Feb
26

Bow your heads as we pray the Pledge of Allegiance

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The reason business interests want to undermine public education, I argue, is to get their hands on the largest portion of the annual budget in all 50 states. At Salon this morning, Thom Hartmann argues that conservatives hate public education because “it’s hard to sell the Conservative brand” to people who know their own history:

So now, thanks to the war on education that began with Ronald Raegan, we have come to that remote period in time Jefferson was concerned about. Our leaders, ignorant of or ignoring the history of this nation’s founding, make a parody of liberty and flaunt their challenges even to those rights explicitly defined in the Constitution. And, perhaps worse, they allow monopolistic corporations to do the same.

Our best defense against today’s pervasive ignorance about American history and human rights is education, a task that Jefferson undertook in starting the University of Virginia to provide a comprehensive and free public education to all capable students. A well-informed populace will always preserve liberty better than a powerful government, a philosophy which led the University of California and others to once offer free education to their states’ citizens.

As Jefferson noted in that first letter to Madison: “And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. This last is the most certain, and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them…. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

Hartmann argues that the erosion of constitutional and natural rights we’ve seen in the last couple of decades would not have been possible had not public education been undermined along with them. Nor might we have seen the spread of authoritarian and Dominionist ideology, I might add.

On Tuesday, Digby cited a Public Policy Polling survey in which 57 percent of Republicans “support establishing Christianity as the national religion.” Another piece by Ed Kilgore quotes Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, speaking before a gathering of “constitutional conservatives.” Bundy asks the crowd, “If our (U.S.) Constitution is an inspired document by our Lord Jesus Christ, then isn’t it scripture?” A chorus from the crowd answers, “Yes.”

They probably weren’t polled by PPP, but they seem to fit the profile.

My wife and I attended a graduation ceremony awhile back at a private, evangelical high school in north Georgia. They began by pledging allegiance to the U.S. flag, followed by a pledge of allegiance to the “Christian flag.” We looked at each other — WT? Wouldn’t it have shortened the program to just combine the two? Efficiency, and all that. For some of your neighbors, that is the program.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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