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Posted by Henry Meyerding on Dec 24, 2011 - 2:47:20 PM
LOS ANGELES—“Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction.” - Adolf Hitler Education is a potent force in the indoctrination of the youth of any nation and a major player in what people will do and think in the years to come.
As such, it is something about which people of strong opinions feel strongly. Education is a tool. It can be used to foment change or it can be used to fight change. In school boards all around the nation, angry voices are being raised about a number of divisive issues. Angry voices are raised and threats are being exchanged. Different people of differing opinions make dire predictions about outcomes of too much change or of not enough change. Everyone is firmly convinced of the fact that their opinion is best for the children and that anyone of any contrary opinion must not give a damn, or is trying to take advantage of, or indoctrinate, our nation’s youth. What is most interesting is that the majority of these issues boil down to differences of opinion over religious dogma and morality. Take for example some of the most hotly contested opinions and you can see that their supporters and detractors generally shake out according to religious affiliation:
Sin / Evil
Just Plain Fact
So, do we have a problem with education or do we have a problem with politicized religion? Is the problem here that some religious leaders have, for a variety of reasons, incited their congregations to activism in support of radical opinions not supported by an overwhelming majority of people? Our nation’s founders stipulated the separation of church from state precisely to keep the state from imposing the opinions of any minority upon the whole nation. When one hears terms like “homosexual propaganda” bandied about in the national press, I always wonder whether it isn’t the proponents of “Christian propaganda” who are responsible for originating the story. It is the nation’s churches that are trying to foist their political convictions on the nation and the world, not gay people.
There is no “Gay Agenda” from the liberal left. There is a very human agenda from the liberal left. It says that it is wrong to discriminate or harm anyone, without distinction. Bullying is wrong. Violence is wrong. Favoring this person unfairly over that person is wrong and it doesn’t matter why you’re favoring unfairly. The problem with dogma and morality is that it suggests that there are justifications for doing these things. Gay people who are bullied deserve it, because these victims of bullying are choosing to sin. It is really sad. It is also quite hilarious to think that the Jesus who said all the stuff about “let he who is without sin...” and “love one another” would condone and support continued hate crimes. If you believe in a devil, surely he ought to be laughing at this. The world is a much more complex place than the moral right would have you believe and what happens in education is not the simple process they would have you believe it to be. They also take an argument and stretch it all out of shape. For example, when they talk about protecting children from “dangerous” ideas. Well, I think just about everyone wants to protect very small children from disturbing or dangerous things. Early childhood is a very special time and we, as parents and citizens, should protect the very young. But by the time a person gets to be 15-18, they should be able to experience, evaluate and judge for themselves in the majority of cases. Showing someone who is 17 a sex video that talks about sex as it actually is will not damage anyone. I am not talking about graphic, hard-core sex. I am talking about telling them that people come in a variety of sexual orientations and that everyone must figure out who and what they are for themselves, that this is not always easy, and that no one has a right to impose their decisions or conclusions on anyone else. Teaching people that everyone is a person, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or any other reason and that all people have certain inalienable rights should not be controversial. It is teaching people precisely what the founding men and women of America believed in. These are ideas that I was taught in school and which formed the backbone of the American experience. Guess that was the way I was indoctrinated. There’s also a considerable body of opinion in favor of doing away with universal education as we know it and replacing it with some kind of private or pay-as-you-go system. This seems to me an utter insanity. We already have a whole generation of people reeling under the weight of more than a trillion dollars of student debt. What possible good could come of making that even worse? It is difficult enough to get an education today as it is. Many other nations are doing a much better job of educating their youth and this will make a big difference to this nation in the coming years of global competition. So, faced with angry parents and confused children, what can we do?
Well, for a start, we can support our school boards in not caving in to special interest groups - especially radical religious zealots who want to reformat our educational system to fit their narrow world view. It doesn’t much matter which religion - I’m just as much against radical Islam, radical Judaism, fundamentalist Christianity, or Scientology running our schools according to their professed beliefs. What we need is moderate, un-hysterical leadership in education that makes outcome-based decisions that take into account the needs of the students, the needs of the nation, the needs of the teachers and the needs of the parents. This is a tough balancing act at the best of times, but in today’s high-volume shout-fest world of disaster politicking, achieving a good balance will be nothing short of a miracle.
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