losers” in tee-ball, but there are plenty in war. We are indeed at war every day for our lives and for our civilization, and until everyone realizes it, wakes up, quits making excuses and stops shifting blame, we are in imminent danger of losing both.