Saturday, October 29

THE CHANGING FACE OF EDUCATION IN AMERICAN CLASSROOMS

Ilona at True Grit provides a good example in this post of what Peggy Noonan and The Anchoress have been compelled to write about with such passion in the past 48 hours -- i.e., that there is something fundamentally amiss in our country and its institutions, and things seem to be getting worse by the minute.

It provokes one to call to mind the raging jeremiad by fictional T.V. news anchorman Howard Beal in the movie, "Network":

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job, the dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter, punks are running wild in the streets, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

We know the air's unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit and watch our tee-vees while some newscaster tells us today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We all know things are bad. Worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything is going crazy.

So we don't go out. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we live in gets smaller, and all we ask is, please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my tee-vee and my hair-dryer and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything, just leave us alone.

Well, I'm not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to write your congressmen. Because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the defense budget and the Russians and crime in the street. All I know is first you got to get mad. You got to say: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more. I'm a human being, goddammit. My life has value."

So I want you to get up now. I want you to get out of your chairs and go to the window. Right now. I want you to go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!"

Not so dated is it? The movie was released in 1976. Just substitute some of the main themes then -- unemployment, inflation, depression, the Russians -- with abortion, terrorism, illegal immigration, high fuel prices, same-sex marriage and judicial activism today.

The Anchoress' piece isn't so far from award-winning screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky's themes. It's still all about "angst" -- that unsettling feeling that things aren't right in our world and in our lives.