Missive to a Millennial

by G. Murphy Donovan (May 2016)

“You speak like a green girl, unsifted in such perilous circumstances.” – Shakespeare

[Sophomore year at college continues to live up to its reputation. A student we know often sends me her draft “research” papers before she turns them in. I usually confine my critique to form and leave content to her instructors. However, her recent paper was such a rant that I waded into the swamp of campus blather that passes for conventional wisdom today. My response to her essay follows bellow. Names have been changed to protect the innocents.]

Dear Daisy,

Some specific quibbles follow.

Maybe Putin, Bush, Sarah Palin, global warming, and public television can share some of the blame too.

musterbaters. A mind might be a terrible thing to waste, but that train has already left the station. The K through 12 rot in the American public school system is now generational. The very same folks who received credentials instead of an education now run the public schoolhouse. Functional illiteracy is now a self-fulfilling prophesy.

America has the most expensive dystopic and despotic school system on the planet. If schools could be sued for malpractice, faculty and student performance would improve overnight. Tweets, Instagrams, a Facebook page, “likes,” and a rap remix will never make you market worthy.

Understand if you will, universities and governments are institutions capable of making spare parts for themselves. You will not have that superpower as an entrepreneur or market employee.

Once upon a time, a liberal arts education began with two years of mandatory courses, followed by a couple of years of specialized concentration. The early emphasis was rhetoric: critical reading, logic, speech or debate, and writing. Science was called natural philosophy in those days. If you could not master critical rhetorical skills, you would get the gate before a third year. Rhetorical skills have been the mark of an educated man or woman since Plato was a pup. Nothing has changed today except the frivolous schoolhouse where inmates now run the asylum. 

Today, students are abandoned to indulgence, left to recognize the basic skills necessary for success. Many do not.

American schooling at the elementary and HS levels is a disaster today because those at the bottom of the baccalaureate barrel find refuge there as teachers. 

Individual and institutional failure is usually a function of will, sloth, or character, not tooth fairies. If individuals take credit for success, they must also accept the debits of failure. The most useful tool for measuring personal achievement, or lack of it, is a mirror. Alas, reflection seems not to be a campus value these days.

Nazis, totalitarian socialists, and fascists are a phenomenon of the left. National Socialism was once the polite moniker for a small group of anti-Semites who consigned your European ancestors to the ovens. Communists did much the same only with larger numbers. Slavery, racial bigotry, and a hundred years of neo-fascist segregation is a legacy of the American left here at home too. When you are calling names, you must remember to call Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan what they were: Republicans not Dixiecrats.

We get change daily, like it or not. The passage of time is not necessarily progress. History moves in two directions, forward and backwards. You are the future. You get to pick. Choose well.

We are as always,

G. Murphy Donovan usually writes about the politics of national security.


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