Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What is the Constitution Anyway?

Our schools don’t teach this stuff.

The U.S. Constitution has been in the news more in recent years than at any time that I can remember. Many Republicans have been throwing temper tantrums about the Constitution. They screech and whine and holler that they just love it eversomuch, but they’re usually wrong about what it says.

Schools used to teach “Civics”, which concerns the rules by which our governments are organized and how they operate. Then the schools stopped teaching civics for a while; it just wasn’t fashionable. Now, some schools teach it and some don’t. When they do teach it, they do it very poorly. And today, America has two generations of citizens who have no idea how our own government works. But that doesn’t stop them all from hollering at each other.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving, the U.S. Constitution, and American Ignorance

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. American teachers tell us that we created the holiday to give thanks for the Pilgrims’ relatively safe completion of their first year in the New World. There were some offerings of thanks in that regard, but official Thanksgiving celebrations made only sporadic appearances in history until Congress declared a national holiday to honor the Civil War dead, wounded, and families in 1863.

But the first federal Thanksgiving Day Proclamation wasn’t about Pilgrims, or a difficult winter, or a civil war. It was about government. In 1789 Congress asked President George Washington to proclaim a day of thanks for the United States Constitution. The Constitution was about sixteen months old when Washington issued his proclamation on October 3, 1789. America celebrated its first Thanksgiving Day as a nation on November 26.
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