Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ruining America One Day At A Time

Six Ways To Ruin America, How We're Moving Down That Road
By Herb Denenberg, The Bulletin
Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The book How to Ruin the United States of America by Ben Stein and Phil DeMuth is right on target and I’d only suggest one change. The title of the book should be How We Are Ruining the United States of America, as that is exactly what is happening. The authors make the case that six things would ruin the United States, as we know it:
1. Exile God from public life.
2. Teach Americans contempt for America.
3. Debase American culture.
4. Weaken the United States military.
5. Be a country without borders.6. Practice voodoo economics.That’s exactly what we’re doing and that’s exactly why we better reverse course immediately, as we’re deep into this process.Exile God From Public LifeThe authors show how God was central to those who first settled America after coming from Europe and how God was a central construct of their governmental philosophy up to and including the United States constitution.Consider the mission statement “Instructions for the Virginia Colonies” dated 1606: “Lastly and chiefly the way to prosper and achieve good success is to make yourselves all of one mind for the good of your country and your own, and to serve and fear God the giver of all Goodness, for every plantation which our heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted out.”The same threat is woven through the “Mayflower Compact” of 1620, a colony established for the “glory of God.”The authors of this book observe, “The centrality of God to their purpose in America should not be surprising, since securing the freedom to worship as they saw fit was the major motivation behind their journey.”The presence of God is clearly evident in the Declaration of Independence, where God, according to the authors, is explicitly referenced as “Lawgiver, Creator and Judge, as well as Divine Providence. The equality of Americans is derived from the equality of all people before the Lord. Freedom to choose one’s own leaders (democracy) is explicitly commended in the Hebrew Bible, and implicit in the free will that God gave to humanity.”Prayer and God were central to the deliberations leading to the Constitution and in the Constitution itself. At the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin issued a reprimand to that body for not turning to prayer for guidance.He said, “…[H]ow does it happen, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?... Do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance?”The first Continental Congress opened with two hours of prayer on Oct. 14, 1774 and the Supreme Court’s first session started with a four-hour communion service. George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of Oct. 3, 1789, captures the flavor of the times. This is the opening of that proclamation:“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God — to obey his will — to be grateful for His benefits — and humbly to implore His protection and flavor …”The history of America shows the Founders intended no high wall between church and state. The phrase about that separation does not occur in the Constitution. In fact one day after Congress passed the First Amendment calling for freedom of religion, it declared a national day of prayer.The Founders, by the language of the first amendment, wanted to ban any national religion. The authors write, “Our founders were concerned with protecting the church from the state — with gaining freedom for religion, not freedom from religion, as it were.”The famous phrase, “a wall of separation between church and state,” appears in only one of Thomas Jefferson’s letters, to a group of Baptists explaining why he did not issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation, as did Washington and Adams. This one phrase, lifted from the 18,000 letters Jefferson wrote, is the basis of the claims made to drive religion from the public square. His collected works span 30 volumes. If this separation of church and state were such an important idea, it surely would have received more attention. And one phrase of one letter dashed off to answer a complaint should not overrule our entire history leading up to the Constitution and the clear language of the Constitution itself.Nonetheless, that one little phrase in one letter has been used to drive God from the public square. This has led to forbidding prayer, or even a moment of silence, in classrooms. Clergy cannot deliver invocations at schools. And more recently there is a campaign to remove “In God We Trust” from our currency and “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. All this is based on courts legislating from the bench instead of interpreting the Constitution and on the resulting courts’ power grab from the states.The role of religion in keeping nations and individuals in the right track is crucial, and when religion disappears or is depreciated, bad things happen. The authors put it this way:“Now the spectacular trajectory of America through history, which shoots across the firmament like a bright meteorite, goes forward with the explicit connection of God and country severed. There’s no more allegiance to God, to ethics, or to anything outside of ourselves. This is a recipe for a return to the Hobbesian jungle — for more chaos, violence and unbridled avarice. In other words, for exactly what we find today.”Teach Americans Contempt For AmericaThis column has often written about the hate-America crews found in the mainstream media and in our colleges and universities. And that’s exactly what the authors focus on. They also elaborate on the disastrous and destructive consequences of having so many Americans who hate America.A Marxist theoretician, Antonio Gramsci, understood that the Communist revolution had failed to spread across Europe. He thought for it to succeed, it would be necessary to capture the institutions of its cultural hegemony. By a stroke of good fortune, an educated class sprang up to do just that. It came from the media and the academe. The authors write:“… the ideas of atheism, exploitation, oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia, and fascism could be promoted until the culture lost its self-confidence and collapsed from within. While at first it might seem odd that people would want to destroy the same society that brought them such education, prosperity, freedom, and leisure, this is exactly what happened.”The media and the institutions of higher learning have become the promoters of anti-Americanism. It’s hard to explain this but it happened. Perhaps its because both groups are dominated by liberals, by Democrats and by leftists who are the ones who took up the hate America course. The authors go into the more fundamental causes. I prefer to attribute this anti-Americanism to the mental disease called liberalism.This development is closely related to another — the failure to teach and communicate the greatness of America in the history being taught to younger generations as they come along. America’s greatness and its Constitution were founded by brilliant men who had an understanding of the historical experience of man and what was necessary to create an institution that could assure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.The foundation of our government and its perpetuation depend on a continuation of this historical understanding. But we find this history is no longer taught in any sensible way. If Americans no longer understand what a gem they have in our Constitution and our way of life, they will no longer have the dedication and willingness to fight and sacrifice to preserve what they have.The authors make their point by outlining what history was taught in 1908 and what is taught now. In 1908, students had to master an incredible array of historical subjects. That is compared to what is taught at Brown University, an elite Ivy League School said to be on the cutting edge, now. It lists 18 courses in gender and sexuality studies and no fewer than 90 courses in African studies. Almost all the other courses on American history focus primarily on slavery and sexuality.The bottom line is that their courses on American history teach a highly limited, highly negative and highly distorted picture, which would omit all of the most important aspects of our history. Instead of teaching the true history of this great nation, our schools are teaching what I would describe as somewhere between nonsense, gobbledygook and the irrelevant.The authors think that colleges and universities went off the track during the Vietnam War when they were transformed from ivied tower institutions into catalysts for social change: “This meant discarding the old notion of the university as a haven for the disinterested pursuit of knowledge, and substituting a passionate political agenda of their own choosing …”What they’re teaching now doesn’t even rise to the level of intellectual garbage. Two examples can make the point, as stated by the authors:“According to Professors Barash and Webel (authors of Peace and Conflict Studies, an $87.95 textbook used in more than 250 Peace Studies programs), the American founding fathers were terrorists, while the terrorists in Iraq are patriots.”“At the University of California-Davis, a professor told the class that the number one terrorist in the Middle East was Jesus Christ.”Do you need more proof that liberalism is a mental disorder?The authors conclude this indictment of higher education in America with this sentence:“We are still the shining ‘city upon a hill’ (as early Ronald Reagan speechwriter John Winthrop penned in 1630), a great country in its great days – but for how long? Not long if too many academics have their way.”Debase American CultureThe only good news in this department is that at least most Americans are aware of what is happening. A 2007 Gallup Poll asked Americans if “the state of moral values in the country is getting better or worse?” Eight-two percent answered worse.Another Gallup question was “how would you rate the state of moral values in the country today — as excellent, good, only fair, or poor?” Only 1 percent said excellent. Sixteen percent said good. Thirty-nine percent said only fair. And forty-four percent said poor.The authors gauge the decline of popular culture in various ways. One of the most interesting ways was comparing Pulitzer Prizes for literature in two periods:Back then:
• 1940: “The Grapes of Wrath”• 1944: “Oklahoma!”• 1947: “All the King’s Men”• 1948: “A Streetcar Named Desire”• 1949: “Death of a Salesman”• 1950: “South Pacific”• 1952: “The Caine Mutiny”• 1953: “The Old Man and the Sea”• 1955: “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”More Recently:• 1999: “The Hours”• 2000: “Interpreter of Maladies”• 2001: “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”• 2002: “Empire Falls”• 2003: “Middlesex”• 2004: “The Known World”• 2005: “Gilead”• 2006: “March”• 2007: “The Road”The authors do the same for Pulitzers:Back then: Hermann Hesse, Andre Gide, T.S. Elliot, William Faulkner and Bertrand Russell.And now: Imre Kertesz, J.M Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, Harold Pinter and Orhan Pamuk.The authors give other examples and then draw this conclusion: “What’s completely inescapable is the stunning fall in quality and what might be called a generalized hatred of America.”And this is followed by a compelling observation: Hollywood has made many movies about the evils of the Nazis and the atrocities of the Japanese during World War II. But Hollywood is yet to come out with movies about the evils and atrocities of Soviet Communism. And there are no movies about the incredible evils of the Islamofascists, even as we’re at war with them. Hollywood finds endless evil in America but had trouble in finding it in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union or the present day lands of Islamofascists.And then there’s television, which has been inflicting catastrophic damage on our culture, and it continues to get worse. The Parents Television Council found television is getting more violent over time and that violence is increasingly of a sexual nature. Violence is more common in children’s than in adult’s television: six incidents of violence per hour compared to 4.41 for adults.Add to that the fact that virtually every study of the subject finds that television violence correlates with an increase of aggressive behavior in children. And if you want one more statistic to gag on consider this one: Deborah A Fisher, Ph.D., of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, estimates that children are typically exposed to 1,000 television murders, rapes and assaults a year. Can we assume that these most impressionable little creatures aren’t impressed by that?There’s more and it gets worse. A study sponsored by the Culture and Media Institute found a correlation between high television viewing and lax morals. For example, the study found that people who watch four or more hours of television daily are less committed to honesty and charity and are more permissive about sex and abortion.Music provides an even more compelling example. Remember the songs of the 1940s:• “You Made Me Love You”• “When You Wish Upon a Star”• “White Christmas”• “Some Enchanted Evening”The list of great songs is almost endless.Compare that with rap music today and its endless flow of the n-word, the f-word, other profanity of all kinds, violence, misogyny and perversion.This all adds up and it’s easy to imagine that the final sum is bad news. The authors say a sampling of popular culture teaches the following:• The sociopath is a hero.• Saving and thrift are contemptible.• Family life is for squares.• The other guy is always to blame for everything.• Hard work is for suckers.• Self-discipline and mastery of any field or skill can be achieved through fantasy instead of hard work.This adds up to America the Beautiful being forgotten and that adds up to the possibility of losing America.The authors write: “With the eradication of history and its replacement with America-bashing, sloganeering, elementary truths once taken for granted throughout our society are perilously close to being forgotten. This weakens all the things that made America great and at the same time it makes us vulnerable to our enemies.”So the authors have an interesting observation about their most urgent concerns: “We aren’t worried about America’s financial capital. There’s plenty of money and plenty of trinkets. We are worried about our moral capital. It’s as if it has been loaded onto ships and is sailing out of sight. When it is gone, what will we do?”I’d add one more worry. The authors better start worrying about the money and the trinkets. Without America’s values and institutions that are our glory, we will not be able to continue to be the most productive, innovative and successful society in the history of the world.The three other ways to ruin America are brilliantly presented in three more chapters. But in my view, they require less amplification and explanation than the first three I’ve discussed. The other three ways to ruin America are to weaken the United States military, be a country without borders, and practice voodoo economics.We face external threats to our security from Islamofascism and the Axis of Evil. But a wise man pointed out that if we lose America, it will come from within, from those who inspire a culture in our own citizens that hates America, from those who create a culture devoid of values and finally from a culture that abandons the great rudder that helps keep a society moving in the right direction, religion.America seems to be going in the wrong direction, and we better start rising to the occasion and doing our duties as citizens if we want to keep living in this shining city on a hill.

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