Archive for the ‘Harriet Tubman’ Tag

Passing Down the Freedom Gene   2 comments

Those who won’t learn history are condemned to repeat it, said my dad, a thousand times.

Has it ever been more important to teach real history than it is now?  Have we ever seen more actual freedoms gone, or at stake, in the U.S., than we see today?  Have history books ever been so rewritten,  so “progressively” –and have they ever taught so little about U.S. founding documents and heroes?  Did schools teach “global citizenship” or United States citizenship, before; and, did patriotic teachers and parents ever need to fight tooth and nail against the College Board’s globalist revisions of history, before now?

Compare a typical public school history textbook today –or a geography textbook, or a social studies textbook– to one from a generation ago.  Which contains more truth, and more real history?

For that matter, what is real history?  It is just anyone’s relative perspective of what constitutes a proper list of important names, dates and places?  No.

Real history is the story of humans’ struggle for freedom: for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is also the horrific backside; the story of the “bad guys”–who have worked, for various reasons, to take away others’ life, liberty, or pursuits of happiness.  It’s as simple as that, to me.

Since real history chronicles freedom’s fight, real history recognizes that the history of America is exceptional in world history’s fight over the principle of freedom.  Never –before America– had any group of people successfully, unitedly, harnessed human nature’s tendency to oppress.

Real history acknowledges this miracle that was America’s founding –a founding built on self-government and equality under God; built on divided, checked and balanced, law-based, representational power; built on the golden rule, and not built on tyrannical, top-down control that might assume power above the law.  This was new.  This was a dream that the world had never seen realized.  This was, and is, cutting edge innovation.  “Progressing” away from this American miracle is the furthest thing from actual progress.  That’s why “progressivism” is such a lie.  Yet, it’s being taught increasingly in common-standards schools.

By real history’s definition as the definition of freedom, we are losing U.S.  history in schools.  But we can still pass down the freedom-cherishing gene, one by one, in our homes and our churches and in those few classrooms where real history is taught, unmaligned and not marginalized as being “unprogressive”.

To detect agenda-laced “history” lessons, look for messages posing as history that do not acknowledge the central role of freedom.  Almost anything is more important than the concept of freedom, in such lessons.  The books or messages may use terms like “collective” or “sustainable” or “safe” or “human capital” or “every and all” or “stakeholder decision-making”  to corral people away from independence and sovereignty, toward globalist relinquishment of inalienable rights– no more talk of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness; instead, you’ll find talk about global sustainability and global citizenship and endless lists of American errors.  Individual worth and power decreases.  The global collective increases.  Freedom’s preservation becomes anything but centrally important.

Progressive-agenda-laced literature is increasingly the only kind of social studies/history/science/geography that is available in most public (and some private) schools.  This is probably because school systems are influenced heavily by the College Board/AP US History which is taking an increasingly “progressive” view.  (Remember: progressive =  progressing away from local control under the Constitution, toward big, global government philosophy, where “safe” trumps “free,” every time.)  Unless you are lucky enough to happen to have a patriot for a teacher, who happens to go beyond the common standards to teach real history, you have to step up and do this.  Why?

Because when public school systems rob students of the freedom philosophy, of real history, it neuters them of the power to maintain freedom.

You can give that power back to your children.  It is as simple as telling a story.

Read the stories of liberty that are in scriptural history first.  If you study Moses, who led the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt, you can also watch Disney’s Prince of Egypt, and discuss it with your children.  Then, study the lives of those who valued freedom throughout history and across nations.  Here are just a handful: George WashingtonAbraham LincolnJoan of Arc, Raoul Wallenberg, Eleni Gatzoyiannis,  Miron Dolot, Corrie Ten Boom, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ji-li Jiang, Hans and Sophie Scholl, Dith Pran Harriet Tubman, Nathan Hale.  Seek out the now-living heroes of liberty, great or small, and talk about them with your kids:  Tim Ballard comes to mind.  Jonas Himmelstrand.  Jenni White.  Joe Rella.  Angelique Clark.

Two of my living heroes are my current teachers; I’m taking a free class right now from LibertyMoms  Laureen Simper and Stacie Thornton, which we set up at my local library.  These two moms have studied the Constitution, founding documents, and history.  They teach the principles of liberty so that we are armed to apply the principles to current events.  Kids are welcome in their classes, and my kids are there each week.

class in pg

 (The photo above was taken yesterday outside my local library, where Liberty Moms are teaching.)

Liberty Moms  teach, for free, their 1-hour, 6-week classes, to anyone willing to set up a venue within driving distance of their home in Salt Lake City.  If you are not near Liberty Moms, here’s another idea:  consider taking free, online classes about the Constitution (and other topics) from Hillsdale College. Read audio books of freedom’s heroes.  Find kid-friendly books about freedom’s story.  Talk to aged veterans in your home town, about freedom.

Your children will thank you someday for every effort you make to teach them to know and love America and the principles of freedom.  I thank my dad now –for every history book he’s ever given me (and there have been many)   –for every speech he’s ever given, usually teary-eyed, over an Independence Day barbeque, or at the dinner table, or on a drive somewhere.  I thank him, not a history teacher, for my having acquired his freedom gene.  By the words and actions of my father, I got it.

I don’t think it gets passed on in many other ways.

 

 

 

 

Civil Disobedience   2 comments

I wrote this essay for the Libertas Institute essay contest. If you like it, please click on “like” at the Libertas link before August 22nd 2014, and share it so that I have a shot at the prize for the most “like”s. Thank you. Also, thanks to Libertas for asking Utah citizens to think and write about this important subject.

esther

 

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Queen Esther of the Bible modeled the proper role of civil disobedience when she chose to break the law to free her people from the sentence of death. She did not shrink from personal consequences that her act of agency would bring. She said, “I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”

Esther illustrated the justification for civil disobedience: we break a law only when lawful appeals cannot overcome threats to life, liberty, property, or free exercise of conscience; when it’s the only honorable course. Esther’s selfless act contrasts with the self-indulgence of others who break laws without being willing to shoulder the consequences.

Martin Luther King wrote about that willingness: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”

Thoreau explained that governments were only able to commit wrongdoings, to “crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels,” because individuals upheld bad governments by their failure to exercise agency, who “serve the state…as machines.” He pressed every individual not to “resign his conscience” to a government, and asked, “Why has every man a conscience then?”

Utah’s predominant religion teaches “We believe… in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law” (Article of Faith 12) and warns: “sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected ” (D&C 134). But further study of D&C 134 reveals that “thus protected” means “protected in their inherent and inalienable rights” –defined as “free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.” “Thus protected” is key: we honor government as long as we are protected in our inalienable rights. When laws fail to protect, when foul oppressions are enacted, people of conscience recognize the duty –of lawful pushback when possible, and of civil disobedience when regular appeals fail.

Pondering heroic acts of civil disobedience helps to clarify the difference between noble and ignoble disobedience.

1. 150 B.C. – Abinadi of the Book of Mormon defied the rule against freedom of speech and willingly faced the consequence of death by fire. 2. 1500′s – English protestants by the hundreds were burned at the stake or beheaded for breaking the law in refusing to follow the state religion under Queen Mary I (“Bloody Mary”). 3. 1776 – Many signers of the Declaration of Independence were punished or killed for signing, which was an act of civil disobedience under British law. 4. 1850′s – Harriet Tubman traveled between Northern and Southern states, illegally freeing 300 slaves. 5. 1940′s – Sweden’s diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, jumped on top of trainloads of Jews on their way to death camps; ignoring governing protocol and soldiers’ warning bullets, Wallenberg gave out illegal passports and ordered captives to exit the trains. He saved thousands and then lost his own life in a Russian prison. 6. 1940′s – Holland’s Caspar Ten Boom illegally hid Jews during World War II. He responded to those who criticized him: “You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.” 7. 1950′s – Rosa Parks was arrested for breaking segregation laws by deliberately sitting “illegally” on a bus. 8. 1989 – China’s “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square deliberately walked straight into communist tanks aimed to quell all freedom-seeking demonstrators. He was seized; it’s unknown whether he was executed. 9. 1990′s – Mongolia’s Oyun Altangarel, a state librarian, was fired for seeking freedom of religion and speech, but her organization’s hunger strike moved her country toward freedom.

Oppression is not only found in distant times and countries. It’s happening under our noses in 2014 in Utah –as are corresponding heroes of civil disobedience. Consider three stories.

1. In 2013, the Salt Lake Tribune published teacher Ann Florence’s op-ed, in which Florence wrote about “an avalanche” of counter-productive mandates which did not benefit students and did cause teacher demoralization. She lamented standardized tests and Common Core. She wrote, “We are tired of the threats and disrespect… tired of having our dedication reduced to a number. Educating children is… a life’s work that deserves the highest honor.”

In 2014, when Florence openly criticized computer-adapted standardized tests as “a waste of time and irrelevant,” refused to grade them, and spoke out to news media, the honors English teacher was fired by Granite School District for “a pattern of noncompliance”.

Florence told ABC4 news, “I am challenged constantly to teach my students to consider their own opinions, to examine their opinions …but when I try to employ critical thinking as a teacher and I have the support of hundreds of other teachers, I’m silenced and I’m fired.”

2. When Stuart Harper, St. George High School Physics Teacher, spoke out against the Common Core “reform,” he was threatened with job loss.  Harper had stated that he didn’t like Common Core being “pushed upon us [teachers],” nor could he tolerate the “lack of control we have over its content.” He criticized the “awful quality of its math core,” an “over-emphasis on testing,” “burdens on schools for curriculum changes and data collection” and said that “its focus drives schools deeper into the political realm and further from real education.”

The district told Harper he’d created rebellion and insubordination. They insisted that he accept their claims about Common Core– as if seeking verification was not scientific; as if truth cannot hold up under scrutiny; as if freedom of thought equals insubordination; as if debate equals unethical conduct.

Harper reasoned with officials, saying, “my intent was not to promote rebellion, but to simply encourage personal research on the subject and exercise freedom of speech on my off time, as a citizen and father. I was told, ‘Those freedom of speech rights you are probably referring to do not apply’ … I made it clear that if I continued to be intimidated into silence that I would resign…”

Harper would not be silenced, though he knew that the system “expects acceptance and conformity to its decisions… and even goes as far as intimidating and threatening those who have differing opinions. ” In his resignation letter, he wrote, “Any society or organization that silences and discourages freedom of speech removes the possibility to express ideas…” He revealed that the system hurts not only teachers’ freedom of conscience but also students’ freedom of conscience: it “no longer promotes learning, but rather focuses on training. It teaches what to think, not how to think.”

Harper was pressured to resign and did resign– not just over academically inferior standards, but over “an environment that clearly has no respect for the Constitutional right of free speech.”

3. When Utah high school student Hannah Smith (not her real name) saw, during the state’s Common Core (SAGE) test, that an objectionable test question should be viewed by parents, she captured screen shots of the question with her cell phone. She sent them to her mother, and they were shared, published and viewed nationally.

Smith was threatened by administrators with possible loss of graduation and was told that she was a cheater. The teacher who had been in the room was also threatened with professional action. State education leader Judy Park was quoted by the Salt Lake Tribune, threatening, “Any licensed educator that has been involved, I will report to UPPAC (Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission of the state Board of Education), because they have now violated the obligation to follow ethics.” Park added, “[A]ll this concern about Common Core and SAGE has led us to the point that parents are encouraging students to break the law.”

Utah’s government uses multiple methods to stifle debate and freedom of thought in education. Utah teachers and school staff report (anonymously) that they must conform to education and data reforms without discussion. They’re told that they may not inform parents nor students of legal rights to opt out of SAGE testing, nor speak out against the Common Core without punishment for insubordination.

Key to the coffle is the state school board’s selection procedure, which narrows the candidate pool before voters get a chance to vote. The selection procedure starts with a survey that asks whether candidates support Utah Core/Common Core. It is further narrowed by insider committees and narrowed again by the governor to two pre-selected candidates. From these, voters may choose one. A rejected candidate recently sued the governor, calling this selection procedure “viewpoint discrimination.”

Why must we reclaim the sacred freedom to disagree and debate? Benjamin Franklin explained: “Grievances cannot be redressed unless they are known; and they cannot be known but through complaints and petitions. if these are deemed affronts, and the messengers punished as offenders, who will henceforth send petitions?”

Speaking against inappropriate education reforms now ranks as civil disobedience for Utah educators. Utah parents who opt children out of SAGE tests are sometimes chided by school administrators as “unsupportive” of schools despite the law upholding the parental right to opt out of the tests.

Utah’s predominant religion says that we “do not believe that human law has a right to…… bind the consciences of men” (D & C 134). It states that the “magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.” The chapter teaches “that the commission of crime should be punished… all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment” (D&C 134). I think Thoreau would agree: he called government’s harm to conscience a “sort of bloodshed” and said, “through this wound a man’s real manhood” flows out. He wrote: “we should be men first, and subjects afterward.”

Although Utahans are witnessing the lack of freedom being put into place by the Common Core tests and Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) –most fail to step forward.

Why?

In part this may be because there is controversy over whether new standards harm or help, but it’s unarguable that the oppressive nature of implementation harms free exercise of parent/teacher conscience and that the tests and data collection systems make students unwitting guinea pigs of D.C.’s experiment. These things should matter; even those who believe Common Core’s claim to improve education may recall that the Declaration of Independence speaks of “consent by the governed” which Common Core can’t claim since it wasn’t vetted by teachers, parents or taxpayers prior to adoption.

Fact: Utah’s government oppresses exercise of conscience by threatening job loss to educators who exercise it. Teachers governed thus are not protected in their inalienable rights. Fact: because the government creates no allowance for parents to opt children out of its federal-state database tracking system (State Longitudinal Database System) it also violates parental “right and control of property”–privacy being personal property. Fact: for at least two years the state school board (collectively) has rejected every plea for relief from parents and teachers on this matter, and the legislature has not succeeded in righting the wrong.

The choice then has become to behave as silent property, as governed as cooped chickens, or to rise to the scary, defining moment of Common Core. Stand-up actions (parents opting students out of testing, administrators claiming the right to say no) may result in ridicule or job loss but may be the only way we can defend the Constitutional right to local control of education, the only way to do the right thing.

Consider Thoreau’s words: “under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”

For the sake of our American liberties and for the sake of our children, it is time for those who share the spirit of Queen Esther to echo her example: “I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”

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