According to an Education Trust report issued this week, nearly a quarter of recent high school graduates who attempted to join the army between 2005 and 2009 were rejected because of their inability to score at least 31 out of 99 on a test of basic reading, science, and math skills. The Pentagon is said to be especially nervous about this high rate of failure because 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don't even qualify to take the test by virtue of being physically unfit, having a criminal record, or having not graduated from high school. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has admitted, "I am deeply troubled by the national security burden created by America's under-performing education system." This from a man who can't even spell Arnie!
Have we as a people become so despondent and listless under the jackboot of Obamarixt tyranny as to have learned nothing from Gov. Sarah Palin’s ascension to the uppermost tier of American political theorists and leaders? Are we really oblivious to the fact that it isn’t all about the sort of intelligence tests of this sort measure? Has Gov. Palin's having come to embody the hopes and dreams of countless millions not made clear that sometimes being wily, or even just gorgeous, is at least as good as a lot of showoffy book-learning of the sort favored at expensive East Coast universities in which liberal elitists plot against their average, hard-working, God-fearing neighbors? And what of street smarts? How many young persons who have them in profusion are we barring from military service because their dozen-or-so years in public and other schools left them unable to successfully confront such questions as If 2 plus X equals 4, what is the value of X? That’s algebra (or al-Gebra, or al-Qaida!) — many of whose methods, not to mention name, derive from Arabic/Islamic mathematics — and I say to hell with it!
As for the military, the answer — in view of the great success we had in Iraq bribing insurgents to come over to the side of freedom, democracy, and time-honored American values — is obviously to hire as our soldiers, sailors, flyboys, and what have you residents of miserable Third World countries who will, for a stylish uniform, warm barracks, delicious freeze-dried American rations in pouches, and a fraction of what we have to pay our own young people, eagerly defend our way of life.
It’s a win-win situation. Our way of life gets defended, tens of thousands of residents of the world’s most miserable countries get to sleep with full bellies in dry warmth, and our young people get to keep eating as many s’mores as they please, and spend their hours in school sleeping or sending subliterate text messages, without fear of being placed in the path of Taliban or al-Qaida bullets. Common sense conservatism!
In other news, there’s been considerable ballyhoo lately about the movie The King’s Speech, about King George VI’s stammering. I believe that those in whose veins (not to mention arteries!) royal blood flows ought to be able to be able to hire speech therapists — and ghostwriters, and press secretaries! — but I’m not so sure about ordinary folk. I had a classmate in junior high school who stammered so badly while delivering a report in science class one morning that he wet his pants, and burst into tears of shame, and was never heard from again. Some might argue that the teacher was a sadist for compelling him to continue even when it became clear that he could barely get a word out, but I’m not at all sure that those with embarrassing infirmities shouldn't be encouraged to make a spectacle of themselves in front of us normal folk. God must have made them weird for a reason, and I suspect it was to make the rest of us hesitant to have anything to do with them, and thus keep the race strong and proud. For that, no one need apologize!