This post needs to begin with a very important observation: Since the end of WWII, and with increasing speed and force since the 1960s, Leftists parents and educators have encouraged young people to go into America’s institutions (most notably education and entertainment) to change those institutions — and change them they have. By contrast, conservatives today steer their children away from education and entertainment, for fear that those institutions will corrupt their children. Conservatives therefore tend to congregate in powerless ghettos, rather than doing what’s necessary to re-take the culture. I’m guilty of this myself, because I hate the thought of sending my children to an expensive Ivy League to learn Leftism, rather than sending them to a more affordable place where they might actually learn something.
Keep the above thought in mind as you read the following post about yet another highly visible Leftist inroad into education, one that sees the fruit of seeds planted forty years ago.
Owing to a Little Bookworm’s decent PSAT scores, our mailbox has been deluged with promotional materials from colleges all over America. They are remarkably generic, featuring pictures of beautiful campuses and good-looking, smiling, racially-diverse students. They all promise that students attending these collages are academically challenged and emerge, at the end of four years, as better people for the experience. More and more of them also include “fun” quizzes that ask the student to state “true” or “false” to sentences such as “I like to party all night long,” or to pick the best candidate from three sentences such as (i) “I like to party all night long,” (ii) “Reading is my only source of pleasure,” or (iii) “I like walks in the park.” In other words, they’re precisely the same tests that used to feature (and probably do still feature) in Cosmo or Glamour magazines, except without the focus on sex.
I hate these tests because they lack any nuance. For example, what does “party all night long” mean? Binge drinking? Group sex? Dancing? Talking with friends? Without that info, any answer one gives is useless and meaningless. Likewise, the fact that I used to love to dance all night long, that I live to read, and that I enjoy walks in the park means that, when I have to choose between three statements, there is no “best” answer. All three are true and, when I’m forced to pick one, I’m essentially lying to myself and the test giver by denying the other two.
When I saw the story about the Common Core political ideology survey currently handed out in Illinois public schools, I ended up being offended at two levels. First, Illinois being . . . well, Illinois, I think it’s reasonable to believe that parents who self-identify may well find that their child is either shunned, or penalized, or (worse) subject to an extra dose of Leftist propaganda to offset “dangerously” individualist parenting. And yes, perhaps one day the conservative parent may find social services standing on his doorstep telling him that the government is taking his child because it’s been determined that the home is an unsafe environment. Why unsafe? Because a conservative parent is presumptively a gun-shooting, child-beating, racism-ranting, government-hating fruit loop, that’s why.
Second, I find the quiz offensive because it’s both insanely and inanely stupid. As with all these true/false tests that do not revolve around provable factual details (a provable one would ask “True or false: The first President of the United States was Jerome Washington”), the questions are dreadful because they are invariably predicated on false premises:
Statement one: “The government should encourage rather than restrict prayer in public schools.”
To begin with, to which government does the question refer? It’s certainly an important distinction. As far as federal and state governments go, those governments should stay out of the matter entirely, neither encouraging nor banning. Both activities advance a religious viewpoint, whether Christian, Jewish, or Atheist. (And yes, atheism is a belief system, which makes it a religion. After all, atheists are evenbuilding churches now and demanding military chaplains.)
Once one gets to the municipal or school district levels, however, it seems to me that communities should be able to make those choices. It seemed that way to the Founders too, who applied the First Amendment only to the government, which was barred from imposing a federal religion on citizens, interfering with any faith’s doctrine (although it didn’t stop the feds from attacking Mormon polygamy in the 19th century), and banning practitioners of varying faiths from federal office. So, if I were taking that test, would I put a check mark in front of that statement?
Statement two: “The federal government has an obligation to regulate businesses in order to preserve the environment for future generations.”
Wow! That’s a loaded, stupid statement, one that combines the free market with Al Bore’s apocalyptic view of global warming. In fact, I do believe that the government can police the marketplace to some extent to punish fraud, usury, and other manifestly dishonest dealings.
I also believe that government is within its rights to impose reasonable controls on emissions. While I think anthropogenic global warming is hogwash, that doesn’t mean I approve of a factory dumping manifestly poisonous sludge into a community’s drinking water. That last sentence makes me sound as if I should support the anti-fracking movement, but I don’t. There’s no actual evidence that fracking poisons drinking water, while I distinctly remember from my childhood bodies of water near factories that were so poisonous nothing could live in or near them.
As in all things, there’s a rule of reason before you hit the downward slide to radicalism and sheer nonsense. So, if I were taking that test, would I put a check mark in front of that statement?