May Day on Capitol Hill
According to wire reports, May 1 - originally created by the Socialist International as a day when socialists, communists, workers, and those generally opposed to this and that take to the streets - turned into quite an event this year. From Germany to Cuba, from Seoul to London, people protested, demanded, marched, rampaged.
Presumably, I have already offended decent workers of different nationalities who have legitimate grievances to air by bundling them with the gratuitous discontents of the planet. But, arguably, the date should have been repudiated by decent people once it had been established as the day when butchers of the world assembled under Karl Marx's portrait and V.I. Lenin's statue in Moscow and paraded the weapons they proposed to employ to terrorize and eliminate the rest of us.
Instead, May Day is still honored. And it was honored with what amounts to enthusiastic homages to Karl Marx in that most august of venues: the floor of the United States Senate. The setting was provided by the debate on education.
It would be preposterous, of course, to accuse properly elected members of the U.S. Senate of being followers of Karl Marx. Well - there may be one or two, like Senator Wellstone of Minnesota, whose language and positions put it out there for all to see. Most others would be horrified at the very suggestion, and honestly so. Even Senator Edward Kennedy could probably pass a lie detector test without flinching, if asked.
And yet, many - way too many - have been working hard, unbeknownst to themselves, to cause certain provisions of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto to become the American reality. That is why the subject is in urgent need of a broad public discussion.
Few attributes of the latter twentieth century have done more harm than the layer-upon-layer of deceptions applied to the core tenets of two competing political philosophies. On the one side, the U.S. Constitution was infused with the venomous misinformation that it classified a black person as three-fifths of a human being, and denied women the right to vote. On the other side, communist prescriptions were wrapped in fabrics woven of caring, compassion, and "social justice." The incontrovertible fact that the U.S. Constitution produced unparalleled freedom, equality, and prosperity for a constantly growing number of people, whereas communist prescriptions resulted ultimately in the murder of tens of millions, and enslavement and starvation for those left alive, has been all but forgotten.
And so, without most of us realizing it, we have arrived at the conclusion that the U.S. Constitution ought to be treated as a living-breathing document we may and should change at will, while communist prescriptions remain valid as written.
The Communist Manifesto, first published in 1848, contains ten points which its author(s) consider indispensable for the building of a communist society. The current debate on education invokes the last of these: "Public and gratis education of all children." The phrase is nothing less than the unequivocal repudiation of school choice. And it's all in the wording.
Marx did not propose public education for children. He called for the public education of all children.
The first formulation would have implied the availability of free public education for those who needed it. The actual formulation excludes other forms of education altogether.
The reasons are obvious, and have been on display for most of the last century. If the state is the only provider of education, it controls the information funneled to the young during their formative years. The ability to choose is denied in the communist model as surely as the American model guarantees it.
And so, the debate truly is about choice. Choice between James Madison and Karl Marx; choice between types of schools; choice as a fundamental tenet of being American.
What is fascinating to observe is that the same people who consider a "woman's right to choose" more sacred than a stack of Bibles, wish to do away with that same woman's ability to choose the best education available for the child she had chosen not to abort.
For someone who, like myself, grew up under Nazi and Communist regimes, the May Day speeches in the Senate were so predictable one needed only to tune in for the occasional minute to verify all was on schedule. And so, I stumbled into the speech by Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island. "Money is not the problem?!" he exclaimed. Then why, he wondered, does the president want more money for defense? Why not simply "test and evaluate" current military readiness, as he proposes we do with schools, instead of paying for new weapons systems?
It is hard to believe that a United States senator - or indeed any sensible adult - would draw a parallel between teaching children to read and military hardware. But we need only to recall that opposition to America's desire to defend itself comes from the same source as the call for a monopoly of public schools. Denouncing the "military machine of the imperialists" was a staple every May Day in Moscow.
A little while later, I tuned in again. This time it was Senator Charles Schumer of New York. He, too, was demanding more federal money for public schools. I set my watch to signal in one minute twenty seconds. Right on time, Mr. Schumer proceeded to denounce defense expenditures.
Apologies for making these points personal. The senators cited here are not very different from most other Democrats, and some Republicans. We must presume best intentions, and ignorance of the destructive tenets they promote. That they remain blind to the latest statistic, according to which 64 percent of black fourth-graders cannot read, is puzzling, however.
A popular definition of insanity is to be doing the exact same thing year-in, year-out, and expect different results. But I digress.
If, as is reasonable to assume, senators are promoting communist prescriptions because the rhetoric has come to obscure the source, then it is high time to brush away the camouflage, expose the hard core, and return to the American model without delay.