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Milton Friedman's Victory

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Eddie Adams

WASHINGTON -- Who is buried in Grant's Tomb? Actually, Ulysses S. Grant is buried in Grant's Tomb, which comes as a bit of a surprise to young Americans educated in our modern educational factories, all airconditioned, with counselors on every floor and armed guards patrolling the halls. Also, there are psychiatrists on duty daily for troubled students who may have encountered a rude word in their textbooks.


Harry Truman -- the 33rd president of the United States, for the ill-informed -- certainly knew who Ulysses S. Grant was. Truman was only educated in a one-room schoolhouse, but he did learn Latin and Greek in that one-room schoolhouse. He knew that Grant won the Civil War and with the help of another obscure American figure, Abraham Lincoln, they saved the Union.

Today's youths take little history. Most of today's students have no time for history or for that matter for algebra, geometry or gym class. Their days at school are taken up by courses in anger management, sex education and films on how to be nice to transgender folk. Actually, there are films about how to be nice to everyone.

I have been reading history for years, often to assist me in my journalistic pursuits. Otherwise, I read history for pleasure. I find history more absorbing than most modern novels. Presently I am reading "Jerusalem: The Biography" by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It is a huge tome but worth the effort. I often think that the early Christian Church harangued the faithful excessively about such things as murder, torture, slavery and other brutalities that we modern Americans never encounter in everyday life. However, after reading Montefiore, I am about to pipe down in my criticism of the early Church. The ancient world abounded with ceaseless atrocities. Maybe we do not encounter the bestiality that filled the world when the early Church was getting started, but possibly admonitions against such atrocious behavior are not a waste of time after all. Such brutality the historian Montefiore demonstrates has existed for thousands of years, and it can return again. Consider what is happening in Ukraine. Consider what is happening in the rest of the non-democratic world.


A nation that is not familiar with history remains in the dark as to what horrors might await it. Remember the Nazis and the Holocaust. You do not have to go back very far to witness atrocities being authored by mankind. That is why our schools once taught civics along with history. Civics was usually a very boring study, but it was essential to a well-educated individual. We would not have all the hysterical nonsense about voter registration and all the canards that go with it if our graduates left school well-grounded in civics.

There was a day in America when we could look to teachers to serve as founts of good sense. That day is gone. All the aforementioned courses in anger management and sexual hygiene have replaced the courses in civics and history, to say nothing of simple math and spelling. Today's teachers are ideologues spouting insanity that they insist is progressive thought. It will lead to a nation of dunces.

There is an alternative to the public schools that teach ideological pish posh, however. It is school choice, what Milton Friedman called the voucher system. When he began calling for state governments to set aside monies for parents to spend on the education system of their choice, people thought he was crazy. The teachers unions in particular thought he was crazy. Yet Milton persisted, and the teachers unions persisted. Milton and those who thought as he did persisted in calling for school choice to be paid for with state-funded vouchers. The teachers unions persisted in forcing their ideological bunk on students and having taxpayers pay for it. It took Milton a lifetime to popularize vouchers, but my guess is that today he is winning.


Vouchers are the wave of the future in education. In some school districts, they are the wave of the present day. Meanwhile, the teachers unions get more extreme. Now they are rewriting works of fiction by people such as Ernest Hemingway so that some students will not be disturbed by what they read. The ideologues have come up with something called "trigger warnings" to alert the delicate students of stormy weather ahead.

It is all claptrap. The teachers unions days are numbered. The Friedmanites are the wave of the future. It is a shame that Milton is not here to witness it. Yet if he had survived, he would be 110 years of age. That is almost as old as Joe Biden.

Glory to Ukraine!

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.


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