Thursday, April 1, 2010

Non-Violent Civil War

Dennis Prager surveys the current cultural and political scene and concludes that we're in the midst of a non-violent civil war. This assessment shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who has been paying attention to the culture wars that've been raging in our society for the last thirty years.

What Prager says, and what many have been saying for decades now, is that the Left is at war with traditional America. Their values and ambitions are inimical to the principles upon which the country was founded and upon which five generations of Americans have been raised.

It's important to note that by the term "Left" Prager doesn't mean liberals:

Liberalism believed in American exceptionalism; the Left not only does not believe in it, but opposes it. (President Obama, when asked if he believes in American exceptionalism, replied, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.")

Liberalism believed in creating wealth; the Left is interested in redistributing it. Liberalism believed in a strong defense. The Left believes in cutting defense and relying on a strong United Nations.

How have we gotten to the point where those who want to fundamentally change the things that have made life in America so much better for so many people now have the power to do it? Perhaps it's largely because for too long too many of our citizens have taken little interest in matters beyond the scope of their own families, workplaces, and communities. The average American is woefully uninformed about the larger culture, particularly the political culture, and has failed and been failed in his education by both school and church.

Too many students graduate from high school, for example, with an understanding neither of the Constitution nor of American history. Too many Americans sit in pews every Sunday without ever hearing a sermon on the crucial importance of religion as a basis for moral virtue, or, for that matter, on the need for moral virtue in our personal and corporate lives. Instead, much of our understanding of matters both of faith and politics is left to be shaped by a mostly toxic and inane pop culture.

Too few Americans have ever read The Federalist Papers, Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Mill's On Liberty, Locke's Second Treatise on Government, or Smith's Wealth of Nations. Without at least a passing familiarity with works like these by men whose ideas informed the American experiment, it's hard for people to grasp how much different the Left's principles are from the principles of those who founded this country.

Too few Americans know even two or three of the amendments to the Constitution. Too few even care what they are or would be much concerned if they heard that they were all to be repealed tomorrow.

Our ignorance about how our nation came to be and how it works makes us vulnerable to the corrosive acids of a leftist ideology that abhors the very freedom that has made America a great nation and the hope of people all around the globe. Representative John Dingell gave us a peek into the leftist mindset the other day when he let slip that the goal of health care was to "control the people." Individual freedom is the furthest thing from the minds of too many of our political leaders. For such as Mr. Dingell the opportunity to govern is all about the power to control:

If the Left is successful in reducing this country to the status of, say, France or England the world will pay an awful price. There'll be no economic powerhouse to deliver to the world's destitute the food, medicine, and other charitable benefits they need to survive. There'll be no military strong enough to serve as a check on Islamic terror and expansion or to deter war in the Middle East or between India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, Turkey and Greece, or Russia and Europe. An economically enfeebled America would be a militarily crippled America and our weakness would invite chaos and bloodletting on a massive scale around the globe.

This is the direction the Left, under Obama, Pelosi and Reid, is taking us, whether purposely or not. Our national indebtedness will, in a decade or so, be so high, our government will be so top-heavy, that all our wealth will either be siphoned off to creditors like China, or sucked into the vast bureaucratic machinery of the social welfare state. There'll be little left over to spend on defense or charitable relief and little incentive for individuals to work hard and take risks.

Edmund Burke once said, "All that's necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." Perhaps the last year has roused Americans from their traditional torpor and inspired them to start caring. At least we can hope.


Jaime Escalante

Readers under the age of 25 might never have heard of Jaime Escalante, and even many over 25 probably never heard of him either. Even so, he was a role model for a generation of teachers who wanted to do everything they could to give their students the best education they could get.

There are teachers who just want to put in the time and collect a check. There are teachers who want to teach, but are unwilling to work much beyond what the contract calls for, and then there are teachers like Escalante who view teaching much like most coaches view coaching. He was ready and willing to put in whatever time and effort were needed to win, and it paid off. Escalante was an immigrant from Bolivia who struggled with English. He taught math in inner city L.A., and through sheer hard work, determination and personality brought many of his students to a point where they were passing the AP calculus exam as a matter of course. His was a wonderful, moving story made into a movie in 1988 starring Edward James Olmos and titled Stand and Deliver.

If you're planning to be a teacher or if you just want to be inspired by what one man can accomplish when he's determined to achieve, rent Stand and Deliver.

Jaime Escalante died Tuesday in his native Bolivia at the age of 79.


Tipping Point

I understand Rep. Hank Johnson is not a well man, infected as he is with hepatitis C. This is tragic, of course, but it doesn't make it any the less embarrassing that this fellow is a United States Congressman. In this video clip from last week he expresses his concern that putting too many military personnel on Guam might cause it, being a small island, to tip over in the ocean. I know you don't believe that he really said that so watch the video:

Reflect now upon the fact that the honorable gentleman from Georgia is also an enthusiastic supporter of health care reform. Yikes.

Seriously, whether Rep. Johnson's fears about Guam capsizing are a result of the effects of his illness (though I don't know how hepatitis would addle one's brain) or whether he's simply simple-minded, we should have compassion for him, but compassion surely does not extend to allowing Mr. Johnson to have a say in formulating the policies by which the rest of us must be governed.