Sunday, July 22, 2018

July 22, 2018

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Public Education, Ben Shapiro, and the Trojan Horse in Our Culture


I offer today my most recent published essay appearing at THE UNZ REVIEW (July 22, 2018): 

Public Education, Ben Shapiro, and the Trojan Horse in Our Culture
Perhaps the most successful myth that has been foisted off on a gullible American citizenry is that the education of our children, from kindergarten through high school, is the responsibility of the government. And implicit in that assumption is that the natural rights and duties of the family over the education of its offspring must in nearly all situations take a back seat, must be diminished and not interfere with the prior and dominant role of the state.
By and large, since the mid–20th century this assumption has been considered undebatable truth. No one, not even the most resolute conservatives, will question its basic veracity and the resulting need to continue funding, to shower with taxpayer dollars what has become the most expansive and most successful conquest of the revolutionary managerial state in its advance to complete control over our society.

True, illegal immigration may eventually change the cultural and ethnic make-up of America, and, yes, our overextension in foreign military adventures may get us into unwinnable wars and eventually wreck our economy. But none of that would be possible or successful without the operation of the government-run “public education system” and the ideological indoctrination that the system has progressively engineered over the past century.

That is not to say, certainly, that there haven’t been dedicated teachers or that there haven’t been selfless and dedicated educators and administrators who really did concern themselves with the proper education of our young. My mother was a public school teacher during the 1930s (a graduate of North Carolina State University) who actually went back in the 1960s when I was in high school to get a Master’s degree in reading and teach several additional years. Like thousands of other dedicated teachers, she was no apparatchik or agent of the managerial state, she was not a revolutionary seeking to indoctrinate her students and “free them from the tyranny of racism, sexism, and the traditional family.” She believed in imparting the essentials of those subjects—reading, good writing, simple arithmetic, history, and logic—the teaching of which she understood came to her as a concession from parents. So thought most of my teachers both in grammar and high school, as I suspect believed many, if not most of the teachers half a century ago.

But that, you see, is the problem. Our public education system contained in its very foundation certain principles which would eventually bring it to where it is now. If back when my mother was teaching, the idea that schools were an extension of the family was still held to be true, the ineluctable basis of state/government control was nevertheless implicit…and ever expanding in scope and authority.

How many American citizens would—today—suggest that our public schools are “an extension of the family,” much less really believe that?

Our public education system has, without doubt, become increasingly the major vehicle, the major crucible, for the creation of progressivist revolution—whether it be the very public actions, for example, of those frenzied and unhinged students in Broward County, Florida, reacting (on gun control) after a mass school shooting, or less visibly, the multifaceted efforts at “socialization” of students regarding racism and gender. After all, those rabidly radical college students at Berkeley and other major universities did not just arrive tabula rasa—they were carefully groomed and prepared before college, in our primary and high schools.

In several published articles I have cited and quoted the post-War Between the States Southern writer and philosopher Robert Lewis Dabney [e.g., “Robert Lewis Dabney and His Attack on Progressivism,” The Unz Review, October 9, 2014, , in his famous debate with Virginia’s first Superintendent of Public Instruction William Ruffner in the 1870s. Dabney understood where the mania for taxpayer-funded “public education” would lead, and he warned of its consequences.
Here, summarizing Dabney’s arguments, is what I wrote on May 13, 2018:

“…how is it possible to educate a child if the moral and ethical values of religion are not taught but proscribed, for did not “public education” directly imply such avoidance? Given the developing status of relations between church and state and changing constitutional interpretations, the state could not endorse one religious belief over another. Thus, Dabney observed, state-sponsored education tended to become secularized. But if education were not Christian, then it would inevitably become anti-Christian. Could education really be education if it educated “the mind without purifying the heart?” In Dabney’s view: “There can be no true education without moral culture, and no true moral culture without Christianity.” The Achilles’s Heel of state-supported public education, in addition to its assertion of state rights over parental rights in a child’s education, was its inevitable and systemic use by “demagogues, who are in power for a time, in the interests of their faction.”

“Dabney and the partisans of privately-supported and family-controlled education lost that debate, practically speaking. And with the advent of social and political Progressivism in the early years of the 20th century, public education was seen as a key, in many cases, the key to the future, to better jobs, to success in life, to prosperity, in fact, to real happiness.”

Nevertheless, even with the totem of “free public education” firmly fixed in the public mind as absolutely essential and its centrality in any political election program or campaign—not to mention the billions of dollars to be spent by both local and state authorities and the Federal government—nearly every study, almost every report card on education, both K-through Grade 12 and college, indicates an inverse proportion of results to expenditures. It seems the more money we spend on what is called “education,” the worse our schools and colleges become, at least in those basic skills that the educational process is supposed to implant.

In short, we are paying much more for far less. As Dr. Walter Williams has recently observed, less than four out of ten graduating high school seniors can pass a simple English reading test (and only 17% of black students make the grade). Just 25% of high school seniors are proficient in math. Nevertheless, our high school graduation rate is 80%.

But despite that disastrously failing academic report, for the proponents of progressive public education the past century’s educational history has been extremely successful. For our state-run K-12 educational system has been almost completely converted into an ideological hot house, a Dr. Strangelove laboratory, the graduating products from which become the willing recipients of the cultural Marxist pablum fed to them later on the college level, and the future voters who pull the Democratic voter lever and who militate in the growing armies of those who demand an “end to (white) racism” and “white supremacy,” “full gender equality” (including the full embrace of everything from transgenderism, same sex marriage, to gender fluidity), “open borders” to all immigrants, direct action on supposed “climate change,” and the “suppression of hate speech” (which will mean whatever the latest dominant narrative says it is).

On the college level just in recent months we have heard that at the University of Michigan (and on another 200 campuses), zealous “social justice warrior” students have been instructed by university administrators to report (anonymously of course) if they overhear another student making “racist,” “sexist,” or “homophobic” remarks, even if those conversations are private. And correction will be meted out! Thus, those poorly educated but richly indoctrinated high schoolers, now undergoing the full panoply of Leftist envenomation on the collegiate level, are being turned into newly-minted domestic informants—spies—on their fellows. How does this differ from the worst aspects of Stalin’s Russia? And this is what we get for $20,000 to $50,000 or so a year paid to our colleges to educate our children?

And lest we think this contagion uniquely located just on the “academic Left,” its effects are felt nearly as strongly in what passes for intellectual thought on the conservative “right” among the dominant Neoconservatives, who claim to offer a “conservative alternative” on our college campuses.

Pick just one darling of so-called “conservative college youth,” Ben Shapiro, for example. Shapiro has taken it upon himself to appear on dozens of college campuses where he presents an inherently Leftist (if often disguised as conservative) narrative before such audiences as Young Americas Foundation and the College Republicans.

What does Shapiro offer conservative students? First, their elders must recognize that there is a “conservative generation gap,” and that the GOP must “come to terms” with such things as same sex marriage and marijuana. More, while accepting the “positive” things that President Trump has achieved, the president’s “imbecilities and vile utterances” must be denounced. As he wrote in the Neocon Weekly Standard (May 9, 2018):

Young conservatives [as opposed to their elders], however, are more likely to see Trump as an obstacle to progress….they see him mainly as a club the left can wield against the right in perpetuity—a political monster living under the bed that Democrats can dredge up every time conservatives seem to be making headway. They cite his egregious response to the Charlottesville alt-right march and subsequent terror attack and his willingness to wink and nod at the alt-right during the campaign; they point to his nasty comments regarding women, as well as his penchant for bedding porn stars; they cringe at his reported comments about immigrants and balk at his nearly endless list of prevarications. [“How Conservatives Can Win Back Young Americans”]

Last August 17, 2017, Shapiro wrote that Pat Buchanan, because he did not believe the Neocon assumption that the words in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” meant absolute equality in birth and opportunity (a demonstrable historical and metaphysical falsehood that the Founders rejected), was “a white supremacist” and racist, and, by implication, an “anti-semite” (surely the coup de grace from Shapiro, who never misses an opportunity to ostentatiously wear his yarmulke and complain that he is, according to the ADL, one of the nation’s top targets of “anti-semitism”) [see: see also the excellent critique of Shapiro at VoxDay, May 25, 2018.

Leftist Slate magazine [January 24, 2018] praises his “reasonable conservatism” and asks: “Is Ben Shapiro a conservative liberals can count on?”

“Shapiro is among a dwindling cadre of Trump-averse conservatives at a time when the mainstream GOP and its media apparatus are following (and sometimes leading) our cretinous president straight into the muck. Shapiro is ascendant, with a growing media empire and a large [youth] audience who adores him. Should there arise a constitutional crisis in which this president attempts to roll his tanks (metaphorical or otherwise) over the ramparts of American democracy, I will be relying on influential right-wing figures like Ben Shapiro to help America hold the line.”

More recently Shapiro tried his hand at influencing the GOP Republican US senate primary in Virginia. He pulled out all stops to defeat conservative Republican candidate Corey Stewart in June 2018. Not only did Stewart’s support for Confederate heritage become a negative issue for Shapiro, but the fact that Stewart would have associated with a former congressional candidate, Paul Nehlen, who later made statements that some observers characterized as anti-Semitic, also became an issue. The implication was that Stewart was a racist through guilt by association, perhaps even a secret anti-semite. This is something one would expect to hear on MSNBC but it seems Neoconservative critics are happy to do the Left’s work for it when it comes to those who speak kindly of the Southern heritage.

How does Shapiro’s extreme ignorance of American history and the American Founding, and his implicit acceptance of the Marxist template on race and gender differ from that of his supposed opponents over on the “farther Left”?

Not much.

Yet “little Ben” has become a major voice, an icon, for “conservative youth,” and an example of academic outreach by the Neoconservatives. But if this is the kind of response of mainstream conservatives to meet the multifaceted educational subversion by the Marxist Left on our college campuses, the battle is lost.

Our current public education system, from kindergarten to university, betrays the inheritance of our Western culture. And the rot begins in the primary and secondary grades, and in the unquestioning support that conservatives give to public education and its bloated bureaucracy which continues to gnaw at the entrails of our culture.

Ignoring this fact, just throwing more money at it, is a recipe for continued subversion and corruption. Heralded college campus appearances by Shapiro, Jonah Goldberg, Milo Yiannopoulos, and others in the name of “free speech” and “presenting a conservative voice” do little to alter the situation, other than make the sponsors and speakers feel good, while confirming the dominant narrative: an infected bandage on a festering cancer that begins in kindergarten and the first grade.

The need is not for “reform,” but for a total dismantling of the system. Things have gone too far for cosmetic applications and another appearance by Ben Shapiro.

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