30 September 2010

So What Do You Think The Solutions Are?

If anything, Guggenheim sees money as the problem and doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s Democrats in bed with the teachers unions – who just so happen to be the most powerful lobbying force in the country (oil companies are a distant second). The director even gives George W. Bush credit for reaching across the aisle to Senator Kennedy and at least trying accountability with No Child Left Behind. But as the film’s informative and creative animation (think Schoolhouse Rock) informs us, NCLB just isn’t the solution. Schools are failing due to lack of funding? That’s a lie. Kids from troubled homes and poor socio-economic backgrounds can’t learn? Another provable lie. And what proves it best is the devastated look on the faces of those parents who don’t win the lottery – who believe their child might now be, as one parent so memorably puts it, “doomed.” “Waiting for Superman” is nothing less than God’s work and is as deserving of as much support as we can possibly give it.

Hat tip to BigGovernment.com

Harvard Hell-Raiser

This video is a good follow up to yesterday's post. A bit broader than my specific points, but certainly germane. Professor Mansfield agrees with me on this point: ". . . they do so enjoy talking to themselves." 

"They can't help it. They see each other, live with each other, and listen to each other, and talk to each other." ~ Professor Harvey Mansfield, a.k.a "Harvard Hellraiser "

Mansfield also states, "We're much too apologetic about America." That is certainly part of the narrative - being "apologetic" about America's history - by those who reject the positive notion of American Exceptionalism.

Professor Mansfield critiques modern academia and delves into some of the differences in how more classical liberals viewed American Exceptionalism (though not specifically and only briefly; i.e., the Kennedy reference), compared to today's radical leftists/progressives. Pretty damning, yet no doubt will be dismissed as "nonsensical." That's much easier than honestly addressing the legitimate criticisms.

29 September 2010

Making History

Though not the way they'd hoped:

"Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, the Democratic Party is facing the biggest defeat in midterm elections in the past 110 years, perhaps surpassing the modern record of a 74-seat gain set in 1922. They will also lose control of the Senate." ~ Dick Morris

American Exceptionalism & Mental Illness

**Update #2 - Back on Civil War Memory, Kevin & Vince offer some revealing confessions, to wit:


It’s a fun exercise trying to take nebulous “rants” with modern political overtones about historical topics and then tease out specific historical questions…sort of a scientific approach to social phenomena with Civil War studies as a fascinating sandbox for testing that approach. Plus, as far as internet personalities go, Richard seems like a pretty decent guy, and at a different stage in my life I held political views very similar to his. (Emphasis mine) 

- Ah, so Vince's response to my political rant was politically motivated. Fair enough.

And Kevin responds:

. . . I just thought it was funny to watch him try to deal with some very good questions. It’s like watching chicken little whenever he goes off on this topic.
Actually, what's funny is watching these two dodge and ignore legitimate criticisms and, once again, resort to distracting, ad hominem responses. You'll also notice they seem to have no problems with "modern political overtones" as long as they originate from the left.

**Update - Kevin Levin, the self-described "activist historian" continues to shadow my blog. I'm flattered. I suppose it really is a slow day for him.

Levin accuses me of posting a "nonsensical and meaningless complaint" regarding academics and "liberal academic intellectuals" who "deride the notion" of American Exceptionalism. I suppose that is to be expected from someone who has declared himself an "enemy of American Exceptionalism." I must have struck a nerve. Actually, I was just adding some additional comments to something that posted on the same subject at George Mason University's History News Network website - something he conveniently ignores. I suppose the same information becomes legitimate on the HNN site. Interesting reasoning. 

He then goes on to suggest that I failed to satisfactorily address reasonable questions posed by Vince and that the comments were "truly entertaining." (His entertainment threshold is rather low.) Of course, that's a subjective opinion and, considering the source, not surprising. I chose to respond directly to most of Vince's relevant points and to ignore those which I deemed distractions. Kevin often does the same thing, as do most bloggers. That's a red herring and without substance. You can read the exchange and decide for yourself. As I've noted on numerous occasions. I simply do not have the time nor the interest in debating the obvious. There is a right/left divide on the subject of AE and anyone who denies it is either ignorant or in denial. The article to which I linked sums up the subject nicely. There are scores of other articles on the topic for anyone willing to look. But you do have to be willing to look and be open-minded. It is Vince and Levin who actually fail to address the legitimate criticisms directed at academia, instead becoming defensive. And, of course, the tone of Levin's post, as well as the comments that follow, turn personal and to the lowest common denominator of name-calling. Time to circle the wagons and fire the ad-hominem attacks. Yeah, that's convincing and will win you tons of converts. Please, do keep it up.

Perhaps Kevin could explain what an "enemy of American Exceptionalism" is. We're all dying to hear that one.

I do, however, agree with Peter's comments regarding Progressives. The same would apply to many modern neo-cons (Bush 43 for example). But the Progressives and neo-cons twist the fundamental positive concepts and principles of AE into something they can use for their own gains and goals of centralizing power, the antithesis of the fundamentals of AE to which I'm referring. Again, I assume those reading this blog have a certain level of knowledge of the topics discussed. That would include the points regarding Progressives and neo-conservatives.

 Acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates, who teaches at Princeton University, has derided the notion that there is a distinctly American idea, one that is distinguishable from the core concepts that have animated Europeans, Scandinavians, and other cultures.
Opposing view from a non-American historian:

Andrew Roberts, a British historian and author of the best-selling Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945, has endorsed American exceptionalism in his own writings. Asked about Oates's comments, Roberts told Fox News it was evidence of a "psychiatric disorder" among liberal American intellectuals.

Liberal American intellectuals (Sorry for the redundancy) and academics dominate history focused blogs and academia. Roberts' analysis, at least, offers some evidence that a growing number of people recognize their agenda and bias.

Roberts continues . . . 

For postmodernists, whereby everything has to be related to something else and nothing is truly exceptional, it's a disgusting concept that America could stand above and away from the normal ruck of history," Roberts said. "And of course, it also feeds in very much to Auropean anti-Americanism, especially at this time of the war against terror.

And one of the left's favorite historians, Eric Foner, reveals the agenda:

Eric Foner of Columbia University, a leading historian of the colonial and Civil War periods -- his The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, due out in October, will be his twenty-second book -- told Fox News he finds some strains of American exceptionalism "parochial" and "chauvinistic" . . . "So it leads to this kind of imperial frame of mind that we know best for everybody, we know that our system is better . . . "To think about oursleves [sic] as exceptional really is a very narrow vision. . ."
Classic. Oates' & Foner's comments are excellent representations of the self-loathing so prevalent among American academic elites. Denying or opposing the legitimate and real concept of American Exceptionalism is a dangerous misuse of history and one that is, unfortunately, on the rise.

28 September 2010

First Dig With TR

While on a business trip to Virginia Beach last week, I had the opportunity to take my Fisher 1266-X metal detector out for my first "official" dig. I've officially dubbed my 1266-X "TR" - short for "Trusty Rusty." So named due to what it often finds and due to the detector's age. I bought it used, but it works perfectly. I posted about this new hobby earlier here

Well, I'm hooked. Pictured here is what I dug on my first outing - exactly one dollar in change. No, no real treasure finds that will allow me to retire in comfort - yet. But over the few days we were there, I found a lot more coins - quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, all clad coins. I also found a small pair of stainless steel scissors, a small metal toy car, a silver ankle bracelet, a small cross, and a pewter ring. The most satisfying finds involved helping two separate groups of people find their lost car keys.

The performance of the Fisher 1266-X certainly lived up to its legendary reputation. Some of the finds were over 18 inches deep!

As previously noted, I plan on some Civil War relic excursions this fall. I'll post as that occurs.

27 September 2010

Boys That Read . . .

Grow into men that read. When my two boys were still young, I didn't allow video games in our home. I hated them. I still do. They're mindless distractions and time-wasters. We also did not have a television in our home until our children were older, and even then, only allowed certain movies and programming from PBS. No cable. I still don't have cable. Of course, we screened PBS quite heavily as well. And no network propaganda and garbage dumping into my home via CBS, NBC, ABC. We did, however, have books - lots of books. We also took our children to the library for family night at least once a month. And, whenever on vacation, we always included a visit to a museum, battlefield, or other spot of historical significance. Thus, my boys (and girls) became readers, lovers of history, and critical thinkers.

While you may think my approach extreme, my children now look back and thank me. Not too long ago my youngest son made a point to thank me for not allowing him to play video games. He's amazed at the amount of time still being wasted by his now late-twenty peers. Now comes a piece in the Wall Street Journal written by a publisher, Mr. Thomas Spence, discussing the growing disparity between the reading levels of girls and boys in the typical classroom:

According to a recent report from the Center on Education Policy, for example, substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. This disparity goes back to 1992, and in some states the percentage of boys proficient in reading is now more than ten points below that of girls. The male-female reading gap is found in every socio-economic and ethnic category, including the children of white, college-educated parents.

The appearance of the boy-girl literacy gap happens to coincide with the proliferation of video games and other electronic forms of entertainment over the last decade or two. Boys spend far more time "plugged in" than girls do. 

The WSJ piece expresses further concern over the solution being proposed by some. I would agree with them:

Everyone agrees that if boys don't read well, it's because they don't read enough. But why don't they read? A considerable number of teachers and librarians believe that boys are simply bored by the "stuffy" literature they encounter in school. According to a revealing Associated Press story in July these experts insist that we must "meet them where they are"—that is, pander to boys' untutored tastes. For elementary- and middle-school boys, that means "books that exploit [their] love of bodily functions and gross-out humor." AP reported that one school librarian treats her pupils to "grossology" parties. "Just get 'em reading," she counsels cheerily. "Worry about what they're reading later."

I believe the problem also comes, at least in part, from the fact that academia has embraced an overall criticism and disdain for what some call "celebratory history." Boys love the heroic, the daring, the adventurous, and the chivalric tales and accounts that abound in much of American history. History which should be celebrated. But hero bashing is the current trendy fad of academia. (Due in large part to academia's own, self-absorbed, delusional obsession with their own importance and superiority to everything and everyone which happened to exist before they were born.) So why would a young person want to read of Washington, Jefferson, et al if they were just all evil slaveowners who established an imperial nation which ruthlessly subjugated the weak and raped the earth by depleting its natural resources?

I recall the old Childhood of Famous Americans series in my elementary school library. These short, narrative style biographies offered up the heroic tales of our Nation's heroes; George Washington, Patrick Henry, Stonewall Jackson, Daniel Boone, Booker T. Washington, Daniel Morgan, Chief Joseph, Robert E. Lee, Robert Fulton and so many others, and cemented in my heart a love of history and of the men who built our Nation. I recall devouring these books in the 4th and 5th grade. By the 6th grade, I'd read all of them that were in the library. These books had a profound impact on me and were one of the ways that I, very early in life, came to love history - and our country. These books also further developed my love of reading.

Education at that time was, in many ways, unified in its purpose and despite the political differences that have always been present, there existed a general consensus that America was great - "exceptional"; as were her heroes. This greatness and the example of her heroes were to be held up to the Nation's youth. As the WSJ piece so wonderfully points out:

Education was once understood as training for freedom. Not merely the transmission of information, education entailed the formation of manners and taste. Aristotle thought we should be raised "so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought; this is the right education."
 The WSJ writer further notes that much of today's educational philosophy . . . 

. . . is more suited to producing a generation of barbarians and morons than to raising the sort of men who make good husbands, fathers and professionals. If you keep meeting a boy where he is, he doesn't go very far.

It's simply not politically correct to "celebrate" our history nor promote American Exceptionalism among America's academic elites. That is soooo passe don't you know? It is far more chic to offer self-promoting criticism of American heroes and patriots. That gets you invited to speak an the right conferences. That gets you accepted into the right cliques. That gets you admired by the enemies of American Exceptionalism. But, does it do service to children? Does it serve our Nation well? I think not. The WSJ piece concludes with this:

Most importantly, a boy raised on great literature is more likely to grow up to think, to speak, and to write like a civilized man. Whom would you prefer to have shaped the boyhood imagination of your daughter's husband—Raymond Bean or Robert Louis Stevenson? I offer a final piece of evidence that is perhaps unanswerable: There is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls.
The evidence is unanswerable, but not unexplainable. Get rid of the video games and give your boys books that celebrate American heroes. 

You can read the complete WSJ article here.

26 September 2010

The President Has Become A Bitter Clinger

  • "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them  . . ."
     -- Sen. Barack Obama, quoted in the Puffington Host, April 11, 2008
  • "In his nearly two years in office, President Obama has relied on a very small clique of advisers that serves as his most trusted sounding board on politics and policy. Members of his staff describe Obama as wary of outsiders and reluctant to widen his inner circle. As one of his advisers bluntly put it, the president 'doesn't like new people.' "--Washington Post, Sept. 23, 2010

Next post: Boys That Read

25 September 2010

Controlling The Universities

By controlling the universities and the media, the Counterculture was able to flourish. They  read only each other's writing, attended only each other's classes, and watched only each other's movies. They quickly lost any connection to the American culture they had rebelled against in the first place. From the safety of the their coastal strongholds they reassured each other of the rightness and brilliance of their thinking. Their ideas became more and more inbred as they practiced the apartheid of elite liberalism. As far as conservatives were concerned, it was separate but definitely not equal.
The Ruling Class/Counterculture presents a perfect illustration of political ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is defined as "[t]he belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture. A tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one's own."

Whatever Happened to the Counterculture?

24 September 2010

Quick Update

Hey, just a quick post and update. I've been out of town since last Saturday thus, the lack of posts. I'll be headed home tomorrow and will have some posts about the event at Liberty University last weekend, my adventures in "treasure hunting" this week, and some comments about the Lee-Jackson Foundation and their essay scholarship, which someone recently found necessary to criticize. Stay tuned.

15 September 2010

Another Nail In The Coffin . . .

Of statist academia's control of education - The Khan Academy. Most readers here know of my passion for homeschooling. I post on the subject often and how homeschoolers, along with racing technological advances, are revolutionizing educational models. The "classroom" model - as most of us know it - is a dinosaur: slow, expensive, cumbersome, inefficient, resource wasting, and bloated with bureaucrats. It is dying a slow, painful, but needful death. There is a paradigm shift occurring and most academics are either woefully ignorant or fearful. It is being embraced by more and more people and will eventually dominate the landscape. There is just so much to say about this subject as it relates to everything from teaching, public policy - even to history blogs. It is truly revolutionary - in a good way. The Khan Academy is an absolutely amazing advance and a textbook (no pun intended) of how and why freedom, liberty, the free market, choice, and creativity work and why academia's stifling control over the process will cause it to collapse from its own weight. More to come soon. An excellent resource for homeschoolers:

Why Heritage History Is Important

"People will not look forward to posterity who will not look backward to their ancestors." ~ Edmund Burke

14 September 2010

Write It Down - Notebooks Of Famous Men

The Art of Manliness recently had a fascinating (at least to me) post about notebooks kept by famous men - mostly small, pocket-sized notebooks. Men such as Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, George Patton, Ernest Hemingway and others are discussed. But they missed a couple. Stonewall Jackson for example:

"The maxims--Jackson's self-selected principles of personal conduct and self-improvement--are brief and to the point. They were recorded by the general in a small blue-marbled notebook over a five-year period, starting in 1848, and are largely drawn from the collective practical and philosophical teachings of others who influenced Jackson's life, including Lord Chesterfield, John Bunyan, Joel Parker, O. S. Foster, George Winfred Hervey, and, most significantly to Jackson, the Bible. The notebook disappeared after Jackson's death in 1863. More than 120 years later, in the course of researching a detailed biography of Stonewall Jackson, Robertson uncovered the maxim book while examining other materials in the Davis Collection of Civil War manuscripts at Tulane University." 

As most of you probably know, Bud Robertson wrote a great book about Jackson's notes. The book provides keen insight into Jackson's thinking and passion for self-improvement and self-discipline.

Click here to see a photo of my current notebook of choice.

13 September 2010

The Angel Movie & The Civil War Chaplains Museum

Posting will probably be rather light over the next 10 days or so. I'll be headed out of town toward week's end for some VERY MUCH needed R & R with my lovely bride. A one night stay in a mountain resort, then to Lynchburg on Saturday afternoon to have supper with my friends Michael Aubrecht (and crew) of The Angel Movie and Kenny Rowlette, director of the Chaplains Museum. After attending the film screening Saturday night, we'll be staying at the historic Carter Glass Mansion. Then, after church Sunday morning, my wife and I will drive to Virginia Beach for a couple of days of vacation and then I'll be in business meetings for three days. I may find time to upload a couple of posts, though I will begin my involvement in a number of projects that will soon be taking much larger chunks of my time. 

If any of you are in Virginia, and can take the time, please make plans to attend the film screening next Saturday evening at Liberty University. The event will be a benefit and fundraiser for the National Civil War Chaplains Museum (website being revised). Director Rowlette discusses the details in the video below:


11 September 2010

Gambling On The Sacred - A Bad Bet

The following is a guest post by Scott Manning. Scott is a frequent commenter here and always brings something interesting to the discussion. He also hosts the website - Digital Survivors, where "you will find articles and reviews covering mostly history-related topics." Scott is currently a business analyst working for a large software company outside Philadelphia. However, his real passion is the history of warfare and he is working toward a BA in military history at the American Military University. Scott and I have exchanged a number of emails over the past few months and when this subject came up recently in the blogosphere, I asked him to submit his thoughts. He graciously obliged. I think you'll appreciate Scott's perspective.

The Gettysburg Casino: How Profits May Come at the Cost of the Sacred

On Labor Day, I made another visit to Gettysburg, my sixth of the year. I have found that the two-plus hour drive from Philadelphia has gotten easier, as leaving at 6:30 AM helps me avoid the traffic. For this trip, I brought a coworker and his fiancé. She was Canadian and knew very little about the Civil War, let alone the Battle of Gettysburg. My goal was to spend some time at the Peach Orchard to get a better understanding of the approach employed by Union General Daniel Sickles on the second day of the battle. I wedged that in between guiding my friends through all of the other major sites. Six trips are probably far more than I needed to make, but not as many as I wanted. I have managed to bring someone new on each excursion, and with these two, my total reached thirteen. Along with friends and family, I have had the privilege of bringing friends visiting from Australia and from India, giving my trips an international flavor.

This time, I passed the proposed casino site, which sits between Route 15 and the less-traveled Emmittsburg Road. It was tougher to find the site than it was to find the several “NO CASINO” signs I saw throughout the town and on private property.  Those coming from the Pennsylvania Turnpike will most likely never see the casino. It is south of the “auto tour” and few people, unfortunately, know what occurred in that area of the field. Even fewer visit it. However, anyone coming from the south, as I have done in the past coming from Antietam, will surely pass the site. You can only see the property from Emmitsburg, though, as the Route 15 side remains covered with trees. However, once that spot is lit up with ten thousand blinking lights and enough traffic to man the 600 slot machines and 50 gaming tables, those coming from the south will not be able to miss it. If the casino tears down the trees to get better access to Route 15, then the size of the casino will not matter – no matter what, you will be afforded an excellent view of thousands of blue hairs ready to work out their right arms and pursue the American dream of shouting “BINGO!”

What harm can the casino actually do? Personally, I find it hard to ignore the “hallowed ground” argument that many have already made and others have mocked. Some dismiss the idea, but in my experience – especially my experience with teaching those who have little knowledge of America or of the Civil War – it is a potent argument. My Australian friend was ignorant of the concept of a battlefield park and he had never heard of a reenactment. He saw it all as a uniquely American tradition that he could not help but be awed by. My coworker from India was unaware of any preserved battlefields in his country. While there are numerous ancient and medieval forts and palaces, no battlefields are preserved to his knowledge, and I have been unable to find any. In our discussions, he surmised that as India gained its independence through peaceful protest and suffering instead of war and suffering, they did not place the same value on such ground. The Indian rebellion of 1857 failed miserably and afterward, the people of India primarily sought independence through non-violence. America, on the other hand, was born in warfare and remains steeped in it – we gained our independence from the British, ended chattel slavery, and formed our American identity through armed conflict.

Yet despite the gaps in our cultures, my visiting coworker greatly enjoyed the trip to Gettysburg. From an observation tower on the southwest side of the field, I explained Sickles’ advance, Longstreet’s attack, and Chamberlain’s bayonet charge. He snapped shots of Little Round Top and then patted me on the shoulder, smiling as he said “thank you for bringing me here.” That night, he posted about 30 Gettysburg photos on his Facebook page. He was only in the States for three months, but upon his return, he has told me that he wants to revisit the battlefield, and he has offered to show me around India when I am able to make the trek out there. Despite coming from a democratic nation heavily influenced by western traditions, my friend is one of the most non-American people I have brought to the battlefield. Still, he saw something sacred at Gettysburg, something that is certainly cross-generational and appears to be cross-cultural. He understood the importance of the ground and he understood how the events there accumulated into forming a new nation, as Lincoln originally recognized. More important to this discussion, he recognized the value in preserving it for future generations.

The presence of a casino would have cheapened the experiences I have had over the past year with my wife, dad, brother, coworkers, and friends. I dread to think of my friend heading back to India to tell his family about Gettysburg and then mentioning that a casino bearing the name of the battle was close by. I would be embarrassed as I tried to explain away the tackiness, how American capitalism springs up in even the most inappropriate places.  Do not get me wrong – I am a gambler myself, I love playing poker, and I even venture out to Atlantic City on occasion. Yet, that is not why I go to Gettysburg. When I head there, I am not in the mood for frivolous entertainment. Like the moneychangers in the temple, sometimes you just do not want certain behavior in certain places – especially when you are trying to ensure that those on a journey into America's past understand the importance of what they are seeing. The importance of this battle to America's existence in the form it is now cannot be understated. At its zenith, the Army of Northern Virginia put forth its most aggressive effort to destroy the Army of the Potomac, but failed. The battle remains the largest on this continent and the bloodiest in American history. Afterward, Lincoln issued an address that declared his aspiration for the birth of a new nation to match the price that the men at Gettysburg paid. Had there been no battle, our country would not be the same place it is today. It was that fundamental.

I am sympathetic to the plight of southwest Pennsylvania. I understand the lure of jobs and the tax revenue a casino can bring, but it still saddens me to see the same town that this battle brought to prominence consider shifting its economic focus toward an industry that even its consumers recognize as being unseemly. An industry tarnished by its own addictive qualities – the same qualities that make it successful. Every casino inspires images of retired seniors mindlessly pumping quarters into a slot machine in hopes of hitting the triple cherry. Sure, the casino may create jobs, but are they worth the price?

Once Gettysburg issues this license, they cannot take it back. This casino will be there permanently. Part of the deal for the casino provides that it will only occupy an existing lot and remain smaller than bigger gambling joints. Yet, what if the casino is wildly successful? Will the owners not naturally seek to expand their business? Will other casino operators not want to compete? It is naive to believe that giving one inch to one casino will be the end of it. The more logical conclusion is that one inch now will result in a mile of casinos – the Gettysburg Strip.

In the past year, Gettysburg has impressed upon thirteen different friends, family members, and coworkers something unique about the history of the United States. Each took away something different.  All were in awe at the audacity of Lee to press forward 12,500 troops at the Union’s center, others were overwhelmed by the bravery of the 20th Maine on Little Round Top, and the rest intrigued at Sickles’ thinking in the Peach Orchard. Each was a small piece of fighting in a battle that decided the fate of the war and of the country, but each became a large memory in the minds of those who visited.

The importance of Gettysburg as a sacred site to Americans has been self-evident since the early days following the battle.  While Lincoln may have been the first President to speak there, he was not the last. FDR gave two speeches there referring to “the presence of those spirits who fell on this ground.” After World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower hosted numerous world leaders at the battlefield, including Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, and Nikita Khruschev. Each year, the spot still draws two million people seeking to understand what happened there and how that has shaped a nation. The site has become a pilgrimage destination not only for Americans, but also for those wanting to understand America. A casino would irreparably damage the value of the destination, taking away attention from its true meaning and debasing it into yet another example of American decadence. In a world where America has been redefined from a beacon of hope and liberty to the land that gave us Big Macs, Paris Hilton and reality TV, we simply cannot afford to cheapen any more symbols of the promise of America.

Author’s Note: Dawn Manning, my wife, provided the impetus for recognizing secular sites like Gettysburg as sacred pilgrimages. In “Tourism as Sacred Experience” (bachelor’s thesis, WCU, 2009), she presents the concept of how in a world becoming increasingly secular, tourists have converted non-religious sites like battlefields and ancient ruins into sacred experiences. She will be presenting the paper this November at the 109th American Anthropological Association Meeting in New Orleans.

10 September 2010

Who Should Teach?

"My best teachers in Monongahela were Frank Pizzica, the high-rolling car dealer; old Mr. Marcus, the druggist wiser than a doctor; Binks McGregor, psychological haberdasher; and Bill Pulaski, the fun-loving mayor. All would understand my belief that we need to be hiring different kinds of people to teach us, people who’ve proven themselves in life by bearing its pain like free spirits. Nobody should be allowed to teach until they get to be forty years old. No one should be allowed anywhere near kids without having known grief, challenge, success, failure, and sadness."

"We ought to be asking men and women who’ve raised families to teach, older men and women who know the way things are and why. Millions of retired people would make fine teachers. College degrees aren’t a good way to hire anybody to do anything. Getting to teach should be a reward for proving over a long stretch of time that you understand and have command of your mind and heart."

Both of these quotes are from John Taylor Gatto's book, The Underground History of American Public Education. He was named New York City Teacher of the year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991.

Gettysburg Casino - Guest Post

Tomorrow morning, I will be uploading a guest post by Scott Manning. Scott is a frequent commenter here and always brings something interesting to the discussion. He also hosts the website - Digital Survivors, where "you will find articles and reviews covering mostly history-related topics." Scott is currently a business analyst working for a large software company outside Philadelphia. However, his real passion is the history of warfare and he is working toward a BA in military history at the American Military University. Scott and I have exchanged a number of emails over the past few months and when this subject came up recently in the blogosphere, I asked him to submit his thoughts. He graciously obliged. I think you'll appreciate Scott's perspective. Look for it at 7 AM tomorrow morning. The title of Scott's post is: The Gettysburg Casino: How Profits May Come at the Cost of the Sacred

NC BBQ - Just Like The King James Bible

National Geographic said the Jones boys have the best BBQ in the world. And so did one of the South's best (and one of my favorite), writers - John Shelton Reed. The Jones family  has been dishing it out since 1830. Great video, a great story, and great history. BTW, for my yankee friends, skin ain't gristle.

09 September 2010

NJ Gov Christie Takes A Teacher To School

I love this guy.

Hillsdale College & Howard Zinn

Hillsdale College will be sponsoring a live webcast celebrating Constitution (remember that document) Day, September 16 – 17, 2010. The webcast consists of lectures from an impressive list of speakers including George Will, Victor Davis Hanson, and Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College. Some of the sessions should be most interesting to readers of this blog. Just a couple of examples:

Howard Zinn and Civic Education
Chair: Terrence Moore, Hillsdale College
Panelists: Colleen Sheehan, Villanova University
Allen Guelzo, Gettysburg College
Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Institution

Does Tea Party Constitutionalism Have a Future?”
Michael Barone, American Enterprise Institute

I found the description of the Zinn session quite interesting:

The late Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, argued that American civic education should teach global citizenship, not patriotism. Panelists will discuss Zinn’s legacy and the purposes of civic education. Q&A will follow. 
A number of academics, history bloggers, and educators have poo-pooed the idea of teaching patriotism. Why? Some have even alluded to this idiotic, Utopian idea of "global citizenship." I hope to find the time to at least sit in for this session.

Register here.

Palm Beach State College Suppressing Free Speech?

 According to Young Americans For Freedom:

"I was shocked and offended by her dishonesty. She outright denied giving me permission to table at Club Rush simply because she disagreed with my beliefs! The fact is, she was using her administrative power to silence the conservative opposition." said Christina Beattie.

Other groups on campus attended the event and tabled, but had not registered with the student activities coordinator. These groups remained untouched and were allowed to recruit even without permission. The Film Club, one of the groups not authorized to participate in the event, declined to comment for fear of reprisal from college administration.

More here.

This Just In From The Museum Of The Confederacy

Dear Members,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff of the Museum of the Confederacy, we are pleased to announce the official groundbreaking for the Museum in Appomattox on September 23, 2010 at 3:00pm. The projected opening of the Museum is slated for Spring 2012.

The grounds of the Museum will be 8 acres, with an 11,000 square foot building, providing ample interior and exterior space for visitors, programming and exhibits.

The Focus of the main exhibit at the Museum of the Confederacy - Appomattox will be the events which led to the end of the war and the reunification of the nation. The museum in Appomattox will be the final stop for the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission's traveling exhibit - An American Turning Point in 2015.

This is an exciting time for the Museum and its members and we look forward to sharing more information as construction gets underway. Look for the latest issue of the Museum of the Confederacy Magazine which should arrive in your mailbox soon and is filled with information about the new site.


Diane Willard
Director of Membership and Annual Giving

A Southern Icon

Making and selling products with old-fashioned Southern values. Notice the portrait of Lee hanging on the good Colonel's office wall. Ah, a man after my own heart.

A longer video with a little more information:

The Colonel's website is here. They told me business has never been better.

08 September 2010


"In the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan."

Could one agrue that is is immoral to saddle children with the debt of adults?

Story here.

Fall In Old Virginia

The signs of the coming of fall here in Virginia have been with us for over a month. Yes, even during the blistering days of August, the acorns had already begun to fall and the leaves on the hickories, the walnuts, and other trees were already turning. It doesn't quite "feel" like autumn yet, but no doubt that is also just around the corner. Though I'm still wearing one of my cotton blazers most days, I'll soon be sporting one of my Harris Tweeds. And since so many folks in my part of Virginia are of Scots-Irish descent (including me), I thought this video would be appropriately timed: From Scotland - The History of Tweed. Great video. Hat tip to A Continuous Lean.

05 September 2010

Parents Do A Better Job At Educating Their Children

"During the past 30 years, homeschooling families have proven that parents can do a better job than the public school – socially and academically. Homeschooling works; everybody wins." ~ Gena Suarez, publisher of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

And homeschooling continues its unabated, exponential growth making it the fastest growing form of education in the United States. Homeschooling rates have seen large increases among these demographics: 
  • Hispanic families (91 percent) 
  • Two-parent households (97 percent)
  • Children of college graduates (87 percent) 
  • Households making more that $75,000 per year (338 percent). 
"Homeschooling has been growing at 5-12 percent per annum over the past several years, a quicker clip than private schools are growing, while public schools are seeing their percentages decline."

This is the future of education in the United States. It is both a fascinating, and encouraging, cultural phenomenon.


Anyone Can Get History Wrong - Even The President

Historical quotes are often taken out of context and misapplied to drive a certain agenda or perspective. (As I've recently pointed out.) It is also easy to fall into the trap of assuming certain truths about quotes, including the original author. Most all of us have been snared by that one, or something similar to it, as Michael Aubrecht admitted on his blog recently.

Now comes this rather public and embarassing blunder:

President Obama's new presidential rug seemed beyond reproach, with quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. woven along its curved edge. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." According [to] media reports, this quote keeping Obama company on his wheat-colored carpet is from King. Except it's not a King quote. The words belong to a long-gone Bostonian champion of social progress. His roots in the republic ran so deep that his grandfather commanded the Minutemen at the Battle of Lexington.

Details here.

03 September 2010

More From Dr. Thomas Sowell On Academic Elites

"What you see most clearly in the academic world are people who don't think that this country is a great country." ~ Thomas Sowell (Just another hayseed, reactionary rube?)

Something many readers may not know about Dr. Sowell - he grew up in Harlem and shares that, during the time he attended public schools in Harlem, they "were among the best in the country."

Once again, piercing, insightful, revealing, and damning. Sowell is a treasure.

02 September 2010

Thomas Sowell on "Experts"

If you want to understand intellectuals, academic elites, and the current ruling class, watch this very interesting interview with Dr. Thomas Sowell. He shares keen insight into the mindset, arrogance and, ironically, the stupidity of many modern intellectuals. Sowell also discusses a concept which many intellectuals seem to be ignorant of - "consequential knowledge." The brief discussion about Harry Truman's (who had no college degree) and Ronald Reagan's (who did have a college degree, yet was not encumbered with what Sowell refers to as "the nonsense he would have been taught in a very prestigious institution") educational backgrounds and how their respective administrations bracketed the demise of the Soviet Union is worth more consideration and thought.

If you are at all interested in this debate and how academia and intellectuals view themselves, as well as what often motivates them, this is a must see. Sowell is brilliant and rather witty at times as well. Of course, Sowell's criticisms are at a "general pattern" in academia and we realize there are exceptions. The discussion is, nonetheless, quite fascinating and damning.

Here's a teaser quote that contradicts what some academic history bloggers are saying:

"We're becoming a nation of people who are propagandized from elementary school right on through to graduate school in a certain vision of the world."

Yes, this video will also dovetail very nicely into an upcoming post on how many intellectuals ("experts"), often have no idea what they're talking about and should never be given the benefit of the doubt.

The New Paradigm In Education:

Homeschooling and accelerated distance learning. Actually, it's not all that new. This "devolution" in education began in earnest in the 1980's. I "saw the light" in the mid-80's and finally got my wife on board in 1992.  Much of academia is still light years behind. The foundations of the institutionalized, conformist model of eduction are being chipped away at an accelerated pace. Much of the resistance continues to come from an elitist, "only us experts can do this" attitude. You see this attitude expressed in essays and in the official positions in the protectionist, money-driven teachers' unions. The experience of the young man in this video is becoming increasingly commonplace. Even so, his story is quite amazing. Homeschooled, and at age 17, he  completes his B.A. and is then heavily recruited by prestigious law schools. This will be a nice lead in to a post coming tomorrow:

Always Question . . .

Authority Academia. If there is one thing I've learned in my 52 years, it's this: Don't trust opinions simply because they're doled out by so-called "experts." This is true in all aspects of life. Here's a recent example in the ongoing meltdown of the global warming theory:

"The global-warming establishment took a body blow this week, as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received a stunning rebuke from a top-notch independent investigation . . . the prestigious InterAcademy Council, an independent association of "the best scientists and engineers worldwide" (as the group's own Web site puts it) formed in 2000 to give "high-quality advice to international bodies," has finished a thorough review of IPCC practices -- and found them badly wanting."
(More here.)
It would seem we have one body of experts contradicting another. Nothing new. Look at the evidence. Apply logic and common sense. Think outside the box. Question assumptions. Come to your own conclusion. This same warning and advice applies to historical analysis by academics. Post coming tomorrow on that subject.

"Nothing" Cannot Create "Everything"

". . .the universe can and will create itself from nothing." ~ Stephen Hawking

That assertion is self-contradicting and defies logic. If "nothing" is the state of things, there is no "universe" to "create itself." Has this man lost his mind?

Faith In American Exceptionalism

The President is a non-believer.

"Obama may be the first U.S. president to lack faith in our special history, our special spirit and our special mission in the world." (Emphasis mine.)
~ Mallory Factor

You can read the rest of this interesting piece here at Forbes.com.

And this just in . . . 

"He's trying to Europeanize us, and the Europeans are going the other way," continues Ferlic, a former Democratic campaign donor who plans to vote Republican this year. "The entire American spirit is being broken."  (Emphasis mine.)