[Editor’s Note: The following post is by TDV contributor, Wendy McElroy]
“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” –attributed to Vladimir Lenin
A new furor has erupted over Common Core – an aggressive educational agenda in America that seeks to make state standards conform to a common federal one. A mother in Arkansas sparked it. Her daughter's 6th-grade homework required her to “prune two and add two amendments to the Bill of Rights.” The document was called “outdated” and so “may not remain in its current form any longer."
The mother was particularly concerned because her daughter had not yet gone through a civics course. “When I asked my child what the assignment was to teach her she had no idea,” the mother stated. “She didn’t even understand what the Amendments meant. How can she make an informed decision when she doesn’t understand what she is ‘throwing out’?” Moreover, the assignment 'appointed' the girl to be part of a special committee to change the Bill of Rights, which the mother worried may lead her to incorrectly believe that it could be changed in that manner.
In response to media attention, a school official confirmed the authenticity of the assignment and defended it as being in accord with Common Core standards. The official denied the homework was “political” or that the children were not taught about the Bill of Rights beforehand; apparently a hand-out was discussed just before the assignment was given. [Note: the brief discussion about one sheet of paper clearly did not teach the child anything about the Bill of Rights.] Moreover, if the assignment was intended to elicit critical thought, why wasn't “keep as it is” an option? Why were children told the Bill of Rights was “outdated” rather than deciding for themselves?
The Bill of Rights is a flash-point because there is an ongoing war between the feds and individual rights. This paper document is the strongest remaining legal protection against the fed's onslaught on personal freedom. (The onslaught did not start with Obama but it has accelerated under him.)
The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, religion, assembly and the press. Free speech is abrogated by federally-imposed policies against 'incorrect' speech. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act holds employers legally responsible for the “hate speech” by employees. Obamacare's mandate that employers provide abortifacients despite religious objections attacks freedom of religion. Freedom of assembly is denied by protest zones — proscribed areas to which protesters are confined, often by wire fences; by law, those protesting anywhere near the President are arrested. America fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
The Second Amendment guarantee of the right to bear arms is dying through “salami tactics” – slice by slice. For example, on January 3rd, Obama issued two new executive actions aimed at 'tightening' the federal background-check system for gun ownership.
The Third Amendment prohibition against soldiers being quartered in homes without the owner's consent is before a federal appeals court. The case involves the police forcibly occupying a residence in order to surveil a neighboring home. A question asked is whether militarized police, such as SWAT teams, are soldiers under the Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment is no more. Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures evaporated with the TSA's 'right' to search the person and property of all air travelers. The NSA's massive warrantless searches of telecommunications has been upheld by a federal court.
The Fifth Amendment speaks to due process of law, eminent domain, double jeopardy and grand juries. Its most important protections are gone. The feds were exempted from due process by Section 412 of the USA Patriot Act which permits the military to detain individuals indefinitely without trial. Al-Awlaki and other Americans were executed by “imperial drone” even though they had not been charged with a crime. Eminent domain was gutted by the 2005 Kelo decision, which was upheld by the Supreme Court; in Kelo, the government confiscated private property in order to turn it over to another private for-profit owner; government agents continue to confiscate property from innocent people through civil seizure laws. Double jeopardy is side-stepped by allowing both civil and criminal trials for the same act. Not enough is known about non-transparent grand juries process to draw conclusions. .
The Sixth Amendment protections apply due process to criminal prosecutions: a defendant's right to hear the charges against him, to confront witnesses, to a speedy trial and to legal representation. The indefinite detention and assassination previously mentioned are clear abrogations. On March 4, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to Rand Paul, stating he could “imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws…for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.” On confronting witnesses, the federal government increasingly uses “classified documents” or secret witnesses against those charged with crimes against the state.
The Seventh Amendment guarantees trial by jury in federal court for common law or civil cases. This protection stands.
The Eighth Amendment protects against “cruel and unusual punishment.” Again, indefinite detention and assassination are violations. As is the punishment of whistle blowers like Chelsea/Bradley Manning who was held naked in solitary confinement and constantly awoken by guards. He didn't receive a proper trial for years. Even those who consider the Amendment to apply only to Americans on native soil should be concerned about federal defenses of torturing Gitmo prisoners who have been charged with no crime. A new report on the CIA apparently reveals such torture to be “normal procedure” by federal agents abroad; since the CIA is responsible for declassifying the report, it is not clear how much will be made public.
The Ninth Amendment affirms that people have other rights even if they are not enumerated in the Constitution. “Other rights” refer to just about anything the government doesn't prohibit. Given how regulations and the Nanny State have exploded under Obama, it is difficult to consider him a Ninth Amendment purist.
The Tenth Amendment reserves to the various states or to individuals any power not delegated to the federal government. The feds bypass the Tenth Amendment through the stick-and-carrot of funding. Consider Common Core. Education is a state prerogative. But any state that wants a bite out of a $4.35-billion federal fund must adopt the program. Moreover, any state that does so is exempt from the widely despised No Child Left Behind Act. As of Fall 2013, 45 states and D.C. have complied. Education has become a de facto federal prerogative. [The chart below represents the rate of growth in student achievement in math, reading and science. US is the black line.]
More is becoming known about Common Core curricula, largely because parents are appalled at what their children are learning. Or not learning. 6-graders without a good basic grasp of writing or math are being introduced to the Bill of Rights with the word “outdated” and told to rewrite it. That is not history; that is not critical thinking. Whatever school officials claim, it is blatantly political.
Wendy McElroy is a regular contributor to the Dollar Vigilante, and a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of twelve books, the latest of which is "The Art of Being Free". Follow her work atwww.wendymcelroy.com.
The US government has this all covered. Ever heard of "Constitution Free Zones"? Well, they exist. In fact, two-thirds of Americans live within the scopes of this federal initiative to summarily suspend the Constitution. The water is tested every single day, in the classroom and in the streets, as well as in entertainment. The way in which the United States has changed in just the last five years is mind-boggling.
As Vietnam War soldiers said often, the American public is now "fubar." If Common Core is allowed to persist, the minds of the children will turn into a serious disconnect from the status-quo American psycho-heritage. As happened in the Soviet Union, our future children, the ones in particular who have yet to even start school, could be turned against you and me.
In other countries, it is not so bad. There is a beautiful world out there, where things aren't as gray as in the US. There is no reason to be fearful of "out there." Perhaps "out there" would be what is best for your family, present or future. Detecting a demand for lessons on how to set out on this footing, TDV Wealth Management has organized its second Crisis Conference, to be held in Cabo San Lucas.
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