Okay. This title is a knock-off of the popular television show of the same name. So sue me.
Being that time of year when people re-evaluate, re-prioritize, or (heaven forbid!) make resolutions, I decided to take a break from writing over the holidays and re-organize the various piles of research materials that had been allowed to accrue. Plopped in the middle of a virtual chronicle covering educational, social and cultural changes that spanned at least three decades, I experienced an epiphany, of sorts. I looked around gloomily at the mounds of paper, and dared to ask a single question: What has the conservative movement got to show for the last 30 years?
The answer came back: Not a whole heck of a lot.
Readers of this column who are not writers or working the lecture circuit should understand that it is first and foremost passion that brings our ilk to the word processor. Without passion, writing is flat, speeches are uninspiring, and even the most horrendous or marvelous facts are rendered quite forgettable. Talk show hosts have no use for a passionless guest. That is one reason why we who labor among the “chattering classes” are forever amassing documents, tearing out articles and ordering books -- to inflame our sensibilities to such an extent that we fall all over ourselves to get to the nearest computer terminal and bang out a pithy article or lecture -- maybe even a book, if events prove sufficiently provocative.
Prospective young journalists in college are taught to look for the “Holy Cow factor” (actually, that second word is less, um, refined); something that will make a bored editor levitate out of his (or her) chair and say “Wow!” To such ends, we writers keep pads of paper and a pen on the nightstand, beside the bathtub, and even in our beach gear.
When you’re hot, you’re hot!
But this day, sorting through the various clippings, I was struck by a dreary sameness. I picked up a column by Brent Bozell bemoaning, yet again, the liberal bias of “mainstream” news organs. Beside me was a piece by Robert Knight detailing the latest assault on Christian values. To my right, Rich Lowry was condemning the “culture of corruption” as exemplified by enormous pork in last year’s highway bill, while inches away I found an article by his older counterpart saying virtually the same thing a quarter of a century ago in National Review. Behind me, a news article described how the largest teacher union, the National Education Association, had, once again, defied its tax exempt status by lobbying for ultra-left causes and funding liberal candidates -- news that was, in essence, no news. In the corner, was a paper outlining further inappropriate excerpts from a sex education course, and right next to it, a recent account concerning a rapist who sexually assaulted, mutilated and murdered a nine-year-old girl. In front of me was an excerpt from President George W. Bush’s remarks describing how he was going to reach out to the Democratic opposition.
How constructive was that? I thought ruefully. By 2002, discourse had deteriorated such that if President Bush said “good morning,” the Democrats demanded a half-hour on national television for a rebuttal.
Turning around, I stumbled over a bulging file holding the new federal plan to screen the entire U.S. population for mental illness (under the Marxist-like moniker of “New Freedom Initiative”). It had already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. Under the plan, schools would become the hub of mandatory psychiatric screening -- not only for pupils, but their parents and teachers, with incremental inroads into all societal categories. If Democrats had wanted to challenge the President on an issue, this would have been one on which to throw down the gauntlet, inasmuch it grew out of President Bush’s old Texas Medication Algorithm Project in 1995, an alliance between then-Governor Bush, representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, the University of Texas, and the Texas mental health and corrections systems. Does “Dubya” have any idea he is bequeathing to future generations a legal vehicle for locking up or chemically lobotomizing political opponents? I wondered. And where were the paragons of the press corps -- the investigative reporters? Asleep?
On the education front, a new Wall Street Journal commentary revealed that (gasp!) relaxed standards were compromising substantive learning, and ABC’s John Stossel was preparing to astound viewers in an upcoming segment of “20/20” ("Stupid In America: How We Are Cheating Our Kids") with the astounding disclosure that American high school students fall behind other countries in international comparisons of basic subjects, including even poorer countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and South Korea -- a fact I had noted in an article years ago, and it wasn’t a shocker even then. We’ve been on that merry-go-round since about 1956.
Meanwhile, history was being rewritten in a curriculum known as We the People -- managing, again, to disparage or disregard the Framers of our Constitution and exacerbate what has been a national obsession with race.
We won’t even discuss the gay-lesbian issue, which is now in everyone’s face 24/7 -- despite an exponential rise in AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, especially among gay men, who continue to shrug off warnings about “safe sex,” according to the Center for Disease Control. Well, never mind, classrooms are steeped in mandated bathroom talk from kindergarten onward, and parents who object are deemed mentally ill (“homophobic”). Even the Parent-Teachers Association has gotten in on the act. Obviously the three to five percent of individuals who are into this sort of thing has trumped all the rest of us who find it repulsive.
The liberal-left, of course, has a cure. It’s called “re-education” via gay clubs on campus and draconian hate-speech rules.
Oh, and don’t forget the antidepressants. Hah! Now that’s actually funny. Because most antidepressants, according to studies I’ve seen, are about 90 percent guaranteed to make you lose your sex drive!
And how about U.S. foreign aid to terror-sponsoring nations in the wake of earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters? Does an American flag adorn every shipped package, and a Christian cross too, if applicable? Do we stem the tide of illegal immigrants, especially from Latin America, where countries increasingly are re-aligning themselves with Marxist dictatorships? No, our citizens serve as cash cows to the world, while individual Americans practically forfeit their salaries to keep up with escalating health-care costs, high-tech crime-prevention systems, excessive auto-emissions and other environmental regulations, computer-virus and spam-protection software -- all out-of-pocket outlays that would have been unthinkable just a decade or so ago.
What to make of all this? Here is today’s Republican leadership sounding more like the liberals of my Baby-Boomer youth, while the self-described liberals are now open socialists, spouting the same twisted logic as Karl Marx. As Wesley Pruden, editor-in-chief of the Washington Times, aptly observed in his January 6th column “Looking for virtue in a wrong place:” “Big government and insensate spending, which were high crimes and misdemeanors when the Democrats did it, suddenly became Republican virtues.”
Today’s 10-year-olds will never know a time when everyone wasn’t watched, tracked, monitored, and subject to inspection -- all to avoid offending any sponsors of evil in our midst. Youngsters will never experience the thrill of romance or the bittersweet innocence of yearning; instead they will look back on meaningless hook-ups, played to a backdrop of rap lyrics. They will worry more about lost health than lost love.
As for their parents, well, American Life League president Judie Brown may have said it best when she observed in her January 5th column that motherhood today is about self-satisfaction (read: “trophy kids”), not about the value of an individual child.
Indeed, the Commonwealth Education Organization (Pittsburgh, PA) reports a campaign afoot to lower the age for pre-kindergarten schooling, with an eye to making it mandatory after everyone has grown accustomed to getting what would be, essentially, free day-care services for their toddlers. Pope Paul VI warned of all these various outcomes when he outraged the civilized world (including me!) by rejecting birth control in the 1960s. For his foresight, he alone is entitled to laugh all the way to the bank -- were he still alive.
That was when an unexpected thought occurred: You know, you really don’t have to do this anymore.
“Huh?” I said aloud.
You’ve written scores of articles and three books, two of which were best-sellers. Together with other writers, you provided a thorough accounting of government-sponsored education’s legacy on privacy, the family, criminal justice, and the culture. There’s really nothing more left to say on these topics that has not been written by someone, somewhere.
That was when reality set in. “So, we lost,” I mumbled, suddenly stung by the realization. “We really lost.” I reflected, more in sadness than anger.
There weren’t enough of us who stood up, who insisted, who drew the line, who refused -- or who took the time to examine the wildly disparate versions of major news stories.
Which is why I had cuttings from some five newspapers and 14 periodicals staring at me from the floor. Well, that was about to change.
My attention now on more practical matters, I decided the more efficient course would be to bring in the large trash cans from the driveway, rather than dragging scores of giant plastic bags out.
here for part -----> 2
Beverly Eakman is an Educator, 9 years: 1968-1974, 1979-1981. Specialties: English and Literature.
Science Editor, Technical Writer and Editor-in-Chief of official newspaper, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1974-1979. Technical piece, "David, the Bubble Baby," picked up by popular press and turned into a movie starring John Travolta.
Chief speech writer, National Council for Better Education, 1984-1986; for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Commission on the Bicentennial of the US Constitution, 1986-1987; for the Voice of America Director, 1987-1989; and for U.S. Department of Justice, Gerald R. Regier, 1991-1993.
Author: 3 books on education and data-trafficking since 1991, including the internationally acclaimed Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality Through Education. Executive Director, National Education Consortium.
Today’s 10-year-olds will never know a time when everyone wasn’t watched, tracked, monitored, and subject to inspection -- all to avoid offending any sponsors of evil in our midst.