November 01, 2003

Civics for Utopians

If you have children, please get involved with their schools. Fighting the rot is a daily battle. Take this little item, for instance:

Every time he speaks at a school, Colman McCarthy pulls out a $100 bill and gives students a pop quiz. He offers to give the money to any student who can correctly identify the following six American heroes:

Robert E. Lee, U.S. Grant, Paul Revere, Jeannette Rankin, Dorothy Day and Emily Balch.

Wait a second. I know most of these people and I don't regard them all as heroes. But let's see what Mr. McCarthy has in mind.

McCarthy, a retired Washington Post columnist, has spoken to more than 5,000 high school and college students during the past 20 years. He still has the $100 bill.

So, he's spoken to 250 people a year. Is this supposed to impress me?

"Audiences know the peacebreakers, but not the peacemakers," wrote McCarthy, founder of the Center for Teaching Peace.

Well now, that's something of a contentious point. So, fighting back makes you a peacebreaker? I'm quite certain that U.S. Grant and his side did not initiate the hostilities in the US Civil War. And it was U.S. Grant that did a lot to finally bring an end to the bloodletting and bring about a peace, however imperfect. I always love when the purveyors of peace are able to shed all historical context in favor of their manichean view of peace and non-peace. Perhaps slavery was preferable to non-peace, if I am reading Mr. McCarthy correctly. As far as the American Revolution goes, I doubt that Mr. McCarthy has a clue.

McCarthy's point is that our schools teach our kids plenty about war heroes such as Lee, Grant and Revere, but little to nothing about peace heroes such as Rankin, Day and Balch.

Peace heroes. Aren't they on right after Captain Planet?

"I can report that the young are hungry to learn alternatives to violence," McCarthy wrote.

Right along with their alternatives to freedom.

Some of that hunger will be evident this weekend during PeaceJam Slam at Rhodes College. About 300 high school students from three states will attend to prepare for February's PeaceJam 2004, co-sponsored by BRIDGES INC.

PeaceJam Slam. That sounds kinda, well, violent, doesn't it?

February's visiting professor will be Rigoberta Menchu Tum, the Guatemalan human rights activist.

Another 300 minds of mush are going to learn that truth is a construct of imperialist oppression from a factually challenged Marxist.

"You live in a culture of violence, a world of violence," Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel told teenagers who attended the Mid-South's first PeaceJam in 2002.

Apparently is has necessary to add the "Slam" to get the kids to show up this year.

"In the midst of so much violence and terror and war, is peace really possible? How do you build peace?" First, by teaching peace.

"We are the world, we are the children." Who's going to argue with teaching peace, besides people like me, of course.

By teaching students as much about international cooperation as we do about international conflict.

Lesson number 1: That stuff George Washington said about avoiding entangling alliances, just ignore that.

By teaching them about great diplomatic victories as well as great military victories.

Great diplomatic victories? Name one. I mean name one that didn't rely on the threats or acts of some "peace-breakers."

By teaching them the history of tolerance as well as the history of terror.

Ah, the opposite of tolerance is terror. Got that? At least none of the kids will get sore backs carrying around the volume on the history of tolerance.

By teaching them about peacemakers as well as peacebreakers.

I can only assume that the people at the Center for Teaching Peace will be voting for Dennis Kucinich.

They should know about Emily Balch, a Quaker who inspired Woodrow Wilson and many others to seek international cooperation and conflict resolution.

Seems to me that Woody fought a war didn't he? And his peace initiatives didn't exactly pan out.

And about Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, who inspired Catholic bishops to embrace pacifism and conscientious objector status.

Sorry, but I'm naturally suspicious of any organization with the word "Worker" in the title. And I don't respect liberation theology, pacifism, or other efforts to undermine the ideals of the greatest country on earth.

And about Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, who said, "You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake."

Ms. Rankin didn't feel it was necessary to fight WW II. So this makes her a hero?

Teaching peace would be a seismic shift in education. But who knows? If our kids and their kids studied peace, eventually we might study war no more.

Yes, we can change human nature and mold mankind into what we want him to be. Hmmm..., where have we heard that before?

Posted by Charles Austin at November 1, 2003 08:27 AM

Don't you just want to punch him in the nose repeatedly? You know, I'll punch while he talks and we'll see who gives up first...

Posted by: Martin at 02:36 PM