Ken Connor

'It’s like One Direction,' one contestant said of the performance, referring to the popular boy band."

Beckel demanded an apology on air, and contacted the network directly to request an explanation for the stunt. This Monday, CBS issued a statement of apology.

As someone who remembers well the turbulence and strife of America's Vietnam era, I share Mr. Beckel's disgust at CBS's thoughtless exploitation of a hallowed piece of American history. Hearing this story only reinforces the growing sense that America is increasingly becoming a nation utterly ignorant of its own history – a people so obsessed with the false world of cyberland and "reality" television that they, like Mr. Banks, can't see past the end of their noses. It apparently never occurred to the producers of the show that festooning the wreckage of a downed war plane with plastic game show paraphernalia might offend the thousands of living Vietnam veterans, not to mention the rest of our Armed Forces and their families. Next thing we know they'll be requesting to conduct a contestant challenge at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery!

Clearly, the concept of appropriateness has been utterly perverted in American society. Organizations like the ACLU get up in arms over a cross memorial dedicated to fallen soldiers on a California mountaintop, but see nothing wrong with using a downed warplane as a game show prop. Our culture celebrates irreverence and irony to the point where shows like "Saturday Night Live" portraying Jesus Christ as a machine-gun wielding avenger or Seinfeld creator Larry David urinating on a picture of the Christian god in an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is seen as hilarious, and anyone who gets offended is dismissed as uptight and hypersensitive. Of course, it is usually Christianity and institutions generally associated with conservatism and the Republican Party that are insulted with impunity, while issues and demographics sacrosanct to Progressives are insulated from insults and mockery.

There was a time when America was united by a shared sense of national pride and cultural identity. Regardless of what side of the political spectrum one fell on, there was a general sense of pride in being an American and a respect for our foundational institutions. Our boys (and girls) in uniform were generally appreciated and accorded a basic level of respect and honor. As I and many others like Mr. Beckel remember all too well, the Vietnam War in many ways signaled a great turning point in American culture. For the first time our returning soldiers were greeted with scorn. The unpopularity of the war, which should have been properly a political issue, ended up smearing the reputation of our Armed Forces, a stigma from which they've never fully recovered.

This cultural shift has been accompanied by the general dumbing down of the American populace. High school graduates enter college with a pathetic grasp of American civics and history, and rarely is this deficiency corrected. Co-eds are discouraged from imbibing classical education – the stuff of dead old white men – and are instead indoctrinated with the prevailing Progressive agenda: God is bad, sex (with anyone, at any time, and without consequence) is good, and big government is best. Pair this with a generation that has tuned in, turned on, and dropped out of the real world in favor of cyber-reality and it's no wonder our culture has become a celluloid wasteland.

Kudos to Bob Beckel for drawing attention to this issue and calling CBS on the carpet for their callous insensitivity. It's a good thing that CBS stepped up and issued an apology as requested, but I doubt many Americans are paying attention. They are too busy talking about Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj's latest spat on American Idol, or tweeting about the crazy antics of their favorite reality TV star.

I would caution these folks that those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it, but I fear we're already well on our way down the proverbial primrose path, to the great detriment of our children and grandchildren.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.