Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Scandal in Oregon: JBS Video Shown in Classroom!

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An article by Arwyn Rice of the Curry Coastal Pilot for November 20 relates the misadventures of Nancy Chew, sixth-grade social studies teacher at Azalea Middle School in Brookings-Harbor, Oregon. Ms. Chew used the website as a source for a classroom video on the subject of governments. She chose one about “a brief overview of all types of governments.” Not until complaints reached her from the Brookings-Harbor school board did she realized she had happened upon a part of Overview of America by The John Birch Society.

The Internet video piece she used evidently had no JBS reference. Then the hue and cry ensued. After stating that The John Birch Society is “a controversial ultra-conservative group founded in 1958,” the Pilot duly related the amusing, if not sad, backlash which followed the video blunder:

“There’s no way I could have known who produced that,” Chew said. “In hindsight, there should have been more research on my part.”

Chew will use the experience as a teaching moment about the reliability of materials found on the Internet, she said.

“You cannot believe everything you read, everything you see,” she said.

The class completed a section on how to identify bias in materials earlier in the year, she said. The new lesson will include another discussion of bias, as well as a lesson in knowing your sources, she said.

The video uses a scale of government types by degree of government control, and mixes government and economic systems.

At one point, the video claims democracy is not a workable form of government.

Four individuals brought the video to the attention of the Brookings-Harbor School Board Wednesday night, objecting to the video’s content.

“I’m really bothered by this,” Gordon Clay said. “The video said that democracy is wrong.”

Clay went on to add that the video had a heavy-handed bias and mis-defined the form of democracy used in the U.S.

In their rush to disclaim association with the JBS and its views, the adults on hand failed to notice that it was the elite of the American Founding Fathers who were quoted on the video clearly stating their disapproval and even abhorrence of “democracy” as a form of government. Indeed the Pilot’s article printed a freeze frame of Samuel Adams directly from the video, along with his words: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.” Of course, these elite of the Brookings-Harbor school system probably could not get past the recognition of Sam Adams “beer maker,” in order to remember or find out who he really was: The Samuel Adams without whose firebrand rhetoric we may never have begun our war against Britain in 1775-76 — nor without the equal eloquence of his cousin, John Adams, our second President (who did not like democracies either). One wonders if this school system still recites the Pledge of Allegiance, wherein is pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, “and to the republic for which it stands.”

In a further observation about the JBS dustup and the school board meeting, the Pilot also related that:

Other speakers described the video and the method of marketing of the video as “sneaky” and “promoting the atmosphere of fear."

But “sneaky” and “atmosphere of fear” seemed to better describe what was amongst those involved in the aftermath of the complaints. No one from the school or the board appeared to know “who told” concerning what Ms. Chew had shown. They were unaware of any objections until contacted by the newspaper, which had received a "tip." Officials were then quick to reiterate their open-door policy which was evidently passed by, as those with complaints had chosen to take them elsewhere first.

To make a quick point: As far back as the 1960s, the John Birch Society — a pro-American, anti-Communist educational and action organization — was named by the Communists as the group they most feared. An eloquent revelation coming from such a source. The Society must therefore be fairly on-track in both its assertions and its methods — which include its concerns about what is happening to the United States school system.

Along with the JBS’ Dollars and Sense presentation about money and its history, the Overview of America video that caused such a ruckus in Oregon is an excellent foundational piece for learning the facts about our American system of government, and indeed government in all its forms. The American educators in Brookings-Harbor would do well to patriotically watch it again in its entirety — this time with truly liberal, "open" minds.

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