by David C. Grabbe
CGG Weekly, July 30, 2004
"The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next."
As this grand experiment we call America continues its descent into disorder, it may be instructive to examine some of the ingredients that are contributing to the national meltdown. Even though the exact words were not spoken until almost a century later, this nation was founded with the idea that government was to be, as Lincoln put it, "of the people, by the people, for the people." This republic was based on the idea that tyranny was contrary to the natural rights of man, and that a free society of men could only exist when power was taken out of the hands of the elite few and—at least indirectly—put into the hands of the many. The federal government was to be small and limited, and the views of the average citizen would actually have weight in shaping policy. But, it would seem, such a society is not meant to be.
A recent study by the Barna Research Group underscores the fact that majority opinion does not matter much, if at all, to the legislators and politicians. The report notes that 82% of adults do not want the 10 Commandments removed from government buildings, 87% do not want the phrase "In God We Trust" removed from our money, 85% want to retain "One nation, under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, 59% want alternatives to evolution taught in public schools, and 85% want the "F-word" completely barred from broadcast television. "Most Americans are on the same wavelength when it comes to faith and matters of public policy," George Barna noted. "Most subgroups of the population lean the same way on each of the matters examined, with the exceptions being Asian-Americans and atheists/agnostics." But still the laws are not changed.
In even more critical areas, the majority opinion likewise falls on deaf ears. In 1992, according to Gallup polls (as reported by the Washington Times), only 34% of Americans thought that abortion should be "legal under any circumstances." In 1996, the number fell to 25%, and slipped further to 23% in May of 2003. Further, nearly 2 out of 3 Americans—59%—oppose homosexual "marriage," and 55% of the population believes it is a sin to engage in homosexual acts. If our laws and court proceedings mirrored these views, the face of this nation would be radically different!
Why is there such a disconnect? The blame cannot be exclusively laid at the feet of any one group. But it is becoming increasingly apparent what a pivotal role the overwhelmingly liberal media is playing in influencing opinions and policies.
Consider the two very different cases of public officials going against the law of the land. Judge Roy Moore disobeyed the order of a federal judge by refusing to remove a monument of the 10 Commandments from the Alabama courthouse in Montgomery. The New York Times led the media charge by painting Moore and his supporters as fundamentalist, right-wing, bigoted extremists bent on forcibly imposing Christianity on the nation. But when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom trumped state law by allowing—even encouraging—marriage licenses to be given to homosexual couples, the media portrayed him as a kind-hearted, visionary hero.
While the media bias by itself is damaging enough, it is doubtful that very many people changed their views of either the 10 Commandments or of homosexual unions solely because of the slanted reporting. What is especially insidious is the media's distortion of what is normal, and how it defines what is "mainstream." While homosexuals constitute only 2-3% of the population, The New York Times posits that "gayness" is the new norm, and is to be embraced. Gradually, even though a majority of Americans are opposed to the lifestyle, the Times' alternative reality is becoming the new reality. By changing the perception of what is widely accepted, what was once taboo is becoming commonplace.
Similarly, even though fewer and fewer Americans favor, or have, abortions, The New York Times Magazine charged ahead bravely this past weekend and brought a new "politically correct" term to the fore. "Selective reduction" is the pleasant new way of describing the abortion (by chemical injection) of two babies out of a set of triplets. The unwed mother wanted to be pregnant, but did not want the inconvenience of carrying 3 babies. The Times wanted to shape public opinion by spotlighting a calloused woman who "had no regrets."
Yes, the media bears a tremendous responsibility for the downward spiral we are in. While it may seem contradictory, the majority has been marginalized. When a man is continually exposed to a warped version of reality, over time he begins to feel like an outsider—like he is the one who does not fit. This has happened on a massive scale, to the point where the majority of the population is repeatedly told that it is "extremist" or "bigoted" or "old fashioned." Over time the people begin to believe it, and gradually the will to resist leaves the people.
God pronounces a very serious "woe" on those who conduct themselves in this way:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! ... Who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man! Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom will ascend like dust; because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 5:20-21, 23-24).