It’s a sad day when the first day of school is delayed a week because of rioting, as it has been in Ferguson, Missouri. Teachers, instead of being in classrooms teaching, have been getting “crisis training.” Those who have irresponsibly been quick to judge in the case of the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer without all the facts have only added fuel to the fire. This is the case in the lessons about Ferguson that have been prepared, free for teachers to download.
They follow the numerous lessons already fashioned out of the Trayvon Martin case (such as one by PBS called “Debating Race, Justice and Policy in the Case of Trayvon Martin”), with the focus on race and social justice, instead of real justice–as in the jury system, evaluation of evidence, etc.
It almost seems that the indoctrinators have been waiting with material. Within days of the shooting, the lessons were ready for teachers to download. PBS has come out with an entire list of “resources” for teaching about Ferguson and Michael Brown to grades 7-12 (including links to videos from the PBS News Hour). The Anti-Defamation League offers a detailed lesson plan (Common Core-aligned), with discussions centered on race, the “militarization” of police, and the best ways to engage in “activism.” Teachers are instructed to play the lyrics of rapper J.Cole who has already written a song about Michael Brown. Teachers are then to ask students:
“How did you feel while listening to the song?”
“What do the lyrics mean?”
“Why do you think he wrote the song?”
“Will it make a difference?”
These lessons follow the lead of journalists, who have been quick to condemn the police, blaming the “militarization of police” for criminal and subversive elements. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch presented the first night’s looting, which seemed to go on while police stood back, as a justified release of emotion. It was not. The gangs came out in even greater force the following nights, perhaps encouraged by their successes and enflamed by the rhetoric of the race agitators that have come out at such moments throughout the twentieth century, especially fifty years ago.
Fifty years ago in Rochester my neighborhood was set on the path to destruction by the riots. This July in a perverse kind of “celebration” media outlets and libraries “looked back” to 1964. The rationalizations for the rioting back then were what they are now: poverty, unemployment, discrimination, bad housing.
Nothing was the same after the riots in Rochester in 1964, no matter what the teachers or commentators said. The destroyed businesses, ruined property values, and deteriorating schools that we had to live with defied the politically correct lessons and the commentary from perches in the suburbs or Washington, D.C. The criminals 50 years later know the script; they know that their actions will be excused by the agitators and the oh-so-sensitive who write from offices far from the violence. It’s shocking to see it happen over and over, in Rochester in 1964 and in Ferguson in 2014. Today, audaciously, pundits in Washington, D.C. lecture police to be more understanding, more “brave.”
What’s different today is that the anti-police pundits are seen as being conservative. But these conservatives are new kinds of conservatives, they insist. They disparage the old-fashioned conservatism. All they want is freedom, they say. They’re purists, lumping every form of social control under Big Government. They are, proudly, Libertarians.
Really? Then they ought to consider the words of Mr. Libertarian himself, Barry Goldwater, who in 1964 said this in his acceptance speech for the nomination of Republican presidential candidate:
Security from domestic violence, no less than from foreign aggression, is the most elementary and fundamental purpose of any government, and a government that cannot fulfill that purpose is one that cannot long command the loyalty of its citizens. History shows us – demonstrates that nothing – nothing prepares the way for tyranny more than the failure of public officials to keep the streets from bullies and marauders.
This is what we need to start putting in lessons for school children…after teaching the adults in Washington, D.C., who would lecture us about the “militarization of police” or being more “brave.”