End the Education Fights: Time for a Divorce

School -- girl reading (RGBStock)

Students at Mount Horeb Primary Center in Wisconsin were scheduled to read the book I Am Jazz, by teen transgender celebrity Jazz Jennings, in late November, the idea being to acquaint the student body — which includes a trans girl — with the basics of gender identity.

The reading was canceled when school administrators received a nastygram from a group calling itself “Liberty Counsel.” Since the book’s content doesn’t conform to the views of some evangelical Christian parents, exposing their children to it would, Liberty Counsel claims, violate those parents’ civil rights.

Any three people reading this column will probably come up with three different opinions on the specific issue at hand: When should kids learn about gender, where should they learn it, and what should they learn about it? In that area, I can’t say I’m a big fan of Liberty Counsel’s positions (their letter is a poisonous piece of trash that treats gender identities diverging from from their tendentious misreadings of scripture as “confusion” and “mental disorder”).

On the other hand, the incident does bring up a more fundamental point. This past year, brawls over the content of “public education” seem to have centered around gender identity issues — who uses what bathroom, locker room, etc. But the brawls themselves are nothing new. They’ve occurred with regularity ever since government’s hostile takeover of American education began in the mid-19th century. Sex education in general has been a recurring topic, as has evolution vs. creationism in science curricula. Even the state’s cultish loyalty oath, the “pledge of allegiance,” has occasioned multiple 12-round heavyweight extravaganzas.

The solution to all this constant conflict is simple: If we want to end the political struggles over education, we need to end the involvement of politics itself in education. And the only way to do that is to separate school and state entirely.

I said it would be simple. Simple isn’t the same thing as easy. “Public education” in the US, up through the high school level, is an industry with more than $600 billion in annual tax-extorted revenues and millions of employees. They’re one of the most powerful ready-made political lobbies imaginable. They will not go gently into that good night.

But there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Why not start by separating YOUR kids from the government education con game? Private schools may be more expensive and homeschooling may require more effort, but both alternatives produce better results than the combination prisons/daycare centers the state falsely advertises as “schools” these days.

Or I suppose you could just let Liberty Counsel and the local NEA chapter continue to duke it out every other week over what your kids should learn.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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NATO: This Deal is a Turkey

Source: Published by the American red cross, i...
Armenian civilians are marched to prison by armed Ottoman soldiers. Kharpert, Ottoman Empire, April 1915. (Photo credit: Wikipedia — Public Domain Photo from Red Cross)

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that an “armed attack” on a NATO member “shall be considered an attack against them all” and that all parties to the treaty must join in to “restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.” Left unspecified is what happens when a NATO member itself launches an “armed attack” on a non-member, as happened Tuesday when Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian Sukhoi-24 bomber near the Syrian border.

Naturally, there are conflicting claims about whether or not the Russian craft was in Turkish airspace. Even if it was, no one seems to be buying the idea that it was “attacking” Turkey. But Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan edges toward such a position on the basis that the Russians are fighting Syrian rebels, some of who happen to be ethnic Turkmen — “our brothers and sisters” — and who may not necessarily be affiliated with the Islamic State.

If Russia responds tit-for-tat, and if Turkey successfully invokes Article 5, NATO members could suddenly find themselves in a shooting war born entirely of their own hubris. Turkey should never have been admitted to NATO in the first place, and both its membership and the existence of NATO itself have long outlived any possible value they might once have had.

First of all, Turkey is not situated on the North Atlantic. Nor on any other part of the Atlantic. Nor anywhere NEAR any part of the Atlantic. Picture the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce recruiting businesses in Denver. Yeah, sort of like that.

Secondly, Turkey has little in common with other NATO members or with “the west” in general. Erdogan is a tinhorn Islamist authoritarian whose regime persecutes political dissenters, treats it as a crime to even mention that a hundred years ago his predecessors systematically murdered 1.5 million Armenians, and only materially supports NATO actions when doing so provides cover for suppressing the nationalist aspirations of Turkey’s (and Iraq’s, and Syria’s) Kurds.

Thirdly, while the 45-year Cold War needn’t imply future enmity between Russia and the US or western Europe’s NATO nations, the Russians and the Turks have been at each others’ throats for nearly 500 years now with few breaks and no end in sight. Sooner or later, they’re going to go to war again. The benefits of having Turkey in NATO are mostly illusory. To the extent they aren’t, they’re not worth the risk of getting “Article Fived” into that war.

If America’s political leaders are truly interested in peace, they’ll withdraw the US from NATO or, at the very least, move to expel Turkey from NATO. But America’s political leaders AREN’T truly interested in peace, are they? Happy Thanksgiving.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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The US and the “Refugee Crisis”: Three Complaints, One Solution

Syrian refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Sept 9, 2015. (Public domain image from Freedom House)
Syrian refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Sept 9, 2015. (Public domain image from Freedom House)

I oppose president Barack Obama’s plan to import and re-settle 10,000 Syrian refugees at American taxpayers’ expense. But hey, I’m a libertarian. It’s hard to find a government program I DO support.

On the other hand, as the old saying goes, “you break it, you buy it.” Sort of, anyway. The warmongering politicians (of both parties — yes, I’m looking at you, Mrs. Clinton) do the breaking and stick us with the check, then we spend money cleaning up after them too. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria … make no mistake about it, the “refugee crisis” is THEIR mess.

And finally, yes, it sticks in my craw to hear those same “bomb’em all, let God sort’em out” demagogues turn on a dime and grandstand on an over-hyped danger fantasy over letting a handful of their victims escape the American-made carnage and make a fresh start in America itself. If God is just, there’s a very warm corner of hell for that particular variety of hypocrite.

So there are my three complaints: The US role in creating the problem, the hypocrisy among the foremost cheerleaders for creating the problem, and running the additional expense of making very small amends for the problem through those same warmonger tax-and-spenders.

Enough complaining, Tom — how about a solution! Hey, as it happens, I have one.

Let’s assume reasonable expenses for helping 10,000 refugees get to the US, settle in and become productive immigrants. How about $100,000 each, just to be on the safe high side? (Note: I’m omitting the cost of security theater “vetting”  — let the War Party nutjobs pay for that nonsense out of THEIR own pockets)

$100,000 times 10,000 is, lemme hit my calculator … one billion dollars. Call it $3.50 per American citizen.

The US Department of “Defense” spends more than that EVERY DAY busting up the places these people are fleeing from, so it really wouldn’t be a major budget item, would it? But I still think letting the government handle it is a bad idea.

We’re a giving nation. I don’t see any problem with rounding up a billion dollars through our churches and other charitable institutions. That would come to $14 from my family of four. Heck,  we’ll go $21. Donald Trump’s and Marco Rubio’s shares are on us, just to deprive them of excuses for more drama queen antics.

So how about it? Who else is in?

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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