With America now experiencing high rates of functional illiteracy, it is obvious that there are many individuals in our society in positions of responsibility who are functionally illiterate. The late, lamented Nelson Rockefeller, former Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States, was “dyslexic.” Movie personalities Tom Cruise and Cher are “dyslexic.” There is no doubt that these three intelligent individuals were the unwary victims of the look-say reading instruction they got in primary school. Nelson often joked about the fact that he couldn't read because he had attended a “progressive” school.
Once again, a study has show that American students are woefully ignorant of history. Test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress demonstrate, writes the Wall Street Journal, that only “20% of U.S. fourth-graders and 17% of eighth-graders who took the 2010 history exam were ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’…” and only 12 percent of 12th-graders were so. In fact, their knowledge is so lacking that fewer than “a quarter of American 12th-graders knew China was North Korea's ally during the Korean War, and only 35% of fourth-graders knew the purpose of the Declaration of Independence,” the paper continued.
It is hard these days to keep up with all of the edicts issued by the Dictatorship of the Juristocracy, so please forgive the tardiness of this writer in pointing out the absurdity of a ruling handed down earlier this month, requiring a school district in Texas to bar all prayer and even religious words and phrases at commencement ceremonies. U.S. District Court Judge Fred Biery ordered that words such as "prayer" and "amen" be banned from graduation ceremonies in the Medina Valley Independent School District. One might well wonder why Judge Almighty even allows the district to retain the word "Independent" in its title, though he might value it as a relic of an earlier time when the omnipotence of judges had not yet been discovered and the people had not yet made their proper obeisance.
A while ago I wrote an article that generated quite a discussion. With this I was well pleased. Yet, I must confess, my pleasantness over the response with which this issue was met was qualified by a frustration mixed with regret over the fact that ours is a time when this would be considered an issue at all.
Particularly disconcerting were the remarks made by one respondent, a self-avowed “liberal” who also claims to be a college professor of many years. While some of his comments were not devoid of insight, the thrust of his reasoning left me disheartened, for in spite of his age and vocation as an educator in the liberal arts and humanities, the anti-intellectualism and, thus, raw emotion on display in his engagement with a race-based issue — typifying, as it did, the reaction to racially-oriented questions that we have long since come to expect from his ideological and professional brethren — is further confirmation that ours is indeed an age notable for its conspicuous absence of genuinely mature thought, i.e. thought that is at once sober, daring, and rigorous.
Give syndicated columnist Cal Thomas credit for coming up with apt description of the New York Times. Thomas, a serious Christian, worried that he might be getting a one-sided view of the world by reading the Bible every day. So he made sure he got the opposing viewpoint by daily reading the New York Times. Or, as he put, "Every day I read the Bible and the New York Times, so I'll know what both sides are saying."