Cleaning Out The Carpetbaggers
June 19, 2008
Nothing keeps a writer on his game like a good reader.
In response to a recent article of mine I received an email from Bill, a reader, who asked, “Tell me what can be done, aside from outright militant revolution (as recommended by some of our forefathers) by the ones that truly love this country. Talk is cheap. Please advise.”
In general, Bill was asking what a lone and caring citizen can do to alter this great nation’s present course into the loony bin and keep America as a “shining city upon a hill”.
Although what Bill requested is one of the hardest tasks to fulfill, I felt an obligation to take a crack at an answer because I too am sick of flowery prose with no plan of action (are you listening Barack?).
Even in what are supposed to be Conservative venues I hear speakers, ad nauseam, tell the faithful that: spending has to be cut; taxes have to be cut; pork has to be eliminated; national defense has to be strong; self-determination must not be usurped by a few in elite circles; etc, etc, etc.
But...I am never told how this change will be accomplished...other than donate to my campaign and vote for me.
Since Bill is correct that “talk is cheap” and since I share the frustration of many Americans that we, as a nation, are being robbed of all that made us great...here is an expanded response that goes a bit further than my email back to Bill. As imperfect as it may be, it is a starting point.
Thanks for the very insightful and very difficult question.
It is the second time this week that I have been asked that same question.
Having already answered it to the best of my ability once...I will give you an enhanced version and keep thinking about it.
The collective media of this country has hijacked the country's culture and, in the process, handicapped the ability of many Americans to "reason".
It is little different than the beginnings of any dogmatic ideology...radical Islam included.
But don’t exclusively blame the media. They are more followers than leaders.
H.L. Mencken once hysterically noted that:
The average newspaper, especially of the better sort, has the intelligence of a hillbilly evangelist, the courage of a rat, the fairness of a prohibitionist boob-jumper, the information of a high-school janitor, the taste of a designer of celluloid valentines, and the honor of a police-station lawyer.
The same can be said for the broadcast and entertainment industries.
It was through the alignment of the public education system and the media, that America has had a dogma of political correctness shoved down its throat at the expense of free speech and individual reason.
I sensed this coming in the 1960's when, as a high school student, I was amazed at the way that upper middle class parents would patronize the few black students in our school..."Have a party and be certain to invite a black person...fawn all over the black guest for any reason or no reason at all...keep saying how wonderful the black guest was and by slight of hand...you were enlightened.”
I would sit there and think, "What difference does a person's skin color have to do with the quality of a person? These people are fawning all over this black person simply because he/she is black. Are they easing their own guilt or insecurity by doing this? It isn’t rational."
But, racial canonization and patronization were being pushed into the mainstream by the “culture makers”.
Accompanying this racial patronization was the criticism of the war in Viet Nam. Just opposing it (even if you knew nothing about it) and you became aligned with the "intellectuals".
As a very valued Conservative friend of mine noted:
The Viet Nam war propaganda turned us against the government and Watergate gave the left another excuse to demagogue the government and ridicule those who still believed in the goodness of this country. If you recall, it was about this time that the history books were rewritten to glorify the blacks, that diversity rather than citizenship became the focus of education and the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson made us a country of ‘where's mine?’ and ‘gimme, gimme, gimme’ it was the ‘perfect storm’ of liberalism.
The social and intellectual repression of political correctness elevated liberal positions (without even having to understand or prove a single fact) to the level of "enlightened" and "socially superior". It was also “safe speech” that insulated one from berating and social ostracism at the hands of the PC demagogues (akin to the then stylish Cultural Revolution inspired by Mao Zedong).
Remember that H.L. Mencken defined a demagogue as “One who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”
This is something that true Conservatives will not do.
I honestly believe that liberal dogma was appealing to the “wine and cheese” crowd because it masked intellectual insecurity and/or simple stupidity.
But more importantly, the liberal’s politically correct dogma was an ingenious way to stifle free speech and rational discourse.
Although these same upper middle class people were not ready to yield an inch of their bourgeois lifestyle...they had joined the "revolution".
It's the same hypocrisy later employed by their children and grandchildren who became counter-culture flower children and then morphed into investment bankers and now have Obama fundraisers at their "estates" while they shelter those estates in offshore trusts.
All of this nonsense fed upon itself long enough to alter the culture of the country and, in the process, degrade the ability of many Americans to individually employ "reason" and/or common sense.
Political correctness succeeded in accomplishing what the Nazis and Stalin could not. It restricted free speech and effectively censored rational discourse.
Since apples don't fall far from trees, successive generations averaged-down from the starting point of their parents.
And...speaking of parents....
Parents, ridden with the guilt of lousy parenting because quantity of life raced past quality of life, have been duped into relinquishing the important part of parenting to the society, government and school system.
Good parenting became a race to involve your children in a million activities taught and supervised by others. The teaching of values was relinquished to the keepers of the politically correct dogma. The American family became a metaphor for Minivans full of children being driven from here to there and getting nowhere.
The parents would have been better off if they had read the curriculum of their children's education (as closely as the Little League schedule) and had the guts to call the school boards, administrators and teachers out on PC dogma replacing a critical thought (as readily as they would argue with an umpire).
What good is the dogma if you have no basic understanding of why we have a Constitution and where it came from? What good are ridiculous high school social indoctrination courses if you have no real grasp of the basics of math, reading and writing? Without the calisthenics of intellectual development how do you build the strength you need to develop the reason and/or logic necessary to the development of a whole individual?
I cannot count the number of times a person has told me that they wanted to be an author and felt offended when I suggested that one first needs a grasp of basic vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, paragraph structure, and logic to write effectively. "No, No, No...I have this artistic sense bursting out of me and I want to bypass all of the training and go straight to the Olympics." It just doesn't work that way. Even Mozart studied the basics of music.
In so many ways, we have become a nation of "I think, I believe and I feel" illogic.
When asked why "you feel this way" the answer is usually "because I do" (a sense of entitlement?).
Problems do not resolve themselves on this basis just as diseases don't get cured by "feelings". A "hunch" is fine but usually a "hunch" is the culmination of years of work and study and still needs years of work and study to be brought from the "hunch" (postulate) stage to the "proof" stage.
By preying on emotion, the PC crowd has relegated critical thought to the back of the bus. Hitler always knew that the best way to communicate nonsense to the masses was to “keep it simple”. And nothing is so deceiving as an emotional persuasion.
The emotions seem so complex but the message is simple and unquestioned.
We have traveled from Davy Crockett to Britney Spears in a few short generations. Nobody wants to be offended but they still wish to offend.
I suppose that all of this can be reduced to an unjustified sense of entitlement which is fed by power hungry politicians and money hungry media. In the world of Dickens...all of this plays to the advantage of the "vested interests".
And it won't stop unless it IS stopped...or consumed in the flames of its own failure.
Have you ever noticed that it is easier to be: dirty than clean; fat than fit or stupid rather than smart?
It is similarly easier to keep rolling down a hill of entitlement than it is to pick yourself up and be responsible for the consequences of your free choice.
The cultural predators can smell this weakness and constantly us it to their advantage (like a drug dealer giving away “free” samples of heroin).
Sometimes I think of a virgin forest in a world untouched by humainity. That forest will grow and grow until it is over-grown and starts to lose the ability to sustain itself. And then one day a bolt of lightening strikes the forest and sets it ablaze. The forest is thinned; the soil is replenished with nutrients and the process begins anew.
This is the solution that we don't want and that is why God gave us "reason" and the Founding Fathers unleashed the individual.
Of course it is always possible that a world war or world-wide upheaval could bring radical change about. But I would hope that we neither count on it nor wish for it.
The culture of the United States is the "ball game". From the culture comes all else.
And nurturing our culture is the battle line.
We are a nation built on individual liberties derived from Judeo-Christian values. We are also a melting-pot not a federation of disparate city-states.
Assimilation is the goal, not diversity. Diversity is fine for personal tastes but fails at the governing level. This country is its Constitution and, unlike choosing restaurants, every citizen must have the same taste for the respect of liberty.
Contrary to what the PC crowd propagates, there is a single American culture rooted in a respect for individual rights. Individuals are the center of the power and not the government. Again, this is all based on the Judeo-Christian values of Western civilization (as “unstylish” as that may be).
Our last best hope is our first best hope and that is the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The most fundamental priority for saving this nation is to work like hell to elect people who will nominate and vote for judges who will protect the Constitution, not reinvent it...at all levels of the judicial branch both state and federal.
In many ways the courts got us into the current pickle and are capable of extracting us from it. The game of those who would usurp our rights for personal gain is fueled by our tax dollars and the courts have the ability to alter this...if the justices are so inclined. Please see the recent ruling that granted citizen rights to terrorists...4 of the 9 justices think it is the madness that it is. One more justice with common sense and that ruling would have gone in the other direction.
The same can be said for confiscatory taxation. Do you really have 14th Amendment protection under a system of progressive taxation where 50% pays 100%? And that ratio is widening.
Can taxpayer funded school systems really do what administrators wish contrary to the desires of the parents (taxpayers) who fund those systems?
The government had no grounds to destroy the tobacco industry other than the healthcare cost damages. What was government doing in the healthcare industry to begin with? What is next...food?
Politicians that live by a different set of standards than those whom they govern now want to decide what a "reasonable" profit is in the private sector. What next...what a "reasonable" size car for you should be or what a "reasonable" amount of healthcare access for you is?
Also, the IRS has been lax in its duty to audit the activities of tax free organizations. So many non-profits violate the law by using non-profit dollars for political purposes and...there is no IRS enforcement.
A hard-working taxpayer messes up on a single deduction call and he/she is ruined by an IRS audit. But, labor unions all across America are illegally using dues to buy political support and nothing happens.
A single lawsuit and a sympathetic court could bring an end to that nonsense. And by doing so...really start to trim the influence of the vested interests that are now financing their madness without taxpayer permission but with taxpayer subsidies.
At every turn the individual should challenge the conventional wisdom of the day. If a school board decides to distribute condoms to its students it should be challenged not on moral grounds (that is a symptom not the disease) but because it is not the job of public education to distribute condoms. Just like it is not the job of a pediatrician to ask a patient if Mommy or Daddy legally owns a gun.
There is strength in numbers and allying oneself with an organization that reflects one's interests and goals might also be useful. But be careful not to pick an organization that wants membership dues and then keeps playing the Beltway game and paying its people 6 figure salaries. I find that smaller, more intimate, organizations are more responsive to membership goals.
Be careful here because many politicians and interest group administrators can be like Star Trek creatures. They appear to be one creature to win your support and then morph into monsters. It is bad to have liberal Democrats wrapping themselves in Conservative garb, but it is even worse for Republicans-In-Name-Only playing the same game.
Attending local meetings and state hearings and being well informed before speaking up is also helpful, as is writing well informed letters to the editor.
Even asking a polite "Why" at a social function when someone makes a dogmatic sweeping pronouncement like "Bush Lied" is helpful...but don't attack...question and inform politely. But never let lies go unquestioned.
Probably the most important issue is that of America's youth. PARENTS AND FAMILY should be molding the minds of our young. When a child comes home from school repeating nonsense from the mouth of a teacher a discussion should be had with the child concerning the need not to accept all that is heard as the truth. The teacher should be called-out for any dogmatic rhetoric. Children have to learn how to think critically as individuals and arrive at answers through that critical thought.
I am most concerned about the youth of this nation because present demographics are tending to favor a continued downward spiral for self-determination and rational discourse...in fact, for civility itself.
By replacing simple citizenship courses with diversity training, the public educational system is producing generations of “graduates” who neither respect nor understand the precepts and responsibilities of self-determination and individual liberty.
They only pay lip service to demagogues and dogma.
And again remembering the words of H.L. Mencken:
The central aim of the teacher is often obscured by pedagogical pretension and bombast. The pedagogue, discussing himself, tries to make it appear that he is a sort of scientist. He is actually a sort of barber, and just as responsive to changing fashions. On all hands he is told mainly by his masters that his fundamental function in America is to manufacture an endless corps of sound Americans. A sound American is simply one who has put out of his mind all doubts and questionings, and who accepts instantly, and as incontrovertible gospel, the whole body of official doctrine of his day, whatever it may be and no matter how often it may change.
And...that is the way the vested interests desire for it to remain.
For this reason alone, primary education should be...primary.
From grades K through 12, students need the basic building blocks of critical thought. They must first learn and understand the numbers of logic and the words to question and convey that logic. Next they must integrate these building blocks into concepts and sentences and paragraphs. Time spent on dogma is time wasted.
Instead of graduates who “feel”, we want graduates who “feel that the facts indicate”.
The end goal is to take back the culture and, short of a great upheaval, the best way to effect change is through the spread of rational discourse.
For rational discourse to flourish, political correctness and dogma have to be exposed for the alchemy that they are. Politically correct dogma is the intellectual tyrant that shackles both free thought and free speech.
They are the carpetbaggers that have hijacked America’s culture.
Every individual must decide for themselves the most effective way to effect change. It might be running for a board of education or simply speaking out at a meeting. It might be writing a letter to the editor or becoming active in a like-minded organization. But you must be engaged. And...it should always be well informed and focused.
Trust me...I am as frustrated with the status quo as anybody and, some days, feel powerless to change things. But, as I learned in competitive sports, if I give up I am certain to fail. If you keep working and striving towards the America we believe in...there is a chance of winning.
In the end, the truth will always triumph.
I hope that this "answer" to your question was helpful.