Friday, May 26, 2006

The Little Witch Doctors

John Lewis has an excellent post at his blog Principles in Practice titled "The Little Dictators."

These little dictators could be local building inspectors, health inspectors, code enforcers and so on. Mr. Lewis explains their power thusly:

"These Little Dictators have the power of government guns to enforce their decisions. To avoid their wrath, a productive individual must suppress his rational judgment, and go by the rules they enforce. They are enemies of independent thought and comrades of conformity. Their whims and their rules coercively substitute for reality in the minds of their victims."

So very true. But as Ayn Rand pointed out in the title essay of her book "For The New Intellectual" behind every Attila is a Witch Doctor. The job of the Witch Doctor is to provide Attila with a moral justification or at least a rationalization for his continued rule by force.

Mostly, such Witch Doctors are to be found in our universities as professors of the humanities, as media pundits and in government bureaucracies as advisors. We in Michigan got to see one such advisor in action this week. Karen Todorov is a social studies consultant to the Michigan Dept. of Education. In the May 24th Detroit News is an op-ed by Michael Warren urging "Keep America in Michigan schools."

Evidently, Ms. Todorov sent out e-mails to teachers advising:

"I have promised teachers that we would delete the use of American [when we are really ONLY referring to the United States] from the GLCEs (grade level content expectations) so that everything is consistent and correct as soon as it was feasible."

"It is ethnocentric for the United States to claim the entire hemisphere."

"Consistent and correct" according to what standard? Ethnocentrism? I don't see how. What is an American to say, I'm a United Statesian? Or USian? Obviously this is just another attempt to obliterate "American" in the minds of children.

The next day the News ran an editorial "Keep our schools safe for 'Americans.'" The first paragraph says in part: "Fortunately, state school Superintendent Mike Flanagan says he is stopping this nonsense. But taxpayers and parents must remain vigilant against this dumbing down of our students."

It is refreshing to see the News understand that this was an attempt to dumb down the students. But the fact that one man, Mr. Flanagan, stood between reason and dumbing down the students means that we are now a nation of men and not of laws. In a letter to the editor Mr. Flanagan declares in part:

"The conversations and internal communications between diverse members of an independent association of social studies supervisors have been misconstrued as Department of Education policy. I would never approve the removal of "America" or "American" from use in our classrooms. Not on my watch."

But what about the next guy's watch? That's what I mean by "we are a nation of men and not of laws."

The News makes another good obversation: "Flanagan may soft pedal her comments as an innocent "conversation," but they had the blunt force of the state behind them. That explains why educators we talked to Wednesday were reluctant to go on the record -- for fear of angering state officials."

I'm glad the News understands that anything governmental is backed up by "blunt force." I'm also glad they see that educators won't question the Witch Doctors (consultants) for fear of angering the little dictators (officials). Unfortunately, the News won't take the next step and ask why is education subordinate to "blunt force" in the first place?

In my essay The Science Establishment II ( Feb archives), I mentioned the fact that the essence of government is force and the essence of science is reason and to mix the two will result in reason being forced out. Just substitute education for science. The principle is the same. The only way to prevent the corruption of education is to get the government completely out of it.

2 comments:

Gjournal said...

Mike, you are quickly becoming one of my favorite blogers. Its a pleasure to read your insightful posts nearly every day.

Mike N said...

gjournal:

Thanks! I appreciate it.