News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 4, 2013

READERS' FORUM: Aug. 4, 2013

The Tribune-Star

---- — Let Bible lead your actions on gay issues

Please read the Bible, The King James version, the new testament, the Book of Leviticus chapter 18 verse 27. It clearly states in God’s own words as follows: “Thou shall not lie with mankind, and womankind it is abomination.”

Gay, homosexual or any other word or words you describe yourselves, it is wrong in the eyes of God, and it is not natural in nature or humankind. I love you no matter what your lifestyle is. I will pray for the redemption of your soul and mindset.

I’m far from perfect myself. Just a little over 10 months ago, I was living in the world as a sinner myself. It was through the love of my little country church, and my final belief in God, that turned my life around and back to Christ and Christianity. I’m straight, always have been and always will be, so I may not truly understand a gay mindset or point of view. But trust in the words of someone who is perfect, and that person is our Lord Christ Jesus, the Son of God.

I do not judge your lifestyle, but God will, so I implore you to reconsider your choice in mates of love companion, as God will judge us all some day for our sins, according to His words.

So in closing, I beg you to find a good Bible-based church and get God to help you, for hell is an awful place to spend eternity. God bless you, and I will pray for you and myself.

— Bill Bruce

Paris, Ill.

In education, left

tilt more severe

This newspaper’s preoccupation with Mitch Daniels’ attempt to bring some ideological balance to public education is a classic case of being unable to see the forest for the trees. The left-wing politicization of U.S. education has a long history, but I don’t recall this newspaper ever bringing (that) fact to its readers’ attention.

In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” Robert Pirsig observes: “Schools teach you to imitate. If you don’t imitate what the teacher wants you, get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A’s. Originality on the other hand could get you anything … from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.”

Pirsig’s observation was made 40 years ago, but there was nothing original about it even then. His point was that most professors don’t teach; they indoctrinate. One receives his grade of “A” by parroting back the professor’s point of view. And the political views of today’s professors are overwhelmingly left-of-center.

But this ideological indoctrination does not bestow a true liberal education upon the pupil; instead, the student leaves school with his professors’ narrow perspectives — never having been exposed to competing ideas. And so the student becomes another hapless victim of groupthink without even realizing it.

Originally, the goal of the university was to expose impressionable young minds to a marketplace of competing ideas. Diversity of opinion was openly encouraged. But today’s educators view diversity as a one-way street. The vast majority of U.S. colleges impose a narrow, rigid indoctrination upon students with a missionary zeal rivaling that of fundamentalist preachers.

A recent report demonstrates that not only is this left-wing indoctrination prevalent throughout the university system, but that the overwhelmingly left-leaning faculty at California’s colleges “openly declare the inculcation of partisan political ideas their pedagogical priority,” writes Stanford University’s Peter Berkowitz. Moreover, USC’s provost has publicly defended this blatant brainwashing as “academic freedom.”

“A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California,” a report by the California Association of Scholars, documents the plague of politicized classrooms.

Assessing the report, Berkowitz notes that the problem is national in scope: “The politicization of higher education by activist professors and compliant university administrators deprives students of the opportunity to acquire knowledge and refine their minds. It also erodes the nation’s civic cohesion and its ability to preserve the institutions that undergird democracy in America.

“The analysis begins from a nonpolitical fact: Numerous studies of both the UC system and of higher education nationwide demonstrate that students who graduate from college are increasingly ignorant of history and literature. They are unfamiliar with the principles of American constitutional government. And they are bereft of the skills necessary to comprehend serious books and effectively marshal evidence and argument in written work.

“This decline in the quality of education coincides with a profound transformation of the college curriculum. None of the nine general campuses in the UC system requires students to study the history and institutions of the United States. None requires students to study Western civilization, and on seven of the nine UC campuses, including Berkeley, a survey course in Western civilization is not even offered. In several English departments one can graduate without taking a course in Shakespeare. In many political science departments majors need not take a course in American politics.”

Moreover, the report documents that the shredding of the curriculum stems from too many professors’ preference for promoting a partisan political agenda. National studies by Stanley Rothman in 1999, and by Neil Gross and Solon Simmons in 2007, support this view and demonstrate that this leftward tilt has become severe.

Great educators such as the late Allan Bloom would argue Rousseau’s position as persuasively as Locke’s, letting the chips fall where they may. In his seminal work, “The Closing of the American Mind,” Bloom chronicles “How higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today’s students.”

Such is the legacy of “progressive” education.

— Reggie McConnell

Terre Haute

Zinn book merits

widespread use

I am responding to an article in the July 20 Tribune-Star (“Daniels: Goal was to keep kids from reading Zinn”) concerning Mitch Daniels’ desire to keep Professor Howard Zinn’s book, “A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present,” out of schools’ curricula.

I have personally read this book numerous times, and as an avid reader of history and a university graduate student, I have personally found it to be one of the best history books depicting the United States. Contrary to Mitch Daniels’ remark he made to the trustees’ meeting “… 99 if not 100 out of 100 would want some other book used.”

I would definitely support this book being used to teach teenagers part of United States history. Ex-Gov. Daniels’ remark reminds me of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s message to America when he held a phone bill in his hand and waved it around yelling, “I have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five people that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.”

As we now know, McCarthy’s list was a phone bill and he purely fabricated this number, just as I am certain Mitch Daniels’ statement to the trustees was a delusion. If Mitch Daniels is this sure of himself, then why not pass out 200 or more free copies of Zinn’s book to a wide variety (emphasis on wide variety) of Indiana parents and let them decide? Perhaps Mr. Daniels does not realize that the late professor Zinn’s book, according to the New York Times Book Review, sells more than 100,000 copies a year. Are there any other 30-year-old history books that sell at this pace?

Of course, Zinn’s book does not detail U.S. history as a normal high school history book. As the title states, it is “A People’s History.” Whereas, most schoolroom textbooks provide the student with a state viewpoint of history, Mr. Zinn’s book is wholeheartedly about how the state has dealt with its people and how the people have responded. Why not use professor Zinn’s book, along with another book, to teach U.S history in our Indiana high schools? Indiana citizens should be informed that many junior and senior high schools, along with colleges across the United States, use Howard Zinn’s book to teach history to students.  

Zinn discloses the truth. No facts is his book are false and when juxtaposed with other, more conservative viewpoints, together they paint an entire picture of U.S. history.

In the Tribune’s article, it quotes Mitch Daniels, “disqualify the propaganda,” in reference to Professor Zinn’s depiction of U.S. history from a people’s perspective. Any layperson, as well as historians, knows the U.S. government, like any other government, uses propaganda. Is this why Mr. Daniels so adamantly abhors Zinn’s book, because he wants students to learn only  one side of history? Sounds like Nazi philosophy to me.

Supporters of ex-Gov. Daniels bring politics into making decisions on what textbook to use in our schools. How wrong is this? This seems more of how a totalitarian style regime would react than a democratic government.

Professor Zinn has taught at one of the leading universities in our nation (Boston), and for Mitch Daniels and his “yes” men or women to try and debunk him as a propagandist is an outright tragedy to any student wanting to learn the truth concerning our United States history.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Never before has the silence of good people been told in a history book until Professor Zinn wrote “A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present.”

— Rex Hammond

Terre Haute

In praise of letter

on gay marriage

As a proud, fully paid up silver life member of an organization, namely NAACP, whose national headquarters, speaking for all local NAACP branches, has recently placed itself on record as full supporters of full civil rights, including same-sex marriage, for all members of the LGBT community, I was particularly pleased to read Mr. Neil Ward’s well-written, well-reasoned and, yes, eloquently stated letter equating support for same-sex marriage as a simple matter of extending full civil rights to yet another segment of our American community.

Currently, over 30 percent of Americans live in communities in which same-sex marriage is offered. This number is growing daily, and at some future point, it is probably inevitable the “full faith and credit” clause (Article IV, Section 1) of our American Constitution will kick in, which will mean that recognition of same-sex marriage recognized and conducted in one state will become, couple by couple, obligatorily recognized in all states, including those states which have local constitutions not permitting the enactment of same-sex marriages within their borders.

As Mr. Ward says, far better to be on the right side of history than the wrong side of history; yes, far better to possess a record of civil rights expansion rather than restrictions. And, as I stated at the beginning of this letter, I am so proud to be a life member of a group which, since 1909, has been at the forefront of the expansion of civil liberties for all, and continues the same fight for many more groups, including, but not limited to, the LGBT community.

— Earle L. Harvey

Terre Haute