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Justifiably angry

Opinion | The arrogance of those in power has fueled much of the discontent expressed by average Americans

Who wrote the following: "We must learn to welcome and not to fear the voices of dissent. We must dare to think about 'unthinkable things' because when things become unthinkable, thinking stops and action becomes mindless"?

A "right-wing extremist" didn't write these words, nor did a cable TV or radio talk show host. J. William Fulbright, the late Arkansas liberal Democratic senator and Bill Clinton mentor, wrote them in his 1966 book Arrogance of Power.

The arrogance of power and disdain for average Americans is what fueled much of the dissent expressed in town hall meetings. Growing numbers of people see a small cadre of government, academic, and media elites caring nothing about them, except when it comes to their tax dollars. Many, especially those who are conservative and even worse, religious, are viewed by these elites as enemies of progress and sophistication. They are mocked as NASCAR-loving, flag-waving, God-worshipping trailer trash. The people are getting the message and properly expressing themselves by peacefully (and loudly) assembling and petitioning government for a redress of their grievances.

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The latest of many examples of government arrogance has come in New Hampshire, of all places, where the state motto is "Live Free or Die." A state judge has ordered a girl who was being educated at home by her mother to begin attending a public school because of the "rigidity" of her mother's religious views. The judge, Lucinda V. Sadler, said that the 10-year-old girl "needed to consider other worldviews as she matures."

The case developed as part of what appears to be a nasty fight between the girl's mother, Brenda Voydatch, and her father, Martin Kurowski. Kurowski filed a lawsuit asking the court to place his daughter, Amanda Kurowski, in public school. The father doesn't share the mother's religious views.

There are a number of issues in this case, not the least of which is the court's attempt to define what represents an "extreme" religious view and what is more "mainstream." A growing number of parents, including some in my family, homeschool their children. My personal experience is that these kids get a better education, are better adjusted, and easily gain entry into college because of their superior grades and seriousness of purpose, not to mention their character.

Another issue is the apparent one-way street constructed by Judge Sadler. If a Christian girl ought to go to public school to learn about other views (this presumes she does not know about them through study at home, reading a newspaper, or turning on the television), why shouldn't the judge order a public school student to get a Christian-Jewish-Islamic-based education so that such a student might become acquainted with the Bible-Talmud-Koran? Many public school students used to be biblically literate before the ACLU and similar groups went to court to challenge the teaching of religious beliefs in the classroom.

Amanda's mother retained the Alliance Defense Fund, the conservative legal alliance that works to defend religious liberty, but meanwhile the girl has been forced by the court to sit in a fifth-grade classroom, which is a violation of her and her mother's conscience and the First Amendment.

In a letter to Henry Lee on Aug. 10, 1824, Thomas Jefferson wrote something that could be applied to the arrogant elites who have caused the rising anger in modern America: "Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests. . . ."

I'm on the side of the people. The New Hampshire judge and the Obama administration are on the side of the elites. And that's why so many are justifiably angry.
© 2009 Tribune Media Services Inc.

Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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