Education

Most Americans Would Fail a Citizenship Test

When Americans don't know what it means to be American, we will lose Liberty.

Robin Smith · Feb. 25, 2019

Why are Millennials embracing socialism as an acceptable philosophical approach to markets? Why is the public at large not just laughing when the political Left attempts to tie the anti-Semitism and perversion of Christianity practiced by Nazis to the political Right? Why are we seeing a growing embrace of victimhood and weakness as honorable instead of achievement and deliberate pursuits of distinguished goals? Why do individuals who refuse to value citizenship but want socialism fail to see that those coming into America illegally do so either with nefarious intent or because they are fleeing big, socialist government?

Better yet, how’d we get here to this mess and how can we make an urgent, existential correction? Believing Thomas Jefferson’s statement to be true, Americans need to think through and understand the implications: “A nation has never been ignorant and free; that has never been and will never be.”

The Wall Street Journal opined last fall over the “embarrassing” number of Americans who failed the same civics test administered to those working through the naturalization process to become a U.S. Citizens. Writing about the abysmal 19% of individuals 45 years of age or younger who successfully answered enough questions about America’s history and government to pass, the editorial board blared that this “reflects the declining state of American public schools. None of this augurs well for the future of self-government.”

No, criticism of so many of America’s public schools and our government-run education is not excessively harsh.

On Feb. 15, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, housed at Princeton University, issued a damning press release publishing results of a 50-state survey asking 41,000 Americans the same 20 questions testing civic knowledge that are part of the naturalization process. The questions ranged from inquiring how many amendments are enjoined to the U.S. Constitution to identifying one of the rights enumerated in the First Amendment to which war former President Dwight D. Eisenhower served in prior to his election.

The results were truly shameful. Only one state, Vermont, saw the majority of its participants pass — and even then, 47% failed. Had 70% or higher been deemed the passing threshold, not one state would have had a majority of individuals pass. The worst-performing state was Louisiana, with 73% who failed. That percentage climbed to 82% if you include those correctly answering as few as 12 of the 20 questions.

Simply put, the facts of history have been rewritten, the roles of history have been recast, and the value of exceptionalism has been substituted with warmed-up mediocrity as the new normal to equalize the masses. Call it indoctrination, propaganda, or some other moniker attempting to capture the breadth, width, and reach of our current chaotic conundrum, but understand one thing: The great nation of America is being destroyed by Americans, not some foreign enemy. Those rewriting history and recasting the roles, good and bad, to fit today’s culture and political agendas are truly deconstructing our nation, most knowing they must create an ignorance of just how America became great through its unique constitutional republic and individualism that breeds self-reliance and exceptionalism, ingredients that do not coexist with socialism, communism, or all the other -isms that create a permanent underclass dependent upon big government.

Americans young, old, learned, and ignorant, love and herald the demand for Liberty. Yet, most live as if the prospects of freedom are made possible by obtaining some freeze-dried packet that comes with the instructions to just add water and, voila, the benefits of living in a constitutional republic abound. The expectation of free speech exists as an ever-safe constant without an understanding of the requirement to foster, protect and ensure our enumerated rights through a free and independent people.

If generation after generation of students are told and accept as truth the myth that the government has the jurisdiction and even the duty to provide a wage without work, free health insurance, free tuition, free food, price-controlled housing, and a host of other goodies for dependents living off of other people’s money, America dies — as does every aspect of freedom enjoyed by our citizens.

As the WSJ noted, “The real threat to American freedom is the failure of current citizens to learn even the most basic facts about U.S. history and government.”

Every state needs to pass its own legislation to address the lack of history taught and the horrific proficiency of critical information about America’s truly exceptional history. Equally important, every single adult who has a child, a grandchild or some other mind malleable within reach must serve as a First Teacher to ensure our children learn and grow into citizens who are capable of what James Madison spoke of as a permanently free people who serve as guardians of true Liberty.

As The Patriot Post’s motto says, “Veritas Vos Liberabit” — the truth will set you free.

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