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Teaching Fear

Is The American School System Indoctrinating Fear and Propaganda Into Our Children?

America; the land of the free and the home of the brave. At least it says so in our national anthem. Those words seem to have become trivialized now, as if the Star Spangled Banner is just an old cliché and nothing more. The truth is, America is living in a state of fear and division we have not experienced since the days of McCarthyism in the 1940s and 1950s. During the Red Scare of the McCarthy Era, anyone who was in any way seen as critical of the government or “American values” was accused of being a communist sympathizer. It was the middle of the Cold War when tensions with Russia were at their highest. Senator Joseph McCarthy used this fear of the Russians to turn ordinary American’s against each other to the point where you could no longer trust your own neighbours out of fear that they were Soviet spies.

Fear and propaganda is often targeted towards youth. Why? Because they are young, impressionable, and extremely receptive to ideas when presented in just the right way. Hitler himself infamously said that he could care less for the older generation because he had the youth of Germany. If we truly are the land of the free and the home of the brave, then why are we allowing schools to indoctrinate fear into our students? That fear is in the form of school lock down drills and teaching emergency procedures to prepare for school shootings and terrorist attacks. We are teaching our kids to fear the problem, how to hide from the problem, and how to run away from the problem. That is not us. That is not America.

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What we should be teaching our children is how to solve the problem, not be scared of it. We need to teach kids how to reach out to their peers with mental illness, how to resolve conflicts, and how to coexist with people of different values, different political ideologies, and different ethnic or religious backgrounds. If we don’t do this, then we are only contributing to the problem. In these turbulent and uncertain times, we need to be very careful about the lessons we are teaching our kids. If Hitler recognized this, why can’t we? We need to teach our kids to be brave again in order to be a brave country again. Why are we so busy building walls and isolating ourselves from the world and from our own neighbours? We should be building ourselves up as a country and coming together to face real global threats.

So how do we do this? We can’t afford to sit back and blame the school system. The only time things ever change is when people take a problem into their own hands and do something about it. Like the quote from Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. According to the U.S court of appeals, parents have no due process to override determinations of public schools as to what their children are exposed to. So write to your local congressmen or senator about the changes you would like to see in our children’s education system.

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We seem to think propaganda is a Cold War tactic from the past, but don’t be fooled. It is alive and running rampant on our social media, on our TVs and radios, and yes, in our kids’ schools. And the biggest courier of this propaganda is the epidemic of fake news. Fake news articles are filled with unfounded or outright false information intended to persuade people to thinking one way or the other. This was overwhelmingly present during the 2016 Presidential Election and still continues to this day. The only way to fix this is to provide young students with the critical thinking skills to be able to resist fake news and false claims and teach them to think for themselves versus telling them what to be afraid of. We can fix this. But it will take years of hard work to reverse these disturbing trends. What we need above all else is to invest into our children’s education system and make sure they are being taught the skills necessary to make America brave again.

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