Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Contagious Passivity

There was a story recently about a six-year-old girl being molested by a TSA stooge while the parents looked on "helplessly." This is a perfect example of what Edward S. Herman called "normalizing the unthinkable."
He says:

"Doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on "normalization." This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as "the way things are done."

Anybody living in the U.S. has to have noticed an acceleration of this trend. If these parents had been told five years ago that soon the TSA would be legally molesting children, they would probably have called you crazy. The unthinkable is rapidly becoming normalized and if you object, you're some kind of paranoid kook.

Americans might not be any more timid and sheep-like than other people, but they seem to accept any outrage if it's supposedly for their safety or to fight terrorism, or back in the old days; to fight Communism. Any bogeyman will do to justify asserting ever-increasing control over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

One of the ways - perhaps the primary way - in which this attitude is inculcated is through government schooling. Many people have written about the dangers of allowing  government to indoctrinate the youth. The first person I ever read that took up an intransigent position against government schooling was Hilaire Belloc. Belloc of course is long dead and when he was writing most of his readers probably thought he was seeing imaginary dangers. More recently I ran across arguments by Sheldon Richman, Marshall Fritz, Jacob Hornberger and others who argued for a separation of school and state. They have moved public opinion closer to seeing that putting government in charge of thought is a bad thing.

This seems much more important than fighting battles against the TSA, EPA, FDA, or any of the other evil and intrusive alphabet agencies. As long as the government is in control of forming the minds of the youth, fighting all these other battles is like trying to purify a stream downstream from a sewage dump. Get rid of the cause and the effect will go away. This does not mean that all people will be clear-thinking if we can just get rid of government control of schooling, but it will eliminate a disease-causing agent.

Walter Karp wrote an article for Harper's Magazine back in 1985 called Why Johnny Can't Think, that illustrates perfectly the problem with government schooling. The problem is not just with the schools, but also with the textbooks. Private schools and homeschooling are miles ahead of the Hitler Youth atmosphere of government schools, but the books are geared mainly to government customers. A friend told me that the first inkling he had that he'd been brainwashed was when he started reading about WW II armored engagements and found that most of the action was between Russia and Germany. He had not heard anything about the Russian front in school.

Teaching error is not the only problem with government control of schooling (schooling is not education and teachers are not "educators") and probably not the most important one. The government-run Day Prisons that are presented as schools induce a sort of gullibility and a contagious timidity in the inmates. After twelve years of being told to be quiet, stop chewing gum, stop running, no smoking, do this, don't do that; a student has about as much ability to think independently as an organ grinder's monkey. For all the blabber about thinking outside the box, that's the last thing that schools want in their students.

The outrages perpetrated by the TSA and other government agencies are bad, but they can be reversed at the stroke of a pen. The damage inflicted by the schools is probably in most cases irreversible.

No comments:

Post a Comment