Little noticed on the list of President Donald Trump’s second term agenda items was a line about teaching American exceptionalism. This was an important step, long overdue. Merely blocking federal funds from going to educational programs that essentially teach the Howard Zinn Hoax View of history is important, no doubt.
But as with most things these days, while direction and trends are important, they are only that. President Trump has stopped the boat from taking on more water. How he bails it out is an entirely different matter.
Today’s universities and even high schools (and probably even elementary schools) are top-heavy with America haters. These statistics have long been known. In the late 1980s, a conservative think tank sponsored a survey of a dozen universities, ranging from Ivy League to state universities to small liberal arts colleges. They found that in political science/government, history, and other departments, the registration of Democrats to Republicans was on the order of 10:1. At the time, I taught at a supposedly moderate Midwest Catholic university. There, in my own history department, I was the only registered republican out of a faculty of 20. Later on, we brought on one other after hiring a few more liberals. Surprisingly, some of the Ivy League schools had better ratios than some of the large state universities. At the University of Colorado, for example, across several departments, the ratio was about 100:2.
It is absolutely true that if you expand your parameters in such searches to include the schools of engineering and business, the numbers will change substantially. Some engineering/business schools are even a majority of conservatives of various stripes, if not liberals. Again, my own school proudly boasted after the 1992 election that the faculty had broken 50/50. There is only one problem: all students are required to take certain liberal arts/social science courses including history, English, political science, sociology, or some mixture thereof. At my college, there was a “western civilization” (before the name was changed) requirement for all freshmen. But only a small percentage of students overall go into business or engineering. All are exposed to blatant leftism in the liberal arts courses, few are exposed to a more rational view of life in other schools. And to be fair, most business or engineering professors are not pontificating most of the time on current events as do liberal arts instructors.
So here is President Trump’s problem: even a mandate to teach American Exceptionalism would flounder because the teachers who would be in charge of teaching it are far lefties. I saw this in the state of Arizona when a mandated high school course in “free enterprise” was established. Those who received the duty of teaching this course were anything but friendly to free enterprise. The result was a course in “here’s why free enterprise sucks.”
As of today, virtually any history professor or high school teacher forced by law to teach American exceptionalism (if they even knew what it was) would teach it from a negative perspective. This is the battle the second term Trump administration faces.
One solution is to design the course in such a way that it can only be taught by officially sanctioned instructors. While this will smack of way too much government interference to some, it is, unfortunately, the only way to take back this subject and some of the classrooms. For example, the administration could require a certificate from an approved program in American Exceptionalism and design such programs with colleges such as Liberty University, Grove City College, Hillsdale College, and Ottawa University in mind. There could be assurances from such certified schools of exactly what outcomes were desired, and therefore shape who the instructors were. Again, government overreach but we are way beyond the “small government” debate now.
While this wouldn’t be perfect, it would go a long way to ensuring that all schools have at least one voice on campus who knows, understands, and likely loves American Exceptionalism. Of course, the on-campus fallout and discrimination would be tough, both in terms of pay increases and assignments/perks. But it could be done. Whatever the administration’s direction is on this, however, realize that Trump has only just fired the opening salvos, not the final shots in this war. Personnel still is policy, and until the people in these programs are turned around, it will be a guerilla war, even with the law on our side.
Trump has carried this elimination of anti-Americanism to a second front: President Trump has ordered federal agencies to cease providing any race-related “training” (i.e., “hate white”) sessions. The Bureau of Management and the Budget last week sent a memo saying that the expenditure of millions of taxpayer dollars for anti-American propaganda will end. Thank God.
This officially ends any training on “white privilege” or so-called “critical race theory” arguing that it “engender[s] division and resentment” and undermines America’s core values. Amen to that.
There is no basis in history or reason for such nonsensical self-immolation. But this toxic self-hate must be eliminated at all elements of the government and all contractors associated with it. Earlier this month at Sandia National Laboratories, part of the National Nuclear Security Administration was hit with a whistleblower complaint that it forced white male executives to attend anti-white training sessions. An electrical engineer at Sandia, Casey Peterson made a YouTube video challenging the “narrative of modern systemic racism and white privilege,” and unleashed a firestorm, both against himself and against Sandia. But Senator Josh Hawley and Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette both launched investigations. This will not end well for Sandia.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Reagan: The American President, and founder of the Wild World of History curriculum website with full US and World history courses for grades 9-12 that include teacher guides, student workbooks, tests/answer keys, images/maps/graphs, and video lessons for all units (www.wildworldofhistory.com).
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