Welcome to Family Policy Matters, an engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina Family Policy Council. You are equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state, and nation. And now here is our host of Family Policy Matters, Tracey Devitt-Griggs.
Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. In the past, the United States of America has been called a shining city upon a hill and the last best hope for mankind. I think it's safe to say that many people do not feel that way today and there's even a concerted effort to highlight every negative part of our country while at the same time ignoring the vibrant history and the vision and bravery of our country's foundations. A recent survey shows that three out of four public school students were not even able to identify George Washington as our first president. Well, that has to make us wonder what the cost will be for this loss of connectedness to the outstanding parts of our past and how are Americans supposed to make informed decisions on the direction of our country if we don't have a full understanding of even the simplest principles that America was founded upon. Tim Geiglein joins us today from Focus on the Family to talk about this.
He just wrote a book entitled Toward a More Perfect Union, the Moral and Cultural Case for Teaching the Great American Story. Tim Geiglein, welcome to Family Policy Matters. Tracey, thank you so much.
It's really an honor to be with you. All right, so start off. Let's make it basic. What makes America and Americans in turn exceptional and unique in the world? I think we need a reminder.
I think there are actually several answers to that question, but let me start with the narrative of the book. And I think it really flows beautifully into your question. I think that the center of the United States is the United States Constitution.
I mean, in the history of the world. And you can go to the greatest civilizations ever. No nation, no country, no civilization has ever been freer because of the freedoms that are solidified in our United States Constitution.
The United States Constitution is the most important document for freedom in the history of the world. And I remember being at the White House where I worked for nearly eight years for George W. Bush. And I remember having a conversation with one of the most famous American historians ever.
His name was David McCulloch. And he said that he was suffering from insomnia and he was very serious. He said that he was very concerned about what he perceived to be as the historic level of constitutional, historic and cultural illiteracy in the United States.
So that conversation took place more than 10 years ago. And I think that the best research confirms the way that you began our conversation, Tracy, which is what are the implications when the rising generation of young Americans don't know the basics of the American story? And in large measure, that's why I wrote the book. Because if three out of four public school students do not even know that George Washington was our first president, what is the chance that they've actually studied like our constitution and compared to other countries' constitutions?
It's pretty grim. May I say I'm an inveterate categorical optimist, but you have to deal, as you say, with the facts. One of my favorite presidents is the second president, John Adams, and he famously said, facts are stubborn things.
And the facts bear out precisely what you have raised today in our conversation. There is a major high school survey that is given regularly across our nation asking public school students, what do they know about basic American history? And this study is very important because what students are given is the US citizenship test that all legal immigrants must take to become citizens of the United States of America. And over the years, the data showed that the rising generation of young Americans do not know even the most basic history.
Let me share some of those data points with you and our listeners. Only one in four could name George Washington as the first president of the United States. Only 10 percent knew that there are nine justices on the United States Supreme Court. Less than 30 percent knew that the president of the United States is the head of the executive branch of our government. You know, in some, Tracy, only three percent were able to answer six out of the 10 questions, which is the passing score for the US citizenship test.
So these students would now be in their early to mid 30s. They are casting votes, rallying, they're even holding political office. And yet they were woefully ignorant of the most basic points of our history and our system of government. So Order More Perfect Union is designed to be a tool in our toolbox to find a better way forward.
And this is why I'm eager that everybody get a copy and use it. I think parents, grandparents, families are very concerned and they want to know how to do better, how they can better prepare the next generation for the American story and for liberty and religious liberty. And I think that this book really is designed to go a long way to do that. So do you think that this loss of connection with this great American story is contributing to the division that we see all over our country today?
I absolutely do. I believe that the breakdown in history and civic education, Tracy, is very directly tied to many of the ills that we face as a nation. Incivility, bad leaders, cultural decay, cancel culture. In the book, I quote President Eisenhower in 1953 in his inaugural address. He said just one sentence, but he said something I think very prophetic. He said that a people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses votes. And I think that Eisenhower was right. I think we have forgotten our principles while exalting our privileges. But without principles to serve as a foundation, it seems to me that we will eventually lose our privileges. So that I think is what we are seeing playing out in our culture, unfortunately, every day. I think it's easy to blame, quote unquote, the liberals for this move away from teaching the great American story. But who's to blame, really?
What happened? I love that question, because I think that the ultimate goal of cancel cultures and erasure and wokeism, which is what we are seeing, I think it was baked into the cake among progressive American historians beginning as early as the 1950s. In fact, in toward a more perfect union, I devote an entire chapter to the man who was the creator as a neo Marxist of the erasure of the American story of the transformation of the American story. In fact, his goal as the most widely used editor and writer of a single American textbook called a people's history of the United States, and his name is Howard Zinn, his entire goal was to arrive at the moment where we have now arrived, which is to erase our path to erase fact, a history and to essentially create a new story, even if the new story was a series of lies.
And I really don't speak that way as a person, but that's what you have to conclude. And I think after the era of Howard Zinn, what we have seen is a series of other copycats, among them the very malevolent malicious major project called the 1619 project. The ultimate goal of the 1619 project is to destroy America's foundation through ignorance and disinformation, and essentially to create an entirely different nation that no longer embody the principles of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. I'm sorry to say it's being used in thousands of schools, and it posits among many other falsehoods that America was not born with the Declaration of Independence in 1776, that America was born in 1619 when the slave ships came to the coastlands of what is now the Commonwealth of Virginia.
This is clearly false, but it is being taught as true in thousands of American schools. What is the underlying reason? What's the purpose of these kinds of publications and efforts? Yeah, I'm really glad you asked because I do not think it was a conspiracy. I think it was a well thought out plan to rewrite the American story and to influence several generations of young Americans in a new history of the United States. Because these men and women I'm talking about who were the creator of the new story really did not like the United States of America. They didn't like our history.
They didn't like Western civilization. I might say that Howard Zinn, the primary architect of much of this disinformation, he said, in fact, it wasn't a conspiracy at all. He said that his goal was not to teach facts, but opinions and his opinions. And he said that he wanted to transform American history. And his goal was to denounce Western civilization and to convince students to reject it. In fact, he said Western civilization was marred, and I'm quoting him now, by the religion of popes, the government of kings and the frenzy of money. I mean, among other things, Howard Zinn and the men and women who came after him always state that America became involved in certain chapters of our history for reasons that we know not to be true. In fact, Howard Zinn, he said America became involved in World War Two to protect the imperial interests of the United States. I'm very sorry to say that his version of history is now the dominant one being taught in our education system. So no conspiracies.
This was the plan. And Howard Zinn's propaganda, according to the scholar Mary Graber, who has read and studied Zinn, that unfortunately, his propaganda has been spectacularly effective. His dishonest American history, she says, is not the only factor in America's turn away from our heritage of freedom towards these kind of fantasies.
But he's been instrumental, she says, in this destructive transformation. And I think she's spot on. So let me ask your opinion. With the rates of suicide, especially among our young adults just going through the roof, do you feel like there's a connection? Is there a hopelessness in this kind of philosophy that's being put forth through our public schools? I believe very strongly that we are living in an era of moral relativism. That is the cancer upon our body politic. It's the cancer upon the teaching of American and Western history and of our culture. And I think we have to stand up to this lack of teaching and propaganda if we are to preserve America. There is a writer, Barry White, and she says very simply, keeping the spirit of liberty alive in an age of creeping illiberalism is nothing less than our moral obligation.
Everything depends on it. And I think she's exactly right to the heart of your question. I think we are now in the battle for the soul of our nation. And I believe firmly that it begins in our home, which will then hopefully transform our schools and restore the proper teaching of American history and civics. You said earlier you were an optimist. So tell us, why are you optimistic? What can we do about this?
Well, I'm first and foremost happy to say that I'm a Christian and I believe that discouragement and despair is a sin because it negates the hope of Jesus Christ. And I believe very strongly that America has been at difficult turns historically in the past. And we have most often come through when there has been a relook at what has been happening. And I believe, Tracy, that there is a parental and I might even say a grand parental rebellion going on.
People are saying, wait a minute, what is the school board and can I run for the school board? And who makes these decisions regarding history and culture for my children and grandchildren? In other words, I think we have come to a moment where people understand that we are at a hinge point of history. And the wonderful story of the United States of America is that at major hinge points of history, hope has won out and betterment and the better way forward has prevailed. And I believe that the better way forward will prevail.
I think people do not want what we're discussing for their children and grandchildren. They understand the centrality of the church and local community. And they understand that Washington, D.C. really is out of answers when it comes to this kind of renewal and restoration.
So I believe that regeneration and restoration is possible. And I think it begins in the home, in the church, in communities. And it's principally why I wrote Toward a More Perfect Union, because the American story is a great and remarkable story.
And I pray and hope that it's just one tool in the toolbox to help people prepare for a better way forward for our country. Well, I wish we could keep the conversation going. I have a lot of other questions I could ask you, but I assume that I can get answers to those in your book. So tell us where can our listeners go to follow your good work and also get a copy of your book, Toward a More Perfect Union, the moral and cultural case for teaching the great American story. It's available very widely wherever you buy books.
I like faithfultech.com. I'm Tim Gay-Gline with Focus on the Family and author of Toward a More Perfect Union. Thank you so much for being with us today on Family Policy Matters.
You've been listening to Family Policy Matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plan to tune in again next week. To listen to this show online and to learn more about NC Families' work to inform, encourage and inspire families across North Carolina, go to our website at ncfamily.org. That's ncfamily.org. Thanks again for listening, and may God bless you and your family.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-06 14:23:49 / 2023-03-06 14:29:31 / 6