"On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed. Is not nationalism - that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder - one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?" This quote was posted on a 'progressive' website yesterday, telling the American people to not fly flags and participate in celebrating Independence Day. The author of the quote? Howard Zinn.
Lovely. A college professor and author of books used in today's high schools and colleges, he is the poster boy for a significant population of today's teaching pool. You can imagine my disgust as I read over my son's reading list for last year's U.S. History class and noticed Zinn's version of our country's history. No, I will not type out the name of the book. I won't acknowledge the title here. His was an advanced placement class so I don't know if it was also used for other history classes. The indoctrination process used on our students continues to reach into younger and younger age classes. This book was used in a Junior class in high school.
A level of anti-American opinion sentiment has creeped into today's institutions of learning that hopes to push an agenda of socialism and gone unchecked for a generation. We see what results this has reaped. I recently read an excellent article by William Bennett, a former Secretary of Education and author of American history books for children. He wrote of David McCullough's concern that today's students are performing worse in history testing results than math and reading. McCullough recently testified before the U.S. Senate two years ago on his concerns. The latest results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress released last month serve to further prove the validity of his concern. He used the term 'national amnesia' saying," Amnesia of society is just as detrimental as amnesia for the individual. We are running a terrible risk. Our very freedom depends on education, and we are failing our children in not providing that education."
Neither Bennett nor McCullough blame the students, but the educators, as it should be. The favored line of thought of the teaching elite is to preach the negative or the positive of American history. Instead of educating on the greatness of our country, the greatest story in modern civilization, teachers have chosen to focus on discouraging national pride.
Remember Civics class? When I was a student in junior high school, now known as middle school, we took a class in civics. We were taught about the working of our government. We learned how politicians were elected on local, state and federal levels. We learned how laws were made and the advantage of being the political party in power. We learned basic facts of American government. I think the current disgrace being passed off as history class is a direct result of the phasing out of Civics class. To this day I say it is my 'civic' duty to vote, to serve on a jury, as it was taught to me in that class.
In today's politically correct world. we hear of the focus of the negatives of the behavior of the founding fathers, slave owners, or the faults of Christopher Columbus or an out of focus history of our country's space program - President Kennedy's only shining achievement. Of the space program more weight is put on the Challenger disaster than on the actual landing on the moon.
All the trend to focus on the negative over the positive is also cheating the student. History is an interesting subject with the right teacher. National pride is a good thing. Patriotism is a good thing. I am embarrassed to say that my own generation, the baby boomers, have elevated shaming patriotism to an art form. It is a disgrace that flying a flag or voicing a love of country allows a citizen to be taunted as supporting imperialism or displaying arrogance.
I read a post on a blog a while back. The blogger is liberal and was telling of an encounter with a couple from Germany. They were in Florida on vacation and struck up a conversation with the blogger and her husband. The blogger proudly stated she and her husband both told the tourists that they do not support the foreign policy of this country. Why is that a source of proud boasting? Was she just looking for cred with the bashers? A pat on the back? The boasting seemed so nonsensical to me that it stays with me to this day. The irony is that the chancellor in power at the time who wanted to win re-election and turned on President Bush to do so was defeated and the current chancellor, a woman, is mostly in line with our foreign policy.
We are not a perfect nation. We are, however, "the last best hope of earth" as Abraham Lincoln said. As other countries criticize us and feign distrust and superiority, we continue to feed the hungry of developing countries, we defend countries under attack, we send money to keep programs afloat for medical aid or education. We are the country the rest of the world looks to for leadership. That is a proud fact.
Our country's history is the greatest political history ever told. I would be angry to leave school and begin the luxury of leisurely reading books on history to discover different versions of writings. An example Bennett gives is one that today's textbooks give chapters to the re-invention of government, as it was called under Clinton, but reduce the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 by Eisenhower to a blurb.
How could you go through the day yesterday and not be touched by the songs played, the fireworks in the sky, the telling of historical events? How hard and bitter a person must you be to let your own political poisons overshadow celebrating the independence of the greatest nation on earth? How can you not see the very fact that you are free to voice such opinions without fear of persecution as a reason to celebrate?
Today's students deserve better. They deserve to know it is desirable to know your country. Celebrate. Go to a parade, fly a flag, relish the televised ceremonies of new citizens taking the oath of allegiance to our country, acknowledge our accomplishments, honor those who came before us, ooh and aah over firework displays, read a book to a child that makes history come alive. Start a conversation. Tell children the military serves a useful and honorable purpose, bringing freedom to millions around the world.
Tell them to be proud.