Naomi Wolf : So right and so wrong
Other than the really funny mix up of the 2nd and 4th Amendments, it's still an interesting read.
So much she gets so right, so much is so very wrong. It's almost like she knows the truth but simply *must* intersperse it with the proper Anti-Bush and liberal sentiments.
I almost thought it was on purpose... a way to slip truth past to her target audience.
As the Founders knew, if citizens are ignorant of or complacent about the proper workings of a republic "of laws not of men," then any leader of any party -- or any tyrannical Congress or even a tyrannical majority -- can abuse the power they hold. But at this moment of threat to the system the Framers set in place, a third of young Americans don't really understand what they were up to.
Bravo! She realizes that this is a Republic and the most important thing is the rule of Law, the Constitution. She even got the tyranny of the majority in there!
Middle schoolers in many states are no longer required to take classes in civics or government. Only 29 states require high school students to take a government or civics course, leaving millions of young Americans in the dark about why democracy matters.
Oh, no! I thought she was going to talk about how the Republic works and why. But no. Students ought to be taught why *democracy* matters. But teaching *democracy* is what got us into this mess, in my opinion. It's "government lite" and why so many of my generation don't understand and even fewer of the younger generation understand. Boo on you, Naomi! You fooled me with your clever inclusion of "tyranny of the majority."
The study also found that the more students increase their civic knowledge during college, the more likely they are to vote and engage in other civic activities. And vice versa -- civic illiteracy equals civic inaction.
I beg to differ. Interest leads to learning, not the other way around. College students have control over what they learn. Action leads to literacy. Inaction leads to illiteracy. Not the other way around. Teaching civics will not force interest or action. But I quibble...
"I was taught that it's set up for the elites and for old white men and that there's not much you can do about it," said Christopher Le, 28,
And who taught Le, the son of immigrants, about government? Who taught him that he was an oppressed and ignored minority? It is not *empowering* to teach people that they are politically powerless.
The money quote. ;-)
Few young Americans understand that the Second Amendment keeps their homes safe from the kind of government intrusion that other citizens suffer around the world;
Nothing more to say about it, but it sure is fun to read.
But this distressing situation isn't just George W. Bush's fault.
When New Left activists of the 1960s started the antiwar and free speech student movements, they didn't get their intellectual framework from Montesquieu or Thomas Paine: They looked to Marx, Lenin and Mao. It became fashionable to employ Marxist ways of thinking about social change: not "reform" but "dialectic"; not "citizen engagement" but "ideological correctness"; not working for change but "fighting the man."
During the Vietnam War, the left further weakened itself by abandoning the notion of patriotism. Young antiwar leaders burned the flag instead of invoking the ideals of the republic it represents. By turning their backs on the idea of patriotism -- and even on the brave men who were fighting the unpopular war -- the left abandoned the field to the right to "brand" patriotism as it own, often in a way that means uncritical support for anything the executive branch decides to do.
I can forgive the little foray back into la la land at the end because without it I doubt that the people who need to read what came before would listen. She's said some profound things and it reflects a bit of the sort of disjointed feel of the whole piece. Characterizing any support of the administration as "uncritical" misses that a great many people who are patriotic, who support our government and our system of government actually *are* and *do* criticize this administration. Often loudly. Just not always about everything possible. It is not "uncritical" to fail to be constantly and universally critical! But never mind that.
When I ask young people today whether they've been taught that immense positive changes have come about because small groups of people engaged in democratic practices, many look at me with puzzlement. They need a crash course in democracy -- and a crash course in how easy it is to close down an open society if steps are taken such as those we see our government taking now.
"The two parties are exactly the same."
This is a quote from a student that she included earlier in the article as an example of what smart students get wrong. What she doesn't get is that this student is RIGHT. A clear eye will see that the evils of one party are echoed in the other. When I was in high school I was interested in politics and I could see that the two parties were the same, almost nearly the same. I'd ask people, what is the difference between them? I never got answers. I can see the differences now, but I also see how minor they are. Libertarians call the two parties "clones" and with good reason.
This is why, as much as I am not *uncritical* of this administration I fail, entirely, to have patience with the alarmists and doom sayers. That they think any infringement of liberty is something Bush came up with only means they are ignorant or willfully blind. The outrage seems utterly manufactured, if it weren't for the need to hate Bush no one would care. How do I know? Because they NEVER CARED BEFORE. Wiretapping? Collecting data on citizens? None of these people ever filed a tax return? Maybe they didn't.
Naomi almost got it right. She almost sees that we're failing to teach government foundations but then confuses teaching government foundations with activism. She almost sees that the important part is the rule of law in a Republic but then confuses that with democracy. She almost sees the bright beacon of personal responsibility but then confuses that with holding government responsible.
She almost got it right.