Monday, September 7, 2015

Letters to My Son: Standing Up for What's Right

Dear Son:

Within my lifetime, indeed, within the last few decades, too many of the people of the United States have turned from the ideals of the Founding Fathers, and worse, have turned from their God. They find comfort in the easy path, giving up liberty to grasp at the socialist straws of security. They deride and mock what they cannot understand, and they renounce the very structures of civilization that allow them to live their lives in ignorant bliss.

The institutions that form the backbone of a free society are discarded as dross. The security of liberty, free from government interference, is gone. The ideal of the core family is supplanted with vague and insecure commitments and neutered relationships. Marriage has been redefined into meaninglessness. Even the basic concepts of biology are rejected to feed the voracious sexual appetites of the impatient masses. Children are devalued and discarded, useful only as status symbols or to supply body parts for medical research.

Politicians appeal to our basest desires with promises of a socialist utopia that can never be reached. For example, Hillary Clinton promises to provide "affordable" college, while defending the total train wreck of "affordable" health care. She promises "quality" childcare with one hand, while supporting a system that destroys the best chance children have to succeed - being raised by both a mother and a father. She promises to "defend" Social Security, while supporting an immigration policy that threatens to upend it. Such utopian double standards can never succeed.

In contrast to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump has one promise - immigration reform. With a loud and obnoxious voice, he carefully hides his disdain for conservative ideals behind a fa├žade of loud platitudes and disdainful rhetoric. He rejects our republic's foundational principles (except where it allows him to make money) and is certainly no advocate to preserve the institution of marriage.

The very politicians who are sworn to protect the law flaunt it at every turn. We can only expect others to follow the examples of our leaders. In response, violent crime has dramatically increased within the very cities that have labored for decades under Democrat rule. It comes as no surprise that the bankrupt structures of socialism have failed the citizens of these cities. It comes as no surprise that Detroit, Oakland, St. Louis, or Baltimore are ready to implode with violence and hatred.

Those who stand against the new regime are silenced, outshouted, jailed, or shot. The immorality of homosexual ideals now trumps the First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion. The 14th Amendment has been twisted into an incomprehensible tangle of protected classes in a convoluted structure to place equality above freedom, groups above individuals.

Now is not a time, my son, for your heart and your moral fiber to fail. We must now, more than ever before, stand up for what is right. And not only that, we must stand up for whatever is good and noble and pure and admirable and of good report.

F.A. Hayek understood what was at stake when he wrote:
The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those limitations of the powers of conscious reason, and who despises all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built upon them. This may well prove a hurdle which man will repeatedly reach, only to be thrown back into barbarism.
Stand up for what is right. Remember the words from A Man for All Seasons, when Sir Thomas More is thrown into prison for defying King Henry VIII:

If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us saintly. But since we see that abhorrence, anger, pride, and stupidity commonly profit far beyond charity, modesty, justice, and thought, perhaps we must stand fast a little - even at the risk of being heroes.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Dear Students - On Phones and Postmodernism

Dear Students:

May I suggest one thing that will help improve essay writing for some of you? It looks like some of you are composing your essays on a phone and then not proofreading what you wrote before submitting it. I suggest you compose your essays on a larger screen, so you can see and proofread what you've written. Some of you wrote essays that were unintelligible.

In a previous announcement, I mentioned the danger in today's thinking of relying on Postmodernist interpretations of texts. One consequence, that I see again and again in student writings, is the tendency to offer opinions about the texts without really understanding the underlying meaning of the text. Often, we jump to conclusions about texts because so much of our history and its interpretation has become politicized, roughly drawn along left and right wing ideologies.

Personally, I don't care which side of the political spectrum you fall on, but you should not let your opinions get in the way of interpreting historical texts.

The first step to analysis is to discover the plain meaning of the text - the writer's intent. Then, with a proper historical context, you can develop an interpretation and start to form your own opinions about what the text means.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dear Students - Modern History Tells You What to Think, Not How to Think

More radical ideas about interpreting texts from a dangerous-thinking teacher.

Dear Students:

Many of your analyses of the texts for this assignment were off track. So many of you merely jump to conclusions about the writing without really analyzing it, or coming to grips with what the texts actually say.
As you read historical documents keep in mind that our interpretation of such documents is skewed through the lens of our modern interpretations and sensibilities. It is not good historical practice to filter all history through the lens of one particular philosophy of social structure.
All of you have grown up in a world where postmodernism has affected our interpretations of history. Postmodernism was a reaction against the idea that there can be absolutes, and introduced the concept of relativism. (See What this created for today's historians is a philosophy of history that basically says one interpretation of history is as good as another.
This presents a double standard which has imposed all sorts of conflicting interpretations on original documents, many of which have nothing to do with the writer's intent. In the present day, much of history is now filtered through the lens of oppression ideology, meaning most interpretation of history sees events and people as mere oppressors, rather than as events and people. The problem with this trend in history is that it tells you, as students, what to think, rather than teaching you how to think.
Your textbook is a modest example of the trend to interpret history through the eyes of a postmodernist philosophy. More and more textbooks interpret history as a laundry list of oppression. Over the years, I've watched the authors of the textbook revise the text to replace basic concepts and ideals expressed by the people of the time, only to interpret them through the lens that all history revolves around the abuse of power and oppression ideology. Your textbook is one of the few left that sometimes writes the story of what happened instead of trying to convince you, as students, how "bad things were in the olden days."

I want you to be aware of the influence of historical trends in your own interpretations of history so that you can begin to read and understand historical documents in their own context, rather than reacting to documents because you are influenced by a philosophy of history that pervades academics in today's world.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Letter to My Class As We Start US History

As we begin another fall semester, once again it's time to remind students of a few things which directly reflects their ability to think for themselves. In our postmodern world, I frequently have to warn students with a bullhorn to step away from from postmodernism before they hurt themselves.

Since most of the students who enter my classes have absolutely no idea what postmodernism is, nor the influence it has on their thinking, I try to point out the basic flaws with the interpretive garbage they've been fed in high school and in college.

Here's part of the announcements that we start with in my class:
In high school and in some college courses, when writing essays, you may have been taught to offer claims (opinions) and then justify your opinions with examples from the text. This is not a good means of coming to an understanding of historical texts. This method is, unfortunately, taught in many high school history books and in the newer high school curriculum. Unfortunately as well, most college textbooks (including our own) fall into the trap of forcing poor interpretations onto the texts without trying to understand the plain meaning. 
This is a very poor way of understanding history. By trying to form opinions, without first understanding the texts, you bring biases to the text which have been taught to you by people who despise history.
Please make an honest effort to understand the meaning of the additional readings texts without bringing your own opinions into their interpretation. You'll find a whole new way of thinking that will open up your mind to what history can actually teach us. I'd much rather you just summarize a text than tell me your opinions about whether you believe it or not. You'll learn more about history if you form opinions about the texts after you've read them, rather than before you read them.
The problem with postmodernism is that its arguments are entirely circular. Students are indoctrinated in its Mysteries at an early age, and so never see the double standards. Postmodernist circular reasoning creates students who have little or no ability to recognize the fallacies of the arguments. It prevents students from understanding sound arguments as well.

So students, as we start another new year, I urge you all to step away from postmodernism before you hurt yourselves.