Feb 13, 2010

Ideological Indoctrination

The textbook used for my political science class - Introduction to American Government - is Keeping the Republic, 3rd Brief Edition written by Christine Barbour and Gerald C. Wright. For verification purposes, here's a link to it's listing on Amazon.com. I'm simply going to post verbatim some of what the authors are telling their readers. I'll post my own comments as well.

In the introduction to chapter 2 of the book, the authors spend a couple paragraphs discussing Timothy McVeigh and the terrorist act that he committed. Following that, the authors write:

McVeigh's claim to be protecting the U.S. Constitution against the U.S. government itself puts him in the company of thousands of American militia members, everyday men and women who say that they are the ideological heirs of the American Revolution ... Today's so-called Patriot groups claim that the federal government has become as tyrannical as the British government ever was, that it deprives citizens of their liberty and over-regulates their everyday lives (Barbour Pg. 41).

Sound familiar, friends? There's more.

They go so far as to claim that federal authority is illegitimate. Militia members reject a variety of federal laws, from those limiting the weapons that individual citizens can own, to those imposing taxes on income, to those requiring the registration of motor vehicles. They maintain that government should stay out of individual lives, providing security at the national level perhaps, but allowing citizens to regulate and protect their own lives. Some militias go even further. Many militia members are convinced, for instance, that the United Nations is seeking to take over the United States (and that the top U.S. officials are letting this happen)(Barbour p. 41). - emphasis mine.

As can be seen, if you feel that the government is huge, that it is illegally regulating intimate aspects of private citizens' lives, that it should only provide protection, and that the United Nations is a corrupt organization bent on the "New World Order," and that our leaders have not been preventing this (NAFTA, Global Warming, etc), then you are part of a militia. That's right, fellow Tea Party compatriots, this book is talking about you.

The book then focuses on the early history of the United States:

Schoolchildren in the United States have had the story of the American founding pounded into their heads. From the moment they start coloring grateful Pilgrims and cutting out construction paper turkeys in grade school, the founding is a recurring focus of their education, and with good reason. Democrat societies...rely on the consent of their citizens to maintain lawful behavior and public order. A commitment to the rules and goals of the American system requires that we feel good about that system. What better way to stir up good feelings and patriotism than by recounting thrilling stories of bravery and derring-do on the part of selfless heroes dedicated to the cause of American liberty?

The history of the American founding has been told from many points of view. You are probably most familiar with this account: The early colonists escaped to America to avoid religious persecution in Europe. Having arrived on the shores of the New World, they built communities that allowed them to practice their religions in peace and govern themselves as free people. When the tyrannical British king made unreasonable demands on the colonists, they had no choice but to protect their liberty by going to war and by establishing a new government of their own.

But sound historical evidence suggests that the story is more complicated...After much struggle among themselves, the majority of Americans decided that those agendas could be better and more profitable carried out if they broke their ties with England (Barbour pg. 42,43). Emphasis mine.

This is indoctrination, pure and simple. Instead, let the facts speak for themselves. One must simply read the Declaration of Independence to see the truth as to why our Founding Fathers chose independence. Among some of the reasons listed:

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
The "He" referred to in the Declaration is the King of England. What I have listed above is only a smattering of the reasons our founders gave. Yet it is quite plain to see that the founders were concerned with their liberties, not with certain "agendas." To say otherwise is to re-write history in the shadow of ideologies that deserve to remain within the darkness from which it sprouts.

The book continues on within chapter 2 describing the "evolution" of the U.S. Constitution. It brings to light the Articles of Confederation which is described as: our first constitution, created the kind of government the founders...preferred. The rules...shows the states' jealousy of their power (Barbour pg. 50). Emphasis mine

The description continues with how the states placed an emphasis on retaining their own powers by not relinquishing it to a higher authority. A negative emphasis is placed upon that stance while also pointing out the true facts that there were problems with the original documents. However, the text diverges into a "blame game" where the rich were ultimately responsible for the issues the nation was facing at the time.

The radical poverty of some Americans seemed particularly unjust to those hardest hit, especially in the light of the rhetoric of the Revolution about equality for all (Barbour pg. 51).

The writers obvious intent is to show that there was an extreme imbalance concerning wealth which was unconnected to the claims of those who advocated for a revolution. Notice the strong emphasis on the descriptives "radical poverty" and "rhetoric." While there was indeed injustice under the Articles of Confederation which lead to Shay's Rebellion, things were not as dire as described by the authors.

Keeping the Republic then gives a brief summary of the debates leading to the writing of the Constitution. It mentions the Virginia Plan (stating a preference for large, more prosperous states) and the New Jersey Plan (described as a reinforcement, not a replacement of the Articles of Confederation). Once again, the wording reveals the ideology of the text book's authors.

It then goes on to give a brief description of the Constitution - the articles, what powers they grant, etc. While describing powers granted, the authors delve into how the Constitution can be amended. They state, and I quote:

amendability - that is, the fact that founders provided for a method of amendment, or change, that allows the Constitution to grow and adapt to new circumstances. In fact, they provided for two methods: the formal amendment process outlined in the Constitution, and an informal process that results from the vagueness of the document and the evolution of the role of the courts (Barbour pg. 63, 64).

Notice something here? This is the liberal ideology which states that the United States Constitution is a "living document," and as such can be interpreted differently over time. In fact, there is only one way for the Constitution to be changed, and that is through an act of Congress. Activist judges such as we have today are violating the Constitution by applying their personal spin while "interpreting." Yet judges are not the only ones at fault for this. A very recent example can be given in relation to the health care debates.

In October of 2009, a reporter from CNS asked Pelosi where the Constitution authorizes government to force citizens to purchase health insurance. Her response was, "Are you serious? Are you serious?" The article goes on to state: Pelosi's press secretary later responded to written follow-up questions from CNSNews.com by emailing CNSNews.com a press release on the “Constitutionality of Health Insurance Reform,” that argues that Congress derives the authority to mandate that people purchase health insurance from its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

This is a prime example of what happens when people "interpret" the Constitution as a "living document." In addition to effectively proclaiming the Constitution as a changing document, the authors also give validity to the courts in creating law.

Naturally, by establishing how a given law is to be understood, the courts (the agents of judicial power) end up making law as well. Our constitutional provisions for the establishment of the judiciary are brief and vague (Barbour pg. 60).

As can be seen, a particular ideology is taught to university students to view those who oppose government control over their lives as wrong (referencing McVeigh), that the history "pounded into our children" is wrong, a "jealous view" of states rights is extreme, the rich have always oppressed the poor, that the Constitution is a vague document open to interpretation, and that judges have the right to create laws.

*Special thanks to a reader who's volunteered to be my editor. Kuddos to you!

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