What is the American Creed? That is a question David Gelernter asks in his book, America-Lite. He has been on my radio program to talk about his book and his op-ed that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
He is a fascinating individual. He received two degrees in classical Hebrew literature, but then became a professor of computer science at Yale University. Some have called him a “rock star” in the world of computing. You might also remember that he was one of the people who was critically injured when he opened a mail bomb sent by “the Unabomber.”
He believes that we need to return to the principles that made this country great. Unfortunately, he says “many of us don’t know what they are, or think they can’t work.” He blames the public schools and the academy for their failure to pass on the basic ideals that have served America so well for centuries.
He laments that: “Almost no one believes that our public schools are doing a passable job of teaching American and Western civilization.” Textbooks and class lectures in our education system today often start with the assumption that America and Western ideals are bad for civilization. He concludes that: “Many American children have never heard a good word for the United States, the West, Judaism or Christianity their whole lives.”
He also laments that our “American culture is in the hands of intellectuals” which he says are usually people “born with high IQ and low common sense.” He gives lots of examples of this. You can probably think of many other examples of people who are very bright but lacking in basic common sense.
America’s creed is quite simple: “Freedom, equality, democracy and America as the promised land.” The early founders believed in America as a city on a hill, as did many presidents right up to President Reagan.
It is time to use our American creed to evaluate those who are teaching our kids and those who are leading our nation.