If there ever were a time to question the quality of education in America, I would say that the recent revelations of political figureheads give us just such an opportunity. From sea to shining sea, the political battleground in the U.S. is brimming with candidates running for state and federal government positions. One would suppose them to be intelligent, well informed, highly educated individuals, who represent the best and brightest that America has to offer. Think again.
Think, Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, think Lubbock County Judge Tom Head, Rep. Rick Berg, Rick Santorum, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, to name but a few. Think that, if they are the litmus test of what the current system churns out, we must have taken a trip in Mr. Peabody & Sherman’s Wayback Machine to the dark ages of ignorance and repression.
As America finds itself in the fundamentalist grip of a very divisive presidential election, and we watch the two leading parties attempt to define themselves and the ideals of their respective platforms, I am struck dumb by what I can only perceive as a complete and utter lack of education.
To debate the merits of each party is fruitless, as that is not really what will get the United States and the world further along the path of evolution and out of the mud-slinging gutter we presently find ourselves mired in. But let’s run down the list of obviously educationally-challenged figureheads. How did these guys get into the positions of power they occupy anyway?
An obvious choice would be to start with Todd Akin, the now notorious Missouri Senate candidate who revealed his rocket-scientist genius by declaring,”If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” What century are we in? Are we really hearing a dialogue defining the various contextual forms of rape? Forcible rape, legitimate rape, assault rape…since when is rape anything but rape. It is an absolute perversion to try and qualify the sheer brutality of rape. This Pro Life Movement, National Right to Life Committee advocate’s attempt to bolster his anti-abortion views, seems to indicate that he must have been dosing off during biology class and all those 7th grade sex-education films…or?
Think Rep. Rick Berg the Senate candidate from North Dakota who while he condemned Todd Akin’s claims as “insulting and reprehensible” had previously voted in favor of convicting a woman who obtained an abortion as, ready for this–– guilty of a homicide crime. A crime, which in North Dakota, is classified as a felony, and carries a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole, even in cases of rape and incest. Think again, that Rick Santorum, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee are also heartily behind legislation that forbids abortion even in the case of incest or rape.
But wait. Let’s go back to Todd Aikin for just a minute. Earlier this year, he made another frightening statement, attacking the federal student loan program by comparing it to cancer. Really? “America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in,” Akin said. “What the Democrats did to get rid of the private student loans and take it all over by the government was wrong. It was a lousy bill. That’s why I voted no. The government needs to get its nose out of the education business.” What a genius idea. Wasn’t it government that had the foresight and wisdom to pass the GI Bill in 1944? One of the provisions in the GI Bill was providing our servicemen and women the opportunity to obtain a college/university education, a privilege reserved for the rich.
Another figurehead of the Republican brain trust, Paul Ryan would like to dismantle the only functioning social safety net in America, by, are you ready, following the model of American banks during the failed mortgage/loan Wall Street investment scheme which caused a world economic collapse. He would like to propose privatizing Social Security, which translates as taking seniors’ savings and investing them into high risk Wall Street funds. Wow, brilliant! And he can hardly be accused of forgetting his history lessons. He even wants to get rid of Medicare and slash funds for Medicaid, has proposed cutting food stamps for as many as 10 million Americans, cutting funds for programs likes Meals on Wheels, and eliminating Pell Grants for more than a million students. His genius knows no limits. Ryan has proposed a plan to slash taxes for the wealthiest Americans while raising taxes on some of the poor. Does this sound like a solidly educated, conscious human being?
To further support my conviction that the education system in America needs a complete overhaul, I call upon the confederate leanings of Judge Tom Head, from the state of Texas–– which accounts for more than 37% of the nations executions, 246 to be exact conducted under the current administration of Governor Rick Perry. Judge Head has warned that America might descend into a, “…Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator…civil war if President Obama is re-elected.” Think Juneteenth, the commemoration of the day in which federal troops arrived in Texas to enforce the emancipation of its slaves. It was the last state in the union to give up slavery… And speaking of that uncomfortable subject, what was the RNC thinking when they allowed Cowboy Clint Eastwood to address President Obama at the podium as an invisible man? How many of those RNC members and attendees of the convention have read Ralph Ellison’s seminal book “Invisible Man”? I believe a few did, and seeing that reference on stage in front of the entire world made me cry.
The reprehensible rhetoric America is broadcasting to the world now, at his very moment, is anathema to the fundamental ideals upon which this country was purportedly founded, and can no longer be allowed to pass for intelligence. It shamefully announces to the world that our system of education is more than lacking. We must regroup and strategize a way to bring the basic precepts of a good solid education to all of our citizens, and we must re-create a society, which upholds the right of all of its citizens to live, work, learn, make choices and thrive in dignity and health.
The Atlantic Magazine September issue, “Fear of A Black President” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
www.jeanniewinston.com / E: email@example.com