Friday, July 9, 2010

"What makes us America?"

Will, who comments here from time to time, asked us, on my post of the song "I AM AMERICA", asks "What are we? What makes us 'America'? At the heart of what Obama and the lib-o-dems hate, just what are we?" He adds "As for me, I believe in freedom, not economic slavery to the state. I am America."
So...I thought it would be a good idea to throw this "What are we?" around a little.
You start. Sit in that chair and start typing!
z

96 comments:

LASunsett said...

Well, since you asked, I'd say up until recently it was the degree of liberty we were afforded by our Constitution.

beamish said...

At the age of 5, when my grandfather began training me how to make a hole in something precisely where I wanted it to be with a rifle, he began the lesson with a copy of the US Constitution. He very pointedly told me about the Constitution and its enumeration of rights and powers. Then, handing me the loaded rifle he said something like "The Constitution means nothing without that tool in your hands" and in comparing Constitution to gun, "this lists your rights, and that keeps them."

My grandfather was VERY no nonsense in that regard, and had experienced combat with both the tyranny of actual war against the totalitarian leftists led by Adolf Hitler and the institutionalized tyranny of DemoKKKrat leftists and their Jim Crow national socialism in 1960's Alabama where they burned his business to the ground and shot up his house for employing black men and registering blacks to vote as a Republican Party grass roots organizer in Birmingham, Alabama. You might say he took the threat of leftism seriously.

We are America because of men like my grandfather.

I hope if I ever have children and grandchildren, they will say the same of me.

Always On Watch said...

Believing in, living by, and being governed by the principles of our Constitution and of free enterprise.

Sadly, that last point is going further and further by the wayside.

But we still remain the society with the greatest possibility of upward economic and class mobility and, yes, the ability to exercise our rights as delineated in the Bill of Rights.

Faith said...

The only nation on earth governed entirely by principles and not tribal identity, and I think it's something we all feel despite the attempts of the left to make us out to be racist. I think it's the basic reason for our fierce patriotism -- those who have it anyway.

tha malcontent said...

I am just so glad there is no double standard going on here.. no none at all...

Well for one thing, I'm so proud that we have free speech here. Even if it's hate speech. We have an Attorney General who will protect us ALL.
In fact next November, me and my biggest white friend are going to go stand outside a polling place next election in a black neighborhood dressed in Senator Byrds old hood sheets with ax handles giving all the voters the evil eye..

I am sure Eric Holder will understand, after all we are all Americans..

Craig and Heather said...

Hey Beamish,

What kind of dog is that?

H

Craig and Heather said...

Well Z.

I suppose my answer to the main question would be pretty standard.

What defines us as "America" would likely be our Constitution-driven form of government and the fact that we say we value the ability to freely pursue "life, liberty, happiness and personal religious convictions" as individual citizens.


As much as some would hate to admit (and regardless of whether many of the Founding Fathers could simply be considered 'deist' instead of 'Christian'), a recognition and respect for God's sovereignty does appear to play into our earliest national history. I don't generally consider us to be a "Christian nation", but there is no denying the fact that Biblical principles have frequently shaped our laws and societal structure.

The concept of personal responsibility could also be considered a characteristic of those who resist attempts at governmentally forced collectivism. I wouldn't say that quality is distinctly "American", but it does come from some level of recognition of God's standard of right and wrong and a sense of accountability for our own actions.
I believe part of the reason we see so much anger over what's being done in our country is that individual conscience is still valued over "socially directed conscience" by the majority.

Of course, "What defines what which America was meant to be" and "What defines that which America has become" are two entirely different questions...

H

FrogBurger said...

Freedom from oppression. That's the American dream. It got corrupted into making a lot of money because that's what the freedom allows. But the real dream is to be totally free. That's why I left socialist France. To run away from big gov that runs your life. Not for the big bucks.

Ducky's here said...

A nation so out of touch with its roots that some think Ginny Hawker and Hazel Dickens are "obscure" singers.

A nation that believes it is free so long as it's comfortable.

Victims of comfort.

Ducky's here said...

I also post on a leftist board and that song came up on a discussion of which news story Americans were following, Lindsay Lohan or Lebron James.

The song was sort of panned. LeBron won.

Mustang said...

I think Beamish’s comment is extraordinary; if only more people thought that way.

Craig and Heather said...

Ducky:

A nation so out of touch with its roots that some think Ginny Hawker and Hazel Dickens are "obscure" singers.

A nation that believes it is free so long as it's comfortable.

Victims of comfort.


And, here's an excellent example of a perception of "What defines that which America has become"



So Ducky, what is your understanding of what America was intended to be and do you believe we ought to be working to return to those basic principles?

Ducky's here said...

"I am America,
One voice, united we stand"

Now play a little "find Waldo" and locate a minority in the crowd.

Most of them are retired Federal workers on nanny state pensions. Ultra hypocrites.

Linda said...

I am proud to be an American. I do believe in the Constitution, and the freedoms espoused therein. I am afraid we've taken these freedoms for granted,and have ignored our duties as Americans, and have let the 'lib's' take over.

Yes, there are plenty of people that have worked in the government, retired and are drawing nice pensions. That is the contract they 'signed' when they started their jobs. My dad worked for the Post Office for many years, and retired with a nice pension.

As an American, the we can fight is with our votes. We can speak, we can pray, we can write and call our elected officials and make them aware of our desires.

Ducky's here said...

I especially like the "we're taking names" part. Now I know this "American Idol" reject means the names of politicians but it reminds me of COINTELPRO and the days when the government had the phone tapped at the Boston Catholic Worker house.

Just reminds me how much the self righteous, frightened, close minded right only values certain freedoms for certain people.

J. Edgar Hoover the cross dresser, now there's a right winger for you.

Karen Howes said...

What a great question... and one that we really need to ask and be able to answer.

What makes us America is our liberty and constitutional republic. It has been a beacon of hope and opportunity for millions around the world.

It's a place where British people could come to practice their religion in peace, without persecution.

It's a place where an Irish potato farmer can come here and become a well-off grocery store owner-- whose son would become mayor of Boston and a member of Congress, and who's great-grandson would become President. I'm talking of my great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald, his son John Francis (better known as "Honey Fitz"), and his grandson John F. Kennedy.

It's a place where a 21-year-old Russian Jew can come here and become the owner of his own business (a delicatessen) and become prosperous. That was my grandfather.

I guess you could say that America is a place where you can be what you want to be, if you're willing to work hard.

Sorry this was such a long answer, but...

beamish said...

H,

What kind of dog is that?

She's a "schnoodle," a cross between a schnauser and a poodle.

Karen Howes said...

Edited to add a grim footnote:

Or at least it USED to be...

Brooke said...

I second that; Beamish's comment is fantastic!

My father always says that having your taxes taken out of your paycheck is the downfall of freedom.

He told me when I got my first job and looked in dismay at the amount of taxes removed that people should have to sit down and write a check to the govt EVERY WEEK for that money... Then we'd see how long it would take for the capitol to burn!

Craig and Heather said...

Aw Z,

I hoped you'd have gotten more responses by now. Mostly for selfish reasons, as I'm going to probably be away from the computer most of the day and this is the type of question that I believe that not only every adult ought to be able to answer, but also every parent ought to be asking of their children. The differing perspectives give more depth to discussion.

This comment is mainly directed to you, Z as you seem to enjoy thinking about such things.



What does it mean to be "American"?

I'm going to plow the furrow a bit deeper and hope this is not misunderstood to simply be a non-relevant, argumentative addition.

Do our humanly-devised laws and culture define who we are as individuals, or do "we the people" corporately define our laws and culture? Or is there another, greater Authority to Whom we have traditionally deferred?

Personally, I don't primarily identify as "American", but as a believer in Christ. That state of being transcends all national boundaries, yet requires that I respect and obey to the best of my ability (forced unethical behavior exempted), the laws of any country in which I reside.

As a conscientious citizen, I desire to see the long-established foundational laws of our country upheld and have the abuses of freedom reversed on political, corporate and individual levels.
But, internal freedom from the tyranny of sin-slavery is a given, regardless of whether external circumstances are favorable.

Am I "un-American" because my Christian identity must take precedence over my affiliation with a commonly held nationalistic goal?

On that note, is someone like Ducky "un-American" because he has exercised his right of free speech/religion in order to communicate his ideas (right or wrong) of what he'd like to see changed in order to better our society?


I guess what I'm trying to say is that if "being American" is what defines who I am as an individual, then I certainly should be frightened when someone tries to change the historically (or commonly) understood meaning of what it means to "be American". If things changed dramatically, I would lose my identity and be left floundering around in an effort to figure out who I am and what my purpose is in life.

On the other hand, if my identity is grounded in Christ, He is the anchor which holds regardless of what the storm looks like.

Do you think it is possible that many of us American Christians have become confused about our primary identity as we have gravitated toward the conservative right end of the political spectrum?

H

beamish said...

Ducky,

I especially like the "we're taking names" part. Now I know this "American Idol" reject means the names of politicians but it reminds me of COINTELPRO and the days when the government had the phone tapped at the Boston Catholic Worker house.

As long as you're not downloading torrents of Metallica albums from the same dial-up line you call al Qaeda on, you should be safe from today's FBI.

Craig and Heather said...

She's a "schnoodle," a cross between a schnauser and a poodle.

Thanks. She's kind of cute.

Z said...

Heather, I'm glad you came back and wrote that because your original comment "As much as some would hate to admit (and regardless of whether many of the Founding Fathers could simply be considered 'deist' instead of 'Christian'), a recognition and respect for God's sovereignty does appear to play into our earliest national history," gave me pause.

This "deist" thing is what Americans have been taught to think, and I'd started considering it, too, until I've been reading more and more and more of the founding fathers' letters, documents, etc., and see that even those who supposedly "were deists" believed in Christ, or at least his wisdom, and quoted and touted following His 'advice'. Most were full-on Believers.

I can only speak for myself, but when I talk of patriotism, I don't put aside my faith and consider myself American (and Sunday, at church, I'll be Christian) and that's that. I don't operate without my faith on any level, tell you the truth, or try not to....plus, I firmly believe my Faith, its Scripture, etc., more reflects the Right than the Left, so, again, I don't have to differentiate.
Maybe some do, I can't answer for them.(My C.S.Lewis quote at the top of my homepage sidebar best says what I'm explaining here)

I don't mind saying (tho this is such a public forum and I do discuss my faith during the wk from time to time and have my Sunday Faith Blogs ...a privilege I am so grateful for)but I put ALL my Faith in Him or I couldn't function these days as we see our freedoms taken away, the ugliness of a damning and insulting Left, a media which isn't truthful anymore, the kind of unintelligent maligning of the Right (particularly Christians) because of misunderstandings of the its stances and motivations, etc.........(i.e. we don't like gay marriage so we 'hate gays',..we are against killing babies so 'you don't respect the right of a woman to her body'..etc etc.)

I do VERY MUCH believe this country was created and anointed by God and that, as I've said many times, His armies in Israel in the O.T. fought and died for Him....
SO, we bloggers fight, Christians or not, of course, and I'll keep on fighting.

I can only speak for myself....but I will say that I don't think fighting for or worrying about this country, by Christians, means we've put aside our firm beliefs that He IS in charge. Whatever I do, if it's to His purpose, I believe He'll bless it..if it isn't, I like to think I'd know...HE WILL.

Anonymous said...

America allows people like the duck to spew the things they do without the fear of repression, retaliation, or fear of reprisal, other than scorn.

Beamish, my husband served in the Navy in the Pacific in WWII & in the Paratroops during the Korean War. In fact, his ship was headed for Tokyo when Truman dropped the bomb. All he would have had for a weapon was his M1 rifle. Sadly, with the state of our nation under the current mis-begotten regime, he feels his time in service for this great country was wasted.

Silvrlady

beamish said...

Heather,

Do you think it is possible that many of us American Christians have become confused about our primary identity as we have gravitated toward the conservative right end of the political spectrum?

I dabble with conservatism, but really I'm more to the right of that as a libertarian. If the federal government is spending money on things that don't facilitate the delivery of mail or warheads, it's operating outside its constitutional charter and is beginning to encroach upon the powers and duties of states and the people.

That said, I don't believe the role of government is to cater to and service the whims of any particular brand or branch of religion. Liberals and conservatives bicker about what should be taught in public schools. Libertarians skip that nonsense and believe there should be no public schools.

I think Christians that are gravitating to the right are primarily concerned with pushing the pendulum away from growing government larger, not so much "confused" as much as they are trying to reverse the leftward course government has taken.

It remains to be seen if Christians truly and really want a right-wing [libertarian] government, or just one that promotes a different menu of provincialism than the current left-wing government provides.

beamish said...

H,

Schnoodles are EXTREMELY intelligent and easily trained, having the smarts of both schnauzers and poodles. and they're great for people with allergies as they don't shed, at all. And, as you can tell, they love to snuggle, but they're equally happy running around the house attacking chew toys and loose socks (or beheading baby rabbits in the back yard, hehehe).

They're rather low maintainance and independent, being so smart. They only real problem is keeping their fur trimmed as they get REALLY fluffy and that fur can mat and trap mud and dirt. And their little ears need a bit of attention as the insides can get clogged with hair and cause infections if not groomed.

Other than that, they're really just little furry humans. :)

Z said...

"It remains to be seen if Christians truly and really want a right-wing [libertarian] government, or just one that promotes a different menu of provincialism than the current left-wing government provides."

This remains to be seen by all Republicans...Christians or not.
The GOP and most Republicans seem to be differing more and more...

Good point, Beamish. And very cute dog! (except leave the ear stuff out next time :-) ptui!)

Ducky's here said...

Downloading "Metallica", Beamish. What a thought. Last thing I downloaded was Paul Bley's extended performance of "Mr. Joy". Come to think of it, Bley's Canadian, probably a commie, no?

Although I do like your comment about no public schools. I think you went even further and really walked the talk.

beamish said...

I <3 my doggie.

heh.

ablur said...

Most people of world have a select few over them who tell them what to think and what to do. Lines are long and hope is ever fading.

In America you are in charge of you. (or you were) If you have an idea you are free to act on it, to profit or folly. You could decide the level of effort or the lack there of. The idea had no bounds from religion, politic,or time. You were truly free to act. Your only line and limitation was to never encroach on the next persons freedom in carrying out the wishes of your own.

The lines of individual freedom stemmed off anarchy and mantained civility. You would look on those around you, not in envy or disdain, but to maintain everyones freedom. If one under your scrutiny was being denied freedom, you would use yours to re-establish theirs.

Now before us we see a nation falling away to selfishness. People wishing to snatch the freedom of others to greater empower themselves. Choose an area and find failure or theft of freedom; Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual. You will find thieves in every office of the people.

This was not the nation our founders had envisioned. Our freedoms are but a spec to the vast freedom that was laid before us with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Read these documents. Look at the 27 grievances outlined in the DOI. Look at how each was addressed in the Constitution.

You may be surprised at what we have forgotten to value.

Ducky's here said...

Gee Beamish, funny thing, my left wing father left Huntsville because he was a little too friendly with blacks and the local right wing got a little vocal.

You seem to perpetuate the myth that it was whites who were responsible for black freedom in the south. Typical, much like the fools who credit Saint Ronnie Raygun with the fall of communism and deny credit to the internal resistance that did the heavy lifting. Or the far right wing denial of the suffering of the Red army which made the allied victory possible in Europe.

You're a pretty good example of America running on myth and bucking up its deep seated doubts with guns.

Craig and Heather said...

Z

Thanks for the brain food.

I don't generally debate the "Christian" vs "deist" issue. Whatever the men would have called themselves (or what we might think of them today) , they generally seem to have displayed a high measure of regard for God and His Biblically set-forth standards. That was my main point.

I hear what you're saying about the frequent twisting of the Christian perspective on sin to mean "I hate the person who is sinning". That happens when people choose to identify themselves BY their sin. Of course, there are some who identify as "Christian" who only make reference to Biblical standards in order to justify their own hatefulness. And that reflects badly on the rest of us.

I do VERY MUCH believe this country was created and anointed by God and that, as I've said many times, His armies in Israel in the O.T. fought and died for Him....

I believe Scripture indicates that all nations have been established by God. He directs some to greatness and allows others to rebel and reap the subsequent shame. We can see this in the OT account of Egypt, and the establishment of national Israel, the empires of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome... and more modern countries and empires as well. God makes and breaks kingdoms in order to accomplish His own purpose and nothing has escaped His notice. Each one has a specific role to play in the intricately woven fabric of His plan--and it all makes perfect sense, even if we can only see the back side of the work at the moment.

Thanks for sharing your personal view on the possibility of Christians confusing our allegiance. I do believe the Church corporate tends to act as a "moral compass" in whatever society in which we reside. That is often resented by those who do not appreciate that God's ways are actually good for us--so I suppose we ought to expect to be ignored or shouted down at times.

We each have been assigned a role to play and need to be able to live with our own consciences, that is for sure.

Good stuff to contemplate.

H

beamish said...

Although I do like your comment about no public schools. I think you went even further and really walked the talk.

I was tested as having college graduate level reading comprehension in 3rd grade. With a few exceptions, public school education under unionized teachers couldn't handle or challenge me.

To me, school was a distraction from learning anything.

Z said...

Heather, well, we tend to differ on some things, but I respect your thinking very much.
I'd love to go deeper but my site isn't about that...
I can't really say much more than that here..sorry. I wish I could.

thanks for coming by again and offering your thinking on all of this...good stuff!

beamish said...

Gee Beamish, funny thing, my left wing father left Huntsville because he was a little too friendly with blacks and the local right wing got a little vocal.

Am I supposed to be apologetic over your daddy being a gutless worm? My grandfather stayed in Birmingham until he died a few years ago and had his business burned down and his house riddled with gunfire for fighting your DemoKKKrat values.

You seem to perpetuate the myth that it was whites who were responsible for black freedom in the south.

I'm fairly certain the conservative Christian and registered Republican Martin Luther King was black.

Typical, much like the fools who credit Saint Ronnie Raygun with the fall of communism and deny credit to the internal resistance that did the heavy lifting. Or the far right wing denial of the suffering of the Red army which made the allied victory possible in Europe.

Get back to me when your tiny leftist mind decides whether or not Eastern Europe was ever under communism to begin with.

You're a pretty good example of America running on myth and bucking up its deep seated doubts with guns.

And you're a perfect example of the fact that leftists are incapable of rational thought.

Joe said...

As much as I hate hyphenated identities, I consider myself to be a Christian-American...in that order.

In truth, I was a citizen of America before I was a citizen of Heaven, nevertheless, my primary allegience is to Christ, not America.

Having said that, I am a committed, right-wing, conservative, borderline libertarian who believes in absolutely no more federal government than is required by the Constitution.

While I am ashamed of some of the things The United States has done, I am fiercly proud of the way our country was formed, framed and principled from the beginning.

Unlike Ducky, who is ashamed of Americanism itself, I would die today to preserve freedom and to keep any government from taking it from me or my fellow citizens.

Any politician who thinks the very roots of this Constitutional Republic should be altered in any way, shape or form should be deported to a third world country in Arabia or Africa and forced to learn what life without freedom is like.

Our ancestors came here from just such countries. Liberal politicians have been doing their best to return us to our European pre-roots as fast and completely as they can, and I resent that.

I have lived in Europe: France; Germany; Holland and Great Britain and I don't like what they do or how they do it.

Our legal system, while flawed in practice, is still far, far superior to that of any other nation on earth...for example Italy.

To be an American is to stand for what is right and just in every circumstance (which rightness can be discovered in the book upon which so many of our founders leaned, The Bible).

To be an American is to recognize that no other country affords the opportunity for absolutely anyone to be a Bill Gates, a Rupert Murdock, a Rush Limbaugh or a Barack Obama, if he/she is willing to do what it takes to become the one of their choice.

To be an American is to recognize that if you don't want to become a Bill Gates, etc., you don't have to to have a pretty good life. You can even work for one of them.

If you are unhappy with your station in life, unlike in India, you are not stuck with it. You can get off your duff and go build a bridge, write a book, produce a TV game show or sell cars. All you have to do is get educated as to how and then go do it.

Nobody will stop you.

Yet.

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Ducky's here said...

Why do we still here about the Puritans coming and practicing their religion without persecution (they did all the persecuting).

Don't right wingers read their Hawthorne? Aren't are great early authors still taught? Probably goes for Emerson too and since Whitman was a homo that's a definite.

Craig and Heather said...

Thanks Beamish, for pitching in (and for the puppy fact-sheet..I was curious about the intelligence and shed potential).

It remains to be seen if Christians truly and really want a right-wing [libertarian] government, or just one that promotes a different menu of provincialism than the current left-wing government provides.

I've wondered about this as I tend toward libertarianism myself and would love to see the pendulum swing back away from the mess we've currently got.

Thing is, true liberty from the need for an overbearing, nanny-like govt. can only be possible when individuals take personal responsibility seriously.

Enforcement of external law becomes necessary when people are internally lawless. And unfortunately, when govt becomes a substitute for conscience, serious abuses of power occur.

Perhaps we need to look hard at whether a somewhat risky state of "personal freedom" is a good exchange for govt promises of "safety and comfort"?


Z,

It's nice that we can respect the difference in our perspectives without having to duel to the death over every detail.

You all have a great day!

H

beamish said...

LOL Ducky.

Looks like categorizing your daddy as a gutless worm hit the bullseye.

Joe said...

Ducky: "here?" Did you mean "hear?"
"Aren't are great early authors still taught?" Did you mean, "our?"

Did you go to public school?

Anonymous said...

America is an idea, a dream, an affair of the heart. It’s a place where we can seek to be what our hearts and minds tell us is possible, if we can earn it.

No guarantees, except that we are free to pursue that dream as long as we are lawful in doing it. It is as our founders said, a place where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are possible. It can be difficult, but we’re in charge of ourselves. That’s freedom. We can worship unencumbered. We can speak our minds without fear. We, each of us, own who we are.

America is a place where anyone can succeed if he has the drive, talent, and courage to see it through. If he fails, he can adjust and try again, or not. It’s up to him. This is freedom. No guarantees, but no law, or ruler to tell him he can’t.

It is the promise, that what you earn belongs to you. Your home is your castle. Whether it is grand or modest, it’s yours. An affair of the heart, that’s America to me.
Pris


As I was writing this, I remembered this song by Frank Sinatra. I hope you'll listen to it. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8TThWTeFsY

Always On Watch said...

Duck,
Don't right wingers read their Hawthorne?

Some of us do. But I think that the public schools have dropped Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.

Maybe the book was dropped, in part, because Hawthorne decried all utopias, including Brooks Farm. Criticizing utopias is against the public schools' left-leaning agenda.

BTW, the homeschool group with which I'm affiliated reads Hawthorne, Whitman, and Emerson.

Always On Watch said...

Beamish,
Cute puppy you've got there.

Ducky's here said...

AOW, I'm afraid you're going to have to search in pretty mysterious ways to find school systems that ever mentioned Brooks Farm in the curriculum.

I don't believe the Concord public schools ever taught it. You're advancing conspiracy theories. But today with rabies radio et. al. it's part of being American, correct?

Always On Watch said...

Duck,
You're advancing conspiracy theories.

I think that you misunderstood the point of my mention of Brook Farm.

I was referring to the following aspect of Hawthorne's biography (source:

Hawthorne left his position at the Boston Custom House in the spring of 1840, and in the spring of 1841 he moved to Brook Farm, a utopian community in West Roxbury, Masschusetts. Soon disillusioned, however, Hawthorne left Brook Farm...

Hawthorne was, in general, critical of human nature across the board, including corruption in religion.

I also reference "The Great Carbuncle," one of his short stories, as another indicator of Hawthorne's criticism of sinful human nature. He wrote a lot more than The Scarlet Letter, as I'm sure you must know.

BTW, as I've told you before, I don't listen to rabies radio.

Always On Watch said...

Duck,
In the classes I teach, we cover the authors' biographical material when we study the authors' works. Lots of information in those bios help to further an understanding of the works.

So, my point is that Hawthorne despised all earthly attempts at utopia (religious, secular, etc.) because by dint of original sin man's efforts are imperfect.

Craig and Heather said...

Was flying through and wanted to thank Joe for also offering his insight concerning the Christian-American connection.

The three?-way discussion concerning public schooling is also interesting.

So, does anyone else feel that state mandated, funded and dictated education plays strongly into many citizen's perspectives on what makes us America? Is that a good or bad thing?

Z, if this comment is out of line, let me know!

H

cube said...

There is no document in the world that even comes close to the Consititution of the United States. I can't think of a better answer.

Mustang said...

Heather:

The bane of our Constitution, indeed, of the American way of life, is public education. It doesn't matter what aspect of our Constitution you wish to examine --freedom of religion, or speech, the right to be secure in our homes and property, public education teaches our children that all of these are outdated ideas and must be discarded.

Semper Fi

Z said...

ablur, thanks so much for coming by...excellent comments."If one under your scrutiny was being denied freedom, you would use yours to re-establish theirs." Well put..those were the days.

Beamish "Am I supposed to be apologetic over your daddy being a gutless worm? " Oh, GOD, you are SO GOOD :-)

Joe, I knew I could count on you, too, for a great response. "Not yet" is so true...
Look at KAREN HOWES' comment...same sentiment. What the HECk has happened to us because of LIBERALS? It's terrible

Pris, you didn't sign your comment but I know it's you....that song "WHAT IS AMERICA TO ME?" is a very good example.
And I think your comment about "a man's home is his castle" is a PERFECT metaphor, micro and macro, of America...whatever kind of castle it is, it's OURS (or was, until we had to start using gov't-advised light bulbs, carbon credits, and all the other affronts to good American home owners which are coming)
By the way, does everybody thinks it's as funny as I do that Gore buys a nine million dollars house on the shoreline of N. California when he's been warning that shorelines are going to be drowned in a couple of years? :-)

EVERYBODY, this has been fascinating..an insight into all your thinking, your patriotism, your faith, most of your thinking and goodness...and I want to thank you very much for your comments.

Ducky...these patriotism posts really kill you, don't they. You never get quite as unkind or vitriolic than when I post one of these. I almost censored because some of your comments turn my stomach and I didn't build this blog to have the stuff you spew here but, you know, it's getting to where I look forward to the responses of others to you. No, it's not what you write it's the sarcasm and ugliness of it...I want differing opinions but I'm TIRED OF YOUR INSULTING PEOPLE HERE.
I tell you this because I feel you could get a lot better conversation going if you didn't have to insult...I'd have thought your points stood on their own, or at least that you think they do. It just doesn't help. thanks.

Z said...

cube, thanks...what more could we want other than a government who understands the constitution and lives by it? Those were the days.

Mustang..I think you're so right....I keep saying that we have no safety net left...nothing to save America WITH when our kids have been so contaminated by the left. In schools AND in churches. :-(

Ducky's here said...

AOW, I find your comment about this supposed leftist control of instruction interesting.

Now surely you've heard of the Texas textbook committee. A real bunch of commies, right?

Would they for one second allow a section on Brook Farm in a history textbook unless the tone was extremely negative.

Right wing control of our textbooks and then the utter gall to posit a left wing conspiracy in the curriculum. That's America.

Ducky's here said...

z, who have I insulted?

Have you read Beamish's post? Now when he gets cornered he goes ad hominem in a flash but you maintain a double standard towards him.

I don't see why I should apologize for ripping a little of the veneer of the supposed "patriotism" of the right.

lisa said...

"You seem to perpetuate the myth that it was whites who were responsible for black freedom in the south."
Typical, much like the fools who credit Saint Ronnie Raygun with the fall of communism and deny credit to the internal resistance that did the heavy lifting. Or the far right wing denial of the suffering of the Red army which made the allied victory possible in Europe.

and FDR ended the depression and it only took him 12 years. Genius!

Anonymous said...

Hi Z, I did sign my comment, but neglected to leave a space between the comment and my name.

I remember listening to that record when a was a child. It always stuck with me. I guess it made quite an impression on this little girl a looooong time ago.

Pris

Anonymous said...

"Now when he gets cornered he goes ad hominem in a flash but you maintain a double standard towards him."

Oh my, poor Ducky cries because of a double standard? Awwww. How does it feel Ducky? Not good? So, you lefties can dish it out but can't take it huh?

Pris

Z said...

H: "So, does anyone else feel that state mandated, funded and dictated education plays strongly into many citizen's perspectives on what makes us America? Is that a good or bad thing?"

It DID "Make America" when I went to school...The people in my neighborhood were middle and upper middle class and there was a rare minority kid here and there, sadly (I wish there'd been more), but that was what our neighborhood looked like, no shame on us, just that's the way it WAS.
I fought Private Schools years ago saying "We have great American schools here, we need people to integrate and learn what it's like to be American, why do we need private schools?" Then I started to understand...when busing came in and my younger sisters were threatened by bused kids, dad had to take the two youngest and put THEM in private school.....he hated it but had to. Odd, that busing..."Look, minority kids...look how the RICH kids at TAFT HIGH SCHOOL live during the day, and then go another hour in the traffic (if you're lucky, could be 2 hours) back to your ghetto, that's the trick, that'll make you happy!"(AS IF!!..what WERE they thinking? Black kids sat at ONE table and White kids sat at the other)
Anyway, then I lamented Home Schooling and now I'm 100% for it...our schools here in LA had nine year olds marching against their president (BUsh), American schools now give condoms to 10 yr olds if they're asked and won't tell parents, our schools are contaminating our kids with textbooks that demean this country more than build it up....that is NOT like it was when I was a kid, I assure you.

So, yes..it was a good thing to celebrate American education when American education as so good, why not have our parents fund it thru taxes?...it was normal at the time; we all benefited from schools!
Today? HELL NO. I shiver to think my tax dollars are teaching American kids to be slouches, to have no discipline and give the finger to your teacher and threaten lawsuits if they criticize you ..
I blame the parents mostly........but the schools are HORRIBLE (i generalize for sake of the conversation, butI'd have to say I don't know ONE which is not like this) When our kids aren't allowed to go to AWARDS CEREMONIES unless they WON so they won't feel badly for losing...or when our kids play baseball but there can be no score lest competition raises its ugly head, how do we expect America to be great again.

I'm done...I'd say "I tripped over my soapbox"!! but I fell so badly last night that TRIPPING isn't my favorite word these days. OUCH, MY KNEES! :-)

Deborah on the Bayside said...

We hold these truths to be self evident ... that all men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.

To be an American is to believe your rights don't come from the state or, in that time, from the king -- a la Europe. For the state giveth and the state taketh away. The state is there to secure on earth what the creator has bestowed from beyond.

(And I enthusiastically agree with Brooke - Everyone needs to experience how much taxes they pay.)

Ducky's here said...

AOW, this idea of criticizing utopias is interesting.

If you were teaching American history would you do a unit on the Shakers? Probably our most successful utopia and a wellspring of invention.

Excellent example of the merging of God's word and socialism so I wonder how you'd treat it.

Were the Shakers patriots?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Z, and thanks to all who contributed. I appreciate every one.
Now don't forget to vote this fall!

~ Will

Ducky's here said...

Hey Pris, let z just say that the gloves are off, no censoring and try to give me your best game?

Now what purpose would that serve.

May I suggest you take a cue from Heather. She and I actually have an e-mail conversation going. Can't say she's convinced me of a lot (although she has made some points) but her witness is clearly reasoned and sincere.

Ducky's here said...

z, if the public schools are so poor, how did Massachusetts manage to be in no worse than 3rd position in any category when the international assessments were given here?

Fact is that in a lot of states the schools do brilliantly and given what they have to cope with in the glorious capitalist culture at large you should be praising most of them.

Anonymous said...

This topic is a version of Supertramp's Logical Song at a national level. I know it sounds absurd; please, tell me who I am.

A while back, Z posted a video of Dennis Prager saying that the three defining characteristics of America are printed in our money: Libert, Out of Many-One, and In God We Trust. He may be on to something.

I think Paul Johnson had a similar take. I think he listed rule of law, guaranteed freedoms, and representative democracy. He noted that all of these applied to England as well, but it was the importance of religion in America that defined them.

It is a thought-provoking question though.Is America defined by Christianity? My internet survey says Poland is a more Christian nation than America. Would that make Poland more American than America?

-tio

Anonymous said...

I'll agree with Ducky at the last point--I do like the cut of Heather's jib.

tio

FrogBurger said...

Defining America through Christianity is a big mistake. I am reading a great book about LaFayette, Washington and both revolutions. When the French revolution became ultra violent, priests were jailed and murdered. Yet Jefferson wrote it was a necessary evil to end monarchy and absolutism. (I personally think Jefferson would maybe be very left in 2010.)

FrogBurger said...

To be more specific, you may define America with Judeo-Christian principles. But I think it's more because most immigrants were coming from Europe, many to avoid religious persecution. But that doesn't mean you can define America through Christianity. You can define America by sheer freedom, especially freedom of religion.

Anonymous said...

Ducky, Z does what she feels is best for her blog. The operating words here are, "her blog"!

So you want to know my best game? Well, my high game in bowling is 257! How's that.



"May I suggest you take a cue from Heather. She and I actually have an e-mail conversation going. Can't say she's convinced me of a lot (although she has made some points) but her witness is clearly reasoned and sincere."

Ducky, thanks but no thanks. May you and Heather live happily ever after.

Pris

Z said...

Ducky, you said "Hey Pris, let z just say that the gloves are off, no censoring and try to give me your best game?"

What GLOVES have I demanded you wear here? I almost deleted the first five of your comments here this morning and didn't....what gloves?

"May I suggest you take a cue from Heather. She and I actually have an e-mail conversation going. Can't say she's convinced me of a lot (although she has made some points) but her witness is clearly reasoned and sincere."

I'm very happy you have a nice relationship with Heather and hope her points do start to make some headway in your thinking...Honestly, I wish I didn't have ten years of your insults and attacks in my memory bank because, as I've said here, I won't budge on even looking like I agree with you on some subjects because you've never been welcoming in the least and/or eager to have a civilized discussion here.
I remember asking you how your nieces liked the Christmas posters you had excitedly told us about in eager anticipation of their pleasure, which I'd found charming!...no response from you. I've tried and while I'm a very forgiving type, frankly, Ducky, I see good in you and then you squelch it so soundly that ..what's the point? If you have a nicer relationship with Heather. GOOD! I'm happy for you, I really am.

tio..yes, as a huge Supertramp fan, this does fit the LOGICAL SONG somewhat.
you ask:
"It is a thought-provoking question though.Is America defined by Christianity? My internet survey says Poland is a more Christian nation than America. Would that make Poland more American than America?"

I don't think America is defined by Christianity now but to deny it was in its founding is simply silly, of course. Why do you put it like "more American than America??" That equation doesn't work because we aren't as Christian as we were for so many, many years.
I'd say to you that Poland is more a Christian nation for the simple reason that their Left doesn't have the guts yet to insult their faith in their new freedoms. I've lived in Europe..they don't DO that there.
Communism squelched faith but the faith was always there..and is growing again with their new freedoms.
Would that would happen HERE.

Z said...

Ducky, I forgot to mention that America's kids aren't reading or writing, etc etc...science, etc..all way down from any reports I've read.
And I don't believe that indoctrination is honest nor is it helpful to a free society.

indoctrination from either side, by the way.

Faith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faith said...

Have you read DeToqueville's Democracy in America, Frogburger? NOT defining America through Christianity would be the big mistake. The very idea of our kinds of freedom came out of the experience of Christian dissenters under Catholic persecution in Europe and Anglican in England. Our laws were originally based on the Bible, our first court cases strongly supported Biblical principles and specifically Christianity over all other belief systems, our government institutions opened in prayer in the name of Christ. America was Christian and our problem is that it no longer is.

Jefferson definitely had pro-French leanings and could very well be liberal in our time. But he did as much as any of the others to promote our Christian heritage in his time.

Anonymous said...

Where would Thomas Jefferson fit today? Defender of states rights. Suspicious of a strong federal government. Pacifist. Strict constitutionalist. Disdain for a national bank.

I think he would be in the Ron Paul camp.

tio

FrogBurger said...

You're right tio. Unless his disdain for religion would have made it move to the left. It's amazing to me he was not very sensitive to all the people, especially priests, getting murdered by the most extreme French revolutionaries.

Anonymous said...

Z,
Prager and Johnson both said that America's religious influence makes the country what it is. If their assertion is correct, what happens if that distinguishing feature is reduced?

Is the greatness we associate with America a result of Christianity? If Christianity's influence wanes, does the greatness wane? If another country has more of a Christian influence, will that country exhibit the greatness? That was what I was trying to get out with the "moe American than America" question.

It's an interesting question. I'd asked my dad over 4th of July, "What makes America America?" I guess I'm still pondering.

tio

Craig and Heather said...

Pris May you and Heather live happily ever after.

He said we're "e-mailing". Not "engaged".

:)

I understand there's a history here of which I'm unaware, but am a little surprised that you would turn down an invitation to engage in civil discussion apart from the blog format.


Ducky and I certainly don't agree on a lot of things but he's never been rudely dismissive of my view, in spite of my pushiness. And generally speaking, he's responded to my questions concerning unanswered comments on this blog.



tio Prager and Johnson both said that America's religious influence makes the country what it is. If their assertion is correct, what happens if that distinguishing feature is reduced?

Your comment runs in a similar vein to the thoughts I've had concerning the presence of a commonly recognized religion as a necessary unifying element of a society.


Is the greatness we associate with America a result of Christianity? If Christianity's influence wanes, does the greatness wane?



"Greatness" is not necessarily an exclusive attribute of a Christian society.

Historically, there are pagan cultures that could be considered to have achieved "greatness" concerning education, military power, various societal advancements and material wealth.

However, I believe there is truth in the Proverb which states
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a shame to any people."

How many civilizations that have refused to acknowledge God's sovereignty could be considered "great" today?

H

Anonymous said...

Heather, I do have a life outside the blogosphere. I am not at a loss for civil discussion. What would be surprising is if I'd said yes.

Pris

Z said...

tio, it could be total coincidence that America's greatness lasted as long as it has and that the slow removal of all things Christian (no more MERRY CHRISTMAS, no more CHRISTMAS VACATION, no more EASTER VACATION, no more majority of families attending worship services, the new dismissiveness and even disgust for the Bible, etc. ...has been on an even par with the cultural downturn of our country.
Could be that we took patriotism prayer out of the classroom and indoctrination started....could all be coincidental.

(By the way, I include JUDEO Christian here...Jews included, as ridiculous as that sounds, when I say CHRISTIAN, because I guess I mean CHRISTIAN as a 'decent, 10 commandment-based values system'....)

Yes, I over simplify here for the sake of space and energy, frankly, but I do think we've waned, as you say, as we've kicked God out.

Heather; you said "he's responded to my questions concerning unanswered comments on this blog."...what do you mean by that?
I sure am with you on this "How many civilizations that have refused to acknowledge God's sovereignty could be considered "great" today?"

I'll also say that,as much as you don't hold 'material wealth' very high, probably, neither do I, and that those great Pagan nations who were not lacking in inventions, culture, etc., didn't have the good, caring values God-filled successful nations have.

Elmers Brother said...

and Thomas Jefferson was homeschooled.

Elmers Brother said...

z, if the public schools are so poor, how did Massachusetts manage to be in no worse than 3rd position in any category when the international assessments were given here?


fact is that the best most public schools do on those tests duhkkky is 50% so being third is not great feat...

they could have come in third and still do poorly

beamish said...

Ducky,

There was no ad hominem attack on you. I called your leftist father a gutless worm for allegedly packin' up and runnin' because somebody bad-mouthed him for associating with black people. Try getting your home and family shot at on for size. Try having your only source of income burned down for employing black people. Try being threatened and harrassed for working to register blacks to vote and getting them to the polls in Jim Crow Alabama.

Throw all the firebombs you want. Your daddy never caught one in his only source of income.

Don't you got some oppression to fight somewhere, you little dipshit?

Craig and Heather said...

Heather, I do have a life outside the blogosphere. I am not at a loss for civil discussion. What would be surprising is if I'd said yes.
Pris


We all have lives outside the blogosphere. My point was that if a brief e-mail exchange might help resolve a problem between you and Ducky in your online interaction, I don't see how it would hurt to try.

H






Z
Heather; you said "he's responded to my questions concerning unanswered comments on this blog."...what do you mean by that?

When he's said things that I don't understand, or I've asked here about something and he has not returned to the conversation, I have e-mailed him. For the most part, he's take the time to respectfully explain what he meant.

H

Always On Watch said...

Duck,
If you were teaching American history would you do a unit on the Shakers? Probably our most successful utopia and a wellspring of invention.

I agree about the Shakers' inventions.

But a successful utopia? I'm not so sure about that:

In the United States there is one remaining active Shaker community, at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, which as of December 2009 has only three members left. [source]

As a matter of fact, the Shakers have come up in American Literature class, in the context of American folk music.

Were the Shakers patriots?

Interesting question. In my view, they were more a religious society than a patriotic one. And very isolationist, as are the Amish.

As for the matter of textbook control, it has always been a force in American education -- from both the left and the right. Ultimately, I believe that parents have the right to screen their children's reading up to a certain age; in my view, that age should be around 16.

And here's a surprise for you: I argue all the time with certain homeschool parents about the books they allow their children to read. Not long ago, I got into in hot and heavy with one homeschool mom about the appropriateness of a Christian reading Beowulf and The Lord of the Flies as required outside reading. I "won" on the Beowulf reading, but not on The Lord of the Flies. But note this: this homeschool mother didn't try to limit what other children in the class read for their individual book reports. And, yes, every year somebody reports on books that mother doesn't approve of.

Craig and Heather said...

fact is that the best most public schools do on those tests duhkkky is 50% so being third is not great feat...

they could have come in third and still do poorly


The flip side of "testing" is that it only evaluates children according to an arbitrarily determined standard of what a child "ought" to know at any given phase of development.

Passing or failing of those tests only gives an idea of whether a child has retained the select information that "the experts" have decided all kids need to know before entering into adult society.

Heather

Z said...

Heather, I thought you meant comments other than Ducky's. It's wonderful that he's 'respectful' to you as you say; I'm sure that's to your credit.
As for testing...
If public schools were what they were when I was a child, I wouldn't have much of a problem with testing to evaluate where kids are at any certain age today ; standards like that sound like they compartmentalize and generalize but, really, I wish that, today, we could guarantee that third graders are at least reading to a certain level, that 11th graders at least know about the Continental Congress, for example. And, if they're not and they haven't been tested to show they can't learn for some reason, get tutors or redo the class.
When I was young, it didn't limit us or become 'cookie cutter' because we were encouraged to do more in class and after school, etc. if we were gifted or had interests in other things which should be pursued.......but at least we did know the things kids should know today IF public schools were doing their job.

Craig and Heather said...

Heather, I thought you meant comments other than Ducky's

I see :)

Generally speaking, if I need clarification, I try to directly ask the person whose comment has caused me to wonder. I've tried going the circuitous route before and gotten in trouble listening to a second or third-party interpretation of what someone meant.

Ducky doesn't offer a lot of explanation here, so, being the ever-nosy person that I am, figured I'd make use of his e-mail address.

Speaking of. Did you get my note this morning?




Yes. Testing can be a good thing, if kept in it's proper place. I see nothing wrong with noting what a child knows at any given point of development. I just don't think testing should necessarily be considered the "final word". But, my reasoning goes beyond academic achievement and into parental vs state responsibility concerning the training of children.

Beamish touched on that beast of a topic when he said:

I don't believe the role of government is to cater to and service the whims of any particular brand or branch of religion. Liberals and conservatives bicker about what should be taught in public schools. Libertarians skip that nonsense and believe there should be no public schools.

I'm not entirely anti public school. But I am pro-family and believe the dissolution of such by governmental interference is partly what has gone wrong with our society as a whole.




H

Craig and Heather said...

BTW,

My view does not assume that the teachers themselves are the problem.

There are many gifted and dedicated teachers who genuinely care about the welfare of the children whom they contact. And I see nothing wrong with parents who feel unqualified to academically encourage their own children choosing someone they trust to help out in that area.

H

Anonymous said...

Is it true that the whole point of the public schools was to indoctrinate Catholics as Protestants? I thought I remembered John Lott saying that.

Getting rid of public schools doesn't mean you'd become your child's school teacher any more than the lack of a federal bakery means you have to make your own bread.

Freedom of choice in schools would mean they are constantly being tested...do a poor job, and you don't have any students.

No, I don't expect public schools to go away, but I think the idea of the vouchers makes sense. If the government (I assume this would be a local government, not federal) has set aside $1 000 for a child's education, why not give the family a $900 tax credit if they spend the money at another school? The child/parent have a better opportunity to go to the school of their choosing, and the public school ends up with more money per student.

tio

Z said...

Heather, i agree..and some of our problem is the amount of money we keep throwing at the schools which are failing so badly, not realizing it's the parents who bear the brunt of some of the problems..most of the problems, in my opinion...
But, what can you do? Parents can't be legislated to be good yet...not yet, anyway.

tio and Heather..I don't know what we can do to improve schools. The only ones which really have improved are mostly in ghetto/barrio areas where teachers have stepped up and demanded accountability from their kids (not from more money)...some of these success stories have been documented and filmed. GREAT response when the kids are given respect and demanded respect FROM. Funny how that works.

we have to STAND AND DELIVER :-)

Anonymous said...

Z, you piqued my interest with the "stand and deliver" line. It turns out Jamie Escalante died a few months ago. There's some interesting stuff on the wikipedia entry on how he torqued off the teachers' union by doing such things as coming in too early, leaving too late, and teaching classes with too many students in them.

tio

Z said...

Jaime Escalante is a personal hero of mine. You should rent the film ......he believed in the kids, he gave them hope, he educated and demanded they do as well as they could do; mostly Hispanic kids in the LA inner city. Great kids who did better in math than snooty schools on the East and went on to good colleges.
He demanded respect, he deserved respect, and he gave it to them and he BELIEVED IN THEM.
You'd like the film.

I don't remember the woman's name in Chicago, I believe...Marva or marla something?...who whipped a really bad school into GREAT shape...and a Black man, also, who's doing it now. I should keep records of those things....amazing people..Not relying on the money, standing up to the Teachers' Unions, which are the WORST thing our schools are facing, and doing great with the kids.

Z said...

http://www.marvacollins.com/biography.html

I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday but I can remember that name? Geeesh. Ya, MARVA Collins...it's a Prep School she started with problem kids, etc....they do SPLENDIDLY now...

if she can do it, many can do it.

but, most aren't.

There are absolutely FABULOUS teachers in this nation...nobody said there aren't...but even the fabulous ones have to mostly discipline and grit their teeth when flipped the bird or threatened with a lawsuit...

when parents are on their kids' side of criticism by a professional, your society's not working for the future.

Greywolfe said...

America. Land of opportunity and Liberty. Land of strength and ingenuity. Land of leaders and thinkers, builders and planners, hard working and self reliant. That's the America I pray for, work for, will fight and someday be imprisoned for.

I dream for the day when it comes again. For now, America is a beautiful Lady sitting in a hospital bed with cancer in her bones. If we don't act soon to reverse our course, she WILL die.

Elmers Brother said...

There are many gifted and dedicated teachers who genuinely care about the welfare of the children whom they contact. And I see nothing wrong with parents who feel unqualified to academically encourage their own children choosing someone they trust to help out in that area.

I agree with you Heather. Public school is a good option for some children. My brother has one of his kids in public school and homeschools the rest. The key word here I think is choice. Vouchers do make sense to me because it can create competition among public schools and in the long run the ones who don't cut it academically will fail.

Heather, i agree..and some of our problem is the amount of money we keep throwing at the schools which are failing so badly, not realizing it's the parents who bear the brunt of some of the problems..most of the problems, in my opinion...
But, what can you do? Parents can't be legislated to be good yet...not yet, anyway.


righto Z. I think our public schools here spend $8600 per child per school year. Way too much money with not enough return.

AND parents absolutely have to participate in their childs education...it's critical.