Skip to comments.The Paranoids are Back
Posted on 06/28/2014 9:02:45 AM PDT by Kaslin
"American politics has often been an arena for angry minds." So begins "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," a classic work that the historian Richard Hofstadter wrote in 1964, another time of deep division and mutual suspicion.
In that essay, he traced the roots of an American style that goes back at least to the late 19th century, when a plethora of mass movements kept finding new candidates for the source of all our troubles. It might be International Bankers one year and the gold standard the next as older scapegoats -- Catholics, immigrants, Masons -- gave way to new ones. Till they in turn were replaced by still others: munitions makers, Wall Street, foreign conspiracies that had infiltrated the very top levels of our own government ... you name it.
As an example of this paranoid delusion, the historian quoted a classic piece of demagoguery from Joe McCarthy, a senator whose very name became synonymous with conspiracy-mongering, as in McCarthyism.
Here is the junior senator from Wisconsin declaiming on the threat posed by traitors in high places:
"How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, which it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men...."
Now the conspiracy theorists are back (if they ever left) with a new source of all evil. This time it isn't communism but the Common Core, an innocent attempt to set up some national standards for American education. But you might not recognize it as such from this rant against it on the internet:
"Our children will suffer at the hand of a government controlled education system. They will no longer be able to have dreams and goals but only those that the government wishes them to have (UNESCO-A21). If this isn't Nazism, Communism, Marxism and all the 'ism's,' I don't know what is. The worst part is they are lying to parents and teachers about what Common Core really is and the effects it will have. Teachers don't even realize that their jobs are in jeopardy for, if they do not conform, they will be removed. But, then again, were not the people of Russia, Germany etc. all deceived until it was too late?"
This kind of hysteria isn't confined to certified nutcases. Fear of Common Core is spreading to perfectly reasonable people who wonder if there might be some real fire behind all this smoking rhetoric. That's how the lunatic fringe of a party becomes its whole warp and woof. Until even its respectable leaders hesitate to come out against this kind of thing, lest they Alienate the Base, which has become the cardinal sin for politicians out to win their primaries.
Just what is this bugaboo that's got these ring-tailed roarers on the Net so upset? Common Core is just shorthand for a set of minimal standards that would apply to basic education all over the country -- instead of the lazy, hazy patchwork of always changing goals set by every state and sometimes every school district in the country.
But all the usual suspects have formed an unholy alliance against filling so clear and obvious a need in American education -- the teachers' unions, the scaremongers on both sides of the political spectrum, the array of vested interests in the status mediocre quo ... and all the forces of inertia in general. Their aim: Dilute, delay and do whatever else they can to sabotage a common core of standards that would apply to all students all across the country.
Given a common core of uniform standards, American students could all take the same tests, and so the progress (or lack of it) of students in, say, Arkansas could be readily compared to how well those in New York or California or Iowa or any other state are doing. Which may be just what bothers those in the education establishment, or just the legion of kibitzers outside it: They don't want to make it easier to hold students, teachers, parents or administrators accountable.
It's so much easier for those in charge of the system to float along as they always have. No matter the result. Which is one reason the country spends so much on public education and gets so little in return.
The notion that every state, or maybe subdivision thereof, should set its own educational standards has some drawbacks -- like being duplicative, wasteful and ineffective. Just to start with. It's also a fine way to bring educational standards down to the lowest common denominator, if not lower.
Why should students in different states be held to different standards -- or be held to any standards at all? Why not just leave things as they unevenly are? Because that approach makes no sense. Does math, say, change every time you cross a state line? Does a well-written English essay in California become unintelligible when read in Maine? Why have different states set different standards for algebra? What sense does that make? Answer: None.
Yet we're told Common Core is some kind of nefarious conspiracy, a clear and ever more present danger to the whole country. The paranoid style is definitely back, and few politicians who want to move up the career ladder may challenge all this scaretalk.
But there's at least one well-known political figure who's an exception to this sad rule. He dares talk sense about Common Core even in these fear-driven times. And he hasn't even declared his candidacy yet for his party's presidential nomination come 2016.
His name is Jeb Bush, and when he's asked about Common Core, he speaks calmly, sensibly, moderately -- while others in his party, even the most respected, rush to misjudgment. Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, who used to note that Common Core "will raise expectations for every child," has switched to comparing it with centralized planning in Russia. The same goes for once sensible GOP leaders like Marco Rubio in Florida and Rick Perry in Texas. The crazies in their party seem to have got them buffaloed.
Jeb Bush is different. When a savvy aide suggested he just avoid the whole touchy subject now that Common Core has become a hot potato, he wouldn't. "I respect those that don't agree with me," he explained. "What I don't accept are dumbing down standards and expectations."
The man's grammar may remain Bushian -- it seems to be a family trait -- but his principles remain intact. Or as he put it, "I just don't feel compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country." What's this -- a Republican politician with enough character not to pander to the zealots on his party's far right? Even as the far right comes closer and closer to capturing the GOP's center. Or at least intimidating it.
However well Jeb Bush fares in the quadrennial circus known as an American presidential election, he seems to have a higher standard than just winning an election: being true to himself.
So, ok, this is the campaign?
don’t be paranoid, Vote for Jeb, he’ll make everything seem normal
Just think. If common core had been around when us far right extremists were in school, none of us would be able to read this ignorant tripe let along understand it without help.
Just because you are paranoid does NOT mean that they are not out to get you!
Tinfoil hat conspiracy yesterday leads to reality today. If you took the most unrealistic thought that has ran through your mind, with the most implausible scenario imaginable, and dismissed it as impossible, that idea has already been analyzed and worked up as a plan by some government agency or think tank to use against you. Bet on it.
McCarthy was proven correct.
McCarthy was proven correct.
Common Core, like Communism, and ObamaCare is one of several horrible and destructive policies/movements pushed upon us by progressives. Whether or not there are some who honestly think it a good thing, or there are those who imagine it to be a grand dark conspiracy perpetrated on us by evil space aliens intent on destroying humanity...is irrelevant to the reality that it is just a policy that really really sucks.
Exactly, and it’s not paranoia when they openly crow and gloat about their intentions.
“McCarthy was proven correct.”
Worth another repeat!
The curious and ironic thing is McCarthy has become for the left, the very kind of imagined boogie man and scapegoat he was accused of hunting. The only difference being, McCarthy’s quarry were very real, and very dangerous.
The paranoids are back and this time they are Establishment Republicans using Paranoia to to steal elections away from the Conservative base by catering to Black Paranoia about the Tea party...
[ Just think. If common core had been around when us far right extremists were in school, none of us would be able to read this ignorant tripe let along understand it without help. ]
If several of the states had the world’s best education in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s...
Why are we not looking at the past and what was done right?
Because the answer would be that the Dept. of Education would have to go away...
[ Jeb Bush is different. When a savvy aide suggested he just avoid the whole touchy subject now that Common Core has become a hot potato, he wouldn’t. “I respect those that don’t agree with me,” he explained. “What I don’t accept are dumbing down standards and expectations.”
The man’s grammar may remain Bushian — it seems to be a family trait — but his principles remain intact. Or as he put it, “I just don’t feel compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country.” What’s this — a Republican politician with enough character not to pander to the zealots on his party’s far right? Even as the far right comes closer and closer to capturing the GOP’s center. Or at least intimidating it.
However well Jeb Bush fares in the quadrennial circus known as an American presidential election, he seems to have a higher standard than just winning an election: being true to himself. ]
I know several libs who think that Jeb Bush is the “Smart Bush”, will THEY vote for Bush, NO, they won’t...
Actually I think Jeb is the Bush that happens to only LOOK and SOUND Smart, I think he is a complete dumbass, GW Bush just happens to LOOK dumb and sound Dumb, but probably is marginally a bit smarter than Jeb.
[ Just because you are paranoid does NOT mean that they are not out to get you!
Tinfoil hat conspiracy yesterday leads to reality today. If you took the most unrealistic thought that has ran through your mind, with the most implausible scenario imaginable, and dismissed it as impossible, that idea has already been analyzed and worked up as a plan by some government agency or think tank to use against you. Bet on it. ]
Because of the complete and Absolute Missteps by Leadership in the last 10-14 years I KNOW people who were reasonable people that long ago who now are seriously considering crazy People like Alex Jones as being Correct because the mismanagement has been so damned bad. Because their rational minds cannot grasp that the government could ever be so incompetent and evil.
OF course the leadership in place on both sides derides Conspiracy Theorists, but they are actually the ones throwing logs on the fire because they give everyone NO REASON or CONFIDENCE to think OTHERWISE....
When the population becomes Jaded to the level it is now, Conspiracy Theories are a Coping Mechanism for formerly Confident Peoples...
If you come upon a Flailing dying animal is hitting you in it’s death throes, it is not hard to think it is trying to kill you.....
You forgot to put “puff piece for Jeb” in brackets.
They are lying about the problems with common core: teachers and administrators tend to reject it once they see it.
Math teachers consider it ignorant. Teachers in general see it as placing huge time and paperwork requirements with absolutely no payoff in the classroom. Nor do they like being told what is significant history/literature/math by those in bureaucracies or ivory towers.
Administrators are forced to lie about the time they actually have to spend with teachers, and they know that these phony evaluations are pulled out their As___ because no one spends that kind of time in a single classroom watching styles, interactions, assignments, testing, attitudes, that each call for in-depth write-ups. The only way to accomplish it is to LIE or to let other administrative areas languish while they spend 24/7 on paperwork only about their disruptive incursions into classrooms.
It’s all a big bad government waste of time.
The reality based community continues to struggle with the reality of the Venona transcripts, apparently.
This just jumped right out at me when I read it. Members of teachers' unions are hardly the types who would be considered supporters of any "far-right" paranoid conspiracy. For the most part, the leftists in the teachers' unions fit Ben Kenobi's description of Mos Eisley "a hive of scum and villainy". They are hardly the people that I would expect to see on the protest line next to me and my FreeRepublic brethren.
Commie Core is a little different in real life than it looks on paper.
Everybody must learn the same things sounds good until you find out what those ‘things’ include.
Anal sex, fisting, and rubbers on a cucumber in kindergarten?
A liberal rewrite of history to make Marxism work?
Whatever a dictator like O’bastard decrees is what will be required.
innocent attempt of common core? Yet so innocently clouded in such secrecy its board decisions are shut out from public view.
Jeb is a communist. And no, it is not conspiracy to be stupid useful idiot like Jeb.
Sadly our education system spoils public educators with extortion powers that rival those of a mere cop. Making common core so urgent is brutal and war mongering, not for education but against any competitors by sheer arrogance.
another example is the Student loan sham. How can we promote a rotten economy and expect student loans to be paid back?... unless this is indeed going to turn into a “default conspiracy” of outright genocide, finding future generations endebted and automatically guilty?
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