Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Sad Story About Indoctrination

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Note: I wrote a long article incorporating some of my previous pieces here on direct observation of my son's school experiences along with new items for PajamasMedia here. The full text is included here with some improvements for your convenience.

A personal remark. While most people responded favorably and with experiences, one way or the other, of their own, some people suggested that I made up everything in this article, trying to find some small detail that would reveal the entire article was some sort of conspiracy with a hidden agenda. My son was shocked, "I really do exist," he remarked.

By Barry Rubin

This little true anecdote--based on first-hand knowledge--is terribly sad. A pre-teenage boy lives with his affluent family from South America in the United States and goes to an American public school in the eastern part of the country. They are not immigrants. He speaks English without an accent and is not physically identifiable with any particular ethnic group.

Recently, he and my son walked into a school fair to raise money for the homeless where there were various tables selling things. They came to the first booth which was selling soccer balls and shirts. The salesman invited him to look at his merchandise. The boy became very upset.

"That's racist," he complained to his friend.

"Why?" asked my son:

"That's what they think of us Mexicans. All we are interested in is soccer and tacos."

In other words, he had innocently turned a simple situation--a guy wanted to sell merchandise to boys of an age when kids are crazy about soccer to earn money for charity--into a racist incident.

The boy didn't do anything or say anything to anyone other than his friend. That's just the way he reacted to it on the basis of what he'd been taught at his American public school, to interpret things first and foremost in terms of racial and group conflict.

To take a small incident as an example of a much wider phenomenon is always open to question. Yet I can't help but think--especially since I know what he's been taught in the classroom--that the paranoia and quickness-to-anger of this boy is a result of the indoctrination he is getting in public school.

He has no interest in politics and has a very calm personality, not prone to exaggeration or anger, which makes this incident all the more shocking. Oh, and he does love soccer.

Tell people over and over again that America is mostly (or even mainly) characterized by racism and you are teaching people to hate America. Or as one little eleven year-old girl from another South American family told her classmates: "We hate America but our parents are making us live here."

Kids in the class constantly use the word "racist" even when colors are mentioned not associated with human beings (i.e., a black cat or automobile).

Tell young people over and over again that the most important fact of American history is the internment of Japanese during World War Two—I watched fourth graders be assigned four (that’s not an exaggeration but a statement of fact) different readings on that topic while spending ten minutes during the year on George Washington and zero time on Abraham Lincoln. Their sole reading on September 11 was a story on how Kenyans reacted to the event, with no identification of who had carried out the attack.

I could supply four score and seven additional and very specific first-hand examples based on a close observation of my son’s almost two years in an American public school in Maryland. Whether he is being subjected to one of the school plans developed by unrepentant anti-American terrorist Bill Ayers, who has had a certain influence on the contemporary U.S. leadership situation also, I cannot say. Additional examples are cited in previous blog entries here.

All jurisdictions are different so this is not an attempt to paint any general picture of U.S. schools today. Only parents in other places can say where this is typical and where other patterns exist.

Yet this is what's really going on in eleven-year-olds’ society in much of America, and no doubt among both older and younger children at well. This daily experience isn't covered in the media. Parents hardly ever hear about it.

One can only discover this largely hidden world by doing anthropological fieldwork among children. The fact that the great majority of parents--even the ones supposedly obsessed with their children's education--have no idea about these things is a source of constant amazement to me. I'm not talking about approval here but simple ignorance.

What appears in textbooks would often curl your hair. And I'm not talking about relatively high-profile issues like teaching about Islam (a topic that has never even been mentioned in this school) but how they describe the economic system or world history.

All the examples used in this article are from first-hand experience:

--A math exercise in which the teacher uses a deck of playing cards each of which is marked, "Vote Obama" on the back.

--A current events discussion in which even though the Junior Scholastic magazine referred to the Times Square bomber as an "Islamist terrorist," the only correct answer was to say that this Taliban-backed Pakistani immigrant is a "home-grown terrorist."

--Several days of study regarding man-made global warming in which nothing is said to question this thesis (not to reject it, just to mention that there might be a debate). One student remarks afterward, "Due to global warming it will soon be snowing in Africa."

--Despite having music class the following dialogue took place:

Father: "Did you learn the `Star Spangled Banner'?" Son looks puzzled.

Daughter helpfully sings, "You know, `Oh, say can you see...!'"

Son: "What's that?"

--Around Memorial Day, my son draws pictures of soldiers during free time in school; a teacher confiscates, makes photocopies to keep on file, and warns him never to do that again.

This situation is a social disaster and the bills for this will be paid in the future, just as today we are living in the echo of the 1960s turbulence come to cultural, ideological, and political power.

This "Political Correctness" and "multiculturalism" is creating a nation full of thin-skinned people ready to identify a huge amount of things as racist or discriminatory in some manner. It is making young people believe that this is a fundamentally contemptible society riddled with haters and racists who are out to get them or others who constitute “the other.” It is instructing them that there are wide areas to which freedom of speech does not apply

While all of this indoctrination is supposed to reduce friction the fact is that it is having the opposite effect, setting up a future of incredible antagonism, hatred, pain, the mentality of perpetual victimhood, endless grievances, and bitter divisiveness for the United States. In Europe and Canada, the results are likely to be even worse.

Of course, this is no accident but a form of political mobilization in which certain viewpoints will be demonized as unacceptable because they are based on bias. The only redeeming factor is that it is not universal but restricted—at least for the present—to certain states and counties where such curricula have been imposed. The blame for this is usually not on the teachers but on those who design the curriculum, which the teachers merely implement.

In the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln called America, “a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Yet today if a large proportion of American schoolchildren are taught that America is a nation conceived in bigotry and dedicated to the propositions of racism, sexism, bigotry, male chauvinism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and homophobia what’s going to happen?

Lincoln answered that one in another speech: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” That was in June 1858, three years before a Civil War broke out. There is no civil war on the horizon for America, yet there is a deepening of divisions and an inculcation in some places of a lack of self-confidence and plethora of self-hatred that is going to hurt this country very much in the years to come.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

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