Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crisis of Confidence


A lot going on these days, no? Sometimes I think I’ve lived too long.

Twenty years ago many of my students carried various Stephen King books along with the history book I required them to bring into my class. I told them I stopped reading horror stories because real life is often scary enough. Truth is much stranger than fiction and actual events, past or present, interest me much more than any fiction.

A week later I’d just finished “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston. On the back was a comment by Stephen King: “The first chapter of The Hot Zone is one of the most horrifying things I've read in my whole life--and then it gets worse. That's what I keep marveling over: it keeps getting worse. What a remarkable piece of work.” So I brought it to class and read them King’s comment. At their insistence I read some of chapter one, but stopped after the first twenty pages. The following week, I noticed a few students carrying Preston’s book.
Ebola in West Africa

Last month, President Obama tried to calm Americans worried about a new outbreak of Ebola in Africa. He told us it was highly unlikely there would be an outbreak in the US. Two weeks later, though, it happened. This week, there were two more cases reported in Dallas, Texas. Hopefully things won’t, as King said back then, “keep getting worse.” Hopefully the CDC will do as it promised and stop the spread of this disease in its tracks.
However, the confidence expressed by Dr. Thomas Friedman in his first press conference was not evident after the nurse in Dallas became infected. He said we need to “re-think” hospital methods to prevent the spread of this very scary disease. As the federal government takes over more and more aspects of our lives, from health care to education, public confidence in its ability to administer them all competently is waning.

It’s been more than three years since I left the public schools. My thirty-four year career in them witnessed ever-increasing federal and state control over what was to be taught and how, from arithmetic to sex education to what can be eaten at lunch. Countless screwball ideas came down from unions and universities as well. Last week, I read a piece by Katherine Timpf in National Review Online in which she writes: “A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.
Gender-bending programs like this have been trickling in for years and I’ve written about some in this space several times. If I were still in public education and instructed to say: “Good morning Purple Penquins” instead of “Good morning boys and girls,” I believe I would have refused. Are there objections out there in Nebraska? None I have heard. What is it going to take before people push back against relentless LGBT propaganda paid for by their own tax money and foisted on their children?
The “Gender Spectrum” curriculum, mandated in the Nebraska district, “…instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of ‘boys and girls’ so the student can learn that this is wrong.”

Wrong, mind you. Students are not being told just to tolerate other students who are confused about whether they’re boys or girls. Now it’s “wrong” to refer to the sexes in a “binary manner.” Nebraska public school teachers must now: “Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.”

Two months ago, my wife and I attended my niece’s wedding in Massachusetts. When she and her husband filled out their marriage license, there were no categories for “husband” and “wife.” No-no. Not in politically correct Massachusetts. It was “Spouse A” and “Spouse B.” How did this happen?

Several years ago, Massachusetts passed a so-called “gay rights” law which slipped in language about “gender expression.” Then came a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that it was then illegal to prevent homosexuals from “marrying” one another. Leftist bureaucrats took over and changed official language pertaining to marriage - for everyone in the state, getting rid of “husband” and “wife” because those terms are wrong, I guess. They’re too “binary,” exclusive of those who claim they’re neither male nor female.
The City of Houston Texas passed an “equal rights” law that included aspects of “gender identity” and conservative groups have filed suit against it. Meanwhile, city attorneys have recently issued subpoenas demanding that local pastors turn over to the city any sermons written pertaining to “homosexuality or gender identity.” Does this not violate First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion and speech? How about Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures?
Will Houston pastors meekly comply? Will the ACLU step in on their behalf? Be interesting to see.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Duplicitous Democrats


The Maine Democratic Party is bombarding my wife with large colored posters filled with lies about Bruce Poliquin, the Republican candidate for Congress in Maine’s 2nd district where we live. Every time I go to our PO Box it’s jammed full of these things and I have a hard time removing them, they’re so big. I don’t know how much they cost, but I’m sure they’re not cheap. The first one she got is an outline of Maine filled with dozens of women’s faces. Next to it are large pink and black font letters proclaiming: “This Year Alone Nearly 1,200 Maine Women Will Be Diagnosed With Breast Cancer.”
“Wow,” I thought. “That’s a lot for a small state like Maine.” So I turned it over to see the other side. It pictured a young woman seated in what looks like a doctor’s office or medical clinic. Above her, big red headlines blare: “BRUCE POLIQUIN Would Limit Access to Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings for Maine Women.” Then I’m thinking: “What?” Further down it states: ”Bruce Poliquin said he would block federal funding to Planned Parenthood, a key provider of cancer screenings for women.”
My wife tore it up. I taped it back together

Then it dawned on me: Most people believe Planned Parenthood does mammograms. They don’t. Planned Parenthood is far more interested in performing abortions. They’d rather invest in the equipment to dismember babies than in Xray machines to do mammograms. Planned Parenthood does more abortions by far than anyone else in America - 327,166 abortions in 2012 alone. When President Obama debated Mitt Romney that year, he used the same old lie: “When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood,” Obama said, “there are millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just contraceptive care. They rely on it for mammograms…”
I’ll say it again: Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms. They do Pap tests, yes, but mostly what they’re set up for is abortions.
Poliquin wants to stop sending millions in federal funds to Planned Parenthood because they’re the biggest abortionists in the country, not because they do Pap tests. Poliquin is pro-life. So is Romney. So am I. So is my wife. Democrats are the party of abortion. It’s their biggest issue, but they don’t like to even say the word. Instead, they use euphemisms like “Women’s Health,” as if pregnancy were a disease and abortion a cure, or “Reproductive Rights,” as if sucking babies out of their mothers’ wombs is “reproduction.” Whenever a nomination is made to the US Supreme Court - the third branch of our federal government - what do Democrats want to know about the appointee? They want to know if he/she supports abortion, that’s what. Every other issue pales by comparison.
So big a lie, I couldn't get it all on my scanner

It’s the biggest issue for the Maine Democratic Party too, but they’ll never come out and say it. Instead they send duplicitous mailings to camouflage what they really believe. They smear Poliquin by portraying him as someone who doesn’t care about cancer in women. That’s low-down. To them, protecting innocent life in the womb is a “War on Women.” Another eight-and-a-half by fourteen cardboard mailing proclaimed: “BRUCE POLIQUIN Wants Politicians and Bosses Making Women’s Health Care Decisions” next to the headline is a women lying in a hospital bed with a worried look in her eyes. Further down it says, “He even supports letting bosses decide whether or not women have access to birth control.”
What unadulterated crap! I’ve never heard of a Republican candidate who is against women accessing birth control. It’s made up out of the whole cloth. Republicans are against being forced to pay for abortion-inducing drugs in employer-paid medical insurance premiums. If a woman wants those pills for herself, she can pay for them herself and birth control pills are $6 a month at Walmart. No Republican anywhere is preventing women’s access to birth control, nor is anyone recommending it.
The Truth is just the opposite

Other fliers sent to my wife are aimed at seniors. They’re big, colored cardboard with pictures of worried-looking older people, and they claim Poliquin would: “Put Your Retirement At Risk” with “changes to Social Security and Medicare.” The truth is just the opposite. The whole federal system is going to collapse if we don’t make the changes Poliquin suggests, like raising the retirement age. When Poliquin took over as Maine State Treasurer, he strengthened the
Maine Public Employees Retirement System for many Mainers. It had been grossly underfunded by Democrats who were in power for decades and would not have survived without Poliquin's and LePage’s fix. Such underfunding has bankrupted cities around the country and threatens several states.

That’s the pension I draw as a retired teacher, and my wife will get after I’m gone. If Poliquin and enough other conservatives are elected to Congress, they’ll fix Social Security and Medicare too.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Were They The First People Here?

We tend think the earliest-known people to inhabit this region were the most primitive, but that isn’t necessarily so. The artifacts they left for us indicate they may have been more sophisticated than subsequent cultures for ten thousand years after.

Not much remains but stone, but what wondrous ways they fashioned it. Their projectile points were meticulously made and quite beautiful to behold. One of the first of these Paleo-American points, and most classic ever found in the state of New Hampshire, was picked up somewhere in Intervale, between Conway and Bartlett, New Hampshire. It couldn’t be precisely dated because the exact site where it was found is uncertain, but it is thought to be about 11,000 years old. It would have to have been found in its original position to be properly evaluated. It’s kept now at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and was made of Munsungan Chert, for which there is only one known source - 200 miles away to the northeast in Maine. It’s a pretty, red stone, and I’ve found smaller samples of it near the Saco River in nearby Fryeburg. Munsungan Chert and other stone types were used by subsequent cultures as well, and the samples I found aren’t nearly as old as the Intervale point.
Mount Jasper Mine Berlin, NH

Another stone material they used comes from a mine in Berlin, New Hampshire, which was continually used for over ten thousand years by many cultures. It comes in many shades depending on its exposure to weathering elements and I find samples of it in Fryeburg as well. The most common type I find over this way is a dark, gray stone from the Ossipee Mountains just south of Conway. Another common stone I find there is from Mount Kineo on Moosehead Lake, which is a dark speckled gray/blue. The most interesting, however, were two small pieces from far-away Ramah Bay in northern Labrador. Clearly, these early Americans got around much more than we originally thought.
Many of us today live on the side of a hill to enjoy the view. Ten thousand years ago, the earliest-known Americans in these parts did the same thing. I had to clear an acre and a half of trees to get my view over to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, but there were no trees around here ten thousand years ago when Paleo-Americans roamed the landscape. I like the view for aesthetic purposes, but those early Americans, probably liked it to scout game. The landscape they looked out on had the same mountains we have today, but with no trees they could see much more than we can. The lowlands contained grasses and small spruce, but that’s it, so herds of large mammals could likely have been seen from a long way off.
The glaciers had just melted away and the southern edge of the receding ice sheet wasn’t too far off to the north-northwest. There were huge glacial lakes all around. Kezar Lake here in Lovell was about three times its present size. It wasn’t a hospitable environment for humans, but big mammals liked it, especially caribou, but probably mammoth and mastodon too. The big spearpoints they made were evidently effective at dispatching them too. Some anthropologists think their fluted points were so effective, Paleo-Americans hunted these last two species to extinction. “Fluted” means there was a kind of channel fashioned in the center part of the point -probably to facilitate mounting it on a spear shaft.
Jefferson New Hampshire dig in 2011

Other sites in New Hampshire have produced stone - “lithic” - evidence of Paleo-Americans including Effingham, Jefferson, and locations along the Merrimac River. More are turning up as New Hampshire has required archaeological surveys for large construction projects. Maine requires this as well and, twenty years ago, a site in Oxford, Maine containing Paleo-American artifacts was discovered this way along the Little Androscoggin River near the WALMART store being built there.
So far the earliest evidence of humans in Maine comes from what is now the bottom of Aziscohos Lake in Maine near the borders of New Hampshire and Quebec. A fellow named Vail from nearby Stoneham, Maine was looking for lost fishing tackle while the lake was down and came across some interesting artifacts. This was reported to archaeologist Mike Gramly who excavated there for about twenty years, and published the results in several books. Early Mainers were evidently hunting caribou in that area sometime around ten or eleven thousand years ago, long before a dam was built in Wilson’s Mills to form present Lake Aziscohos.
As I sit on my back porch writing this, I can look out over the ancient landscape and imagine what it looked like in Paleo-American times. I can drive my truck and ATV to remote sites, but they most likely walked. I call them Paleo-Americans as Mike Gramly does, because we don’t know if they were ancestors of today’s Indians. Today’s Abenaki Indians in Maine and New Hampshire claim to be descendants of Paleo-Americans, but there are interesting theories being proposed recently that they may have been related Solutrean people from what is now northern Spain who crossed over around 25,000 years ago.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Having My Baby

Shannon Maureen Conley
Aspiring bride of ISIS

From World Net Daily
They want to go to Syria and have babies for ISIS. Young American and European women are sneaking off to terrorist-controlled Syria and the rest of us are baffled. “Why do they do it?” people ask. Why would they join ISIS? I don’t know for sure myself, but I have suspicions.

ISIS recruiters use social media and promise money for babies, but it can’t be the money. Why not just become a surrogate mother for an American woman who either cannot or doesn’t want to bear children? It’s got to be something else.
Samra Kesinovic, 16, left, and Sabina Selimovic, 15
pregnant with ISIS babies in Syria
From World Net Daily

The women are promised a jihadi husband, but it’s hard to see the draw in that either. These guys are evil. They cut heads off children, Christians, and other innocents. They use women as sex slaves. Their new husbands may at any time become “martyrs” in the holy war against us infidels, but that seems to be an attraction. A British woman tweeted “Allahu Akbar, there’s no way to describe the feeling of sitting with the Akhawat [sisters] waiting on news of whose husband has attained Shahadah [martyrdom].” There’s always another jihadi willing to marry and impregnate them, I guess.
Austrian teens Samra Kesinovic and Sabina Selimovic in a photo they posted online (World Net Daily)

Looks like they’re attracted to men who would offer themselves in violent death for a cause they believe to be greater than themselves. Is that a contrast to the European and American men they know over here? It would seem so. I remember quoting Martin Luther King to my public-school students on his holiday in January: “If a man has nothing he would die for,” King said, “he isn’t fit to live.” Then I asked students if there was something for which they would be willing to die. Most said, “No.” Only a few said, “Yes - for my family,” or “Yes - for my country.” That surprised and dismayed me at the time. It doesn’t surprise me now, though I’m still disillusioned. America has changed. What would MLK think of our young people today?
“They are selling them [US women] this mystical sisterhood of going to the caliphate and being able to be a Muslim in this idealized, utopian society,” warned Mia Bloom, a professor at the center for terrorism and security studies at the University of Massachusetts. “They are targeting these young girls in a very predatory way – the way child sex abusers target young children.”
What does it mean to be a woman in America when there’s no such thing as American exceptionalism anymore? During President Obama’s first year as president, he was asked about it at the NATO Summit. His answer? “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” In other words, there’s no such thing. If everyone’s exceptional, no one’s exceptional. Multiculturalism has been pounded into these young women all their lives. All cultures are equal. Europe and America with their Judeo-Christian roots are no better than the Middle East with its Islamic roots.
Do these women crave a solid culture, or meaning? Are they unable to find them in the west today? If they ask, do they hear some nihilist explanation like: “What’s meaningful for you may not be meaningful for someone else”? They might be told to question whether they’re even women. Western progressives who dominate academia claim there are more than two sexes now. It’s not just male and female anymore.
Progressives push the idea of a “gender spectrum” onto children beginning in kindergarten. There are more than two sexes. You may think you’re a male or a female, but you can change. You can choose your sex, they claim and Obamacare will pay for surgery and hormone treatments if you want to be something else. Homosexuality it immutable, but male or female is optional, they claim.
Shannon Maureen Conley (circled)

American and European men have been joining al Qaeda and ISIS for many years. More than a hundred Americans are fighting there now and more than 2000 Europeans. Some of the Americans have been allowed to return here and the FBI says they’re “under surveillance.” After the Tsarnaev brothers experience at the Boston Marathon, that somehow fails to inspire confidence. Photographs of ISIS in Washington, DC have been shown online. When CNN’s Jake Tapper was reporting from Ferguson, Missouri on the Michael Brown shooting, someone flashed an ISIS sign behind him.
Salma Halane, right, and her sister Zahra
From Minnesota, believed to be in Syria now

The first American women to join ISIS were Somali immigrants from St. Paul, Minnesota. That was disconcerting, but might be understood in the sense that they were already Muslim, had not assimilated, and had been radicalized. But when Shannon Maureen Conley, a registered nurse from Denver, was arrested at the airport on her way to ISIS-controlled Syria to become a “slave of Allah,” Americans were shocked. Austrians were too, when Samra Kesinovic, 15, and her sister Sabrina, 16, went to Syria and devoted their lives to ISIS. They’ve since called their parents back in Europe to report they’re both pregnant and neither will be going back.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Federal Follies

I’m going to miss Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) when he retires after this year. Coburn picked up the mantle of William Proxmire (D-WI), who issued 168 “Government Fleece” awards during his long career.

After Senators Proxmire and Coburn, who is going to tell us how our federal government spent $385,000 out of Obama’s $1 trillion stimulus money to study duck genitalia? Part of me didn’t want to know that, but part of me did. What little confidence I have left in our federal government as presently constituted has diminished with the knowledge, and that isn’t good. If I do my part to spread that knowledge of how government spends our tax dollars, however, it may motivate more people in my small corner of northern New England to vote for small government candidates. That would be a good thing.

The knowledge was also cause for amusement when I read a writer in the liberal Washington Post try to justify the duck genitalia study and other ridiculous federal spending. The writer went on to justify the the disbursement of $3 million to Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (where I was born) to discover why most lesbians are fat. It’s the fourth year of a six-year-long study. I could have told them the answer for a lot less. Lesbians are fat because they eat too much and don’t exercise enough. The same goes for all of us.
In 2010, Senator Coburn informed us that the Department of Veterans Affairs paid $175 million to maintain a monkey house and other unused buildings in Ohio. Then it spent $1.5 million in stimulus funds on mold remediation on an apartment complex scheduled to be torn down in Shreveport, LA. In 2012, Coburn told us we lost $70 million producing pennies because it cost two-and-a-half times more to make a penny than it’s worth. In 2013, Coburn shed light on the $379 million spent just to promote Obamacare insurance plans nobody wanted and the website that didn’t work.
The $1 trillion “stimulus” didn’t turn our economy around and Obamacare hasn’t been what anyone would call a success, but our federal government has been effective in its foreign policy, right?

If I still had any confidence in government, it disappeared after hearing our president’s speech last week. Our community-organizer commander-in-chief described going to war in the Middle East without calling it a war. Then there were follow-up remarks by his Secretary of State, John Kerry, who said, “War” is the “wrong terminology” to describe what the president is doing. Democrats prefer calling it a “kinetic military action”.
This was the president who got elected promising to end the “War in Iraq.” He withdrew US troops, against the advice of his generals and National Security officials, believing that would “end the war.” But it didn’t, of course. Now he wants to go back into Iraq without calling it war. Why is “war” too strong a word for Obama and Kerry? Don’t they lead the Democrat Party that accuses conservatives of waging a “War on Women”? If it’s “war” when conservative refuse to pay for abortion-inducing drugs under Obamacare, why isn’t it “war” when he pledges to destroy tens of thousands of Islamic terrorists? To make it even more confusing, Obama’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest[ly] said it was a war - a “War with ISIL.” Then Obama’s Pentagon said it was a war too. What are Americans supposed to think of all this?
The Obama White House also avoids using the words “Islam” or “Muslim” in the same sentence as “Terrorism.” Last week he claimed the Islamic State is “not Islamic.” This semantic legerdemain is at least consistent with past efforts at divorcing Islam and terrorism. When radical Muslim Major Nidal Hasan shot more than forty US soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas and killing thirteen, it wasn’t Muslim terrorism according to Obama’s Homeland Security Department. It was “workplace violence” that had nothing to do with Islam. Never mind Hasan’s shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” while he shot our soldiers. Pay no attention to Hasan’s numerous email exchanges with Anwar Al Awlaki - the leader of al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Never mind Awlaki's killing by an Obama-ordered drone strike because he was a Muslim terrorist. The Fort Hood massacre was only “workplace violence.” If you think it had anything to do with Islam, you must be a racist Islamophobe.
Now Hasan wants to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which Obama insists is not Islamic. In his Wastebook 2013 published last December, Senator Coburn informed us that Major Hasan received $278,000 in military benefits after his jihadist Fort Hood massacre. Maybe Obama will trade him to ISIS - along with four other terrorists from Guantanamo - in exchange for the next western journalist in line for an Islamic haircut.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's The Difference?

The single biggest difference between conservatives and liberals is this: Liberals believe we can create a perfect society through government. Conservatives believe a perfect society is impossible this side of heaven and government should be limited to the few necessaries like national defense, a justice system, and relations between states. Societal improvement isn’t government’s business and is better left to private charities and churches.

“That government is best that governs least,” said Henry David Thoreau about a century and a half ago and history since has not contradicted him. It’s an interesting sentiment given that Thoreau was considered a guru when the liberal “counterculture” was emerging back in the sixties and seventies. He was all about living simply that others many simply live, and other ideas that you still see on bumper stickers right next to Obama/Biden stickers. The irony is that Obama Administration is the all-time champion of big government.

People who consider themselves “progressives” look to government whenever they perceive a problem to be fixed but it’s the last place conservatives look. They see government creating many more problems than it solves, especially at the federal level. 
Most of our federal tax money is spent on social programs and only half of Americans pay federal income taxes. The other half that doesn’t pay them instead collects most of the benefits. It all began during the Roosevelt Administration, but it really took off during the Johnson Administration’s “War on Poverty” in the 1960s. Since then, the federal government has spent more than $20 trillion “fighting” poverty and we’re $17 trillion in debt - mostly because of that spending.
How’s that war going you might ask? We’re losing, big-time, but we’re still pumping more and more money into it. Why? Because we’re subsidizing the main causes of poverty, that’s why. Take AFDC - that’s “Aid for Families with Dependent Children,” now called TANF, or “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.” Both allow men who father children to avoid responsibility for them and thereby encourage further irresponsible behavior. After three generations, fatherless families - the biggest cause of poverty - have multiplied to where they’ve become the norm, especially for minorities.  How about if the federal government stopped trying to administer social programs altogether? Welfare isn’t a civil right to be enforced by the federal government. How about we leave it to the states instead? Maybe they could do it better. They couldn’t do any worse than the feds have, could they?
Better still, how about we leave it to private charities? As it is now, the federal government takes our money and gives it to many people whom we, as individuals, would never choose to give it to. While most of us wouldn’t begrudge help for the truly needy, we all know people who game the system. Many of us are related to people who continually scam for unneeded benefits. From the ordinary taxpayer’s perspective, scammers are multiplying.
Consider one small example. Driving through Portland, Maine my wife and I pass many panhandlers. They stand on median strips near traffic lights holding signs on pieces of cardboard with pleas for money like: “Need cat food”; “Sober and homeless. Anything helps”; “Homeless vet”; and many others. One sign a woman was holding up said, “Don’t text and drive.” I didn’t choose to give her anything for that advice. All the panhandlers look well nourished and wear adequate clothing, and I never give them money directly. Instead, my wife and I contribute to the Preble Street Resource Center where most of the city’s homeless find food, clothing, shelter during the day, as well as dental and medical care. They don’t provide cat food.
Preble Street Resource Center

We know the Preble Street Center does good work. We feel good about contributing money there because we believe it’s being spent effectively. Do we feel that way about federal programs? Certainly not. We don’t feel that way about many of Maine’s programs either, but Governor LePage is doing much to reform those. When government takes our money and spends it on the undeserving, it damages community spirit. If instead we could choose who we our money to, it would go a long way toward strengthening that feeling of community.

A new book by Jason Riley called “Please Stop Helping Us” takes a long view of how all that extremely expensive federal government “help” is working for minorities. Not well, according to Riley, who is black. In this election season, candidates proposing to gradually dismantle the bureaucratic social boondoggle our federal government has become, and gradually turn things over to states and private charities, would probably earn wide public support. I’m listening for them, but aside from Maine Governor LePage in his campaign for reelection, I’m not hearing much.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back At It, My Way This Time

People ask if I miss teaching. Up to very recently I’ve said, “Sometimes, but the feeling goes away quickly.” I do miss it though. When I had autonomy in my classroom, which I did up to retirement, teaching was a very gratifying experience. But the federal government has been taking over more and more of public education and it became apparent that I would soon lose my academic freedom and be forced to teach the way “progressives” (a misnomer, that) would dictate. Then there are increased meetings and more meaningless paperwork that accompany increased federal intervention.

People who consider themselves progressive - a euphemism for liberal - have long been in charge of academia at every level. Most recently, they’ve consolidated their control over curriculum for US History - the subject I taught - by issuing a new exam for AP US History courses. We cannot see the new exam though. According to Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, “a complete sample exam has been released, although only to certified AP U.S. History teachers [who] have been warned, under penalty of law and the stripping of their AP teaching privileges, not to disclose the content of the new sample AP U.S. History Exam to anyone.”

During my career, most states mandated that US History be taught at 5th, 8th, and 11th grades. Students were required to pass it in order to receive a high school diploma. By issuing the new exam, the College Board will changing the way it can be taught at all levels. Kurtz claims: “the new AP U.S. History Exam is about to entrench a controversial and highly politicized national school curriculum without proper notice or debate. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and a full understanding of our founding principles are on the way out.  Race, gender, class, and ethnicity are coming in, all in secrecy and in clear violation of the Constitution’s guarantee that education remain in control of the states.”
Many of the same people who brought you Common Core are bringing this. It’s not a shock to me because the handwriting had been on the wall for years, and it’s the primary reason I took early retirement at sixty. It has also been obvious to homeschooling parents. A group of them in Auburn, Maine contacted me over the summer to ask if I’d be willing to teach their children a US History course in which the Judeo-Christian values inherent in America’s founding would be emphasized rather than played down. In other words, would I be willing to teach a course to high schoolers in the traditional way? At first I thought, “Nah, I don’t have time.” Then I pondered it for a week and agreed to at least sit down and discuss it, and to pitch an idea I’ve always wanted to try.

It first occurred to me several years ago when the principal told me to pick a new textbook for my US History course because the old ones were falling apart. Every text I examined was boring because they all avoided controversial subjects. And, they all had a leftist bias. Instead of buying one of the boring, contemporary, liberal texts for nearly $50 apiece, I proposed purchasing two books for each student, which together cost less than half of one mainstream textbook. The first was the Marxist Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” The second was Schweikart and Allen’s “A Patriot’s History of the United States,” which was written from a traditional, conservative perspective and formatted as an antithesis to Zinn’s book. Students would read passages from each on the same theme, then compare and contrast the opposing viewpoints presented. The principal nixed the idea, however, saying, “You could do that, but you’re retiring in a few years. Whoever replaces you wouldn’t likely have the knowledge or experience to pull it off. So, let’s go with a traditional textbook.”

Meeting with the parents, I emphasized that if their children enrolled in typical public or private universities, they’d be surrounded by people who see US History the way Zinn did - from an exclusively left-wing perspective. They would need to understand that pervasive viewpoint and be able to formulate critical analyses - in their own minds, at least. They won't likely be allowed to actually produce such critical analyses in research papers however. Instructors and administrators who celebrate diversity on college campuses today believe only in diversity of skin color or ethnicity. They discourage diverse methods of thinking, especially conservative ones. Many are openly hostile to conservative Catholics and my students would need to understand why. One of my charges this year will be to help them with that, and to fortify them intellectually to withstand the special disdain progressives reserve for people like us.
We start next week.

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