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Howard – Did Character Count in the 2000 Election?

Did
Character Count in the 2000 Election?

Panel
session at the Philadelphia Society Regional Meeting

November
12, 2000

Dr.
John A. Howard, Senior Fellow

The
Howard Center on Family, Religion and Society


I
shall address our topic question by entering through the side door.

You
will recall that two young men, Dylan Kliebold and Eric Harris, planned and then
carried out the slaughter of fellow students at Colombine High School in
Colorado. It was an utterly
horrifying crime. The American
people were stunned. Clearly action
had to be taken to put a stop to the recurrent school ground shootings.
The resulting provision of metal detectors and video monitors, increased
counseling and security personnel and vigorous campaigns for gun control are
among the many remedial efforts that were undertaken.
They were unfortunately directed at symptoms, only symptoms.
The fundamental fact is that Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold are savages,
incapable of recognizing and refraining from an act of absolute evil.
They are moral ciphers, devoid of any controlling sense of right or
wrong.

They
were also the hapless victims of their country’s default in its most fundamental
obligation to its children. Every
nation, large or small, tribal or industrialized, must train each new generation
how to live responsibly in its own society.
Human beings are not born with inclinations to live as cooperative
members of a group. The young must
be taught what is right and what is wrong.
If they are successfully taught these things, they turn out to be people
of good character.

The
President of Kenyan College, Gordon Keith Chalmers, wrote what is arguably the
most important work of educational philosophy to appear in America in the 20th
century. It was published by Henry
Regnery. He told me it was one of
the best books he had published. Its
title was The Republic and the Person.
The title is significant. The
foremost obligation of schooling is to prepare the student to be a responsible
member of the society, to be an active and valuable participant in the republic.
The second obligation of education is to prepare the student to be a
competent individual.
The republic and then the person.
Chalmers concluded his book by stating the aim of education is moral
majority.

The
United States education system performed this task of acculturation quite
effectively for 150 years, but withdrew from that critically necessary function
about the middle of the twentieth century.
The result of that tragic lapse is that we have at least two generations
of cultural orphans who were never successfully introduced to their political
and moral heritage.
They have not come to understand the importance of, and
embrace, the ideals and standards of behavior that make it possible for people
to live together amicably and productively in a free society.

Except
in those situations where families or churches or communities have managed to
perpetuate the proper acculturation of the young, the U.S. people have
increasingly become obtuse about behavioral standards. They
are, to be blunt one again, moral pygmies.
They are the voters who four years ago reelected a president manifestly
devoid of morals and integrity. Such
a person could not have been reelected 50 years ago.

In
1940, Christopher Dawson wrote, "The idolatry of power has resulted in a
new paganism that is destructive of all moral and intellectual values."
Dawson, an Englishman, was referring to Naziism and Communism, but that
observation about the idolatry of power applies now, in my judgement, to the
Clinton Administration and its Vice President.

51
Million of America’s morally-stunted people were glued to their TV sets to see
the final episode of the Survival series. 50
years ago, I doubt if such tawdry junk would have been sold as a dime novel.

We
have often been told that GIGO explains the limits of a computer.
If you put garbage in, garbage is what comes out.
The same is true of the human mind.
A mind fed on junk food develops a comic book mentality.
It is addicted to cheap thrill entertainment and falls into a deep
decline when Princess Diana dies.

Last
November at The World Congress of Families in Geneva, Switzerland, a landmark
address was given by Dr. Margaret Ogola. She
is a Kenya physician who heads a hospice for HIV-positive orphans. She
spoke the causes of the catastrophic AIDS epidemic in black Africa.
She said that for generations religious taboos had effectively minimized
sexual activity outside of marriage. Sexually
transmitted diseases were not much of a problem.
Those tribal norms of sexual morality were shattered, she said by
influences from the Western nations.
She mentioned three: the mass marketing of contraceptives, the
promulgation of value-neutral and non-judgemental education, and what she called
"Planet Hollywood" which disseminates throughout the world the message
that pleasure is the ultimate good.

What
she was saying loud and clear was that the amoral campaign of Planned
Parenthood, and the products of the entertainment industry created by our
morally-stunted impressarios, and the educational philosophy advocated by our
morally-deficient academics are largely responsible for the spread of the
pestilence in black Africa, where 70% of the world’s AIDS cases are now found.
What a terrible indictment! Do
you suppose if this information were widely know in America that the people
would sense any responsibility for their part in spreading the AIDS plague or
have any pangs of conscience?

Well
as we have seen, the values of "Planet Hollywood" and the Clinton
Administration have been virtually interchangeable.
Nobody should be surprised that in this week’s election the Gore column
has California and the Eastern states where the amorality of "Plant
Hollywood" is most warmly welcomed and is most powerfully re-enforced by
the dominant newspapers.

Nor
should we be surprised to find in the Bush column a very large part of the huge
heartland of America between the East and West coasts where churches and
families and communities are still, to some extent, carrying on the traditional
acculturation of the youth.

Character
certainly counted in the 2000 election, but in my judgement, it is the very
large and still expanding quotient of amorality in the American populace that
deserves our utmost concern.

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