Saturday, September 15, 2018

Perspective

     Sometimes it takes a long time to get the import of what a wise elder was saying.

     It’s been observed, by many other commentators, that the Left is fond of using the law, including the Supreme Law, the Constitution of the United States, to defend its own prerogatives, but is willing to have the law endlessly bent – I believe “reinterpreted” is the current phrase – to advance its initiatives, regardless of the law’s explicit terms. Needless to say (though, as always, I shall say it anyway), this is deplorable and indefensible in a nation that’s supposedly founded on explicit laws.

     I was reading Eugene Volokh’s commentary on NancyMacLean’s book Democracy in Chains, a seemingly tendentious, hyper-politicized treatise on the late James Buchanan – the economist, not the president – when something a high school American history teacher said came back to mind.

     That teacher opened our eleventh-grade American history class by telling us that the approach to American history taken by other teachers is to frame the subject as “good guys versus bad guys” in an ongoing struggle over who would control the U.S.’s federal government. In connection with this proposition, he noted that the typical eleventh-year American history course treats the period from 1921 through 1928, when Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge were presidents, as a time when “the bad guys were in power.” Of course, they treat Franklin D. Roosevelt’s assumption of the presidency as the return to power of the “good guys.”

     Our teacher’s approach was quite different. He stated that the underlying theme of the course as he intended to teach it would be the eternal question of whether Man is basically good or basically evil. And indeed, he returned to that question on numerous occasions, in connection with the great controversies that animated American political discourse at various times.

     I puzzled over that orientation, being only fourteen years old and barely acquainted with the study of history. But if we note the attitude of the “progressive” Left in our time, and compare it to the “good guys versus bad guys” approach to American history, the parallels become all but overwhelming.

     For the contemporary Left is overt in its claims that it is the possessor of unquestionably superior wisdom and virtue. They’re the “good guys.” Moreover, that virtue entitles the Left to do anything and everything that would conduce to their aims – most especially, getting back into federal hegemony. Slander? Disruptions? Intimidation? Violence? Outright defiance of the law? These things are quite all right, the Left will tell you, in a Leftward cause.

     Needless to say, the tactics the Left allows itself are absolutely forbidden to us in the Right. We’re the “bad guys,” and the bad guys must be fought with every tool at the Left’s disposal, including the strict terms of the law.

     My old teacher’s focus on whether Man is fundamentally good or evil throws a harsh light onto such pretensions. He who claims that no moral constraints apply to him has arrogated the position of the Supreme Lawgiver, God Himself. Correct me if I’m wrong – I am rather old, and my memories of remote events can be a bit cloudy – but wasn’t that what Lucifer wanted?

     How much of the Left’s current self-apotheosis derives from the “good guys versus bad guys” orientation of teachers of high school American history? Of course we can’t answer such a question definitively. Nevertheless, the parents of high school age children should converse with them regularly about what’s being told them in their “Global Studies” classes. You might hear a few things to get your ears prickling.

     I owe that old American history teacher more than I ever knew.

4 comments:

John C. said...

Sadly at age 67 I have come to realize that most of the things I learned in school were wrong and most of the things I've learned in life are disappointing. All my life until recently I had a deep love for the Constitution. I actually believed it was there to guarantee our God given rights. I now realize it's a weak and flaccid document which allows idiots to "change" their sex into any of 157 they choose. It allows Africans and Mohammedans to invade America with the desire to destroy it. It's used to bestow favor on people just because they are the right race i.e. not white. There are many more deficiencies but I'm sure you get the point.

I was told the Constitution is not a suicide pact but I have lived long enough to realize it really is! I was told we're a "Nation of l was" but we are really a nation of lawyers. E Pluribus Unum, out of many one is our motto but somehow "Diversity is our strength". How can that be?

The Constitution states we are free to practice religion and the government cannot "prohibit the free exercise thereof". It does not say the federal government should be involved in any way in education yet the feds illegally created the Dept. of Education thereby taking over the public schools de facto and then proceeded to prohibit prayer because it's federal.

The Constitution says "The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" yet we all must get permits to buy, own and carry arms and many types of arms are denied to the people. If they can force us to buy permits for our God given right to arms why can't we require permits to vote? Or worship? Or to speak freely? And how the hell is burning a flag or kneeling Free Speech? If burning a flag is free speech why isn't sacrificing a virgin freedom of religion?

Finally, if our Constitution cannot protect us from those who want to destroy us like moslems and communists then what good is it? Right now it's being used to protect those very people when they should come here in fear not protected. Who in their right mind protects their enemies? Common sense says you kill your enemies not give them welfare, free education and health care.

Linda Fox said...

As I age, I realize that most of the ways that history is taught are wrong. I'd like to see a curriculum based on exploring the idea that the freedom of the individual is important, and that limitations on that freedom should be few, narrow, and modifiable only in the direction of greater self-determination.

Reg T said...

I agree, Linda, but then they would have to back-track and explain why a democracy is bad, and why this country was not meant to be a democracy, and why the individual's rights were meant to be sacrosanct.

The authors (some of them, at least) meant for the Bill of Rights to protect every citizen's rights, not the collective body of citizens' rights (note where the "possessive" apostrophes are placed). That is how the Left has been twisting the words of the Second Amendment for the past two centuries - and then some - by insisting that the Second Amendment was not an individual right. The Left has been intentionally mis-parsing the Second since the ink was drying on that document.

I learned more about the rights of the individual reading Robert Heinlein at 14 than I ever did in any of the history classes I attended.

Lucas Temple (a.k.a. Armenia4ever) said...

I've been reading several of Ron Unz's American Pravda series via
https://www.unz.com/runz/our-american-pravda and some of what I come across is mind blowing in terms of what we weren't taught or the other side of the story which deliberately was never told.

Are the bad guys really that bad? The good guys really that good, or good at all? What strikes me is that much of history is like this. Once you start looking at history as a reflection and analysis of men doing what they had to do in their time, it takes on a very different tone and scope.