An island for children in shark-infested waters

Moral relativism at home and multiculturalism in school are catastrophic for children, writes Elizabeth Nickson in Canada’s National Post. She says left-wing boomers are turning right to save their children.

Two books published just recently, were written by former ’60s radicals, pushed right by the terrible plight of kids, and (spare me the invective from the union hate mail tree) by the sheer backwards idiocy that informs the teachers’ unions. The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children did not hail from some right-wing think-tank, it is written by Robert Shaw, a psychiatrist who practices in Berkeley, Calif. Equally, Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice was written by Sol Stern, like my pal Howie Siegel, a New York Jew, who first embraced with fervour the once great public school P.S. 87 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the spiritual home of American socialism, and found that he had to tutor his kids in four out of the five subjects that they were taking. Both books serve as object lessons in why conservatives own the future.

Dr. Shaw lays out what he has seen in his long and (trust me) glittering career, and the only way out, he says, is essentially to sheer off from contemporary culture, somewhat like religious conservatives, and make your family an island. Otherwise, your kids will not be fit for adult life. School massacres, he points out, almost invariably take place in middle or upper-middle class schools, like Columbine, as do lesser shames like last year’s hazing incident that turned into an orgy of violence by upper-middle class girls in suburban Chicago. Not a function of poverty, he says, these homes are considered “ideal” where the child’s every need is filled, and the attempted atmosphere, serene, totally self-expressive and free from frustration. Not only that, a whole list of educational leisure time activities is laid on, because everyone is going to Harvard. The parents are too busy making money to supervise anyone. Caregivers change repeatedly, leaving the kids in charge of their own psychological and moral development. . . . “The human soul,” says Dr. Shaw, “prospers by sharing, caring, relating, understanding, fulfilling. … many children today are inadvertently being raised to take and never give back, to accumulate but never share, to own but never value.”

I think this is a parenting issue, not a school problem. But read it yourself to see if you think Nickson makes the case successfully.

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  1. An excellent book that strikes a similar chord is Harry Stein’s How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Both he and his wife were ’60s radicals who embraces their cause wholly.

    Until they had kids and realized what a moral vacuum the left cultivates.

  2. Perhaps I’m missing something, but where precisely does Nickson actually draw a connection between MULTICULTURALISM and the problems she describes? I’ll grant that the increasing propensity of kids to cheat on tests and to engage in sexual activity in elementary school can be chalked up to moral relativism, but I fail to see how, say, teaching kids about Chanukah and Ramadan give way to the varieties of moral rot that Nickson catalogues.

  3. Also, in general, Elizabeth Nickson isn’t the most reliable of columnists; she is more committed to defending her own ideology than she is to faithfully analyzing her sources, and she has written a number of pieces in which she defended conspiracy theories that happened to support her own conclusions. Most egregiously, five or so years ago, Nickson defended Peggy Claude-Pierre, the director of a controversial anorexia clinic in Victoria, BC that was later forcibly shut down after an inquiry revealed that its employees had no useful training, and that moreover, they were putting the clinic’s patients’ lives at risk. Claude-Pierre had been featured favourably on Oprah, 20/20, Maury Povich, and other such shows, but by the time Nickson profiled her, her supporters were few. But despite overwhelming evidence that Claude-Pierre was a crank, Nickson somehow concluded that all of the opposition to her was based on a left-wing conspiracy against privatized health care. This article isn’t quite as bad, but it’s another example of Nickson skipping over arguments in a rush to defend her conclusion.

  4. Just hours before I popped on and read this, Shaw’s book caught my eye on Amazon and I ordered it through our library system. Any wonder that our library system in one of the wealthiest areas of the country, Westchester County, NY, holds multiple copies of this book? I’m in the process of getting a teaching certification and unfortunately my first milestone is mastering a unit on diveristy and multiculturalism. What a waste, both personally and educationally.

  5. Didn’t Nickson also once write a column on why women probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote?

  6. jeff wright says:

    Don’t kill the messenger, folks. This is more of a book review than an editorial. Read the damned books and then write about them. Also ask yourselves why children and the schools are in the dumper and why an awful lot of people find ours to be an increasingly crass and corrupt society.

    Sol Stern was a giant of liberal thinking. His turnaround deserves a lot of attention. Then there are folks such as P.J. O’Rourke and Dennis Miller. Just why have these prominent lefties and countless others turned to the right? Must be the water.

    Ad hominem.

  7. Try watching South Park. This subject is explored in great depth in some of the most biting satires imagineable.

    The political categories that are referenced above are virtually meaningless. Conservative and liberal don’t mean what they used to mean. In general, conservative now identifies anybody who is mean enough to suggest that any action has a cost. Liberal now identifies those who believe that everything could be afforded if only the mean Daddy would give it.

    I raised two children. Somebody, either my wife or me, was always at home. To my own shame, I did not give my children the extensive religious indoctrination my father gave me. (I am not a pious religious person. I go to church every other month. Children need a religious indoctrination when they are young so that they have the opportunity to make an informed decision about religion when they reach maturity. If they do not receive this indoctrination, they are robbed of that opportunity.)

    This may seem unrelated, but it is not. As a former member of the left, I can state with certainty that sex and love are failing miserably in the leftist community. An odd ideology has arisen in that community. Theoretical adherence to grand ideals about sex and love trump the reality of human experience. This has lead to disaster. Sexual misery and failure at love are now endemic within the leftist community, and I know this from experience and observation. Everything else flows from this.