As I begin this post on the importance of Civics, the mayor of New York City has just threatened to arrest Jewish American citizens who persist in congregating despite New York’s lockdown decree.
(My apologies to Wolf, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get the Twitter image in my media folder over here. I’m a tech dolt.)
According to the Constitution, does Mayor Bill de Blasio have the legal right to arrest citizens for congregating in public and/or private spaces, even when a supposed health danger is present?
What about the accelerating rate of citizen surveillance we see with huge tech companies like Google and Facebook? Do American citizens have a right to freely move without having government and their corporate lackeys track our movements and opinions?
What are our rights and responsibilities as citizens? Ready for the rabbit hole?
Civics Has Been Co-opted By The Left
In a traditional sense, Civics in the United States has been the study of our system of government and our individual rights and responsibilities as citizens. However, for decades progressive elements within and without our education system have redefined Civics. Look at the Dictionary.com definition of Civics:
“The study or science of the privileges and obligations of citizens.”
See that? “Privileges” and “Obligations” with no mention of Rights, let alone God-given rights. There are many organizations today that purport to teach and promote citizen participation in government and society. If you do a cursory dive into their organizations, however, you will most likely find they are progressive and globalist in nature.
Their ideas regarding citizenship often focus on worker rights, or the rights of immigrants and so forth. Many of these organizations are international, like Civicus.org. The word ‘civicus’, by the way, derives from the Latin and means “pertaining to the citizen.” These organizations often promote a sense of world citizenship and work closely with other groups around the world in alliances that, again, focus on progressive and globalist policies.
It is also important to note that there are American organizations that promote a form of Civics that focuses on a different understanding of citizenship than the traditional American one, and seek to promote a more diversified sense–that one can be a citizen of a neighborhood, of an ethnic community, etc. These definitions, which have some legitimacy in a certain sense, end up diffusing and changing the focus of what it means to be a citizen of the United States, with inherent, God-given rights.
Did you know that the Pew Research Center did a study in which only one third of Americans could name one of the branches of government? It’s not just children and young adults who are ignorant of our governmental structure. The lack of Civics education has been going on for decades. Here’s a fun little Pew Center quiz to test your knowledge: What do you know about the US government?
How Do We Fix This Mess?
As in most things, education is key to rectifying the ignorance and therefore danger we are in as Americans. I will be sharing resources in future posts for all ages. As parents, grandparents, citizens, we have a duty to educate ourselves and our loved ones on the rights of citizenship in the United States. We are far down the road to tyranny. The government education system is woefully inadequate and even opposed to providing a curriculum that will inform and educate.
It is up to us. Really, it has always been up to us.
The good news is that self-education and educating our loved ones, can be simple, direct, and as light or heavy as you desire. You can get the basics with a few good resources tailored to your needs, or you can go full blown autodidactic and engage with primary sources to your heart’s content. It’s up to you.
As a homeschool parent for over a decade, I was very gratified to find out that I could learn right along with my students. As long as I stayed one lesson ahead of them, we were good. The other thing that was extremely helpful to me was that it was not only OK, but A-OK as an adult to use resources geared toward students. An overview of history for middle-schoolers gave me a really helpful frame of reference. It helped me put a lot of disparate ideas I had gathered over the years into a cohesive understanding of time periods.
The goal here is to know and understand our rights as citizens, and how those rights are expressed within (and without) our governmental system. Who couldn’t use a refresher course? I know I need one.
One other tip. Be very aware of your resources. Even ones that purport to be Christian or conservative, or non-partisan have an agenda. And it’s okay to take some things and leave others. Be discerning. Disagreements, as we know here at the Q Tree, also make for learning.
For a jump start, here’s a Pocket Constitution (comes in a pack of 10). This particular one is from the National Center for Constitutional Studies, founded by a professor from Brigham Young University.
There are many versions of pocket Constitutions out there, as well as online. A really nice online resource for the Constitution and related issues is ConSource. Here’s their intro:
“The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) connects hundreds of thousands of American citizens of all ages annually to our nation’s constitutional history by creating a comprehensive, easily searchable, fully-indexed, and freely accessible digital library of historical sources related to the creation, ratification, and amendment of the United States Constitution. Our team not only curates important digital collections of historical materials, but also creates free research reports and educational resources — including downloadable lesson plans — to meet the specific needs of scholars and authors, legal practitioners and government officials, educators and students, journalists and the general public.”
Yes, they have lesson plans online!
Here’s another online source for teaching Civics to students: iCivics. This organization was founded by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Many of us like the hands-on stuff, too. I like this Spark Chart. It’s like a compact cheat sheet.
Next time I’m going to talk about the literature approach to learning Civics. You cannot believe the amount of incredible, exciting and in-depth literature resources there are in which to learn about our history, how our government was formed, and the wonderful individuals who labored to provide a system that promoted “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
I hope everyone will share their resources and ideas. We’re going to make Civics great again!