Matt Drudge quotes Variety magazine reports of an apocalyptic theme running through several of the major networks' 2006 fare. Apparently, a number of TV movies and series imagine a post-American world of the future. Sadly, the demise of the U.S. would be just fine, as far as some are concerned--even a few within our shores. In fact, the defeat of America--and Americans--would be the salvation of the planet, and provide hope for the future, for those who see this country as an obstacle on the path to world peace. But such global thinkers here in the West may be in desperate need of a history lesson. And a quick primer on their educational experience in American schools might provide a few reasons why.
Many who dream of a post-American planet earth learn early about the shortcomings of our founders and framers, but precious little about their astonishing achievements. By their early grammar school days, our little ones become well aware of how poorly "we" treated Native Americans (formerly known as "Indians"). Our kids learn of the lingering effects of chattel slavery, and of our nation's "tragic involvement" in the Vietnam War. By middle school, our youngsters are learning about the 1980s--President Ronald Reagan's "decade of greed"--and how we "stole" the Panama Canal from its rightful owners. And no, I'm not exaggerating to make a point: it was finding this information in my son's 6th grade public school textbooks that finally convinced me to place Alex in a Christian school.
And so it goes, right on through 4 years of college, for many of our young people. On either side of their Christ-less "winter vacations," they are taught that we humans--though only recent arrivals on the multi-billion year evolutionary scale--have audaciously claimed our undeserved position at the top of the food chain, and begun our swift and reckless endangerment of a "planet" that survived eons before us, but now teeters on the brink of destruction because of us. Once our children feel the shame of our collective existence, the instructor may now bear down on the heart of the matter: the culpability of the world's only remaining superpower--the United States of America. We have claimed that title, you see, through brute force--our imperialistic campaign to force American culture and beliefs on the more pure and righteous civilizations that "share our planet." But even where and when we are resisted, evil America prevails, through our wasteful abuse of the earth's natural resources. After all, our children learn, Americans consume many times more "stuff" than other global citizens, and we destroy the environment at a rate far greater than other countries…right? Combine all this with our so-called "illegal war" against Iraq, and you can almost understand why some believe that the world would be better off without the good old USA.
But a mere generation ago, such ruminations would have been unthinkable. Armed with a clear and recent understanding of the sacrifices this country and her citizens made on behalf of those who could not defend themselves, the people of this nation would never have permitted the so-called "creative community" to picture the end of America as we know it. Except perhaps to remind us why we must defend her, to the very last man standing. If you want some real insight about the value of this nation, don't ask a burned-out relic of the 1960s, now polluting a new generation of young people through a faculty position on a liberal college campus. Ask an aging Jew, liberated from Dachau's death camp, or a French grandmother, who waved and danced as American tanks rolled beneath the Arc de Triomphe, liberating her city from Nazi control. Did your social studies proctor ever bother to mention the gratitude of a planet preserved through two world wars, largely by American know-how, and the blood of our best and brightest? Or was he too busy decrying our evil "military-industrial complex?"
Now, please understand: this commentary is not meant to be a sweeping indictment against our educational system. And I'm not foolish enough to suggest that only pro-US propaganda be force-fed to our schoolchildren; they need to receive the complete American story, warts and all. But where is the balance? Who is an advocate for one of history's greatest nations? The saddest part of this story isn't the fact that the eyewitnesses to America's true legacy are quickly passing away. It's that their testimony to our nation's greatness is expiring along with them. As each new generation of self-appointed historians purposes to re-cast the American experience in its own image, the more selfish and arrogant our collective story appears to be. But we must remember that such is a reflection on the bias and cynicism of the reporter, not a change in the history of our nation itself.
It's the solemn duty of each of us who loves this country to tell its story with accuracy, perspective--and a due sense of awe and gratitude. Rather than fancy her demise...may we purpose to dream about America’s future...that we might excite our young people with her promise, rather than simply critique her past. Our children deserve nothing less than knowledge of the full majesty--and heartache--of the American experience.
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