The MN Dept of Education is Making (Up) History

April 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm 1 comment


by Jason Bradley

http://www.startribune.com/local/west/199785231.html?refer=y

Once again, an activist judge felt it was necessary to put politics ahead of reality. This time, it affects our children. The MN Department of education decided that it needed to implement new Social Studies standards that will give our kids a unique view of American history. I say unique, but I guess it’s because I’m trying to stay away from words like “disingenuous”, “dishonest”, or well… “wrong”. In fact, the judge in this case, Barbara Neilson, said that these standards were both “needed and reasonable”. People can disagree about what’s reasonable all day long, but needed? Really? What is so wrong about what we have been teaching that it “needs” fixing so badly?

Now, I am not the most proud of everything we’ve done as a country. Andrew Jackson’s slaughter of Native Americans… or the detention of Japanese Americans by FDR comes to mind immediately. We have to preserve our history, no matter whether we agree or disagree with it. That is the only way we learn. The old adage is that if you don’t learn from history, you will be doomed to repeat it. Well, there are parts we don’t want to repeat… and parts we do. It is imperative to teach both to our children. This is what keeps the idea of the United States alive and moving toward the ideals of freedom and equality for all.

So what’s changing? The standards call to teach that America is a democracy, instead of a republic. The theory of American Exceptionalism is erased, and so is the notion that we believe that our rights are given to us by God. Why are changing these ideas a big deal? Let’s look at these one by one.

Webster’s says that a republic is “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government”. It says this of a democracy, “government by the people; especially : rule of the majority”. They may seem similar, but the difference is that the elected representatives are beholden to govern according to the law. Democracies always end in civil unrest. It’s the force of the majority over the minority. It’s two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner. It’s our system of laws that protect people with disabilities, minorities, children, etc., etc. The good people at the MN Department of Education, in all of their wisdom, would rather teach our children that you can just go take what you want, so long as you are in the majority. They want our children to learn that you follow the majority if you want to win. Don’t stick your neck out. Don’t protest. Don’t be exceptional, or you are the one sheep. You are dinner.

Speaking of exceptional, let’s talk about the theory of American Exceptionalism. Why is it important to Social Studies students in MN? Wikipedia stated the definition as such, “American exceptionalism is the proposition that the United States is different from other countries in that it has a specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy. It is not a notion that the United States is quantitatively better than other countries or that it has a superior culture, but rather that it is ‘qualitatively different’.” There is no other system like ours in the world. Other countries have tried to emulate it to some degree but fall just a bit short in their understanding of true liberty. It most likely comes from the fact that everyone that founded this country, came to escape tyranny in their own. We had a successful revolution against the most powerful army and navy in the world, at the time. We formed a government, unlike any other, that was hailed as imperfect, but the best that any men had ever conceived. That form of government paved the way to abolish slavery, destroy the Nazi advance, and watched communism crumble away, that Soviet Bloc countries might taste freedom for the first time in the lives of most of their citizens. Of course, we need to do away with this notion, as our government wants to control every aspect of its citizens lives, and continue to create privileged oligarchies that are subservient to us through our ridiculous current policy of destroying nations and rebuilding them. Our ideas have won in the marketplace of ideas, and can continue to in the future. Our kids need to know this.

Lastly, the notion of God as grantor of our rights. This is an important concept, even for the atheist. It cements our rights, as it means that they come from something greater than ourselves. (For you atheists, that can be something as simple as “the ethos” or can be seen as a timeless truth.) You see, if God is not the author of rights, that means that it is man, or government as man’s lawmakers. Government should never be in the position to dictate our rights, because over time those rights will change. We will lose imperative rights. New rights will be given to those from whom the government wants loyalty. Our founders understood this. That is why there are so many examples of their thoughts preserved in our history.

God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to guard and defend it.” [Daniel Webster]

WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…” [Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence]

God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever. [Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)]

“…the longer I live the more convinced I become that God governs in the affairs of men… [Benjamin Franklin]

There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations… Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God, I know not what course others may take, but as for me—give me liberty or give me death! [Patrick Henry on March 23, 1773, before the House of Burgesses]

 

I could go on, but I think you get the idea…

 

So yeah, these are pretty drastic changes in trying to alter the way our young see this country, it’s mission, and the inherent right to liberty that we all have. It is another attempt by this government to take away the power from the people and concentrate it in the government, by changing the way our children think about it. Not only must we, as parents, teach our children these concepts, we must hold our school boards accountable. Robbinsdale Schools, we are watching you. May you have the conviction to stand up to the Dept of Education and teach the truth to our children, whether you agree with the concepts or not. It’s not your place to decide what truth is.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Michael C. Libby  |  April 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Can you explain how this judge is being an “activist”? The Dept of Education proposed the standards. She mediated a dispute and sided with the Dept. She was required to make some sort of ruling. She didn’t make up the new standards herself, she simply approved the standard proposed by the duly appointed body that is tasked with generating said standard.

    Also, you should go back to Webster’s and note that it lists “democracy” as a synonym for “republic”. You should also note that the second definition of “democracy” is exactly the form of government we have, often qualified as “representative democracy”. And sometimes our form of republic is called a “democratic republic” to distinguish it from other types of republics. Not all republics are founded on the idea of the general population being given a vote for their representatives.

    And it seems sort of funny that you’re insisting the USA is a “republic” meanwhile decrying this particular change, especially since it is being brought to us by a government agency duly appointed by elected officials. Isn’t that how a republic works according to the definition that you quoted? A place where those elected/appointed to govern make these decisions?

    As for the statement that “democracies always end in civil unrest”. Where do you get this stuff? Which democracies are you talking about? It doesn’t matter, republics often falter. The Roman Republic sure did. America found itself fighting a very bloody civil war at one point. France, during its first period as a republic was home to extreme unrest and subsequently became Napoleon’s Empire. The Weimar Republic devolved into Nazism. Even the USSR was the Union of Soviet Socialist *Republics* (the problem there being not that they didn’t have a republican form of government, but that they shunned democratic elections and freedom of politcal association).

    As for our rights being given to us by God. Which god? Oh, not necessary to choose a god or even believe any god, you say? We can instead call it the “ethos” or a “timeless truth”? Then why call it God? I am also concerned about this idea that “God” is the author of these rights, because how are we to know and agree on what those rights are when none of us can ever agree on what God is or even if there is one?

    Clearly the founding fathers themselves didn’t do the best job of understanding what rights God had given us, when they enshrined slavery in the constitution and excluded women from voting. Where they did a great job, however, was knowing what they didn’t know and allowing for the constitution to be updated and modified to suit those who would follow after as our understanding of rights changed based on the only tool we really have available: our ability to think about the problem and discuss it and attempt to come to some sort of consensus.

    Reply

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