This Is How It Starts


Posted on August 28th, by Michael Rosenblum in New Media. 6 comments

Hitler arrives at Nuremberg for rally 1933 – another very popular orator

Normally I don’t write about politics here.

But not today.

I recently posted a note to Hoda Kotb from the Today Show. She had an item on her Facebook page asking what she should cover in her show.

Most of the answers posted related to shoes or clothing or divorces.  I told her she should speak out about the growing trend to publicly accepted racism in our culture, with Muslims paying the role of the Jews this time.

So far, she is sticking to shoes. Kotb, by the way, is Arabic for book.

The Failings of Public Education

When I went to school in the 1960s, almost all of my teachers were women.

They were women because in those days, the only jobs women could get were teacher, nurse or secretary. And so the smartest went into teaching.

And they were good. Very good.

When new opportunities opened for women in the 70s, (and I am old enough to remember when a woman going to Harvard Business School was still a big story), the smartest flocked to careers as lawyers or MDs or CEOs.  They followed the money.

In the days when women had no choice, schools could get away with paying teachers $23,000 a year, or less for women, and no one said a word – and they were able to attract the best talent in the country.

When other opportunities became available, the schools should have responded by making teaching as competitive as law, and paying as much.  But they didn’t. Instead, we debased the public educational system in America.  Oh, there are still those who teach out of pure dedication, but that’s like asking people to go to medical school and then head off to work for Medcin sans Frontiers. There are those who do, but not many.

I taught for many years at both Columbia University and NYU, and over the course of time, I watched as the level of basic education that my students came in with dropped and dropped and dropped. They were not stupid. Far from it, they were just uneducated – increasingly so. And interestingly, they didn’t care.  Most did not know the difference between Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, and if they had to find out, they could always go to the web and Google it.

What we eroded was a basic foundation of fundamental knowledge, which by now, I think, is pretty much gone.

And the price we pay is that we have created a society without the ability to process information through any kind of historical wisdom.

So when Glenn Beck goes to the Lincoln Memorial and proclaims that he is the true heir to the Civil Rights Movement; when he and his Tea Party follower proclaim that the President is the racist here; when he fundamentally rewrites the history of this country to suit his own ends, one would think that an educated nation would laugh him off the stage.

But they don’t.

They don’t because we no longer have an educated nation that can process what he says through a lens of intelligence.

We have a nation of people who get their information superficially, and lacking in any kind of grounding of basic education, can be easily swayed by demagoguery of the worst kind.

For two generations we have ignored the infrastructure of this country.

Our bridges rust out and collapse.

That makes news.

Well our schools are rusted out and collapsing. And when the education of our nation rots and collapses, its is a whole lot more serious than when a bridge collapses, or deciding which shoes to buy.

What is happening today at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Dr. King’s I Have A Dream Speech is nothing short of pornography. Public pornography based on a collection of lies.

But we have a public that has lost the ability to discern the truth for itself.

This is how it starts.

And if you know anything about history, you already know how it finishes.

But alas, most people don’t even know that.

But they will. Sadly.






6 thoughts on “This Is How It Starts

  1. This is so true. I used to teach and I had a front row seat to just how uneducated we all are. This is one of your best blog posts ever.

  2. I think the reason that Glenn Beck is not laughed off is because many of them may not have a job, many may be upside down on the mortgage and certainly many have lost the equity they once had, many more have lost their homes, many may be on food stamps, many have spent their retirement or savings trying to survive without a job, there are many reasons other than a bad education.

    They may realize that we simply can’t keep running a deficit and increasing the dept endlessly, they know that this bubble has to burst eventually.

    Paying teachers like lawyers is an example, who will pay them like lawyers? The taxpayers. Here is an idea why not pay the lawyers like teachers? Personally if we are going to be throwing around tax payer dollars I think you should add Nurses to the public payroll as well and pay them like lawyers, they handle most the medical care in the hospital.

    On a personal note I think the whole system is out of whack, why not pay the rock stars, actors, and professional athletes like teachers and pay the teachers like rock stars, actors, and professional athletes.

    I think the people at that rally know and understand that half of what Glenn Beck spouts off is hyperbole,that he is a buffoon, and that he is the wrong guy with the half right message at the right time. Government can not be the final solution to every problem especially with an ever increasing debt that is why so many people allow him to say the most absurd things.

    When the optimists of optimists Tony Robbins issues a financial warning, a bummer message, a downer, you know we are not headed for still waters.

    Military is taking too big of a bite of the budget, entitlements are taking to big a bite of the budget, education is taking big a bite of the budget, interest on our debt is taking too big a bite on the budget, unfortunately the pie chart leaves little that can be cut.

    If you have another answer than decrease spending and raise taxes to solve the problem of our increasing deficit and debt you would go long way to putting my mind at rest.

  3. Michael,

    I could not agree with you more! I just returned from Jerusalem where I visited the Holocaust Museum and perhaps the biggest thing that I was left with, aside from the sheer sadness, was the incredible way information and facts were re-shaped to serve a vicious, deep hatred… And how the mob gladly joined in… How easy it was for the mob to join the hatred. All I could think about was how cowardly that behavior was. That is exactly true of the so called “Americans” at the Lincoln Memorial today. Ignorant, close-minded, racist, cowards.

    What you say about education in this country exactly right. And unfortunately with the advent of the web, which as you often accurately state offers an incredible opportunity for anyone to create content, comes a new set of problems. A system in which any jackass like Beck or Andrew Breitebart can spout as many lies as they please. The situation is truly depressing. The only thing I can hope is that there are enough people out there like myself who will be truly outraged and perhaps use their ability to create and share information to counter the lies. But I’m not sure.

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