If you are a conservative parent who doesn’t realize that your offspring are subject to a rigorous brainwashing in their local public school, then you are not paying attention. In all red electoral districts and in a surprising number of blue ones, the cultural, political and economic education imparted to the school children is biased sharply to the left. Just to give a few examples, the children are taught that:
- American culture is no more worthy than any other culture. In fact, it has some serious shortcomings in that it is responsible for the nation’s historic maltreatment of women, blacks, Japanese Americans, Native Americans, gays and – for too much of our history – anyone who didn’t fall into the WASP category. The emphasis is on the grievous historic record, not the great progress that has been made in addressing these issues. Moreover, little, if any, mention is made of American Exceptionalism and America’s role as a beacon of freedom to the world. Nor is it emphasized that the US saved the world from totalitarianism twice in the twentieth century.
- America’s ruggedly individualistic, capitalist economic system has resulted in greed, corruption, discrimination against the poor and excessive wealth to those who navigate the system successfully, even if not legitimately. The advancing welfare state is absolutely essential to check the excesses of the so-called free market system.
- The destruction of the planet caused by the wantonly excessive abuses of American industry must be arrested. The health of our environment is the most serious problem facing the nation and extreme measures – even if they impinge on the individual rights of the people – are required to return the environment to good health and keep it that way.
Conservatives have been aware of this calamitous situation for some time – although too many do very little about it because of insufficient funds, time or appreciation for how bad it is. But here is a perhaps surprising revelation: liberal brainwashing in public schools has been going on for a very long time. My K-12 education took place between 1948 and 1960; and it took me until nearly twenty years after my high school graduation to understand the perfidious nature of the brainwashing to which I was subjected as a youth. Once again, here are some of the most egregious examples:
- FDR’s New Deal saved the nation from the Great Depression, a falsity that has been completely debunked in Amity Shlaes’ book, The Forgotten Man.
- Communism, like representative democracy, was a legitimate form of government. The people of the Soviet Union were entitled to choose their own system; which, in many ways, was a worthy competitor and in some areas performed better than our system.
- Virtually all southerners were unrepentant bigots; moreover, (without noting that they were all Democrats) the congressmen from the South were the greatest impediment to racial progress in the United States.
I went to school in New York City. Most of my classmates were drawn from one of several ethnic communities that populated the Bronx in 1955: Jews, Italians and Irish. We came from upwardly mobile, lower middle class homes in which our moms were homemakers and our dads were laborers, small business owners, government clerks or service industry employees. Our parents’ politics were mid-twentieth century liberal and so they saw nothing amiss in what was largely a biased education – although they did not recognize it as such.
I have maintained contact with a fair number of my schoolmates over the last 60 years. A few, like me, have come to understand the nature of our childhood school curriculum and have rejected it for the ideological hogwash that it was. Those people are now early twenty-first century conservatives – tea party patriots in many instances, but at the least, GOP voters who believe that our increasingly collectivist, big-government society is destroying the country as they remember it existed in 1950. Well, they often ignore the fact that even during the first half of the twentieth century, America had already started down the statist road – but that is another story.
Now here is the kicker. A substantial majority of my classmates never saw the light. They have remained reliable liberals all their lives. They voted for Obama; think that the “rich” don’t pay their fair share; believe that behind closed doors, most white men do not think of women, minorities, gays or illegal immigrants as their equals; and are confident that all major problems in US society should be addressed by the government. They see nothing biased in the education they (and their children) received, nor in the one their grandchildren are now experiencing. It drives me crazy.
Moreover, it leads to a fundamental question. What happened to me, and to the few classmates who think like me, that did not happen to the larger group who are content that the ship of state consistently tacks to port? Indeed, they don’t even see the port side; they think the ship is on an even keel and people like me are trying to drown everyone by tipping the vessel over on the starboard side. What happened to me that did not happen to them?
I have put this question to conservative comrades and here are the most common responses:
- A traumatic event. It could be a mugging, say by an illegal alien. Or a bare knuckles audit by the IRS. Perhaps, because of affirmative action, an unqualified competitor got a job that you coveted. Or your property or business was seized by the government because you inadvertently killed a snail darter. Or perhaps, like me, your kindergarten child was subjected to forced bussing to an inferior school in a rotten neighborhood. You suddenly realize that the government is not your protector, but actually your oppressor. And so you re-examine all the political axioms that heretofore governed your life. And you realize that they were all wrong.
- Small business owner. You own and run your own business, or equivalently perhaps you are a mid-to-upper-level manager in a medium to large sized firm. Government rules and regulations are impinging on your business decisions, cutting into your profits and constricting your market. You feel like the government is your unwanted partner. As in #1 above, you come to realize that the government is tormenting you, not creating the level playing field on which you can compete fairly. Again, the political and economic axioms are examined and found wanting.
- Selected professions. You are a doctor, farmer, real estate developer or some such profession in which it is impossible to avoid the deleterious effects of unwarranted government intrusion. Your thinking evolves as in the previous two groups.
- Independent thinker. There is no natural work or neighborhood or environmental condition that puts you in conflict with the government. You are simply a self-confident person who can objectively assess your surroundings and think for yourself. You come to see how reality dos not match the liberal prescriptions that you were fed in school. You pick up Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. You see the light.
Who are the folks who have not passed through one of the above four portals? Well most are: office grunts, government workers, union types, government contractors and others for whom reliance on the government for jobs, assistance or protection is of paramount importance. Others include various professional types – for example, lawyers, media personnel, educators – who are so co-opted by or invested in big government that they welcome the statist agenda. Finally, there are those for whom the brainwashing was so effective that it never occurs to them that this is not the way America was or is supposed to be. Alas, all together, the number who don’t go through one of the four portals probably exceeds the number that has.
What lesson should we take away from this? The America established by our Founders assumed that most people valued their liberty above all else. People were expected to be independent, resourceful, responsible, religious, fair-minded and proud of their heritage. For the most part, the folks who fall in one of the four categories that account for a conservative outlook are such people. Too many of those in the categories that afford continued liberalism do not. And as I have remarked, there are apparently more of the latter than the former. So if you want to rescue your grandchildren from the brainwashing to which they are being subjected, you’ll have to guide them through a portal. Here are some tips for doing so:
- pay for tuition for them at a private school;;
- pay for church or synagogue dues for them and their parents;
- see if you can make any headway with their parents; for example, give them a copy of Hayek’s book and discuss it with them;
- gently challenge the grandkids when they reflexively spout the leftist nonsense that they learn in school.
Unless those of us who have passed through one of the portals can begin to cull large numbers from the herd who haven’t, the Constitutional Republic that America has been will be doomed.
This essay also appeared in Canada Free Press.