A study in Civics

Some of you old farts might remember "Civics." It was a course in government. Back in my time, it was a class in 7th grade. You didn't make it to junior high in those days without at least a basic understanding of what was meant by the term "American values." Whether that understanding stuck through later life was another 'issue' altogether, but the basics were there.

Mike Huckabee, that darling of the flag-waving bible-thumping Christian Right, serves as one of the best examples of how the concept of "American values" can be twisted into an unrecognizable state. Huckabee believes that Americans should be held at gunpoint and brainwashed with debunked creationist David Barton's garbage:

Huckabee gives truth to that "When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Over in the fishwrapper article on the latest shenanigans of our La Junta/East Otero R-1 school board, we find this:

"... Craig also said although some people were afraid of their jobs being on the line if they showed support, she isn't one of them and adamantly supports Noll's leadership."

That gives some interesting insight into the perceptions of at least some of the the public's view of the school board's understanding of "American values."

If you open your mouth, and express an opinion over matter of public interest - your job is in jeopardy.

Given some of the reactions of some of our political 'leadership' to what they perceive as challenges to their self-importance and political prerogatives, that is probably more than just a perception. I suspect there is a good basis in fact for holding that view, for harboring that fear.

The Smile Hi has more self-styled All-American pledge-reciting flag-waving super-patriots than anywhere I have ever lived. An unfortunately significant percentage of these are people who will shove the Bible and the flag down your throats in an instant if you disagree with them. They are the sorts who will fly into a rage over perceived 'insult' to the flag, going so far as to slap kids who fidget during the pledge and agitate for jailing those who do not share their particular brand of reverence.

I think what the school board should do is make available an adult civics course, so as to refresh some understandings of 'American values.'

They could start with a tour of Fairview and Calvary. There are a substantial number of veterans' headstones there. Perhaps they could finish up with Fort Lyon.

Does any political body in this city really believe that all those people died in the service of this nation so that people could live in fear for their jobs for voicing an opinion about the behavior and decisions of our elected officials or their pals and buddies?

After that cemetery tour, perhaps a forced reading of de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" would be helpful. "Forced reading?" Sure. That's in keeping with that darling of the flag-waving Religious Right's views on how Americans should be indoctrinated with American values. I think I'd draw the line at all-American flagwaver Huckabee's 'at gunpoint' thing, though. 

After Mike Huckabee and the school board have a refresher in 'American values," I'd suggest the Urban Renewal Board also have a re-read of that 7th grade civics textbook, and then de Tocqueville.

What those who are in fear for their jobs are afraid of exercising is called 'freedom of speech.' It is a God-given right, not something allowed at whim by politicians, and it was paid for in blood, real blood, and lives, real lives, lives ended far too soon. It is not to be trifled with and cheapened by podunk politicians who are a bit too big for their britches.

My own participation in making payments due on those 'American values' thingies, though the connection is nebulous at best, saw more than 58,000 of our compatriots dead, hundreds of thousands maimed, and unknown numbers PTSD'd for life.

So I tend to find political arrogance that trivializes and discounts all that blood-letting and sacrifice somewhat vexing, particularly so when such arrogance is on the part of self-styled super-patriots who never served, other than themselves at the local buffet.