What Americans should be taught about America 12

American children must be taught the values America traditionally stands for, and why they are the highest and the best.

They must be taught that the United States of America was founded as a realization of the idea of liberty.

They must be taught that only in freedom are individuals able to achieve the best they are capable of.

They must be taught that the conditions necessary for a good life  – prosperity, physical and mental well-being, the pursuit of individual aims  – exist reliably only in a free society.

They must be taught that only the rule of law, not rule by a person or group of potentates, assures liberty.

Generations of American children have not been taught any of this. It is no exaggeration to say that for decades now the schools and academies have been teaching Americans to be ashamed of themselves. So millions of Americans believe that they are justly hated by other nations, and their country should change to become more like other countries. (See our post Zinn writes histories, December 11, 2009.)

William Damon, professor of education at Stanford University and a senior fellow of the admirable Hoover Institution, writes in a recent essay:

In our leading intellectual and educational circles, the entire notion of national devotion is now in dispute. For example, in a book about the future of citizenship, a law professor recently wrote: “Longstanding notions of democratic citizenship are becoming obsolete … American identity is unsustainable in the face of globalization.” As a replacement for commitment to a nation-state, the author wrote, “loyalties…are moving to transnational communities defined by many different ways: by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation.” In similar fashion, many influential educators are turning to “cosmopolitanism” and “global citizenship” as the proper aim of civics instruction, de-emphasizing the attachment to any particular country such as the United States. As global citizens, it is argued, our primary identification should be with the humanity of the world, and our primary obligation should be to the universal ideals of human rights and justice. Devotion to one’s own nation state, commonly referred to as patriotism, is suspect because it may turn into a militant chauvinism or a dangerous “my country right or wrong” perspective. …

By “justice” the unnamed law professor probably means “social justice’ – the idea that wealth should be taken away from those who have earned it and given to others who have not. “Social justice” is Orwellian Newspeak for injustice.

William Damon points out:

Discouraging young Americans from identifying with their country — and, indeed, from celebrating the traditional American quest for liberty and equal rights — is a sure way to remove their most powerful source of motivation to learn about U. S. citizenship. Why would a student exert any effort to master the rules of a system that the student has no respect for and no interest in being part of? To acquire civic knowledge as well as civic virtue, students need to care about their country.

It is especially odd to see schools with large immigrant populations neglect teaching students about American identity and the American tradition. Educational critic Diane Ravitch observed this phenomenon when visiting a New York City school whose principal proudly spoke of the school’s efforts to celebrate the cultures of all the immigrant students. Ravitch writes, “I asked him whether the school did anything to encourage students to appreciate American culture, and he admitted with embarrassment that it did not.”

At least he was embarrassed.

These and other American students are being urged to identify with, on the one hand, customs from the native lands they have departed and, on the other hand, with the abstract ideals of an amorphous global culture. Lost in between these romantic affiliations is an identification with the nation where these students actually will practice citizenship. Adding to the dysfunction of this educational choice, as Ravitch writes, is the absurdity of teaching “a student whose family fled to this country from a tyrannical regime or from dire poverty to identify with that nation rather than with the one that gave the family refuge.”

We are not “citizens of the world.” We do not pay taxes to the world; we do not vote for a world president or senator.

Professor Damon wants civics taught in the schools, and taught well.

How can we do better? Of course we need to teach students the Constitution, along with its essential underlying principles such as separation of powers, representative government, and Federalism. Excellent programs for such teaching now exist. But these programs are not widely used amidst today’s single-minded focus on basic skills. Compounding this neglect, the school assessments that drive the priorities of teachers infrequently test for civic knowledge. To preserve the American heritage of liberty and democracy for future generations, citizenship instruction must be placed front and center in U. S. classrooms rather than relegated to the margins. …

And he issues a warning:

There is a looming crisis … the very real possibility that our democracy will be left in the hands of a citizenry unprepared to govern it and unwilling the make the sacrifices needed to preserve it. A free society requires an informed and virtuous citizenry. Failing this, as Ben Franklin long ago warned, despotism lies just around the corner.

The citizenry should also be informed what life is like in other countries. Most people in the world are ruled over by despots or despotic regimes. Most democracies, like the European nations, are welfare states rapidly becoming poorer as a result of their socialist economic systems. A proper understanding of capitalist economics  – “the natural order of liberty” as Adam Smith called it –  should be taught in America as well as civics and truthful history.

Walter Williams writes at Front Page:

A recent Superman comic book has the hero saying, “I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship” because “truth, justice, and the American way — it’s not enough anymore.” …

The ignorance about our country is staggering. According to one survey, only 28 percent of students could identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Only 26 percent of students knew that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Fewer than one-quarter of students knew that George Washington was the first president of the United States. …

Ignorance and possibly contempt for American values, civics and history might help explain how someone like Barack Obama could become president of the United States. At no other time in our history could a person with longtime associations with people who hate our country become president. Obama spent 20 years attending the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s hate-filled sermons, which preached that “white folks’ greed runs a world in need,” called our country the “US of KKK-A” and asked God to “damn America.” Obama’s other America-hating associates include Weather Underground Pentagon bomber William Ayers and Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn.

The fact that Obama became president and brought openly Marxist people into his administration doesn’t say so much about him as it says about the effects of decades of brainwashing of the American people by the education establishment, media and the intellectual elite.

Actually, though we don’t disagree with the point Walter Williams is making, we think it does say quite as much about  Obama. He epitomizes the sort of America-hating ideologue that the decades of debauched education have bred.

How socialism will bring stagnation to the US 0

Hullo socialism, good-bye innovation. Socialism crushes inventiveness, as it purposefully does all private enterprise. Nothing new of any importance has come out of continental Europe since it turned socialist.

In Britain where the first Industrial Revolution took place, yes, there is still a remnant of the old inventive genius at work, though it’s slowly dying. Out of Britain has come one big new thing – the world-wide web, invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, blessings be upon him. (NOT by Al Gore, who claimed he invented it, but could not, we believe, invent a hand fan for a breeze.) 

To invent, men need not only their ideas but also a superfluity of time and money, even if they do it in their own garages as so many did in the Second Industrial Revolution in Silicone Valley. (I say men because women have invented sweet blow-all.) Free time and extra money, and the incentive of gaining great riches, are among the great benefits that only capitalism can bestow.  

Now that socialism is coming to the United States, incentive, opportunity and the urge to innovate will start to wither. Nationalized health care, for instance, will mean the stagnation of medical research. Will the billions needed to develop a new drug come from the state when the state is the only buyer?

The only sphere in which innovation has worked well under state control is the military. That was because American leaders have taken defense, the paramount responsibility of the state, very seriously. But now America has a president who believes that the nation is over armed – and should aim at totally giving up its nuclear defenses. Obama reckons, we are told, that if America castrates itself in this way, other nations will be so impressed by its ‘moral leadership’ that they too will give up the nuclear weapons they have, or the wish to obtain them. Either he really believes this sentimental hogwash or his motive is much darker and more sinister.

Michael Barone writes in Townhall:

Most people in the rest of the world are free riders on the productivity and ingenuity of the American military and American medicine. They get the benefits of American military protection and American medical innovation without paying, or without paying in full, for them. 

This has been the case all through the six decades after the Second World War. The American military has protected democracies from Communist expansion and today protects people all over the world from Islamist extremists. They get this service, if not free of charge, then at reduced rates. American taxpayers have been spending 4 percent of gross domestic product on our military and during the Cold War paid twice that share. NATO and most other allies spend significantly less.

American administrations of both parties have tried to get others to spend. But this is Sisyphus’s work. We are entitled to take pride in the fact that, in the spirit of “From those to whom much is given much is asked,” we are able to do so much for others.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration wants to do less. Defense has been scheduled for spending cuts. We are halting at lower than scheduled levels production of the F-22 fighter, whose brilliant advanced design is intended to assure American control of the skies for decades to come. The administration also seems to be scaling back missile defense, which could protect friends and allies from nuclear attack and over time might discourage nuclear proliferation…

We also may be at risk of squandering our high-tech advantage in medicine. As Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution points out, the top five American hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in all other developed countries. America has outpointed all other countries combined in Nobel Prizes for medical and physiology since 1970.

American theoretical health research financed by the National Institutes of Health and by American market-oriented pharmaceutical companies outshines the rest of the world combined. And the rest of the world tends to get the benefits at cut rates… 

Pharmaceutical companies that produce benefits for patients and consumers get the profits that support their research disproportionately from Americans, because other countries refuse to spend much more than the cost of producing pills, which is trivial next to the huge cost of research and regulatory approval. Getting these free riders to pay more is, again, Sisyphus’s work.

The Democratic health care bills threaten to undermine innovation in pharmaceuticals and medical technologies by sending those with private insurance into a government insurance plan that would be in a position to ration treatment and delay or squelch innovation. The danger is that we will freeze medicine in place and no longer be the nation that produces innovations that do so much for us and the rest of the world.