Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hiding in plain sight

Nearly three years ago I offered a few thoughts as part of the emerging conversation on 5GW where I suggested:

In 4GW the enemy attempts to influence the media and culture to undermine a country's war effort, but maybe in 5GW the enemy seeks to become the country's media, university and grade school teachers, writers, artists, etc. They become the purveyors of culture.
5GW isn’t just about using ideas to undermine the will of a people or government to fight, but about undermining a country’s ability to defend itself intellectually, one could say that it is an existential campaign that calls into question the very legitimacy of that country’s existence. A campaign that a country may not even be conscious of.
In 4GW the enemy attempts to use the target country’s media as a vehicle to sap the people’s and political leaders’ will to fight. In 5GW the enemy actually becomes the media and the political leadership. In 4GW a terrorist organization might attack a school or a courthouse in order to show that the government can’t defend itself; in 5GW the enemy would become the teachers and judges.

[Although I used the 5GW terminology at the time I wrote these comments, I later continued to explore these ideas within other terminological frameworks]

Later I offered the idea that people who initially try terrorist tactics may find that within the West they can have more success with non-violent political and cultural tactics:

There will come a time when Islamists [or in this case Weathermen] will realize that terrorism is counterproductive in the West. That they can achieve their goals through boycotts, protests, marches, lobbying, media campaigns and electoral politics. Is that still war? There is a point where politics and war become indistinguishable.

While that was all theory we now find via Zenpundit and Pundita a real life example of this kind of ideological combat who just happens to be an associate of a certain presidential candidate. Meet Bill Ayers:

A Chicago native son, Ayers first went into combat with his Weatherman comrades during the “Days of Rage” in 1969, smashing storefront windows along the city’s Magnificent Mile and assaulting police officers and city officials.
Ayers’s politics have hardly changed since his Weatherman days. He still boasts about working full-time to bring down American capitalism and imperialism. This time, however, he does it from his tenured perch as Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Instead of planting bombs in public buildings, Ayers now works to indoctrinate America’s future teachers in the revolutionary cause, urging them to pass on the lessons to their public school students.

Indeed, the education department at the University of Illinois is a hotbed for the radical education professoriate. As Ayers puts it in one of his course descriptions, prospective K–12 teachers need to “be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and . . . be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation.” Ayers’s texts on the imperative of social-justice teaching are among the most popular works in the syllabi of the nation’s ed schools and teacher-training institutes. One of Ayers’s major themes is that the American public school system is nothing but a reflection of capitalist hegemony. Thus, the mission of all progressive teachers is to take back the classrooms and turn them into laboratories of revolutionary change.
Ayers’s influence on what is taught in the nation’s public schools is likely to grow in the future. Last month, he was elected vice president for curriculum of the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation’s largest organization of education-school professors and researchers. Ayers won the election handily, and there is no doubt that his fellow education professors knew whom they were voting for. In the short biographical statement distributed to prospective voters beforehand, Ayers listed among his scholarly books Fugitive Days, an unapologetic memoir about his ten years in the Weather Underground. The book includes dramatic accounts of how he bombed the Pentagon and other public buildings.
His works are required texts in education school courses all over the country and he’s much in demand as a lecturer in many of those schools. Plus, he’s a pioneer in the progressive education publishing industry, encouraging books by many other authors that show teachers how to bring “social justice” themes -- i.e. the evils of American racism and imperialism – into their public school classrooms.

This is exactly why I have been championing a Strategic Citizen approach. Democratic governments can't deal with this kind of ideological war, therefore it is up to citizens to organize and beat back the efforts of people like Ayers. It is also why I have been advocating for updating classical liberal ideas for the 21st century: we need to have a current and effective ideological foundation to provide a base for taking on Ayers et al.

MORE: Hiding in plain sight II

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