A music teacher in an inner-city Michigan grade school is getting an earful from the higher-ups about the type of songs she can use in her classroom.

According to the April 17 issue of the Rutherford Institute‘s Insider, the teacher isn’t in trouble for having the children sing lines from the latest Snoop Dogg rap album or even getting the tykes to trot out with something as strictly verboten as “Jesus Loves Me.”

No, said the Insider, “school administrators informed her that she could not use any songs in class that contain the words ‘freedom’ or ‘liberty.'” Why not, you might wonder. Simple: “Because some children in the school are not U.S. citizens.”

I won’t bother raising my hand before asking the following questions:

  • Since when did freedom and liberty become exclusively American?

  • Since when did they become so offensive to foreigners? Immigrants used to doff their digs and come here for those things.

  • What’s more, since when do we give a rip if they are offensive to foreigners?

As imperfectly as we protect and defend our liberties, Americans should be proud of them. We should exult in the providence that took Hebraic legal tradition, hundreds of years of English common law, the guts, wits and wisdom of a few pasty, colonial landholders and distilled it into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

While Rutherford is looking to take a whack at the offending educrats in Michigan, we should use this example as a temperature reading of how chilling the atmosphere is to traditional American values the nation over.

Beyond that, we need to reflect upon the fact that as traditionally American as those values may be, they are not exclusively American. Championing freedom around the globe is just as important as it is in the classrooms – which also provides a nice comparison with which to judge the public-school establishment:

The people most opposed to the propagation of freedom abroad are typically the dictators and strongmen who stand everything to lose if liberty should prevail in their countries. They value their power and pelf more than others’ freedom.

So, dispensing with the hypersensitive hogwash, it’s clear that the reason teachers are being forbidden to utter the words “freedom” and “liberty” has little to do with offending foreigners, as was suggested, and a lot more to do with the fact that educrats simply don’t put a high value on freedom and liberty.

For these mini dictators, freedom and liberty are all well and good so far as they go, but they’re not so important that we can’t shut up about them if a few kids and their parents get flustered over the fact.

Back to reality for a moment: Even if people are so sensitive they break out in rashes over use of the words, gagging a pedagogue in this manner is hardly defensible.

This isn’t as simple as some misguided separation-of-church-and-state argument, where folks quickly concede to a position at which the founders would have laughed out loud. This is like separating government from government:

    We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed. …

Governments are instituted to secure liberty. So keeping a public school teacher from using the word “liberty” in a song is tantamount to the separation of the government and its very purpose for existing. As the founders were well-aware, this is precisely the junction at which tyranny arises in a society.

When the government values other things above the life, liberty and property of its citizens, the citizens had better watch out – you can read the rest of the Declaration to see what happens next.

Forbidding a teacher from chirping choruses with “freedom” won’t roll us into a dictatorship tomorrow. But when public school officials – the people entrusted with your children’s education – don’t value freedom and traditional American liberties, you can rest assured that plenty of kids coming out of those propaganda mills won’t either, and creating a few generations of children that don’t respect basic liberties is the surest way to lose them.

Related column:

Overgrowing education

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