Saturday, May 12, 2007

Socialism in the Classroom

One has to be careful when discussing socialism in this country. My junior high and high school years encompassed the 70's (the Nixon years... I bailed in time to vote against Jimmy Carter). A more permissive — some called it "progressive" (a term I've come to hate over time) — attitude was seen in local education. Hippies, or hippie-wannabes, were becoming teachers and trying hard to push the socialist agenda into the classroom. I was therefore duly indoctrinated by history teachers, debate coaches, drama and music teachers, and even one health teacher who had this terrific lesson about influenza involving a long rubber worm and his nose (grossed the girls out, but the guys loved it).

This "indoctrination" typically involved demonstrating that social justice meant a complete ideological levelling of the playing field. They much preferred the term "socialism" to "communism" because it sounded softer; somehow more palatable. "Communists" were the avowed bad guys in those days. When the mysoginistic McCarthy days had finally blown over, most folks at least agreed that the Soviet brand of communism was indeed the evil that our leaders had always claimed it was. Only hard-core leftist-Marxists found anything good to say about the communist system, and we were still able, even in 1974, to dismiss them as lunatics.

Socialism, on the other hand, was being preached to our impressionable minds as the "soft" alternative to communism. No need to hand totalitarian control over to a communist dictator, they said, so long as we make sure the needs of the "people" come first. A country as rich as the United States surely must be able to give (emphasis on "give") everyone everything they need (read: "want") so that no one is lacking.

As a youngster, I have to admit that sounded pretty good. I mean, if someone in my neighborhood is out of work, we should give them some money to help them. Maybe even give them some food. You know, just until they get back on their feet.

Then Dad explained to me what a "welfare state" was all about.

Dad used to like to take me on walks around the block. I generally enjoyed these opportunities, because Dad was not an overtly affectionate chap. He taught me some great lessons about life on those walks because Dad, it turned out, was a teacher at heart.

Just down the street lived a Latino family. Dad had to phrase his statements to me carefully so as not to prejudice me against Latinos, but rather to make me aware that there were always people willing to "game the system." This family was what Dad referred to as a "professional welfare family." The father had not worked a day in years. The mother and one or two of the older siblings apparently had jobs, but not full-time jobs. At least, not based on how frequently they seemed to be home during the work week. What they had, though, were vehicles. At least seven at one count. Three of them were trucks, including one huge International of the type that eventually became known as SUVs. They were either new or close to new. One of the teenage boys sported a rather classic Chevy Vega that was heavily modified and on which he was constantly working. This family was forever going camping.

Since the father was constantly working on one or more of his seven vehicles, it was hard to determine just what, exactly, his disability was that prevented him from working. Eventually, of course, they sold their house and retired. Based on how long they were there, and knowing how property values increased during that time, I'm guessing he made enough on balance to pay cash for a new home in almost any location other than Southern California.

Lest we somehow overreact to this story, let me quickly point out that they were not the only welfare cheats with which I was familiar. Sometime later I became acquainted with a family in our church that moved into the area and immediately required assistance. This is not altogether that unusual. Our neighborhood was one of the older ones in Simi Valley, and less affluent families came and went. Dad was Elders Quorum president at the time, and he was involved initially in helping them get assistance from the church. Latter-day Saints have probably the most exemplary welfare program in the nation as it provides assistance, yet encourages the recipient to become self-sufficient as soon as possible. This family, though, was unique. This family kept receiving assistance for as long as they could convince the Bishop they needed it. Finally, when the Bishop began asking harder questions about why this gentleman was not actively seeking work, the family moved once again. Professional LDS welfare families. Never knew they existed. I doubt whether they stayed in any ward longer than six months.

The Latter-day Saint theology includes something called the United Order. On its surface it actually sounds socialist, but with one very important distinction. Socialism is simply that: a social order. It attempts to tear down class distinctions (albeit in completely the wrong way) and is more politically motivated. The United Order makes all things in common, but requires the absolute faith of the participants in order to be successful. The early Saints tried and failed; petty jealousies and greed caused the Lord to retract the United Order until such time as the Saints demonstrate their willingness to live it properly. The distinction between the United Order and socialism, then, is spiritual. As with all aspects of the Gospel, everything has its counterfeit. In this case, socialism is a worldly counterfeit for the United Order. Socialism fails because it lacks a spiritual foundation. It attempts to make things common without appreciating the commonality. It forces the commonality, if you will. The United Order, on the other hand, is voluntary. It requires faith in the Gospel. It focuses our minds and hearts on acheiving the same spiritual goals.

Socialism, as defined by its promoters, is also counterfeit to the Constitution of the United States, a document which has not yet outlived its usefulness. In the Constitution the framers remind us that we are entitled by right to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness. It also specifies how liberty is maintained. Freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights are frequently misinterpreted as meaning that we are free to act without consequence, or that we can somehow force one ideology over another simply because it uses words like "social justice."

Those who tout socialism as a great leveller choose not to mention the fact that one of our most basic freedoms — freedom to worship as we may choose — would be quashed by the constant indoctrination of people against the very tenets of that worship. In other words, religion becomes anaethemic to the practice of socialism, because religion tends to temper the anger and sense of complete injustice required to make socialism necessary to begin with. Human suffering should be dealt with by caring neighbors who give willingly and encourage the sufferer to return to a productive way of life. Religion in its purest form would enable this. Socialism would enforce this. Socialism can only succeed when it is legislated and becomes the law of the land. Every law passed that supports a socialist agenda only serves to weaken the Constitution that made such things possible in the first place.

This very long-winded sermon was made necessary (in my mind, at least) by knowledge of a movement afoot in public education today. A group calling themselves Radical Math tout something they call "Social Justice in the Math Classroom." They have just recently wrapped up a conference, attended by roughly 500 educators in New York City, who learned the many different ways to teach "social justice" at the same time they're supposed to be teaching times tables and algebraic reasoning. The "Welcome Message" in the conference program reads:
There is no such thing as a neutral education process.
Education either functions as an instrument which is
used to . . . bring about conformity, or it becomes the
practice of freedom, the means by which men and women
deal critically and creatively with reality and discover
how to participate in the transformation of our world.”
- Paulo Freire (emphasis theirs)
Socialism is the agenda here. Entitlement is the religion. Civil rights leaders become the gods. The altars are built upon intolerance of those who disagree with their perspectives.

If there is a true separation of church and state, this sort of thing should never be allowed in a public classroom. It is instead encouraged by the leaders of those schools.

Reason #247 why we homeschool.

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