Some have said that we are living in a post-industrial era, while others have said that we are living in a post-racial era. But growing evidence suggests that we are living in a post-thinking era.
Many people in Europe and the Western Hemisphere are staging angry protests against Israel’s military action in Gaza. One of the talking points against Israel is that far more Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli military attacks than the number of Israeli civilians killed by the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel that started this latest military conflict.
Are these protesters aware that vastly more German civilians were killed by American bombers attacking Nazi Germany during World War II than American civilians killed in the United States by Hitler’s forces?
Talk-show host Geraldo Rivera says that there is no way Israel is winning the battle for world opinion. But Israel is trying to win the battle for survival, while surrounded by enemies. Might that not be more important?
Has any other country, in any other war, been expected to keep the enemy’s civilian casualties no higher than its own civilian casualties? The idea that Israel should do so did not originate among the masses but among the educated intelligentsia.
In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.
Many years ago, as a young man, I read a very interesting book about the rise of the Communists to power in China. In the last chapter, the author tried to explain why and how this had happened.
Among the factors he cited were the country’s educators. That struck me as odd, and not very plausible, at the time. But the passing years have made that seem less and less odd, and more and more plausible. Today, I see our own educators playing a similar role in creating a mindset that undermines American society.
Schools were once thought of as places where a society’s knowledge and experience were passed on to the younger generation. But, about a hundred years ago, Professor John Dewey of Columbia University came up with a very different conception of education — one that has spread through American schools of education, and even influenced education in countries overseas.
John Dewey saw the role of the teacher, not as a transmitter of a society’s culture to the young, but as an agent of change — someone strategically placed, with an opportunity to condition students to want a different kind of society.
A century later, we are seeing schools across America indoctrinating students to believe in all sorts of politically correct notions. The history that is taught in too many of our schools is a history that emphasizes everything that has gone bad, or can be made to look bad, in America — and that gives little, if any, attention to the great achievements of this country.
If you think that is an exaggeration, get a copy of “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn and read it. As someone who used to read translations of official Communist newspapers in the days of the Soviet Union, I know that those papers’ attempts to degrade the United States did not sink quite as low as Howard Zinn’s book.
That book has sold millions of copies, poisoning the minds of millions of students in schools and colleges against their own country. But this book is one of many things that enable teachers to think of themselves as “agents of change,” without having the slightest accountability for whether that change turns out to be for the better or for the worse — or, indeed, utterly catastrophic.
This misuse of schools to undermine one’s own society is not something confined to the United States or even to our own time. It is common in Western countries for educators, the media and the intelligentsia in general, to single out Western civilization for special condemnation for sins that have been common to the human race, in all parts of the world, for thousands of years.
Meanwhile, all sorts of fictitious virtues are attributed to non-Western societies, and their worst crimes are often passed over in silence, or at least shrugged off by saying some such thing as “Who are we to judge?”
The politics of personal distraction. This is mostly what the opponents of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are using to try and trash him personally to the voters. The facts are that when he was in office he was able to carry out most of his promises and the Contract With America in spite of Democrat and media opposition. After he left office the GOP lost their way and became Democrats lite in too many policy areas.
If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.
What the media call Gingrich’s “baggage” concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months.
But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?
This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama’s broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election:
“We are going to change the United States of America.”
Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.
Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.
Against this background, how much does Gingrich’s personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics’ claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.
Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock — and he publicly admitted it — the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.
Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.
[Flashback February 2011: There was a glimmer of a recovery but now it seems that what we saw back in February was just inventory restocking. Time has demonstrated Dr. Sowell’s warning as he was not optimistic in this video when “economists” the elite media talked to were “surprised” by the monthly bad economic news. They were surprised every month for two and a half years.]
The video is of Dr. Thomas Sowell who is likely the greatest and most published economist alive. He is a free market guy so that is why many college students may not have heard of him. The use of Dr. Sowell’s materials is virtually banned at some universities such as Indiana University at South Bend. The left, as well as the IU administration, is very hostile to Dr. Sowell because he is a black economist who believes in and understands the free market.
Dr. Sowell appeared on Wednesday night’s “The Kudlow Report,” on CNBC to promote his book, “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to Economics.” Host Larry Kudlow asked Sowell about the current outlook and his long-term predictions for the economic system as a whole in the United States. The senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution replied that politics plays into the answer.
I have never seen Dr. Sowell so concerned. As some economists have said, this recession is different. Combine that with the fact that government has so effectively chased wealth out of the country and undermined economic confidence that unless we change government culture permanently and do it soon the United States may be done as an economic super power.
Dr. Sowell describes the critical differences between interests and visions. Interests, he says, are articulated by people who know what their interests are and what they want to do about them. Visions, however, are the implicit assumptions by which people operate. In politics, visions are either constrained or unconstrained. A closer look at the statements of both McCain and Obama reveals which vision motivates their policy positions, particularly as they pertain to the war, the law, and economics.
This is also a great exploration of the difference between constrained realists and unconstrained visionaries, traditionalists vs. central planners, the empirical world vs. the normative.
One of the sad and dangerous signs of our times is how many people are enthralled by words, without bothering to look at the realities behind those words.
One of those words that many people seldom look behind is “education.” But education can cover anything from courses on nuclear physics to courses on baton twirling.
Unfortunately, an increasing proportion of American education, whether in the schools or in the colleges and universities, is closer to the baton twirling end of the spectrum than toward the nuclear physics end. Even reputable colleges are increasingly teaching things that students should have learned in high school.
We don’t have a backlog of serious students trying to take serious courses. If you look at the fields in which American students specialize in colleges and universities, those fields are heavily weighted toward the soft end of the spectrum.
When it comes to postgraduate study in tough fields like math and science, you often find foreign students at American universities receiving more of such degrees than do Americans.
A recent headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education said: “Master’s in English: Will Mow Lawns.” It featured a man with that degree who has gone into the landscaping business because there is no great demand for people with Master’s degrees in English.
Too many of the people coming out of even our most prestigious academic institutions graduate with neither the skills to be economically productive nor the intellectual development to make them discerning citizens and voters.
Students can graduate from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, without ever learning anything about science, mathematics, economics or anything else that would make them either a productive contributor to the economy or an informed voter who can see through political rhetoric.
On the contrary, people with such “education” are often more susceptible to demagoguery than the population at large. Nor is this a situation peculiar to America. In countries around the world, people with degrees in soft subjects have been sources of political unrest, instability and even mass violence.
Nor is this a new phenomenon. A scholarly history of 19th century Prague referred to “the well-educated but underemployed” Czech young men who promoted ethnic polarization there– a polarization that not only continued, but escalated, in the 20th century to produce bitter tragedies for both Czechs and Germans.
In other central European countries, between the two World Wars a rising class of newly educated young people bitterly resented having to compete with better qualified Jews in the universities and with Jews already established in business and the professions. Anti-Semitic policies and violence were the result.
It was much the same story in Asia, where successful minorities like the Chinese in Malaysia were resented by newly educated Malays without either the educational or business skills to compete with them. These Malaysians demanded– and got– heavily discriminatory laws and policies against the Chinese.
Similar situations developed at various times in Nigeria, Romania, Sri Lanka, Hungary and India, among other places.
Many Third World countries have turned out so many people with diplomas, but without meaningful skills, that “the educated unemployed” became a cliche among people who study such countries. This has not only become a personal problem for those individuals who have been educated, or half-educated, without acquiring any ability to fulfill their rising expectations, it has become a major economic and political problem for these countries.
Such people have proven to be ideal targets for demagogues promoting polarization and strife. We in the United States are still in the early stages of that process. But you need only visit campuses where whole departments feature soft courses preaching a sense of victimhood and resentment, and see the consequences in racial and ethnic polarization on campus.
There are too many other soft courses that allow students to spend years in college without becoming educated in any real sense.
We don’t need more government “investment” to produce more of such “education.” Lofty words like “investment” should not blind us to the ugly reality of political porkbarrel spending.
“If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” – Malcolm X