American Consequences - October 2017


We are the only nation in the world based on happiness.

[Last month, my high school junior daughter was assigned a textbook that makes American Civics seem like Atlas Shrugged ... This is Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States . Zinn (now dead and gone to hell) detested America and, in A People’s History , describes the entire American enterprise as based upon racism, bigotry, slaughter, and exploitation of the poor by some supposed “elite.” Zinn makes me yearn for the mere liberal PC claptrap of 1991.] Our Founding Fathers lacked the special literary skills with which modern writers on the subject of government are so richly endowed. When they wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, they were so clumsy of thought and pen that even today, seven generations later, we can understand what they were talking about. They were talking about having a good time: We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness... “This is living! I gotta be me! Ain’t we got fun!” It’s all there in the Declaration of Independence. We are the only nation in the world based on happiness. Search as you will the sacred creed of other nations and peoples. Read the Magna Carta, The Communist Manifesto , the Ten Commandments, the Analects of Confucius,

Almost everything we know about the workings of Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, and so forth comes from one high school civics course and one spring vacation when Dad took the family to Washington, D.C. On the trip to Washington, we learned that the three branches of government are the White House, the top of the Washington Monument, and the tour of the FBI building. In high school civics class, we learned just how long an afternoon can be made to seem with the help of modern educational methods. Things have not changed much. I got a copy of a current high school civics book, American Civics . I’m told it’s one of the nation’s most widely used texts. American Civics has trimmed its sails to the prevailing ideological winds. It has a section with the infelicitous title “Upsetting America’s Ecology” and another section that says, “The Reverend Jesse Jackson ran a strong campaign for the 1984 and 1988 Democratic Presidential nominations.” There’s a photo of a man in a wheelchair above the caption, “Disabled doesn’t mean unable.” Beneath the moral frills, however, American Civics is the same font of monotony, the same bible of ennui that civics books have always been. I defy anyone to read two paragraphs of it and tell me what he just read.

10 | October 2017

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