“How We Got Here”: The Transformation Of America

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Authored by Frank Miele via RealClearPolitics.com,

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So what went wrong? In a word, education. In two words, “progressive education.” For the first hundred years or so of our nation’s history, education served its usual purpose of reinforcing social norms, teaching values and passing on the heritage and traditions that bind us together. All of that began to change in the 1880s, thanks in large part to one man — John Dewey, the godfather of progressive education, who insisted on teaching children what they want to learn instead of what they should learn. Essentially, what the progressive education movement wanted to accomplish — and did accomplish by the 1960s — was to jettison traditional values and replace them with transient values (those which each generation or even each student adopted individually). This meant that society was no longer tethered to the Tao. Morality had become relative. Education had switched from being a method of reinforcing social conventions and standards to uprooting them.

Time magazine in 1958 put it this way:

“In a kind of country-club existentialism, Dewey and his boys genially contended that the traditional ends of education, like God, virtue and the idea of ‘culture,’ were all highly debatable and hence not worth debating. In their place: enter life adjustment. The Deweyites thus transformed conditioning techniques into ends in themselves. … Within the schools, discipline gave way to increasingly dubious group persuasion. ‘With teen-agers,’ one high school principal said proudly, ‘there is nothing more powerful than the approval or disapproval of the group. When the majority conforms, the others will go along.’ It would not easily occur to the modern educationists that such blind fostering of group pressure is a travesty of free democracy.”

Dewey’s system of education emphasized students doing what feels good rather than learning what is good for them. Progressive education does not believe in moral, religious or cultural absolutes, but rather teaches students that they have the right to reject any system of belief, any principles, and values that they find to be “restrictive” or that make them “uncomfortable.” In essence, Dewey said to question everything and respect nothing. That model did permanent damage to the family, to the church, and to the country. Progressive education does not believe in moral, religious or cultural absolutes and makes every individual the master of his own moral universe. It also means that nothing can be taken for granted, nothing is certain, and the concept of right and wrong is malleable.

Which brings us — in this truncated history — to the 1960s. The social revolution of that decade was the illegitimate child of progressive education and the affluent society. Thanks to the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation, my own generation was able to smoke weed, skip class, and raise Cain — all while on the family allowance. Somehow along the way, these products of indulgence decided that America didn’t live up to their high standards of social justice. They rejected the principles of rugged individualism and free enterprise and substituted their socialist fantasies. The Vietnam War gave them the perfect foil to foment civil unrest and to enlist most of their generation into a war on “the establishment,” which meant a war on law and order, a war on religion, a war on the nuclear family, and a war on authority in general. These were the godchildren of John Dewey: Question everything, respect nothing.

One mastermind of the ’60s revolution was Bill Ayers, who was first a progressive educator, then a bomb-throwing revolutionary in the Weather Underground, and then a fugitive from justice. It was while he was hiding from the FBI for the entire decade of the 1970s that Ayers realized that violent revolution could not topple the government unless it was first rotted from within. In “Prairie Fire” and other radical writings, Ayers described how young people, minorities and women could be turned against the system, and most importantly how revolutionaries who wore suits and ties could infiltrate boardrooms, political parties, the military, the courts and other institutions of society in order to bring about change from within.

When you see how many millions of dollars that corporate America has voluntarily given to the communist front organization known as Black Lives Matter, you can gauge just how successful Ayers was in his strategy. When you see that the Democratic Party is led by communists and socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you can thank Bill Ayers. When you see military generals publicly condemning the commander-in-chief for his efforts to ensure public safety, you know that Bill Ayers has come close to victory. When you watch our courts chip away at our freedoms, you can bet that Bill Ayers thinks he has won. And maybe he has.

A recurring theme in “How We Got Here” is that the Constitution no longer means what it says it means, but rather what any five Supreme Court justices say it means. These justices have a remarkable knack for discovering new powers for the government hidden in nooks and crannies of the document that somehow were missed previously. Under such a scenario, the Constitution becomes a tool for social engineering rather than a protection against government excess, as was originally intended.

It too is all part of the plan. After all, judges are lawyers, and lawyers are graduated from law schools, and the top law-school students come from the top Ivy League and radical-left colleges, and most radical college students come from public schools, and public schools are to progressivism what politics is to the swamp. You can thank John Dewey, and you can thank Bill Ayers, who after he returned to public view, became an influential educator of educators at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In “Prairie Fire,” Ayers outlined how the revolution would transform America. Yes, violence would play a role. Yes, bankrupting the system by increasing dependence on government would play a role. Yes, spurring foreign wars to spread America’s military too thin would play a role. Yes, encouraging division among the races would be part of it, as would weakening the influence of religion on the masses, but if you wanted to win the revolution, Ayers made it perfectly clear how to begin: “The real question is: Who will control the schools?”

How did we get here? The answer by now should be obvious.

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Frank Miele’s new book “How We Got Here: The Left’s Assault on the Constitution” is available from his Amazon author page. Visit him at HeartlandDiaryUSA.com to read his daily commentary .

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