By John Feeny
“Public schools are the nurseries of all vice and immorality.”
– Henry Fielding (1707-1754), English novelist, dramatist
I have been re-educated.
My worldview has understandably been corrected. Whereas for much of my life I always believed in the goodness of the United States of America, I now see that this country and everything for which it stands is a corrupt, irredeemable, and immoral fraud. Our Founding Fathers were nothing other than racist, slave-owning pigs more bent on protecting their own financial assets than they were in actually creating a land in which all people could thrive and be free.
I can’t believe that I never saw it before. The degree of my shame is so pronounced that it sickens me. Thank God–if there is one–that liberalism has brought me to my senses.
The few overtly sarcastic lines above were inspired, actually, by a recent interaction in the sophomore English class that I teach. It was a “teachable moment,” not in the same sense that Barack Obama has employed the phrase, but an actual “teachable moment” of the sort that we all encounter while dealing with young people over the course of our lives.
During the course of the political craziness which has been unfolding over the course of the past couple of years, but most especially during the reign of President Obama, I’ve been having a fairly good-natured back-and-forth with an old friend of mine, a military veteran who also happens to be a liberal — albeit a common-sense one. He’s truly a great person, and while we differ on social issues (which is part of being American), we both stand firmly on the common ground of financial common sense. He’d no doubt be a strong “Blue Dog,” should I be unfortunate enough to lose him to the halls of Capitol Hill. He’s also, obviously, very pro-military and ardently supports both our veterans and those in active service.
In any event, As December 7th approached, my friend–Dennis–asked me a question that, to be honest, really surprised me. He asked: “Hammer (don’t ask), do you think all of your kids know what happened on December 7th?” After pausing and looking at him with an expression which could have only conveyed “of course” and nothing else, I replied . . . well . . . “of course.” Dennis wasn’t so sure. I kind of laughed it off.
As luck would have it, an opportunity to find out presented itself in class a few days later, as we were discussing a particular piece from American literature. In my attempts to impress upon the young men in my charge certain ideas in the piece, I began touching upon the idea of whether there was anything in life worth dying for; it was the disconnected nature of their responses–while natural for a bunch of 15-year-old adolescent boys–which led me to think of the point that Dennis had no doubt been trying to impress upon me. When I then attempted to use the example of Pearl Harbor in order to illustrate the point that I was attempting to make, the response–or lack thereof–truly alarmed me.
That was when I decided to ask, point-blank, how many of them knew what had taken place on December 7, 1941.
In a class of 23, eight knew. Eight. Let me put it another way: 15, 15-year-old American high school students either had such little interest in the topic that it couldn’t pique even a passing attentive glimmer, or they didn’t know about it at all. As I dwelled upon this later, I had a hard time distinguishing which was worse.
When I asked shortly thereafter if any of them know what Arlington Cemetery is, one of them off-handedly answered, “Oh, yea . . . I think my grandfather is buried there.”
Think? I almost passed out.
As I was dwelling upon all of this later, it dawned on me — Billy Ayers may have succeeded, after all. Let me explain.
As Barack Obama’s Lamborghini-type campaign was peeling along the political highway during 2008, there was obviously a lot of information–information which he and his camp did not want out on the open market and upon which many people were desperately trying to shine light–that pertained to many of his past and quite questionable associations. Arguably at the top of the list was William Ayers, formerly of the terrorist organization known as the Weather Underground.
Without re-hashing all of the Ayers-related information, the portion relevant here pertains to one of his longer-term goals, which was (and arguably may still be) this: he felt that once the United States Government had been overthrown, it would become necessary to construct “re-education” centers, preferably somewhere in the American Southwest, where people who were “capable” of having their worldview reversed would be indoctrinated. In the end, he estimated, it would probably become necessary to eliminate some 25 million American adults, people who were still bent on . . . well . . . freedom.
Remember — this was one of Barack Obama’s buddies, the man who launched his political career, the man with whom he broke bread and served on boards, the man with integral connections that can be found in the Annenberg Foundation in Chicago (which, ironically, was purported to be all about “education”).
Suffice it to say that Ayers never succeeded in the manner that he truly saw fit, but the more subtle efforts on the part of those people in our country who share the same worldview may have yet managed to accomplish many of their desired objectives, albeit in much less radical ways. In short, while it may have taken about forty years, much of our culture has indeed been re-educated, the thrust of which has taken place throughout our entire educational system – grade school, secondary education, and most especially at the collegiate level. Our young people have been dumbed down and broken down and have had a new intellectual “structure” implanted in their conscience. The lion’s share of our young people now actually believe that there is no real necessity for hard work in life because everything naturally works itself out, because day-to-day life is something that more expeditiously accomplished by a federal government larger and more far-reaching than it is now. And, of course, they’ve very neatly had many of the notions of American history and American exceptionalism surgically removed from their way of thinking. Hence, the Pearl Harbor example.
Our society and its history have been systematically compromised through the insipid process of a slow re-education. Let’s look at just the basics:
- Our entire educational system. Why would Barack Obama have any motivation to improve the public education system in this country? Wouldn’t it be much more effective in terms of cost (not that he worries much about pecuniary issues) and ideology to just leave things the way they are, convince many of the people in the lower classes that they’re being exploited and oppressed, and to simply continue the current mode of indoctrination? Further, if he is bent on improving education in this country, why doesn’t he enroll his daughters in the DC public school system? Probably for the same reason that his family won’t be on the rolls of universal health care.
I could solve the problems in public education with a simple master stroke: remove the tax funding from the public systems, allow all families a choice of several high schools in a given region, and make them tuition-driven. In other words, incorporate the free market in American education. If teachers still wish to be gainfully employed, you watch how fast our public systems turn around.
- Our history. As in the Pearl Harbor example, much of the inherent goodness and sacrifice that lay at the foundation of this nation is now more of a vague association of sorts to our young people. At least that’s what I think, and I see it every day. Each year in my school (and please understand that the school at which I teach, in case I haven’t said it before, is one of the finest academic schools in the Northeast) we see more and more students who choose not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or refrain from placing their hand over their heart, and some of my students–the very ones who knew little about what happened to the young men in 1941–even asked me why we have to face the flag during the Pledge. “I know,” I responded, “it’s such an effort, isn’t it?” Hmm . . . I wonder where they get it?
Almost two weeks ago, Jeff posted a short piece here at America’s Right entitled A Hero Not Welcome, which was his reaction to the story of a homeowners’ association trying–thankfully unsuccessfully–to force perhaps the most distinguish American combat veteran alive to take down his flag pole. The mere fact that the people in that housing development know nothing about that distinguished veteran’s literal heroism tells me all that I need to know about their historical mindset, and in turn the general “success” of the left’s educational efforts over the past four decades, and not to mention about the hero himself, who obviously never talked about what he had done. Humility — imagine that.
I believe, to many of our young people and to many of our young adults, the American flag is more of vague symbol that has some kind of association with the notion of good, but to what specifically they truly do not understand. Try asking some of them about the American Revolution, and check their response; or, better yet, try asking them for their impressions of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. Wait – on second thought, you might not want to after all.
- The Constitution. I think I might be in the ballpark, so to speak, when I say that a lot of younger adults in our society see the significance of our Constitution as a non-issue. Forget that it truly is the one thing which allowed America to make thousands of years of progress in less than 250 years. To many of them, those who hold onto the ideals embedded in that incredible document–people like you and me–are some kind of right-wing extremists. The Constitution is only a piece of paper, after all, and should “evolve” with time, right? I mean, like, Benjamin Franklin never even had an iPod.
The larger concepts in the Constitution and Bill of Rights which we have most taken for granted, in my opinion, are the freedoms of religion, speech, and the press preserved by the First Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms preserved by the Second, both of which, ironically, are the very freedoms that the left attacks relentlessly — because once you have a truly unarmed society (intellectually and physically), resistance dissipates over time. Freedom of Speech has been practically sacrificed at the altar of political correctness (a term, by the way, that was born in Soviet Russia). Our young people, sadly, now view as “normal” having to hold their tongues and to not speak their minds, lest they be reprimanded formally in some way, shape or form, or ostracized from some group of peers.
The single most insidious part of all of this, in my mind, is that the genesis of this mindset–at least in America comes from a class of spoiled, petulant, intellectual elitists who, when push comes to shove, do not want to work very hard yet wish to be able to have the upper hand over everyone in their lives. Their corrosive worldview has, to borrow a phrase, “trickled down” to the younger generations among us, many of whom view themselves as disaffected, disenfranchised and shunned. These are the people that our resident elitists exploit, churning up populist rage at those who have more in an effort to maintain their cozy lives. America? Who cares? Let it burn.
During that class, when I asked my students if there is anything–anything at all–that they consider worth dying for, the unanimous response was “no”.
I still think there is.
John Feeny is the author of the recently published book, Congress Shall Make No Law…Abridging Freedom of Speech and works in secondary education at a Catholic high school in the Northeast. He and his wife, Sheila–who works in higher education–have been married for 14 years and have become increasingly alarmed with the direction of the young people in our society and what that means for the future of our society. They’ve been blessed with one son, who at 11 years old is in the process of giving John a run for his money. John has been an America’s Right contributor since September 2009.
Congress Shall Make No Law…Abridging Freedom of Speech can be purchased at Amazon.com and is currently being sold alongside the books of Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Michele Malkin at Patriots Heart Network. John can also be followed at Twitter (JJFeen).