A rather interesting issue was raised recently in the news. There was a student named Damon Fowler. He lives in what is called the “Bible Belt” of the United States. He was a student at Bastrop High School in Louisiana. He is an atheist. When his graduation was coming up, Damon decided to raise an issue that he had with the ceremony. He was upset that they had a prayer at graduation, and wanted it to be removed from the ceremony. Since this is a public school, he was well within his rights to make that request. In all honesty, this shouldn’t have been part of a public school’s ceremony to begin with. Damon wasn’t asking for special treatment by the school officials, just omit an event. That’s not too much to ask.
However, this brings a rather unpleasant issue to light – majority being taught as the rule. It is something that is seen constantly on various elements of this country – having the majority be right, and the minority be wrong. Fox News makes an example of the minority groups all the time. Does anybody remember Glenn Beck’s little campaign against the group ACORN? The conservative elements of this country seem absolutely bent on making the majority the rule, and quashing opposing opinion.
It happens time and time again in this country. Conservatives say that those who don’t agree with them are “un-American” or “unpatriotic.” It recently appeared again in the discussion of renewing The Patriot (Unconstitutional) Act. Those who opposed it were met with vitrial and scorn by the conservatives. (See http://youtu.be/_GO1tI1FF6Y)
The very idea of having a differing opinion in this country seems to be so unbelievably awful to conservative elements. Bill O’Reilly talks repeatedly about how challenging conservative ideas makes you a terrorist (*cough*Bradley Manning*cough*). Any group that actively opposes that status quo, like Wikileaks or Anonymous are called terrorists and should be killed. Another rather terrifying aspect of this is how the conservative community often has the idea of killing people as a means of stopping different opinions (Joyce Kaufman, anybody?).
The conservative community seems bent on not having differing opinions and not having people express them. And the campaigns against those who express anything they don’t like is almost ruthless. Does anybody remember Shirley Sherrod? Fox News jumped on her bandwagon so fast that it made most people’s heads spin. If you are against the Patriot Act, you are a terrorist. I absolutely hate the argument in the worst way that if you aren’t a terrorist, you have nothing to hide. That is so hopelessly degrading that it should make more people sick.
There was a clip today from Lawrence O’Donnell’s show, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell where he talked about the stupidity of the conservative campaign against socialism (if only a third of them, or a quarter, or an eighth knew what socialism actually was, maybe it would be a true debate in this country) and how Bill O’Reilly actually said something true for once in his career (See: http://youtu.be/e83GsyNaJqQ)
But back to Damon Fowler. Even after he approached the school administration first with his grievances, giving them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to do the right thing. It was after he went to them that he approached the ACLU. But even after the school decided to take the prayer out of their graduation ceremony, a young woman who was speaking at the graduation decided to get up and to make a stand against the supposed threat to her freedom, by saying the Lord’s Prayer and encouraging the audience to join in.
This issue is important and shed a rather disturbing light on the American education system. Maybe we can chalk it up to just being a Louisiana thing, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. What she was saying here is that she was the victim. The girl said, flat-out, that she “couldn’t go on” unless she could pray to her God. Does that mean that she was going to kill herself? That is pretty serious, but also just strange. It is strange how the overwhelming majority of this country acts like they are somehow the victims of some kind of crime against them. The overwhelming majority is acting like victims, being abused by the minority.
This is genuinely disturbing because it seems now that the message that is being put out there by conservative elements is – don’t challenge the status quo, don’t question, don’t voice your opinions, just let the majority rule and not be challenged. It seems to have escaped the notice of conservative elements in this country that all the major changes that have happened in America have been the result of a determined minority who was dedicated to change.
Our students are supposed to be being taught that they are supposed to think for themselves, and to act on their beliefs and to challenge the status quo. If this country starts genuinely telling our students to do the opposite, then America is doomed. Not metaphorically, but literally doomed to failure. Advances into the future are caused by people who are willing to speak up. If nobody is left talking, who will be left to listen?