Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Civics Paradox

Immigration has long been a matter of concern to US citizens, however, recently, between rising level of illegal immigrants, state of our economy, and issues of national security, this topic has taken on an intensity that rivals that of previous times.

The United States is one of few countries in the world that grants birthright citizenship - citizenship based on where a person is born.  Many in their crusade against immigration, have zeroed in on restricting this "birthright", especially However, so it's no surprise that Dan Burton (R-IL) introduced H.R. 5002, The No Sanctuary for Illegals Act which would limit birthright citizenship to three conditions, illegal immigrant parents not being one of them.
They are called "anchor babies" -- the children born in the United Citizenship States of illegal immigrant parents -- and pressure is growing to change the meaning of the *14th Amendment so as to deny them automatic citizenship.
At the same time, we're raising the bar on immigration; American citizens are more ignorant than ever.  Barely 1/3 of all Americans can name the three branches of American government, much less tell you how each branch works, 2/3 of all Americans can't pass the citizenship test and less than half the states require courses in civics/government to graduate high school. When No Child Left Behind was implemented due to America's bottom of the barrel test scores in math and science amongst developed countries, many more school boards across the country cut civics/government out completely.  Which raises the question, if American citizens, increasingly, don't have a clue, and it's becoming tougher for immigrants to become citizens, where does that leave us?  

Of course, you can be certain that GOP politics is a key factor behind the focus on immigration. "Wedge issue" strategy -  essentially exploiting specific hostilities to mobilize their base - is many times the Republican central plan for achieving their agenda. And the more ignorant Americans are, the easier it is to skew public understanding and feed them misinformation.

The frightening aspect, in an atmosphere of public ignorance and apathy, is that liars go unchecked; glitzy superficial, sensationalized 24/7 news streams replace real journalism; truth is replaced with propaganda; and ultimately, the unenlightened masses ring the death knell of democracy.

So,  is the decline of civic learning in American schools a coincidence or a conspiracy, or a combination of the two?  Is it reasonable to deduct that if the outcome benefits a certain group of people, that that outcome was planned, or is it more complicated?

* The 14th Amendment to the Constitution affirms that all persons born in the U.S. are citizens, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Following the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves, the 14th Amendment restated the longstanding principle of birthright citizenship. This right was temporarily erased by the Supreme Court's "Dred Scott" (1857) decision that denied birthright citizenship to American born children of slaves, essentially overruled by the 14th amendment in 1868.

Links: 
American Immigration Council - The American Immigration Council (formerly the American Immigration Law Foundation) was established in 1987 as an IRS designated 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, not-for-profit educational, charitable organization. The mission of the American Immigration Council is to strengthen America by honoring our immigrant history and shaping how Americans think and act towards immigration now and in the future. [...] Their motto is: Honoring our immigrant past; shaping our immigrant future.

Center For Civic Education

icivics  - Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor web site and interactive civics curriculum in hopes of "fostering a deeper understanding of American government among schoolchildren".

Tea Party Jesus "The words of Christians in the mouth of Christ." The "words" are quotes from conservatives who has Jesus saying things like: "I cannot believe that a bunch of lacy-drawered, limp-wristed people could do what those men have done in the past" regarding gays in the military. And "We could put landmines along the border. I know it sounds crazy" regarding how to deter illegals.

Texas Republicans Join Arizona's Hard-line Anti-Immigrant Stance
"They also approved a slate of legislative priorities that calls for bringing Arizona-like immigration laws to Texas, specifically making it a Class A misdemeanor for an undocumented worker to be in the state and requiring law enforcement to verify citizenship when a person is arrested."

5 comments:

butch,  12:04  

I don't like what's happening to this country in the 21st century. I know immigrants were never welcomed with open arms despite what we're supposed to represent but at least there was no excuse for ignorance. Citizens were educated from early on. That we are a nation of immigrants - a melting pot.

Especially now, when it's clear that we're undergoing huge transformation, it's more important than ever that we have an educated citizenry.

Roth's stepchild 14:00  

I couldn't agree more. It's the exceptional level of innovation, that made this country great, and immigrants contributed to that spirit immensely.

Dumbing down our citizenry and at the same time restricting immigration is a recipe for disaster.

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