Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Every revolutionary regime from time immemorial has made it a priority to control the media and to control the educational system.  The far left has succeeded in both in the United States without firing a shot.  The change even in my lifetime is quite noticeable; Lawrence Auster links to a number of ridiculous textbook covers in use in college and high school history classes.  The message of inclusion is clear:  ours is an unjust society, whose traditional elites are evil and must be displaced, and that displacement of what Jeremiah Wright calls “rich white people”  is underway.

In 1987, a very long TV miniseries called Amerika considered what might happen to the United States under Soviet control.  Consider the following sequence showing Soviet “brainwashing” in public schools.  In 20 years time, the same result has come about voluntarily through manipulation of education departments in universities, textbook politicization, and a deliberate attempts by highly indoctrinated teachers to “raise consciousness” in young people.

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Afraid of Obama

I’m inclined by temperment to say that the US President should be able to address children in schools on the importance of education.  Before the 24/7 cable news, I remember presidential addresses and news conferences were special affairs, and the President always had an aura of importance that the last few presidents’ omnipresence has degraded.  But Obama is simply not like other presidents.  His appeal, his sense of self, and his special emphasis on the importance of his personality and rectitude is quite unusual.  Several school boards, expressing concerns about controversy and indoctrination, have not allowed the Obama address to be shown to their students.

Why would we worry about indoctrination?  Well, consider if you will the following, which was typical of the strange imagery of the Obama campaign.  It’s honestly totally un-American and weird to have this much love for a politician, and it’s doubly weird–though not unprecedented–to try to get kids in on the act.

* The only good thing I can say about these videos is that their bright-eyed and idealistic tone seems dated and a little different from the angrier and more partisan tone he and his supporters have adopted since tackling health care.

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The Obama cult is worrisome.  It has a different feel than historical American respect for the office and partisan enthusiasm for one’s side.  Obama’s lack of self-awareness doesn’t help, nor does the excitability of his worshipers.  Among other things, he’s had reverent videos made in his honor, allowed the self-important Greek columns at his Denver acceptance, and gave the recent directive for the NEA to produce propaganda in favor of his agenda. Who knew socialist realism would be reborn in the United States?

Now, it turns out he’ll be giving a speech to students nationwide in a few weeks. Apparently, the students are being encouraged to write letters about “how they can help Obama.”  This is weird stuff.  I don’t recall anything like it in my entire life.  It is reminiscent of the youth-indoctrination of authoritarian regimes.  But this exercise has become typical of this presidency, where the leader is unusually immune from criticism, quick to accuse opponents of bad faith, indifferent to historical American norms and traditions, attracted to expanding government, and eager to remake America into something different from what it has been until now.

* Painting above based on Soviet socialist realism classic, “Roses for Stalin.”

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A good article in Reason notes that magnet schools and similar programs designed to integrate students across economic and racial lines do little to improve the performance of the kids moved in from poor areas.  Mere proximity is not enough if the problem in inner city schools is not the schools, teachers, amount of spending, or curriculum, but instead the values and raw ability of the students, viz.:

You can take the poor out of the ghetto or barrio—and they’re usually delighted to move to safer areas. But they take with them the same habits and attitudes that undercut school success.

It’s quixotic to expect serious educational gains from any particular educational measure if anti-social values and habits prevail among students and the people they are around for the 18 hours a day they are not in school.

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The University of Chicago Law School’s Geoff Stone says that Columbia was within its rights and fulfilling its core values in allowing Iran’s President to speak. I don’t necessarily disagree, nor do I completely disagree with his statement that “[b]ecause a university must remain neutral on all matters of public policy that do not directly affect the university itself, it should not have a faculty vote, for example, on whether to condemn the war in Iraq, on whether Mr. Bush is a good President, or on whether Mr. Ahmadinejad violates human rights.” In other words, universities should be a forum for debate, discussion, challenging conventional wisdom, and the like. They are not mere instruments of propaganda, whether for the Church, the government, or anyone else.

But what’s missing from Stone and Bollinger’s defense of free speech and “diversity” of ideas and lifestyles is some apology for the reflexive hostility of Columbia University and most other Ivy League schools to all things military, going back to the student riots of ’68 and the expulsion of ROTC units from campus. That expulsion implicitly said: we do draw the line and make an expressive stand here; the military is too corrosive to the campus’s mission and we will not support honorable service within the same, nor will we allow our campus to be sullied with their presence and blandishments. Of course, nothing required anyone even then (during the draft) to participate in ROTC, accept the justice and prudence of the Vietnam War, or otherwise fail to adopt an independent point of view. It was just one option among many on campus, and the SDS radicals and the weak-kneed trustees simply kicked them off. Blackfive has the scoop on Columbia’s expulsion of ROTC here, and the Wall Street Journal provides some background here (registration required) as well.

Now the anti-military bias has been dressed up by the now-tenured radicals as opposition to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But we know this is just a pretext; after all, the rest of the federal government can still recruit on campus, not least for things like judicial clerkships and cushy positions with Senators and Congressmen. But the military alone, one of its departments, is excluded. It’s unthinkable this pick-and-choose approach would be applied to any other discriminatory employer, such as a law firm that discriminated in only one of its offices. No, the motive is the same now as then: hostility to mainstream America and its military and a failure of universities to recognize that, while they are places of debate and inquiry, they are also in some sense part of a society and owe its core institutions something in terms of respect, support, and fair treatment. I discussed the essential hypocricy of elite schools’ approach to the military in this discussion of the Solomon Amendment.

Anti-American despots are allowed on campus in the name of free speech and diversity, but the university’s own admitted students, some of whom carry with them valuable ROTC scholarships, are basically told they’re going to have to pursue their careers and their studies across town, with all the inconvenience and disrespect that implies. The hippies no longer need to spit in the face of our soldiers; instead, they can now spit in their faces figuratively and officially through discrimination, ostracism, and harassment.

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