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Back to American Civics 101


“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” — Thomas Jefferson

Ignorance. It isn’t always bliss.

Some of the people protesting in Oregon did not vote in the presidential election.

Many of the youths cutting school to protest the election results do not know how America works. Some are so confused they chose fisticuffs over freedom of speech.

Far too many parents have handed their children over to public schools to learn how to live.

This ain’t livin’, as Marvin Gaye said.

Donald Trump, so the thinking went, wouldn’t win. That’s what the brainwashers told the parents and the children.

Well, la-di-da.

Civics lessons. Where are they now?

There was a time when youngsters were taught about such things as the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the responsibilities of the three branches of our government, which are supposed to be separate but equal.

They would learn that the president governs, Congress checks the president and the U.S. Supreme Court checks both.

They might have been taught that for the past two decades. However, it seems the lesson only stayed long enough to get them passing scores on standardized tests.

That became clear when adults and youths began chanting “Trump’s not my president” on the first Wednesday following the election.

Well, no, Mr. Trump is not your president — yet. God willing, however, he will become your president shortly after noon on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. That is when Mr. Trump is scheduled to place his left hand on a Bible and take the oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” His 44 predecessors pretty much did the same.

Too many young people of the Centennials, Gen Z or iGen demographic, whichever you prefer, have become accustomed to reacting to news and unimportant issues. Hint: The “I” in iGen stands for iPhone, which is their generation’s fifth appendage.

They react, as too many near-fanatical use of social media do, without offering facts. (They really thought Pope Francis supported Mr. Trump because a website said so.) Gen Zers jump into a fray without knowing what the “fight” is about.

For example, Centennial hooligans beat up one of their own, a Maryland teen, because he wore a cap touting Mr. Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan. They piled on, and one or more of their own is going to be arrested.

The protests are going on in other states and the nation’s capital, too, and they even want permission to block part of Pennsylvania Avenue through Inauguration Day because Mr. Trump’s new hotel is along that corridor — auspicious site of the Inaugural Parade.

The protesters’ request deserves a just-say-no response from federal and local authorities.

Freedom of speech is certainly their fundamental right, and they would know that if they are acquainted with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights therein.

They also would know that there are certain constitutional lines that the president cannot cross, as the Supreme Court has pointed out to President Obama, and there are constitutional lines that Congress cannot cross, like arbitrarily declaring D.C. a state.

The post-election, post-traumatic stress disorder of voters this season isn’t going to bear productive governmental fruit unless and until they acknowledge what they are fighting against and what they propose to supplant it with — a political fact of life Mr. Trump finds himself facing as well.

Thomas Jefferson, their third president, was an experienced and learned man, and he was an uber-advocate of public education and established the prestigious University of Virginia. That he was trusted to explain why and what it meant for America to declare independence was no coincidence.

What these protesters also need to know is that James Madison, their fourth president, was considered “The Father of the Constitution.” He, too, had much to say about ignorance. Here’s one of my favorite quotes of his: “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

Teach them civics, and teach them the facts. Revisionism not needed.

And, please, no civics 2.0.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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