On What Planet

A January 31 report from the PEW Research Center shows that the American people feel that the government is a threat to their personal rights and freedom. The survey of 1,500 people showed that 53% of American believes the government cannot be trusted. This charge led by Conservative Republicans has little substance, but the mere idea that a majority of Americans believing their own government is out to get them reflects the reality of ignorance among the US electorate.

What freedoms and rights are threatened? When that question comes up, those surveyed are a little less specific except in the idea that their guns will be taken. With 300 million guns in the US it would take a special collection teams decades to locate and confiscate all the guns in the United States. Additionally, if it was a hostile movement AK-47’s, large clip weapons and handguns are not much help against mortars, 70 mm cannons or missiles, not to mention supersonic fighters and drones.

The right of free speech is firmly in place. And, since the Reagan era the equal response law is no longer an issue as conservative talk and TV shows dominate the airways. Religious freedom? Christianity dominates as the major religion in the United States. Although other denominations are growing Christianity is still the largest segment in the country.

Perhaps, it is that religious concepts as law or education cannot be promoted taught or proselytized on public property. However, religious school are free to teach it just as the unreligious are free to have no beliefs or to be being bombarded by the beliefs of others. By law, women are free to procure an abortion even though conservatives have diminished that right.

Additionally, any rights and freedoms infringed went that route voluntarily with programs like the Patriot Act. Repressive legislation fostered after the 9/11 tragedy were given away freely and passed by the very people claiming their freedoms and rights diminished. Keep the damn guns; they are worth little more than political fodder.  No one is coming to get them and if the Chinese attack the weapons they bring will turn our 300 million rifles and handguns into cap pistols.

Guns are off the table. So, what is the issue? You’re already denying women their right to a legal abortion. Freedom of religion is still in place although record numbers of Christians are leaving the faith each day. No, it seems the only right or freedom disappearing never was such and that was the arrogance of a group people thinking their ideas should be imposed on a country where there is a chance for true freedom.

Sadly, the truly free recognize that it is filled with responsibility, not license; accountability, not selfishness and most importantly, compassion, not avarice.

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  • tom sarbeck

    "...elementary critical thinking skills, all too seldom taught,...."

    As I recall the message of James Loewen's "Lies My Teacher Told Me", it's reasonable to conclude that the chief purpose of public education is to teach children to feel good about America. As to American history in the Catholic schools I went to, its chief purpose as I recall it was to teach children to feel good about missionaries converting the natives to Catholicism.

    Some members of elected school boards see their service as a political mission, their goal being to teach patriotism. The Xian fundamentalists who occasionally deceive voters into making them school board majorities want to teach conservative Xianity in general and the world according to Genesis in particular.

    I'm happy to support the efforts of NCSE (Nat'l Cte for Science Education, at ncse.com). Their email newsletter tells of attempts by xian repubs in legislatures to put their version of critical thinking (a bizarre mutant of their Intelligent Design, itself a mutant of Creationism) into public school science classrooms.

    I'm optimistic. The young people who phoned SF Sex Education seemed like natural-born critical thinkers. When I was supervising shifts there, I told new volunteers "If you have any hangups you don't know of, our eight- and nine-year-old callers will help you find them."


  • Alan Perlman

    I have no business generalizing about what is or is not taught in thousands of schools -- all I see is the output: a nation of sheep.  I would love to be optimistic but unfortunately, as your examples ilustrate, other things are more important that teaching critical thinking.  There are anecdotal signs of enlightenment, but on the whole, indoctrination is institutionalized.

  • Joan Denoo

    You guys are right on target! As a little old lady, I can squawk and squeal until my voice is gone and my fingers worn away from trying to convey messages that our nation is designed to protect property and the only time those who do the production is when the oligarchs need breathing bodies to do the work, fighting and dying.