Column of the year: Grading 2003 A.D., on the curve
December 26, 2003
"Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot."
— Alexis de Tocqueville
IN "THE END OF HISTORY," an OpEd, Lynn Cheney said, "Imagine an outline for the teaching of history in which George Washington makes only a fleeting appearance and is never described as our first President . . . that not a single one of the 31 standards mentions the Constitution [except] in the dependent clause of a sentence that has as its main point that students should ponder the paradox that the Constitution side-tracked the movement to abolish slavery." — Wall Street Journal, October 20, 1994
In that context, it's now open season. It's "Goals 2000" plus 3 1/2 years. All's fair in politics and hand grenades. We stand on the brink of the nastiest year in our history, so before we get completely side-tracked, I give the following grades, if you will, to various segments of our Society for the past year:
The "A" is the easiest grade to award. It goes to the American soldier. According to our Judeao-Christian Heritage, Joshua was told, "Every place that the soles of your feet shall trod upon, that have I given unto you, from this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates." So far as I know as a layman, that promise was never completely fulfilled by any peoples except by the Brits earlier, and by the coalition in 2003. Our common foot soldiers have exhibited a kind of "faith and courage" the rest of us can only wonder if we could copy.
The "B" goes to President George W. Bush. Not to be presumptuous, but even he, when listing his Administration's accomplishments, doesn't seem to mention his involvement with the CFR, the Campaign Finance "Reform." BY THE WAY, if YOUR friends are selling "access" for DOLLAR BILLS, I'm sorry to hear about YOUR friends! My father was invited to the 1980 inaugural ball on the basis of a $10 "campaign contribution" (though he couldn't afford to attend).
A family member, however, recently achieved the destination by attending a White House "briefing" and having face-to-face "discussions" with the President's right hand man and some cabinet members. It didn't "cost" a cent, either, except participation in a citizens' group — which used to be considered "citizenship" or "civic duty"! The Left complains that the reason they can't teach kids to read is because they can't even get parents to attend a PTA meeting — which is a sorry excuse, because THEY taught those parents in the publc schools! Evidently, instilling "civic duty" in those years wasn't a PRIORITY!
Subsequently, I must give the "republican" Congress a "C" for 2003. Their spending habits are giving drunken sailors a bad name. I don't claim that as an original thought because, if you're reading this, you've probably had the same thought yourself.
The "D" goes to the mainstream news media and most of the clergy who describe themselves as mainstream. It's a generous "D-minus" only because they, on occasion, do something right!
The "F," of course, goes to the entertainment media and the more leftist members of the "Loyal Opposition." I say of course because the F-word is their favorite word. Those candidates are typified by ROY G. BIV (a colorful personality), W.D. DIM (whose motto is "What difference does it make?"), and QWERTY UIOP, the alpha-alpha male (a cousin to Alley Oop, the Neanderthal).
To the general "populace" I must give an "INCOMPLETE"! Too much cutting of classes such as current events, history, and religion — in favor of the boob tubes and the baser pursuits such as pleasure and poppycock (wine, women, and thong).
We used to raise sheep, and there's a reason they're called DUMB sheep: when forced to make a decision, they can't decide which way to go until they figure out which way all the OTHERS are going to go, and then they instantly go that way with much exuberance! The sheep are sleeping off their holiday dinners, but will soon be asked to make decisions concerning the office of alpha-sheep.
Oh and I almost forgot the most obvious grade I have to give out: to the educational Establishment I award "SUSPENSION" (I was going to say "expulsion" but I didn't do it)! What they're doing to our children is almost criminal. Suspension is too good for most of our over-educated ignoramousi. I'm not talking about good teachers in the grass-roots; as someone once said, education is crucial if we are to avoid taking educated people seriously!
I paraphrase, but according to Mrs. Cheney, in 1992 the Federal government put 1.4 million dollars toward establishing "standards" as to what students should be taught about history. The grantee was the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA. In its document-produced-by-committee, Senator Joseph McCarthy is mentioned 19 times, the KKK 17 times, and the Great Emancipator once (Paul Revere and the Wright brothers, not even once).
Thus we can pinpoint 1992 as the year Academia came out of its closet of subtlety forever. Classic oratory of the "great debates" of our history were ignored, except that students were urged to "analyze" Pat Buchanan's "culture war" speech at the Republican convention that year. Western civilization was "iced out" (as was, it goes without saying, the role of religion in American history).
Which reminds me of a dilemma: what grade to give the United Nations for 2003? The short answer is, the U.N.'s grade fell off the end of the curve somewhere at the end of the chart, just above abortionists and environmental extremists. But if they have read this far, some would ask, "How about a grade for Big Corporations?" The serious answer is, the jury is still out. Some of my best friends would remind me that money and power corrupt, to which I reply, "Everything corrupts these days." Even some conspiracy theories would corrupt you. Charlie Sykes, the radio host, once said, "Some people are more obsessed with making rich people poor than making poor people better off." This deserves its own column, but suffice it to say that money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.
This column's longer than usual but, you know, "if I can just help one person, it will be worth it." The thread running through this is Faith vs. The Thing We Feared the Most. There's a new twist to the joke about pessimism vs. optimism; the optimists now are trying to learn how to communicate with the animals and the pessimists are trying to find life on Mars (I saw it when it was close to the earth last summer, and it's obvious that there isn't any).
So finally, I just want to salute two men who "left us" this year: Bob Hope and a World War II veteran. The former is better remembered, but the latter is Warren Spahn, who survived four years as a combat soldier to go on to pitch 382 complete games in the major leagues against the likes of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. By the way, Spahn once played pro baseball for $60 a month, I understand (think about it, bud)!
One thing we can do is pray that today's veterans could come home to such a bright future, but don't bet the farm system on it. Only time, as man counts time, will tell!
James Monroe said, "While then [America] retains its sound and healthful state, everything will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then as easy attainment and an usurper soon found: the people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin."
Marilyn Monroe gets six pages in some "social science" textbooks, but who in the world was James Monroe?
Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in the frozen tundra of Michigan's U.P., and his career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton. In the intro to The Fenton Bible, Fenton said:
"I was in ’53 a young student in a course of education for an entirely literary career, but with a wider basis of study than is usual. . . . In commerce my life has been passed. . . . Indeed, I hold my commercial experience to have been my most important field of education, divinely prepared to fit me to be a competent translator of the Bible, for it taught me what men are and upon what motives they act, and by what influences they are controlled. Had I, on the other hand, lived the life of a Collegiate Professor, shut up in the narrow walls of a library, I consider that I should have had my knowledge of mankind so confined to glancing through a 'peep-hole' as to make me totally unfit for [my life's work]."
Curtis is listed as a University of Wisconsin-Madison "alumnus" (loosely speaking, along with a few other drop-outs including John Muir, Charles Lindbergh, Frank Lloyd Wright and Dick Cheney). He has a website at www.jcmquotations.com and can be contacted at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2003 by Curtis Dahlgren
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