By Lewis Vanderzyl --
I feel compelled to comment on the current controversy over the President’s remarks to American students. That controversy raises important issues in two vital areas of American life, education and the meaning of freedom.
Those who attack the President refer to him as a socialist, communist, and fascist. These characterizations are so ridiculous they almost defy comment. In our schools we try to teach “critical thinking” and encourage students to look for evidence to support generalizations. In the case of these charges there is no definition of what the labels mean or evidence to support their accuracy.
It takes little knowledge of history to realize socialism, communism, and fascism were terms in more general use a generation or two in the past. The theories supporting each of them are not only mutually exclusive, their proponents were often engaged in life or death struggles to determine which would dominate. Fortunately, none of them were successful. To maintain that these disparate ideologies could be embodied in one man is nothing short of preposterous.
There are many elements which are necessary for the functioning of a free society. Certainly one of the most important of which is the willingness to respect the views of people who differ from you. In a large diverse nation such as the United States there are a wide range of opinions on almost any issue. If we expect our opinion to be heard, we must also be willing to listen to the opinion of others. We just might learn something in the process. Those who would disseminate falsehoods, fear, and fanaticism are undermining the very basis for a free society.
Lewis Vanderzyl is the Vice-President for the Riverside Unified School District Board of Education.
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