Widespread Ignorance Threatens Our Republic
“Who is our nation’s capital named after?” seems like an easy question for any fifth grader to answer correctly. But a man named Mark Dice went out to the streets of San Diego and asked this question in numerous man- on-the-street interviews, asking that very question. His results can be seen here, and they are shocking. Many of the adults he spoke to in these Jay Leno-style interviews had no clue. One lady even offered up Lincoln as the answer. He asked, “Lincoln, DC?” She then realized her error and said, “Washington, DC.” An older gentleman answered the question correctly, as if it were perhaps a trick question. But the interviewer noted that this was a tough question for millennials to answer correctly. A couple vacationing from Italy got it right, but they were surprised when Dice told them that many Americans didn’t get it right. He noted, “We’re talking to stupid Americans.” And he added, “Making fun of Americans is a favorite past-time.” One fellow had an “I [HEART] DC” shirt on. He couldn’t remember at first who District of Columbia was named after. His excuse was “I just woke up.” Then, with some prompting from the interviewer, he remembered it was Washington, but he could not remember George’s first name. The scary thing about these tip of the iceberg examples of widespread ignorance is that these people vote. America has poured billions and billions of dollars into our educational system, and this is what we get out of it? Some scholars have noted that the longer you are in school, the dumber you become. The founders believed that “we the people” should be in charge of our nation. They gave us a great deal of freedom because we were an educated and a moral populace. The man after whom our nation’s capital is named made this point in his Farewell Address (1796): “Promote…as an object of primary importance institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge.”The founders understood that our experiment in self-government could only be maintained by a well-educated populace. James Madison, one of the key architects of the Constitution, once noted: “A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.” Bestselling author Eric Metaxas, has a new book coming out soon, called If You Can Keep It (Viking). The title harkens back to a time just after the Constitutional Convention, in the year of our Lord 1787, when a lady asked Ben Franklin what kind of government the founders were giving us. Franklin’s reply was, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” If widespread ignorance in this land continues, including willful ignorance of the moral laws of God, we won’t keep it. I remember years ago when I was a guest on a hostile radio show. It came after one of the Supreme Court decisions that they got right by a 5-4 majority. The Court affirmed that the Equal Access Act passed by Congress was constitutional. The Equal Access Act, still theoretically in effect, declared that if a high school allowed for extra-curricular clubs after hours, they could not prevent a Bible club from also forming. If the chess club could use the PA system or bulletin board to announce their upcoming meeting, so could the Bible club.I was defending that law against both the host and a guest who felt that the schools should not allow anything of a religious nature---especially if it is Christian.One of the points I made that seemed to resonate with my hostile opponents, however, wasy my claim that part of the reason I was sacrificing to send my children to a Christian grade school was so that they would not only learn about God, but so that they would learn correctly about math and history and geography.Tragically, our schools are now too often places of political correctness but not historical correctness or geographical correctness or scientific correctness---or biblical correctness. Today, we have millions of functional illiterates. There are graduates of high school who literally cannot read their own diplomas. In contrast, John Adams said (around 1800) that to find an uneducated man in New England was a rare as a comet.To put that in context, those New Englanders were taught first and foremost biblical truths. That’s why they started schools in the first place---at every level. This includes the Ivy League schools of Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and Brown, all of which were created for the express goal passing on Christian learning to the next generation. As we have moved away from our Christian roots, we have also moved away from basic literacy. No wonder a handful of fellow Americans chosen at random either can’t name our nation’s capital or don’t know who it is named after.