We should seem odd

Apparently, it’s now scandalous to be careful about avoiding even the appearance of impropriety:

Recently, a Washington Post article about second lady Karen Pence has brought the Billy Graham Rule back into the public eye. The article cites a 2002 interview with Vice President Pence — who has called himself an “evangelical Catholic” — saying that he “never eats alone with a woman other than his wife,” and that he doesn’t attend events serving alcohol unless she is with him as well. This will, no doubt, sound strange to the uninitiated. The Onion parodied the story with the headline, “Mike Pence Asks Waiter To Remove Mrs. Butterworth From Table Until Wife Arrives.” It is strange, as are many religious practices, and strange isn’t necessarily bad.

The impulse that led to the Billy Graham Rule — which was actually a solidification of principles guarding against several kinds of temptation — is a good and honorable one: to remain faithful to one’s spouse and to avoid the kind of behavior (or rumors of behavior) that have destroyed the careers of church leaders.

So far, so good – the author of the article appears to understand the motivation.  Then there’s the “but:”

…for men to categorically refuse to meet one-on-one with women is often dehumanizing and denies the image of Christ that each person bears.

The rule also promotes the preservation of men and exclusion of women in positions of leadership. If a woman at work cannot meet one-on-one with her boss or colleague, her options for advancement (or even being taken seriously as a colleague) are extremely limited.

The Billy Graham Rule also denies the reality of LGBT people. As a friend pointed out to me: Should a bisexual person refuse to ever be alone with anyone, full stop? Should a male pastor refuse to meet one-on-one with a gay man?…

Several female pastors I spoke with told me that they wouldn’t have a job if they abided by this rule because meeting one-on-one with men is part of what they have to do within their congregation.

There’s a lot to unpack here.  First of all, I tip my hat to Mike Pence for being so consistent about this that it draws attention.  But while the author makes a stab at seeming understanding, her real purpose is to taint the practice as somehow harmful and “unfair” (a favorite word on the Left).

As the author points out, the Christian belief system assumes “heteronormativity, furthering the idea that people who are LGBT are people “out there,” not an essential part of the church.”  Well, yes.  Continue reading

Sad, but true

Many students from other nations come to study in the United States — a robust tradition that helps bridge cultural divides.  One would hope that coming here would leave a good impression.  Sadly, that’s far from the case.  When comparing their experience here to the expectations they face back home, the U.S. frequently comes up short:

Students from abroad are even more likely today to describe U.S. classes as easier than they were in 2001. The combined “much easier” and “a little easier” responses grew from 85.2% in 2001 to 90.0% in 2016. The change in the “much easier” rating, increasing from 55.9% to 66.4%, is statistically significant.

I currently teach in a private high school.  This year, I have two Vietnamese exchange students (one male, one female).  Not only are they consistently at or near the top of their class standings, they sometimes visibly react to their fellow students’ occasional whine (my words, not theirs) about things being “too hard.”  Frankly, it’s embarrassing. Whereas these guests don’t hesitate to ask well-thought questions or double-check their understanding, my local students’ questions are often a variation of “is this something we have to know for the test?”  (My standard answer is to ask them: “is it in the reading?”  After they respond “yes,” I remind them any such material is fair game.  No, I’m not the most popular teacher among the seniors.)

Surprisingly, as my US History class recently began the Vietnam War era, the exchange student in that class seemed reluctant when I approached him privately to encourage him to share his nation’s perspective on that time.   Only after communicating with his host family did I learn that not much at all is taught about that period in Vietnam.  Perhaps they’re consciously putting it behind them.  Regardless, it’s somewhat interesting to know my exchange student is learning about that era for the first time, alongside his American classmates.

That said, I have no doubt he’ll ace the exam, or come close to it.

The main difference I can see between public and private schools is that discipline is much better maintained in the latter.  But while there are some standout exceptions, most students aren’t interested in doing any more than the bare minimum, the same as their public school counterparts.  Like many teachers, I try to use gimmicks and games to increase interest, but the sad fact is that we simply don’t expect as much of ourselves as we once did.  When I look at what was expected of eighth graders just over a century ago, I marvel at how far we, as a nation, have fallen.

And I wonder sometimes if our current public educational systems are designed to produce historically illiterate, logically challenged graduates who’ll take the word of “experts” at face value because they don’t know any better.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” – Thomas Jefferson

Indeed

Today’s read:

“It’s disheartening that an avowed socialist is a viable candidate for president of the United States. Socialism is a dead end. For hundreds of years, it has failed everywhere it’s been adopted. The enthusiasm of our youth for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders is a symptom of our failure to educate them, not only in history, government and economics, but also basic morality…”

Read the entire thing.  Even as our nation reaches $19 trillion of acknowledged debt, too many people still seem to think it’s the best source of lots of goodies.  We’ve reached a point today where in education there is emphasis on science, technology, computing… but not on the lessons learned from basic human experience over 4,000+ years of recorded history.  And we wonder why we’re repeating mistakes that should have been proscribed long ago.

Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it Yet those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it

‘Privilege?’ No… personal responsibility

Our society has spent the past half century tearing down the idea of traditional families, roles and responsibilities.  Now that there’s enough data to compare the trajectories of those who left that path with those who stayed on it, there are cries of “unfair privilege” for those whose lives continue to be enriched and sustained by traditional families and practices.

It’s so bad now that schools are being indoctrinated to alter (read: virtually eviscerate) their disciplinary systems, simply because some groups of students allegedly can’t adjust to a school environment “privileged towards Whites”  (never mind that the breakdown of the family and its accompanying disciplinary issues are hardly confined to a single ethnic group):

Last week we were stunned to learn that chaos has been the norm in the St. Paul, Minnesota school district, due to a student disciplinary policy that replaces suspensions with time-outs, counseling and other less punitive measures.

We also learned that the controversial policy was influenced by the Pacific Educational Group (PEG), a radical San Francisco-based consulting firm that claims black students lag behind academically, and tend to have more disciplinary problems, because American K-12 education is designed to benefit white students – aka “white privilege.”

Now it’s becoming obvious that several other large school districts around the nation are in the same situation as St. Paul.

They’ve all instituted radical disciplinary policies to reduce the number of black student suspensions, they’ve all experienced serious behavioral problems as a result, and they’re all included on a recent list of PEG client school districts.

The entire linked story is a must-read: i.e. kids getting a ‘stern talking to’ after setting a classmate’s hair on fire!  Yes, the inmates are truly running the asylum now.

If this so-called PEG is saying in effect that minority children can’t be expected to comply with simple concepts like not punching their teachers in the face, or not burning their fellow students, why isn’t that “racist?”  Because if what they’re alleging is true — that such groups are somehow incapable of being taught any self-discipline or functioning like the rest of society — then we’ve gone full-circle back to the arguments of the segregationists!

…only this time instead of it being eeeeeevil Whites claiming there’s some inherent inferiority in these groups, it’s the minorities’ own advocates!  So which is it: you can’t act civilized, or you refuse to act civilized?

This need not be cast as a racial issue, although the race-baiting industry undoubtedly will continue to do so.  No, this is a character issue.  What used to be called (of course) “White flight” has now morphed into families (of all backgrounds) who care about their children removing them from the zoos that our public schools and many neighborhoods have become.  Those families who care about raising self-disciplined children with the potential for a future will continue to do all they can (however meager at times) to distance themselves from the rot of the rest of society.  Naturally, those with a vested interest in conflict will do all they can to reduce or try to shame such options.

But eventually it may come to a point where those who care about actually living in a civilization, versus a jungle, feel they no longer have anywhere to which to retreat.  At that point, it will get very ugly.

This -n- that

Various ramblings and rumblings that have come to my attention of late:

1.  If this is the state of graduate-level education in America today then yes, weep for the future:

Some 25 students participated in a sit-in at the University of California at Los Angeles after a professor corrected the capitalization, grammar and punctuation of a minority student’s paper, the Daily Caller reported Tuesday.

Members of the group “Call 2 Action: Graduate Students of Color” organized the sit-in and said the mere act of correcting a black student’s paper was “micro-aggression.”  (emphasis added)

2.  And isn’t it interesting that at a time when there are more college degrees floating around than ever before, we seem to have forgotten some fundamentals as a nation?  Could it be there’s a difference between having a degree, and having an education?

There has been a lot of handwringing in recent years about how divided Washington is, and how it’s difficult for the parties to come together on anything. But the reality is that the states are divided among themselves.

The architecture of the Constitution offers a natural solution to this problem. Instead of trying to solve every issue at the national level, power should be shifted back to the states. Those states whose residents are willing to pay higher taxes for more government services should be free to do so, as should states whose residents are willing to forgo government benefits in favor of lower taxes. Under such a system, instead of bitterly hashing out every issue in Washington, Congress could be focusing on a limited range of issues.

3.  While we’re at it, as long as we’re willing to centralize all power in D.C. on every important issue, why don’t we just vest the power in one person to get the job done?  What’s the worst that could happen, right?

4.  Here’s another great idea: indicting public officials when you disagree with their attempts to hold others accountable.  I’m sure that politicizing what little remains of our ‘justice system’ will work out well…

 Governor Perry “threatened” to veto a bill that funded an office unless the person who was currently sitting in that chair stepped down.  He did this after said person was arrested for drunk driving at something around three times the legal limit of intoxication.  Oh, and did I mention that the office in question was the DA?  In other words, the person responsible for prosecuting, among other things, drunk driving?

5.  And finally, as the all-too-familiar racial narratives play out in Missouri (whether supported by facts or not), let’s not lose the opportunity to continue discussing just how heavily armed we want our police forces to be… and how much we’re willing to let them preempt demonstrations of the people’s concerns.  Militarized police forces are not conducive to the exercise of Constitutional freedoms…

Historically illiterate

In a sane world, this would result in one losing one’s teaching job:

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Let’s break this down, shall we?

– “NAZI” is an acronym for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.  Hmm.

– Their “25-point program” wasn’t exactly friendly to capitalist processes.  Hmm.

– “The Road to Serfdom” was written in defense of the free market and freedom, and against the idea of centrally planned economies such as both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

That latter point is the most important.  Somehow, in the years since World War II, people have been brainwashed to see Nazism and Communism as opposite ends of the “left-right” spectrum.  They are not.  They both fall on the command economy side of the spectrum.  Hitler and Stalin battled over which band of thugs would rule and under what banner, *not* over some radically different idea of how human society should be ordered.  Both the Nazi and Soviet regimes were centralized, genocidal evils.

So when leftists today accuse their political opponents of being  “Nazis,” understand they are simply historically illiterate.  Not to mention idiots.  The true “right” side of the political spectrum doesn’t reside under a swastika.  Rather, those who live there are suspicious of any national emblems and “calls to the colors,” because what they really want is the radical agenda of leaving others the hell alone.  They are the minarchists, which is as far from overbearing centralized authority as you can get.

Now, can we please dispense with ‘teachers’ who are still parroting Uncle Joe Stalin’s equation of Nazism with capitalism, half a century after everyone should know better?   (End rant)

Do YOU know what’s being taught in YOUR kids’ schools?