Faulty link below has been repaired. *An edited transcript of the video link is included at the end of this post.
The terrorist attacks of 911 were a huge success. They succeeded in exercising control over the minds of Americans and pushing a plurality into a state of incoherent fear and confusion. The attacks sparked a campaign of events that sent Americans into a state of mindless rage which reduces them to a helpless babble as those who would exercise power over them manipulate the strings of propaganda and make them incapable of an effective response.
With every beheading of innocents by Islamic mass murderers, with every mass killing by so-called jihadists or Mexican drug cartels, and with every school shooting or killing in the name of self-defense on our own streets, Americans slip further into mental dysfunction and respond only to commands from their chosen masters. They can only respond to rage-induced resentment and hatred, and many have become incapable of discerning facts from fantasies composed solely to feed their rage and their mindless obedience to those attitudes to which the propaganda directs them.
This month on the ninth marked the 75th anniversary of Kristal Nacht, the night that launched the Holocaust in Germany. It was a night of rage against the Jews during which synagogues were burned, Jewish businesses and homes were attacked, leaving the German streets covered with shards of broken glass. After the U.S and its allies defeated the Nazis and liberated the Jews who had not been killed, they vowed to never let such an atrocity happen again.
One of the results of that vow was the intensification of the study of rhetoric and propaganda in our schools and colleges. Kristal Nacht was instigated and led by Hitler’s regime, but the German people turned out massively on the streets to take part in attacking and capturing the Jewish people. That participation was the result of a propaganda campaign by Joseph Goebbels and his propaganda ministry. Goebbels was overwhelmingly successful in manipulating the people to think and do as he determined. Americans and other western countries were convinced that a people educated in the differences between good rhetoric and false rhetoric and propaganda were a powerful antidote to appeals to political and racial hatred. During my freshman year in college, we had a textbook for English composition that rigorously analyzed the false premises of propaganda and logical fallacies in rhetoric. In high schools and colleges, the techniques of legitimate rhetoric and the discipline of critical thinking were a feature of curricula up until the 1970s.
Most Americans today are not equipped with educations that make them capable of critical analysis of the blizzard of communication they find themselves in from those who try to control their thinking. Business corporations see such knowledge as a barrier to the success of their advertising effectiveness. Political factions see it as a barrier to their indoctrination. In response to these objections, school boards and many college administrations have eliminated courses in the language arts and humanities which expose students to critical thinking skills and the analysis of good language and literature. As school boards no longer function as conduits of information between the public and the professional teaching staffs but as corporate boards of directors that dictate curriculum and policies, the curriculum has been reduced to preparing students to be docile, obedient employees. Their learning achievements are measured by standardized tests used to determine how well schools are performing in their role of creating docile, obedient automatons who will not resist or protest if they are assigned to the class of impoverished serfs that America’s corporate managers want as a workforce. A large portion of Americans have been rendered mentally defenseless against even the most crass propaganda ploys used to control them.
The denials of climate change and the baseless accusations against Barack Obama of being born in Africa and of being Muslim demonstrate the severe intellectual deficiencies that possess many Americans. The conservative war against liberalism, as conducted by Rush Limbaugh and his imitators, uses the hate-based false accusations as Joseph Goebbels and his minions used them against the Jews. A plurality of Americans are mentally incapable of recognizing and dealing with the recognizable falsehoods and appeals to religious and racial hatreds used to control them. The war against public education has taken its toll in America. In no category of excellence can America be saidto be the greatest country in the world anymore. In large measure, that is because of the way education has been compromised to serve a managing class, not the people.
These factors in what has been called America’s culture war dominate politics. There is little honest debate over the problems that afflict the American people and solutions to those problems. Politics is all about character assassination and false accusations. And the American people tolerate it all as business as usual.
In 1935, Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel, later made into a drama, titled It Can’t Happen Here, in which he explored and satirized how what Hitler was doing in Germany could happen in the USA. In his literary work, Lewis explored those weaknesses and defects in American society that undercut democracy and tended toward social and political oppression. The political party that takes over the country is called The American Corporate State and Patriot Party. As in all of Lewis’ satire, there are a significant number of people who embrace a gullible ignorance and a placid stupidity as a mode of life. The attacks on education have produced that kind of constituency in our time.
Another book that foreshadowed what has happened to American education is Neil Postman’s 1971 Teaching as a Subversive Activity. If the nation is to resist being manipulated into its own versions of Kristal Nacht, the liberals will need to abandon the dysfunctional government and focus on education, even if they have to go underground to accomplish it. Our young people are our best chance of trying to restore freedom, equality, and justice as the nation’s operating principles. They need and deserve a chance to be educated in how our nation overcame oppressions and gave people respect and freedom.
South Dakota is a prime case in point of a state that has deteriorated into intellectual dysfunction. It has been ruled by one political party which has withheld from the voter-taxpayers information about government transactions and the right to knowledge about what officials are doing. It has allowed education to be neglected in its funding and tampered with in its function. It has developed an uncurious and disinterested attitude toward government corruption. In an instance that is defined with documents and the testimony of participants, the Benda-Bollen-Rounds EB-5 scandal, it has chosen to dismiss hard evidence and embrace the mendacity of its deniers. It has lost the ability to function mentally and examine the evidence in a suspicious death, the misdealing in state funds, the vicious ripping off of foreign investors, and the incompetent, devious mismanagement of the Northern Beef Packers plant. Instead, the people endorsed the perpetrators of the fraud and overwhelmingly elected them to control the state. South Dakota has strongly defined itself as a corrupt state by the will of the people. And it demonstrates the reasons why Americais not the greatest nation in the world anymore.
A corrupt political system does not provide the means for decency to prevail. Those who care will have to devise their own means to provide genuine education and make another try for a new world.
We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn't belittle it; it didn't make us feel inferior. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn't scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore
We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.