Taking Away Their Life
On September 21, the Style section of the Washington Post printed
an article about school safety. The insert offered quotes by five
of the country's brightest students under a headline taken from
the statement by Amber Hudson, 18, Jackson, Miss.: "They're
Taking Away Our Life."
The subject of the article, the object of the students' despair
is the avalanche of "safety" measures under which they
are suffocating. Their years of carefree existence have been overshadowed
by the frenzied experimentation of a generation that, some thirty
years ago, was persuaded to destroy the social fabric of America.
To be sure, only a certain percentage went on to do just that, but
they were the ones who set the course. Now, faced with the wreckage
they have created, they heap error upon error, mistake upon mistake,
believing all the while that they know better than all the people
and peoples who had preceded them over thousands and thousands of
Their most recent pretext is predicated on the episodes of violence
that has cost the lives of young people from Colorado to Texas.
Their battle cry is "to make schools safe for our children."
Schools tend to be as safe as life in the society that surrounds
them. My personal experience is limited to two ways that make society
safe. One is the fear of police authority, and the certain knowledge
that penalty for bad behavior would be swift and merciless. The
other emerged among people who, over time, had learned to live with
one another in peace.
For the former, examples abound. The latter has been rather rare,
confined to places like Britain, Holland, Denmark. These are countries
with a rather homogenous population. The miracle, as always, has
been the United States of America, where people from all over the
world defy traditional wisdom by demonstrating that self-government,
the rule of law, and common sense combined can create domestic tranquility.
But that miracle is fading. Self-government - the absence of rulers
- is the highest dividend accruing to those willing to live by the
rule of law. Accepting the rule of law requires the application
of common sense. Common sense is a function of maturity.
By and large, the generation that came of age some thirty years
ago rejected the rule of law. They forsook common sense, and substituted
the mentality of eternal adolescence. There are notable exceptions,
of course, but persons with an infantile perspective of the world
have long terrorized our educational establishment and, especially
during the 1990s, have come to occupy key positions in government.
"Infantile," believe it or not, is the charitable view.
The alternative is to see them as socialists dedicated to the total
transformation of this society. The word "transformation"
is yet another gesture of compromise to accommodate those who find
reality hard to digest - "destruction" would be closer
to the truth.
At the risk of being repetitive, I would once again plead that
readers focus on the fundamentals of socialism, namely on the maxim
that it can and must change the world, and all who live in it, according
to a formula - devised in books written mostly in French and German
- which socialists continue to manipulate. That formula informed
those who did away with authority, morality, knowledge and standards
in our schools and substituted chaos, titillation, propaganda and
And what is the panacea proposed for our present ills? Are we supposed
to learn from the example of America's successful past? No - the
remedies are to be copied from regimes this nation had sacrificed
greatly to defeat. Response to the present crisis assumes the customary
socialist posture: search of possessions, search of persons, prohibition
of assembly, out-of-bounds places and times, surveillance cameras,
identity papers for students, identity papers for their means of
Apparently, every tragedy is turned into another step toward the
ultimate goal: that Americans no longer be free, independent, creative
people. Because as such, Americans have been nothing but trouble
in the eyes of those who believe they can and must change the world,
and all who live in it, according to the formula.
But wait. According to the Washington Post, something is going
wrong with the plan. Martin Banda, 17, of Harlingen, Texas, and
Natasha Goffredo, 18, of Philadelphia, and Lisa Bell, 17, of Lewiston,
Idaho, and James McGhee, 17, of Maywood, Illinois, and - yes - Amber
Hudson, 18, of Jackson, Mississippi show unmistakable signs of common
sense, of independence, of recognizing the enemies of freedom -
theirs and ours. "They spent $1 million on...surveillance.
You aren't supposed to walk anywhere without a pass. [Before] I
could walk around wherever I wanted." Behold them and renew
your faith in America.
This is not meant to be a diatribe against embattled, well-meaning
school administrators, desperate to deal with events that overwhelm
normal human expectations. But it is a wake-up call to them, and
all others willing to face reality. Most of what ails us today is
the result of ideas often hostile, always alien, to the ones that
have made this society successful. Turning to those same ideas for
solutions is like appointing the pathological arsonist national
Balint Vazsonyi is author of "America's 30 Years War: Who Is
Winning?" and director of the Center for the American Founding.
But when information needs to be conveyed quickly and accurately,
one's sense of humor is rarely engaged. Speaking of airports, "go
gay fy" will not do when there are seconds left to make it
to gate five. Sometimes I wish there were large signs at all points
of entry to the United States, proclaiming "Welcome to America
where we do pronounce consonants at the end of words!"