Dennis Prager: High School Principal’s Manifesto

In my email I received a forward of a piece written by American radio show host Dennis Prager, one of the smartest guys on the air.

It may shock some of you to know that I am rather conservative.  When I listen to talk radio, and I occasionally do but only when recorded so I can skip the breaks and therefore save time, I listen to Rush (less these days, but still the standard), Mark Levin (great on constitutional questions – his website and audio downloads are free!  If you think I rant, you should hear Mr. Levin!), Bill Bennett (excellent for cultural issues and a genuinely nice guy – I used to be on his show with some frequency), Hugh Hewitt (who has a special interest in religion in the public square)… if you get my drift.

This is what Mr. Prager would announce were he a High School Principal.  This needs no emphases or comments from me.

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.

The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity — your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race- and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values — e pluribus unum, “from many, one.” And this school will be guided by America’s values.

This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism — an unhealthy preoccupation with the self — while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interesting in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America’s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here — it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English — but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning’s elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school’s property — whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can’t speak without using the f-word, you can’t speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as “Nxxxxx,” even when used by one black student to address another black, or “bxxxx,” even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way — the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago — by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky — to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

It’s nice to dream.

I’ll leave the combox open for as long as people can exercise a measure of self-editing and civility.

However, I ask that you do NOT… do NOT… engage EACH OTHER.

Make your points, briefly, and let other people make theirs.

Don’t intimidate, name call, or attack personally.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ezra says:

    If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race- and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values — e pluribus unum, “from many, one.” And this school will be guided by America’s values. This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.


  2. Elizabeth D says:

    I am not comfortable with this, ethnicity, language, etc are often very important on the level of family identity. Saying “don’t bring those aspects of yourself to school” conveys in a way, we don’t care about you or your family, we want the culture and values taught in school, rather than that received from your family, to become your point of reference for your personal identity. Which actually runs counter to Catholic understanding of the family as having primary responsibility for education right?

  3. traditionalorganist says:

    I’m not comfortable with this either. Just because problems arise due to the ethnicity, language, religion, issues, doesn’t mean race, language and religion should be ignored. I obviously agree with dismissing of sexual orientation as an “identifier.” But culture is made up of race, language, and religion. We are quite capable of being a successful nation with extremely diverse races, each maintaining their own language and religion. “E pluribus, unum” does not mean remove who we are for the sake of unity.

    Quite frankly, the author’s comments are rather trite and reminisce of McCarthyism. If we seek to teach our children what is right and just, and don’t force the other end of the political spectrum down their throats, I think we will be alright.

  4. Art says:

    Perhaps I’m reading it wrong, but doesn’t this rant seem to border on atheism?

  5. Charles E Flynn says:

    Mr. Prager forgot to ban tattoos, defined as ink-based permanent body modifications that make steady employment less likely.

  6. introibo says:

    Do you ever listen to Laura Ingraham, Father? She is a practicing Catholic who supports the Church’s teachings through and through…unlike, say, Sean Hannity. She addresses the all-important cultural issues of our times. [I used to, but I haven’t heard her show for a while. You can’t hear everything. Also, I am – blech – trying to pick up a little more of the obviously liberal MSM as the poltical season revs up. As it is, I record shows and then listen to them as 1.5 speed while jumping over the breaks. There is only so much time in the day and mental energy.]

  7. introibo says:

    Sorry for the double post; I was trying to change typo “even” to “ever”, lest I sound snarky.

  8. jarhead462 says:

    McCarthyism? Really? I agree with this wholeheartedly. Who cares about your ethnicity? Your familty should, and that is where it belongs.. Leave that at home. Respect people for who they are, not what they are.
    Sorry for the truculent tone…I think I need to eat ;)

    Semper Fi!

  9. Chrysologus says:

    Showing your true colors now, Father! What a lame conservative screed. [Wow. That was substantive.]

  10. Tsunami says:

    For my own part, I can see a few issues from a Thomistic point of view. But before I say anything, I should add that I also consider Rush the gold standard, Hugh Hewitt was recently kind enough to praise my alma mater on the radio, which is rare enough to hear of academia nowadays, and I also listen to Mark Levin, though on some issues I disagree with him somewhat. (Only as one really gets down to the nitty-gritty, though.) So I too am speaking from a conservative point of view, but I am also a Thomist and I try to be honest about these things.

    While the desire to provide an American national identity and unity to education is laudable, part of the American national identity IS the “pluribus” part. While there is indeed one nation out of the manifold populace, the many is not destroyed by the one, as nature is not destroyed by grace but fulfilled or perfected, and more directly as the common good fulfills and perfects the private good. Hence the attention given to Kings in Scripture, because a King is in many respects like God. So much so, in fact, that the Israelites request one rather than allow themselves to be entirely dependent upon the Father. Justice is another example (social justice didn’t NEED to become a bad word; the city of Dis in Dante’s Inferno, where the specifically political and social sinners are punished, is a macrocosm of social justice.) See Wis 1:1, or Dante’s Paradiso.

    I suspect this is the more Platonic edge of conservatism. One might remember Aristotle’s Politics, in which he considers the unity of the city. In examining Plato’s Republic, he concludes that Plato’s major error (which, among other things, led to his positing the community of wives) is speaking of unity in a too absolute manner. Not all unity is good for the city. Indeed, every politic (including our favorite politic, the Church) thrives upon the unity present in an ordered hierarchy. This one does not see in this speech, I fear.

    I am Indian-Irish-American. I had the good fortune of being homeschooled; part of my childhood education-unto-citizenship was the realization that I was different in background from others and that this was not a bad thing. Now, I had a good introduction to this, as I came from a mixed marriage and one tends in that situation to have parents who understand reconciling cultural and religious differences , if by good fortune or tremendous grace one has good parents. Had I been in the above-described school, it is true that I might avoid the typical “you’re different” bullying and jokes, to some small respect, but I would have little comprehension of why being different is actually a good thing for an American to be. Admittedly, this can be taken too far; some people think that to exult difference requires that one declare one group (see white males) as a “sameness”; this is a ludicrous invention of Derrida. Sameness is an entirely arbitrary predication when based on something that is not common to all. My cousin is white, and his mother is exactly as American as mine. We are not different in our being American. But if I am different from him in color, he is likewise different than me. Calling him the “same” and me the “different” is nothing more than a convention. Why, then, should we settle for an arbitrary notion of the “same” rather than the real notion, which can be better than just ignoring culture? It is no less conservative than Prager; perhaps it is more, since those who ignore cultural differences entirely have no monopoly on the title “conservative.” And there is much to conserve in cultural difference, especially now that America is becoming something out of Eliot’s nightmares.

    To say that only individual identity matters is fair enough, except that my being Indian is a MASSIVE part of my “individual identity”, to the degree that to hear someone saying “I am Indian” intrinsically tells someone more than listening to Nancy Pelosi calling herself a Catholic. And there is nothing wrong with a celebration of ethnicity, race and cultural celebrations! This is cranky conservatism and I don’t approve, because it is imprecise. The issue is when such celebrations claim precedence over the American identity! For example, one of my best friends is very (Catholic and) Portuguese. It comes up all the time, especially around soccer season. But I never feel oppressed around him by the fact that I am not Portuguese, because he also knows on a more fundamental level that we are both made in the Image of God (because of being Catholic) and that we are not Portuguese citizens, but American ones. This is the “unum” in “e pluribus, unum”: not the elimination of the many, but the community of the many who maintain their difference. If I wish to have an open Indian cultural party, as they have in many colleges, then by all means this should be allowed, provided that the community is reinforced. And there’s the rub: the issue is not diversity, but the arrogation by diversity of what is owed to community. A similar situation would be if one was coerced into bowling with friends rather than going to Mass. Bowling with friends is good; Mass is IMPORTANT and BEST.

    Moreover, I am all in favor of interest clubs, but to emphasize them at the expense of “ethnic, racial” ties, etc. in this fashion removes the greater possibility of community. Among other things, this argument, slightly modified, would deny the licitude of different Rites in the Church as important ways of reaching out to other cultures. Sexual identity is, of course, a dicey issue, but this argument would remove the ability to have a Courage Catholic group (which is based on the recognition of homosexual tendencies, for those who do not know), so the criticism holds. He’s right about the narcissism, to be fair, but I get the feeling that this would be more of a symptom than a cause. Show kids Euclid early enough and you won’t need to worry about their not loving Math in SOME measure.

    Points two, three, and four make sense, although having been through a dress code in College I must say that one must be very careful about the rigor of three. Formal, yes; Gestapo-strict, no. But the fifth gives me trouble, where he opposes “self-esteem groups” as such. “You are made in God’s Image, loved into existence, and an analogous creator meant to engender in beauty; a consequence of this is that the entire universe down from man is created for the sake of the salvation of each individual soul.” I get the feeling that any Catholic club based on cosmology or the study of the Divine Comedy could be considered just about the most “epic” self-esteem group ever to see the light of day; would this be banned? I hope not, since I’d be the founding member.

    As far as his final, sixth point: Sure, to a certain degree, but sexual harassment in some measure is a cultural malady, one which cannot be ignored. Perhaps not all that is called thus is thus, but some most definitely is. Kids should be made aware at least of the dangers of smoking and drinking, though ideally and primarily the school would try and refer THIS responsibility to the parents whenever possible! I agree that the victimization “fad” is a bunch of silly nonsense.

    I do, however, agree with the conclusion and many of the points made, some as made, and all in principle. And I love the Pledge. :-)

  11. ecs says:

    Some of you people are ridiculous with your limp wristed discomfort. [Please, everyone, leave aside the personal references or this will devolve into name calling. And I WILL lock people out.] The piece is 100% right on point and in no way undermines any traditional notions of heritage. Are you people just completely unaware of the innumerable organizations which have popped up throughout academia over the course of the last thirty years under the guise of that false modern idol known as “multiculturalism.” If you have no idea what I am talking about then do us all a favor and hold your tongue because you are ignorant of what exactly the auther of this piece is addressing when touching on the ethnicity issues.

  12. torch621 says:

    Father, you appear, as do I, to be disgusted with the PC, multicultural, neo-Marxist garbage being foisted on students disguised as “education” as am I.

  13. jarhead462 says:

    Sorry- That should read: family
    “Liberalisim is a mental disorder”

    Semper Fi!

  14. MarylandBill says:

    Some of the ideas in here really are kind of silly. Proper interest in one’s ethnic background is no more narcissism than than is a proper level of interest in sports, music, arts, etc. I certainly object to excluding membership in clubs by ethnic divisions, but what if you were to have a club based on a particular ethnic music? Should it be excluded just because it tends to attract students of a particular ethnic group? But then what about music in this country that has traditionally been seen as belonging to one group, like Jazz, Blue Grass or Blues that has crossed over into other groups?

    Also, despite claims to the contrary, it is impossible to completely separate academics and politics and social agenda. Consider the idea that the children will not be scared away from smoking. How is teaching them the very real risks of smoking not really teaching them science? And avoiding Global Warming all together? Why not present evidence pro and con and let the kids decide for themselves? To avoid it all together is certainly making a political statement.

  15. BLB Oregon says:

    Goodbye St. Patrick’s Day, then? What about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? After all, what is more American than a federal holiday? Christmas is still forbidden, too. Nice work. It’s hard to have “from the many, one” when you exclude all mention of what makes them “many”.

    The statement “the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interesting in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you” is rash judgement on two counts. First, it implies that if you want to be in a club geared toward a part of your identity that you did not choose, you “can’t imagine” being in one that is geared to part of yourself that you did choose. Nonsense. Secondly, it is rash to conclude that someone could only want to be in such a club because the person has an unhealthy preoccupation with onesself. There is no concern that someone in the chess club might be “cultivating narcissism”? We’d put a black mark on any school club modelled after the Knights of Columbus, but not concern ourselves that anyone in the National Honor Society is a bit full of herself?

    The statement about the students not knowing the Pledge of Allegiance was just rude. If you want your students to be respectful, expecting excellence in themselves and others, start with yourself. If they don’t know it now, they will learn by daily repetition, just like in the old days. He would also do well to make his standards known without making any rash and unflattering assumptions about the current state of the school. Rather, he ought to speak to the students on the presumption that high standards only reflect the best and truest aspirations already present.

    Finally, I think it better to say, “We will not pretend that our self-esteem depends on false external validation. We will recognize the excellence of those who achieve, but also remember that our dignity is warranted by our humanity, not because of our achievements. We will be positive, but we do not need false praise here. Every student in every class will be given the same dignity and respect as their one valedictorian. When you are recognized for achievement, be sure that the recognition will be recognition you have earned. I am sure there will be plenty of reasons for it.”

  16. chcrix says:

    6b. Since Academics are the focus of this school, any student who wishes to participate in athletics will maintain a B average or better. Those who can’t will eliminate their sports commitment.

    Now what I posted above would take REAL guts.

  17. Mike says:

    I agree with MarylandBill—some of this is just plain coarse.
    Much damage has been done to Roman Catholicism when it is allied with certain political parties or tendencies that are in fact open to legitimate plurality.

    But sure…stop the swearing, tighten your tie, and please start reading, we’re in King Lear, 2.3.451….let’s go.

  18. Ben Yanke says:

    “It may shock some of you to know that I am rather conservative”

    No… really? I can’t believe it. [Yes, I do admit it. I tend more to the conservative side of things than the liberal side. Hard to tell, I know.]

    Anyways, I absolutely love this statement. I wish someone could put it into practice.

  19. JKnott says:

    Great letter! I don’t think Mr. Praeger is whitewashing differences; rather he seems to be addressing the ever prevelent singularity of minority victimhood which divides and breeds resentment and tyranny.
    I agree with torch61 ‘s statement, and also with esc who describes it as: “false modern idol known as “multiculturalism.” There is a difference between that political cancer, which Mr. Praeger describes so well, and the beauty of our universal Church. Huge difference.
    It is sad to read this insightful composite truth of what our schools have actually sunk to in not that many years. And these kids are among us.

  20. ALL: Please resist engaging each other, particularly if you have the slightest inclination to say something nasty.

  21. I don’t think Mr. Prager objects to St. Patrick’s Day, per se. But in a lot of schools, there are clubs for La Raza and obligatory all-student celebrations of Diwali and Ramadan and what have you. It gets to be ridiculous just in the number of celebrations you’d have to have to include everybody; and it gets to be coercive, too, especially if some religious or ethnic celebrations are kept secular while others are dragging kids off to the mosque to pray.

    You also have a lot of schools where, apparently, Cinco de Mayo is Hispanic Gangmembers Beat Up White Kids Day, and so forth. If you have any amount of kids doing stuff like that, obviously the student body has too much time on its hands and doesn’t deserve any playtime holiday celebrations at all.

    Finally, of course Catholic pride in our own religious holidays should come from our parishes, not from licking up whatever information about them (probably erroneous) that the public school system happens to drop.

  22. jlmorrell says:

    Many of the recommendations are, of course, good. But, he’s really just trying to re-establish the Americanist Heresy as it existed in decades prior to the 1960’s.

  23. profcarlos says:

    Well, first of all, perhaps I should have no word, as I am not American.

    Nevertheless, this speech smells Masonry from a couple thousand miles away. And, as it has already been ponted out, if it is forbidden to “affirm [a] religious identity” a Catholic group would be forbidden, and so on.

    I understand you good American folk have been having quite a hard time with multiculturalism, a problem we do not have here; people here are all mainly the same: “blacks” and “whites” marry one another, live in the same neighborhoods, speak the same way (there is absolutely no way to know one’s skin color on the phone, even if you talk for hours). The problem we do have is a attempt by the gov’t to separate people along “racial” lines, with things like quotas for blacks in universities. It lead to some quite funny incidents, as when one of two brothers was accepted as “black” and the other couldn’t enter college because they considered him “white” – as they had never been defined by “race” before, it was up to the admissions committee to decide whether they were “black enough”.

    We do have a real melting pot, in which “aboriginal” (African, Japanese, Italian, etc.) identities are lost a few years after arriving. If you go to São Paulo, you’ll see plenty of people of mixed Japanese, Italian and African descent. E pluribus unum, in deed.

    Adding to that, the military gov’t, that lasted from 1964 to 1989 and was not at all pro-Church (a mix of Masonry and hard-line Auguste Comte Positivism), imposed a very strong brand of nationalism, with plenty of flag waving, “Brazil, love it or leave it” bumper stickers, etc., and people got kind of scared of this kind of discourse. Well, that is where I write from.

    And this text sounded to me just like what the worst of the worst of what a Brazilian Mason general would have written in 1974. The Fatherland replaces all “inferior” allegiances, such as to the Church. Politics should be left to the pros. Just be good little soldiers for the Fatherland, and forget all that divisive stuff, and so on. Realy, really scary. A lot closer to Mussolini than to Norman Rockwell, if you catch my drift.

    I understand it comes as a response to something that can be even uglier, a different brand of Fascism (or rather Gramscian Communism) that pretends to be nice to everybody while preaching horrible stuff, but for my Brazilian sensitivities it really goes too far in the other direction, in such a way that it ends up being the other side of the same coin. I would be just as moved to homeschool my children after such a speech as after a leftist rant in the same vein.

    It preaches a kind of secular religion that substitutes American-ness for holiness, the English language for the Sacraments, Protestant work ethics for morals, and all that old Mason-cum-Calvinist scary stuff that the Irish and German Catholic immigrants in the last century had such a hard time with.

    If he had just told the kids he would make no difference between them and would give them opportunity to learn and become better people, it would be great. But bulldozing over real (and sometimes praiseworthy) differences, setting the Church aside in the process, be it in the name of inclusiveness and multiculturalism or in the name of “America über alles”, is precisely what a good Mason would approve. Scary, indeed.

    Well, sorry for getting into your national discussion. :)

  24. fieldsparrow says:

    Hm. Not sure how I feel about this, except that my gut reaction is “Ughhhh.” In particular the bit about excluding religious identity rubs me the wrong way, because it should be a constant informer of our lives. How can one distinguish between the holy and the obscene when what is truly holy is excluded in favor of plain patriotism or a love of learning for learning’s sake?

    I think @Tsunami worded things much more elegantly than I could. This does kind of read, to me, like hyperbolic screed and rather throwing the baby out with the bath water. Then again, nobody has yet ever called me a conservative (although I may be working on it in some respects). There are points I agree with and yet the tone chafes.

  25. A few years ago, Dennis Prager wrote a column about a pogrom during the Middle Ages in which Catholics were alleged to have massacred Jews over a desecration of the Blessed Sacrament. He could not condemn the killing of Jews without also ridiculing the Eucharist and belief in the Real Presence. I have not read his column since.

    Now he wants to ban associations on campus founded on ethnicity and religion. I don’t quite see how that — especially the religion part — squares with that other fine old American value, the First Amendment. In fact, I submit that if Praeger had the power to implement this part of his manifesto, it would constitute a direct frontal assault on the free exercise of religion, particularly the Christian religion, in which we are commissioned to go out and make disciples of all the nations. It would also have the effect of banishing the salutary influence of Christianity from the school — and we have already seen how well that has worked. But then again, I don’t think Praeger views the influence of Christianity as altogether salutary, so I can’t say I’m surprised.

    I do agree with his other points, though.

  26. Iconophilios says:

    Never before have I been prouder to be a Canadian. It seems to me that America is rather aggressive and cultish in its nationalism. Different paradigm, I suppose – we didn’t have a war for our independance. I like most of what Prager suggested, but I really have no problem with people being proud of their cultures and extrovertively showing it.

  27. EXCHIEF says:

    In defense of Father, though he hardly needs it, it is only logical if one is an Orthodox Catholic to be a political conservative and I am, proudly, both. As to those who argue that ethnicity, cultural diversity, etc are important in school I strongly disagree. The job of the school is to educate NOT become involved in social issues. I am proud of my ethnicity but in my school days it was never discussed nor was it an issue. And, I might add, throughout my school years (K-12) I attended schools which had persons of Hispanic, African, “White”, and Asian descent. I learned all I needed to know about my ethnicity through my family and all I needed to know about those of other ethnic backgrounds from the persons themselves not through the school we attended.

  28. jasoncpetty says:

    Former teacher in a government-run high school in Texas here. First thought: meh. Second thought: Oh, he’s talking about government schools. “Here’s how I’d polish the brass on the Titanic.” And others have cued in on Mr. Prager’s notorious religious-inferiority complex. I hope everyone else that lets this stuff into their minds daily is as well-formed in the Faith and is as critically receptive as you, Father. To daily AM radio listeners: It is certainly more true than false, unlike most mainstream media, but it is not all true.

  29. Charles E Flynn says:

    Suggested reading for those of you concerned with what happens when the school system fails catastrophically, and the family does not undo the damage:

    Life at the Bottom: the Worldview That Makes the Underclass, by Theodore Dalrymple

  30. ContraMundum says:

    Mr. Prager clearly believes in the separation of church and state — as in mutual incompatibility. He has made his choice: he is for the state. Since he has thrown down the gauntlet, I will pick it up and affirm that he and I are therefore indeed enemies.

  31. samgr says:

    Mr. Praeger’s policy sounds remarkably like that of good Rust Belt public schools 45 years ago, when probably a minority of students’ grandparents spoke English, but those of all ethnicities and colors were able to get a decent education and even, with some luck, make it to an Ivy League college.

  32. muckemdanno says:

    Is this a dream, Father? I’d count it as a nightmare.

    Prager, unsurprisingly, think that the education system should turn all children into good “Americans” – which to him, means that they should not identify themselves as anything other than “American.” They must all dress alike, think alike, and behave alike.

    No student better associate with others, or identify themselves, on the basis of their religion, among other characteristics. Prager is a fascist…You are not Irish, you are not a boy, you are not Catholic…You are American!

    America uber Alles!!!

    Compare Prager’s ideal (atheist) schools with the vision of Pope Leo:

    There is no better citizen than the man who has believed and practiced the Christian faith from his childhood. The beginning and, as it were, the seed of that human perfection which Jesus Christ gave to mankind, are to be found in the Christian education of the young; for the future condition of the State depends upon the early training of its children. The wisdom of our forefathers, and the very foundations of the State, are ruined by the destructive error of those who would have children brought up without religious education. You see, therefore Venerable Brethren, with what earnest forethought parents must beware of entrusting their children to schools in which they cannot receive religious teaching.

    The public schools are an invention of modernists, atheists, and fascists. They should be eliminated.

  33. contrarian says:

    “It may shock some of you to know that I am rather conservative.”
    No, but given how brilliantly you defend orthodoxy and our Holy Mother Church, I’d have to say that I am somewhat shocked that you listen to the folks that you do. :)
    But I suppose that’s just my disposition.
    I’ll just say, out of a spirit of civility and out of a practice of self-editing, that your blog is a gift to Catholics everywhere.

  34. Tsunami says:

    I would only ask, without pointing fingers, that in our bile at the modern educational system (bile from which I am not exempt) we do not at the same time accept a sort of Fascism into our tent, the Fascism of denying the value of the cultural/religious/ethnic background of the individual. Should we do so, we will be in no position to speak meaningfully to them. An adequate teacher teaches his students after the hard work of forming their habits has been accomplished by fear of the law; a good or even great teacher can speak to them in a way that makes them seek the good without being commanded to do so. You can only do this by walking with them while they carry their Cross; you can only walk with them if you know the path they are walking. The troubles of being the only son in a mixed, partly Indian household I know only too well; the troubles of considering the priesthood in that context I know with raw memory. Anyone who suggests that these experiences are cheap or meaningless or some sort of exaggeration ought to seek a bit of social aptitude, since there is a failure to communicate somewhere.

  35. Tsunami says:

    (Side note: Fascism comes from the Latin fasces, as Fr. Z is no doubt aware, meaning a “bundle”; the principle is that if the individual subordinates their identity into the group, that group will be powerful enough to defend itself from what would change it. What Prager suggests is that the student having a cultural, ethnic, religious identity ought to be subordinated to and excluded from a national identity, in the most explicitly formative institution in American society which all children are compelled to attend if they can go nowhere else. What this is declaring, although I will try to avoid hyperbole, is that to be American is not just more important than any other identification, but the ONLY important identification, a hard saying for a Catholic to support.)

  36. Felicia says:

    I want to comment regarding language instruction.

    Mr. Prager writes:

    “Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America’s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here — it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English — but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.”

    Canada has two “official languages” (English and French) and (at least in the eastern part of the country) considerable experience teaching children second languages. The total immersion approach is not always successful when teaching someone a second language. Although a baby learns a first language via total immersion, by the time a child comes to school they already have a language, and they will make mistakes in the 2nd language based on the way the 1st language works. (e.g. in English we say “a green ball” whilst in French it is «un ballon vert» (“a ball green” literally). French immersion programs have produced lots of people who speak “Franglais“— i.e. English in syntax, French in vocabulary. One needs to teach grammar, syntax, verb conjugation, etc. explicitly for the 2nd language, whereas a lot of that was picked up implicitly when one learns one’s first language.

    With that as a background, in respect to Mr. Prager’s laudable goal of having children leave school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible, total immersion may not achieve that effect.(Ref: “…if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.”)

    To learn a 2nd language, the student should be initially be taught English in their 1st language. Only when the vocabulary and basic grammar of English have been taught and mastered can the child start using English properly and fluently.

    Forcing fluency too soon, not taking the 1st language into account in teaching, and failing to explicitly pointing out the differences between that and English, will actually result in the students graduating as very poor English speakers.

    Mr. Prager could not achieve the results he wants using the method he proposes.

  37. shane says:

    Nothing fuels racism more than privileges for ethnic minorities. In continental Europe the ‘revolutionary left’ of 1968 (the establishment of today) are learning that the hard way.

  38. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I guess I am more of a “tossed salad” person than a “melting pot” person. I like the differences between people as well as the samenesses. I am engaged in geneological research now and am learning a lot about history as it affects regular folk like me and my kin.

    I am very familiar with Mr. Prager and he is often right. But he can be very wrong. People are always a mixture of right and wrong.

  39. nmoerbeek says:

    What a long winded way of saying
    “We have no King but Caesar crucify him! crucify him!”

    If their is no God their is no reason to obey authority and the God (not our God) of Americanism changes with the sentiments of the American people. Which means that Catholics belief will be persecuted when it does not conform to popular American sentiment.

  40. ssoldie says:

    Way to go Fr Z, Good choices to listen to and read, Dennis Prager, happens to one of my favorites, along with Thomas Sowell, Bill Bennet, Alan Keyes,Walter Williams, and Iam now adding Herman Cain. Lets not forget Michael Voris.

  41. benedetta says:

    I will start listening to Bill Bennet, Fr. Z. Thanks for the tip. I have read his books.

    I don’t know this writer or columnist excerpted above but it raises some good points reflective of the state of the public school educational system, and, since Catholic schools typically adopt the public school curriculum with little question or discernment, they are often not very different.

    I don’t see that he is saying that students should feel ashamed of their identities (and all of our identities clearly are multifaceted) in the public schools. He is saying that these identities will not dictate the programming. And I quite agree that public schools should stay out of religion altogether. That is a good attribute of American culture as was the tradition of tolerance. I think he is saying that in lieu of being forced to pick, which identity to showcase in curriculum or clubs or school sponsored days of pride and celebration, they will all be treated equally, which of course is the American way. All will be treated with the same respect and dignity, regardless of whether they are Mayflower descended or have recently emigrated. That is still a worthy goal and it is distinctively American. The fact that all are American and have these rights and dignity is what unifies, not the pushing of this identity or another merely because it is the currently popularly accepted one. We all have mixtures and facets of identity for various reasons. Some of us may have an ethnic identification but not a national one from the country of origin. Who decides which to prioritize in the celebrations?

    The notion that one may have clubs and special days to celebrate pride in an identity really in practice does not at all foster edification of one another’s identity and traditions, nor greater respect, nor finally the ideal of tolerance. It just does not happen that way. Groups and days and clubs of that sort only serve to define people against others, to serve as an excuse to dominate over others, and are inherently aggressive and prideful and not in a good way. As he says, it furthers narcissism. What does further tolerance is when a level playing field is established for all students based on the values of mutual respect. The tolerance and the edification come through relationship, but not relationship devoid of respect as a value. The problem in the schools is that we have totally wiped out the value of the mutual respect and the assumption that one can learn from another and in its place substituted the quite pagan values of dominance over other not through equal competition but through trashing another, sometimes in quite nasty and dirty ways, and the survival of the fittest, the lord of the flies. No one is interested in listening and learning from others. It is all about dominating others, pride (whether earned, deserved, or not), climbing, appearance, getting money, and no one is interested in cultivating character or morals. The identity days and the celebrations are all about appearances but in practice there is little sharing of one another’s traditions, identity, culture.

    I think he sort of fleshes the aspect of the lack of ability to learn from others via mutual respect as the common denominator in referencing the way that young adults typically use quite crass terminology to refer to and discuss one another. They apparently hardly see or hear each other, it seems.

  42. samgr says:

    I guessthe feeling here is that it’s more important for public school studnets to celebrate their ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation than it is to learn to write a simple declarative sentence or to factor an equation. As an Irish-German-Austrian-Spanish-Ukrainian-Polish-
    Lithuanian, with Lutheran, Jewish and Catholic forebears, I must respectfully disagree. I taught perfectly bright American Ivy League grad students who didn’t know fifth-grade grammar and had never heard of the binomial theorem. They were proud of who they were, though, and knew that smoking is bad for them.

  43. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Sigh! Please. It is wonderful to have St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, etc., etc. We can all celebrate our ancestry and heritage. The point is, yes, we should all be non-hyphenated Americans with pride in the good things about our ancestors’ homeland (or ours if we are newly arrived), to be cherished openly. When we separate ourselves with this ethnic club and that ethnic club, we are denying others the opportunity to know us as individuals and shutting out the people and customs we should be learning to know. America has a heritage. It is meant to be all-inclusive, if we let it. If we are here because it is a better land, a more open society, a place where we might prosper and live freely then we embrace American citizenship and love this country’s flag, national anthem, history, its diverse population. Love your old heritage, but embrace and adopt the heritage of the land you have made your home.

  44. Tsunami says:

    Samgr: I must respectfully disagree with your assessment. The “feeling” here is not that education is not in a horrible state (it is) but that the proposed solution put forward by Prager is too quick to dismiss entirely the entire set of personal circumstances of his students. So yes, he will produce “Americans” — in the same way Thomas Kinkade produces “paintings” — but he will NOT produce good human beings, merely identical citizens, much like Kinkade’s identical or homologous paintings. Prager’s manifesto is the conservative equivalent of educational “kitsch.”

  45. samgr says:

    Producing educated people is my preferred goal. I don’t see how institutionally erected flexible standards helps.

  46. Ew, Mark Levin? I’m so disappointed, Father. :P Try Thomas Woods instead. ;)

  47. Kerry says:

    Neither ‘ethnicity’, nor religious background, nor national origin, nor skin color, nor sex, (not gender; words have gender, people have a specific sex), handedness, hair color, nor anything else can guarantee character or virtue. (Should all of Wagner’s music be thrown out because he was a horrific anti-Semite? ) As none of these things cause deficiencies in character, neither can they ensure positive character.

  48. Tsunami says:

    Flexible standards is one thing; effective teaching and the recognition of the dignity of the human person (and by extension, that which goes into the person contextually) is another. I intend the latter, not the former as such; if the former results, moreover, I allow it only insofar as it should tend to conclude in the latter. The latter is the production of the educated “person”; what Prager suggests is the production of the educated “citizen.” The education of the person is prior to, and in the case of a good nation, fulfilling of, the education of the citizen.

    Perhaps an example is in order. Johnny can’t read, because Johnny comes from a disadvantaged background where his parents, grandparents, etc. couldn’t read; partly because of this, Johnny’s family can’t pay for a private school, so John gets sent to a public school. In a BAD public school, they’d say “oh, Johnny comes from disadvantaged family, we should ACCEPT this, not make him learn to read!” In a Prager school, they would teach him how to read, admittedly. But let us say that Johnny is actually Juan and, given this new thing called an education, decides he wants to fit it in with his own life. He decides, perhaps, to write about hospitality in the Iliad from the point of view of someone from a Mexican family. (Their notion of hospitality is MUCH closer to Greek hospitality than American common notions.) Left to himself, he would do a great job; but Prager vetoes this, saying it “divides” the school’s population when such expression is allowed — and in SCHOOL, no less! Such cheek!

    So Juan, disappointed, decides that he would AT LEAST like to talk about it with other Mexican students in the same class. He forms a Mexican club, so that they can both discuss and celebrate this unique cultural aspect. Everyone is invited, anyone may come, but Prager explicitly forbids clubs. The club is never formed. Juan is not allowed to relate the Iliad (a work which should be living in the heart of every American) to his own life in ANY sort of public way.

    He goes home, perhaps, and tries to discuss it with his family; they are not literate, and cannot follow. He tries discussing it with his friends; they do not read things like the Iliad, especially not his Mexican friends, who are demographically prone to being similarly disadvantaged. Juan grows disgusted with the supposedly “educational” character of the school and gives up, because he cannot be a human being in a school which treats him like an unhistorical beast.

    Human beings are not animals; you cannot ignore our histories in their diversity in educating our young.

  49. Tsunami says:

    Or perhaps we may look at it from without. Juan, we are told, is being educated to be a good American. Fine. What makes a good American? Is it a strong morality? Is it a general sort of pragmatic prudence? Whatever the case, it is ultimately a matter of moral estimation: on a very basic level, to be American is to value freedom and liberty. We value liberty, because it is the capacity to be free; we value freedom, because it is the fulfillment of liberty, liberty put to good use.

    But what, in the first place, is the reason to value the capacity to be free? Evidently, the good that freedom is. Who says freedom is a good? Certainly not the Dwarves of Lewis’ Last Battle; certainly not Orwell’s Big Brother; certainly not the rulers of Huxley’s Brave New World; and certainly not the great villains of history, Hitler and the rest. That freedom is a good is by no means (philosophically) self-evident, or everyone would believe it. Some clearly don’t. So part of the education of an American is to teach the student that freedom is a good thing.

    And how is one to do this? The answer is that one cannot teach a hardened psychopath; the student must already have some inkling of the natural law twinging in their soul. From that, you teach them to value other things. “So, you like your toys? What if I took them from you? You wouldn’t like that? It’s ‘bad’? If you want me to believe you or care, don’t take hers, or I’ll keep taking yours. And maybe if you treat her nicely she’ll share hers.” But this apprehension of the good is FUNDAMENTALLY grounded in the cultural upbringing of the student. Whether because of the character of the parents, the climate of their home country, their social institutions, only by reaching into the human storehouse of cultural experience can one speak to the uneducated in a way that will enable them to be educated. THAT’S why we might have some flexible standards early on; so that, eventually, the student won’t NEED them.

  50. Tsunami says:

    (I apologize, Father, if these posts of mine go on too long. I promise that it is only because education is such a rich and fascinating subject, and because I wish to see all sides heard, and not the rejection of all points.)

  51. Jason C. says:

    Here’s my letter:

    Dear Mr. Principal,

    You’re a principal. Get over yourself. Nobody cares about your Leave it to Beaver fantasies. And if your beloved government didn’t force us to come here, we wouldn’t have to ruin your wonderful school. Go get a real job and stop pushing papers.



  52. Geoffrey says:

    Reading this made me feel a few things:
    1. It made me pretty queasy.
    2. It made me thankful that I have a “Catholic” or “universal” weltanschauung.
    3. It made me want to get one of those bumper-stickers that reads “God Bless the Whole World. No Exceptions”.
    4. It made me remember why I fully support homeschooling.
    5. It made me recall the classic movie line: “Your country ain’t your blood. Remember that.”

  53. torch621 says:

    Catholic first, American second, (insert whatever racial/ethnic group) last.

  54. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    Oh I do so long for a school principal as Mr. Prager wrote and spoke about. Thank-you for sharing this. It does remind me of one of my Training Instructors from USAF Basic Training, (back in the dark ages – 1979). She said something similar to this as part of her “welcome” speech. She did not care where we started BEFORE, but while there, and with her, we were Ladies, and Americans, we had to earn the “USAF Airmen” by working together.

  55. jflare says:

    Must admit I’m quite thrilled by Mr. Prager’s proposed letter..and quite disappointed by many comments related to it.
    As a teen, I remember thinking that diversity would be great. Then, with time, I realized that “diversity” would NOT emphasize a minimum of three points of view, as I thought the word implied. Instead, it became an excuse to condemn people for being..relatively “traditional Americans”. “Diversity” lost my confidence when I learned that the concept “taught” that I ought be ashamed of my own existence as an American.

    I would not have a problem with Hispanic or African-American identities..except that they’re routinely, adamantly contemptuous of mine. Merely because I’m white.
    I would’ve been fine with feminist ideas..except they condemned me a sexist because I didn’t–and don’t–think like a woman.
    I might’ve even been fine with various things like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, or St. Patrick’s Day. Unfortunately, when I commented that we already had too many federal holidays, thus I’d not support Martin Luther King Day, I was summarily condemned a racist. Or, when I commented that I didn’t think much of St Patrick’s Day–I still don’t like excuses for dying rivers green or getting drunk–I learned that noone cared about the dignity that St Patrick, himself, most likely would’ve proposed.

    I think Mr. Pragger’s ideas laudable. Many like to denounce America’s hate, racism, bigotry, prejudice, and religious fights. Most of those same persons are, to my thinking, actively fomenting hate, racism, bigotry, prejudice, and either religious battles or imposing secularism instead.

    I too, don’t care a lick about someone else’s ethnic identity. They know not a thing about mine–and don’t care–and they haven’t known or cared about mine in my lifetime. Why should I demonstrate interest in African-American or Hispanic cultures when those groups obviously couldn’t care less about the Irish, the Germans (both of whom I’d theoretically be), OR the Americans (which I definitely AM).

    As far as religion goes, I’ve never understood why anyone thought throwing religious sentiment out of the public square–and school–made any sense.
    If we wanted a genuinely diverse view, we ought to designate one room in every school as a quiet room. Within that room, place the Koran, the Bible, the Torah, the Constitution, and other appropriate writings.
    For once in our lives, allow the American people themselves to actually express their ideas freely and argue things out the way we always have.

    THAT would be a public school worth fighting for!

    (PS. I don’t understand in the least why schools don’t simply teach Latin and tell everyone else to grow up and deal with it. If you can speak, read, and write Latin, methinks you can adapt to the other Romance languages fairly easily, plus you can understand science, law, and even one Church, all in the original tongues.

    Oh, that’s right. I know why: We live in post-modern America, NOTHING can make any logical sense, but must cater to what an “educated” academic thinks best.
    Yes, I do have a stern dislike for a HUGE portion of academia…..)

  56. Kerry says:

    Curious that no one has yet commented on the terrible hatred of ethnic foods expressed by Dennis Prager. It’s as if what he wrote is just another Rorschach test…

  57. bdouglass says:

    This is very good to the extent that it rightly criticizes the Dewey-Marx Hybrid education system we have in American HSs today. However, it’s American and that’s the problem. It’s secular, anti-Catholic to the core. Yes, he rights the wrongs (ie sports stupidity, self-esteem, Martin-Luther King Day, sexual perversion clubs, etc)…but to do so, he establishes an un-Godly, Masonic, secular order which no Catholic parent should allow their kids to be in. Which is a remind why if this is the ideal that the American bishops at Baltimore taught that Catholics have no business being educated by American public schools.

    I don’t want my kids (in the future) to be Americans. I want them to be Catholics who may happen to have a US passport.

  58. benedetta says:

    I think that the American system actually favors the notions of tolerance and diversity but authentic ones, not served up for appearance’s sake by curriculum or organized club. The American system has the power to unite. Catholics would be better off by far attending public schools that gave up the pursuit of the identity politics and the polarization and just stuck to the American virtues, e pluribus unum, dignity, all created equal under the Creator. If the public schools could lead with these truly Catholics would be quite free to be who they are and also to accept living side by side with other faiths and be edified by those who practice other faiths.

    The fact is that faith is no longer a value at all for a great number of families coming in to the public school and they wish to dominate on those terms. Since they have nothing to share about faith or values formed from that, they wish to prohibit everyone from sharing on that basis. That is why the dictatorship of relativism is insidious and no one may dialogue with it. It values, nothing.

    In urban and poor areas where the identity pride is chased down triumphantly (and this of course affects our fellow Catholics), the monster that it feeds is gang violence and all that goes along with it. Do you really think in public schools, whether urban or wealthy and elite, that there is “sharing” and “dialogue”? It is simply not about dialogue, sharing or relationship which assumes respect as the first component. It is about the state curriculum and the appearances of one group “showing off” and of course it will always always be at the expense of another. Because there are infinite “groups” or identifications in our nation.

    Truth be told the tradition of Catholic education in the U.S. admirably embraced all that he is talking about since the faith is the great equalizer, bestows dignity upon all regardless of who one’s parent is, regardless of who one’s grandparents are, regardless of which country (countries) or ethnicities they lived in. The Catholic tradition furthermore evangelizes wherever the faith happens to be, regardless of the dominant or majority affiliation or lack of it or even if as here we are under the terror of the reign of secular anti-Catholic assumptions at every turn. There is scriptural tradition. If one knows anything about the history of Catholic schools in this country one realizes that the faith, with certain things in place in a community that permits true listening, tolerance, functions quite well amidst the greatest diversity imaginable.

    The fact is that when Catholic schools fail to be truly, unapologetically Catholic, and compromise the identity even the most non-controversial and essential aspects of being Christian (“love thy neighbor”), the secularism takes over with aggression and dominance. It needs no invitation or permission and does not wait to be invited or acknowledged. It is not that sort of a spirit. Lacking the quite basic conditions of mutual respect, true tolerance, love one another as the essential morality, then, all efforts at pretense of being tolerant and accepting result only in a big pretentious Babel.

    As a Catholic, given the choice of the public school system as this columnist envisions, versus the pseudo-Catholic school, Catholic in name only that is devoid of faith and forgot to implement the basic virtues the faith teaches, well. The secularism in the second one consumes anyone taught to respect, tolerate, listen and love one another. It is that simple. The faith set up in such a way, fails.

    Yet there are still a few places that do well with embracing and evangelizing and educating great diversity under the assumption of mutual respect, tolerance and Christian virtues. But these are now quite rare. It takes serious leadership, courage, discernment, wisdom, cheerfulness, faithfulness, pastoral sensitivity (in the best sense, the authentic sense), it takes people who know who they are and what they are about. All must agree at inception and renew all along the way in various forms to be committed to respect to certain values and all must value it regardless of faith affiliation or other identity, these must be clearly and explicitly valued. Without these institutions merely labeled Catholic in this culture have, no chance. They might “survive” but obviously the point of education, the faith is not merely “to survive”.

  59. Darius Jedburgh says:

    *”Rush”*?? Seriously? [Yes. Having an open mind, yes.]

  60. Mundabor says:

    To me the article is very beautiful also because…. so natural.

    I grew up, namely, in a system without any of the six points the chaps wants to change in his school, the existence of some of which I was even unaware of.

    I assure all the readers that it worked perfectly fine.


  61. bdouglass says:

    “As a Catholic, given the choice of the public school system as this columnist envisions, versus the pseudo-Catholic school, Catholic in name only that is devoid of faith and forgot to implement the basic virtues the faith teaches, well.”

    As a product of such pseudo-Catholic schools, I’m pretty sure that Baltimore would be pretty hard on them as well. And yes, given that choice, I’d rather have Prager’s schools for people than the alternative of either of what we have now, but you forgot C) None of the Above. :)

    Which is why I’m a fan of homeschooling for my kids, unless we have a miracle in the next decade and I feel it is safe to go back to the parish school.

  62. benedetta says:

    bdouglass, Yes, choice C) None of the Above. You are quite right. Best way to remain a free agent under the current regime/situation/circumstances, it seems. To “survive”, and then some…to have life and have it, abundantly.

    By and large neither the public schools nor the schools with a whiff of faith offer true tolerance, any hope of morality, relationship amidst diversity based upon mutual respect and love thy neighbor. A few here and there, in unlikely places, manage it but these are openly, unabashedly, loyally Christ-centered. “Wise men still seek Him”.

  63. Patti Day says:

    This is why I come here. To hear educated, thoughtful, rational people discuss their differences on important subjects, clerical and secular, in a civil (mostly) manner.

  64. abloomfield says:

    I merely quote Bastiat: “I will tell you. The most urgent necessity is not that the state should teach, but that it should allow education. All monopolies are detestable, but the worst of all is the monopoly of education.”

  65. samgr says:

    If you were to add religion/catechism courses to Praeger’s prescription, you’d have the 12 years of Franciscan education–with multicultural classmates–I had some decades ago.

  66. BLB Oregon says:

    Father, since you brought it up: I’ve listened to a lot of Rush Limbaugh, courtesy of a colleague who played him on the radio every day. I’ve spent plenty of time trying to have an open mind about him. He’s had his chance with me to prove he doesn’t make his living by being mean-spirited and stirring up friction. This was long before the oxycontin thing, so maybe he is a reformed character since then, but he lost his chance to impress me fair and square. I would not want one of my sons to learn to talk about other people in the manner that he did when I used to listen to him, let alone profit from that kind of talk. I wouldn’t let my son get away with the “entertainment” excuse, and I don’t let Mr. Limbaugh have it, either.

    He used to make stuff up and distort the facts in order to make his point. He also had a habit of attacking persons instead of attacking their arguments. Does he still do that? I’m sorry, but there is no excuse for that. The truth doesn’t need that kind of defender. It does more harm than good.

  67. BLB Oregon says:

    I’m really failing to see where having a Irish club or a German club or a Jewish club or a Catholic club at your high school harms the sharing of a common American heritage. The only rule ought to be that there are no clubs that do not equally welcome anyone who wants to join and who is willing to be civilized at meetings. If you are black and you want to join the French club or you are an atheist who wants to join the Catholic club, then at a publicly-funded high school, they have to take you, provided you mind your manners and do not try to challenge the raison d’être of the club. No trying to push the Democratic platform in the Republican club, no bad-mouthing the Pope in Catholic club, and no “Freedom Fries” in French club, either! (This is why clubs have faculty advisors.)

  68. benedetta says:

    I don’t know Mark Levin or Hugh Hewitt but I will check them out. Not a Rush fan but generally have found what I catch of him through other places is on the money. I hadn’t know that he engages distortion but certainly most msm pundits and celebs, shock-polarizers pull all sorts of stunts, it seems, that would go for the Maddow, the Behar, the Matthews, the Sen. Franken…to name but a few. I just don’t care for the hyperbole on the part of any pundits regardless of what informs their views or agendas so I choose not to listen to any of it. Plus I find politics so thoroughly corrupt I don’t really care much any more who says what. The spirit of yellow journalism and consumerist mentality so saturate so much of the press in this country that one has to look very carefully and sort through to find facts and even factual analysis and commentary. I also hesitate to discuss politics or popular trends with anyone who accepts the views of any one of these pundits unquestioningly. I do not trust any of these commentators, who after all are a brand of entertainer and often when it comes to msm tied excessively to the products and the selling and the advertising, as my primary mediator.

  69. jflare says:

    “I’m really failing to see where having a Irish club or a German club or a Jewish club or a Catholic club at your high school harms the sharing of a common American heritage. The only rule ought to be that there are no clubs that do not equally welcome anyone who wants to join and who is willing to be civilized at meetings. If you are black and you want to join the French club or you are an atheist who wants to join the Catholic club, then at a publicly-funded high school, they have to take you, provided you mind your manners and do not try to challenge the raison d’être of the club. No trying to push the Democratic platform in the Republican club, no bad-mouthing the Pope in Catholic club, and no “Freedom Fries” in French club, either! (This is why clubs have faculty advisors.)”

    For my experience, faculty may not actively discourage this mindset, but they definitely do not encourage it.
    You’re only likely to be encouraged if you propose a group based on what’s politically correct.

  70. BLB Oregon says:

    “For my experience, faculty may not actively discourage this mindset, but they definitely do not encourage it.
    You’re only likely to be encouraged if you propose a group based on what’s politically correct.”

    Which is to say you can only start a club if you can find a sympathetic faculty member who will back you up in your quest to convince the principal that your club should exist at all. I suppose that is not surprising.

    Still, I think the assertion that “All clubs shall welcome all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, and so on” combined with “Students who are charged by the club advisor with uncivilized behavior at club events are subject to summary judgement by the principal, including expulsion from any club at any time” is a fair one. It is not as if these clubs exist by right.

  71. jackj says:

    It is apparent that many of the commenters here are unfamiliar with Dennis Prager and are reacting to his “high school principal manifesto” in a vacuum of knowledge about him. Living in the Los Angeles area, I have had the good fortune of being exposed to Mr. Prager’s radio programs for almost thirty years. First of all, Mr. Prager is NOT a secularist. He is a religious, practicing Jew. His problem with the public schools, which are the targets of his “screed” here, is that, in his view, they have become essentially proselytizing vehicles for the secularist left and their values of multiculturism, expressed as anti-Americanism, and political correctness. He is a believer in American exceptionalism in the same sense that Ronald Reagan was. He sees the United States, with all of its flaws, as having been on the morally correct side vis-a-vis slavery, fascism and Nazism, communism, and, now, Islamism. He attributes much of this to America’s religious values. As a Jew, he says he much prefers a vigorous, religious, CHRISTIAN America to a secular one. He often warns against the United States going the way of a secular, socialist Europe.

    Mr. Prager has no problem with prayers at public services. He has physically stood with Catholics and other Christians who protested Martin Scorsese’s film, “The Last Temptation of Christ”. I could go on.

    If you’re looking for someone advancing Masonic plots, Mr. Prager is not your guy.

  72. Soonerscotty says:

    America is an immature baby of a country and Mr. Prager’s extreme xenophobic nationalism is a byproduct such immaturity.

    Mr. Prager needs to realize there are 566 sovereign nations within the borders of the United States…the USA and 565 indigenous tribal nations who are recognized as inherently sovereign by the USA and other foreign powers. Those of us who are citizens of those indigenous tribal nations (I am Miccosukee) carry dual citizenship with the US and our tribal nations (US congressionally granted in 1924).

    We have been here for millennia and will be grateful for the maturation of America’s Americans. We cannot wait for the day when we can deal with adults instead of ranting, raving teenagers.

  73. moconnor says:

    OK, I’m conservative and I truly dislike most of “conservative” talk radio for its low-bar intellectualism and bald-faced propaganda, but that’s my opinion. I always thought conservatism meant a slow and well-considered approach to changing existing laws, philosophies and attitudes. Most of what I hear tends towards the Libertarian radical.

    Anyway, my take on this statement is that it is well-intentioned but hopelessly naive. There never has been (except in highly censored 60s TV) a predominant American culture. We are too big for that and the regional cultures are what make us interesting and successful. Homogeneous cultures are rarely good innovators and can only really exist in small countries like Finland. I too would lament the loss of a chance to discuss Irish-American culture on St Patrick’s Day or Italian-American culture on Columbus Day. What a boring place this school would be.

  74. jflare says:

    During my school days, we learned something about the Pawnee and Sioux tribes, beings they had both occupied parts of Nebraska before the pioneers arrived. Outside that, I don’t recall that we discussed any ethnic group at all.

    Honestly, I’m not convinced that this “neglect” really harmed anything. Though we all grew up in America and could be called “Americans”, we had Irish, German, Polish, and other ethnic groups. How would you “honor” all those groups in school and still have time for anything important?

    Whatever our ethnic identity might be, each person who resides in the US still needs competent ability with the three R’s. Whether multiculturalists like it or not, we all predominantly communicate in English and we all need basic and intermediate math skills.
    While various “humanities” might be virtuous, I don’t agree they all precisely contribute nearly enough to education to warrant being mandated. If anything, most of them tend to lead to endless bickering over which language(s) will be taught, which group(s) will be emphasized, whose belief(s) will be honored and celebrated.

    Seems to me that, beings we originally come from a Judeo-Christian idea as a nation, offering prayers in school makes sense, then focusing on those critical subjects would be smart.
    After that, it should be a choice of parents and communities, not the nation.

  75. sigh,

    What does this have to do with being a good Catholic?

    You know what, instead of sending my kids to a school that will force someone’s idea of “american” identity on them that includes forcing them to know English how about I send my kids to a Catholic school that will instill a Catholic identity in them with the fact that we happen to live in America a distant second. (actually I no longer live in america anyway but you get the idea). How about we teach them using Cajun French, a Language with a history older than English, a language native to North America, a language being spoken by Catholics here before the US was even founded. How about we stress Latin and Syriac. We stress CATHOLIC holidays. How about students be able to list the last fifty popes in order and we leave the guys who occupied the white house to the back burner. How about raising the flag of the Holy See over the school instead of a flag that carries the guilt of the genocide against the Indians. How about students know the anthem of the Vatican by heart. How about they read statements of the pope instead of by the president. How about a school that actually helps parents form their children into stable, healthy, faithfully Catholic adults. How about that and we can leave the misplaced patriotism to the atheist and protestants.

  76. jflare says:

    And that’s not a forced idea of a Catholic identity?

    I’ve never understood this attitude about why Americans should be so “down” on their own country. Every nation on earth has committed sins, yet nobody really expects anyone to bash their own country. I fail to see why we Americans shouldn’t be proud of ours.
    Considering that the blog’s author lives in the US and many of we readers do as well, I’m not following why we should not be patriotic nor discuss public school curriculum.

    I don’t think this terribly misplaced. If anything, beings that I might be a parent of children within the next 5-10 years, I think it quite appropriate…..

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