They shook hands.
I confess I was surprised, but both men dispelled a general belief many hold about them as types. So I hope people came away edified.
To see what I mean, watch here, just over six minutes: Carlson-Dreyfuss interview
Tucker is a few months older than my oldest son, Generation X, and both comprise only a handful from that generation I consider to be wise. Richard Dreyfuss is a couple of years my junior, so is a Baby Boomer. I had always assumed him to be a liberal, but if he is, he is likely not of the left, even though he has had for many years carried the morose, humorless disapproving look of a Pilgrim which most identifies the Left today.
So, much to my delight, as it seemed for Tucker Carlson, Richard Dreyfuss turned out to be a genuine constitutionalist.
Moreover, Dreyfuss brought to the discussion insights Carlson’s generation cannot claim, even though, yes, he is also over 30…meaning he, like my son, graduated college before Bill Clinton moved into the White House, and know who Monica Lewinsky is without having to look her up on Wikipedia.
Still, they have no first-hand knowledge about certain laws of generations and how the culture is passed on, and with it, in America’s case, the blueprint of individual freedom.
You see, this absence of Civics in young Americans’ core education experience is much more than just a topic of discussion for a 6-minute segment of a news opinion show. Richard Dreyfuss has given Civics, rather its absence, the attention it deserves, and I have no doubt that the fear dwells inside him that he may still be playing small ball with his DreyfussCivicsInitiative, and that time may indeed be short if we don’t attack the problem on a much larger scale, and quickly…or like Guam, we may be only a generation away from tipping over and sinking into the sea.
That’s a fear I share, because like Richard Dreyfuss who launched this project, we both know we may never live to see it succeed but may well live to see it fail…for our generation does seem to be the last repository of real-life memories of how the original engine has worked for the past 250 years. My son and Tucker prove that is on an ever-accelerating slope with their generation, and the next. Richard Dreyfuss aims to stop it.
The essence of the American theology of liberty, its basics, were passed to our generation virtually untouched since the early 1700s until the mid-1960s, and if there was a fumbled hand-off in all those years of exchanges, it began on our watch.
Tucker Carlson’s generation has all the tools to dissect this process, and may well be the last to even know to try it. Yet, as the recent election proved, when the common men and women of this country who also are over 30 spoke, many of the Gen Y conservatives on the right wanted nothing to do with those great unwashed. Many were Tucker’s friends.
Of course, we now know that this general ignorance of civic education has been intentional. If you knew me at RedState.com (2009-2011) it was a regular drumbeat with me there, and may even have contributed to my being shown the door, for the subject was at best un-hip, worst, boring fro younger minds..
By contrast, what one could not help but notice is the sense of urgency in Richard Dreyfuss, versus the somewhat mañana, it’s-good-topic-today but-I-need-a-new-topic-tomorrow, attitude of even the best of television and magazine journalism. This is not a criticism, just a statement of cultural fact about how the world appears to people depending on where they reside on the generational scale. So only a few people heed such warnings, most do not. So if political television such as Tucker Carlson’s new Fox show has a practical purpose it’s to light a fire among viewers, a la Sam Adams, who will then take a 6-minute small-ball moment in his studio turn it into a major league, big-ball effort…while Tucker can continue to hector young skulls filled with mush who believe breast-feeding was only “invented” in he early 20th Century and that Gerber’s baby formula was available to the pharaohs so that a lot of laughs can be had by all. A new idiot will reveal hei/ or herself tomorrow, same hour, same station. That’s business.
Dreyfuss is not about business, but survival.
So am I, and my job then is try to take that sense of urgency to the major league level, for it is very real.
In the 1980’s, just barely 40, I wrote an environmental thinking piece which I thought worthy of immediate noteworthiness so submitted it to “National Review”. I forget the editor, (I knew a couple) but the reply simply stated, “we’ve already done an environmental piece this month.”
Not exactly cognitive dissonance, a type of denial we associate generally with the Left, but lately millennials who seem to have been conditioned K-thru-college, to resist any reality or challenge to their world view, Mr Dreyfuss’ and my generation can see this disconnect from reality more clearly. Every parent assumes that part of the education provided their children includes reality walking up and slapping them in the face and they would then react accordingly, just as had all the generations before them, since 1690.
Only we have reached a time and a generation that has been trained to reject it.
Not many of Generation Y’s better minds can see in this any urgency, while my generation, the Baby Boomers, largely do. A fatal societal disconnect. There isn’t a week goes by that I don’t see a thing in our culture that I wish I could have noticed 45 years ago, and again, 30 years ago, raising my sons, and which today I now see as potentially outcome determinative.
True, part of my sense of urgency is simply getting a hold on my own sense of mortality. But that sense can never be more accentuated that when you see problems for which their solutions must be set into motion now, as in NOW, and which I will never live to see to come to fruition. I once called this the “Johnny Appleseed effect” as when we go along planting seeds, then moving onto the next valley to plant more trees, never looking back to see how that last valley made out…but under a firm confidence that most of those trees would survive.
Our parents (the WWII generation) and actually every generation before them, planted those seeds with just sort of confidence, in part, however ignorant they may have been in book-learning of the scholarly sort, they grew old knowing that their schools and churches or other forms of moral teaching would teach their children the tools to confront the real world, so that when the real world reached up and slapped them in the face, as this peculiar American-style constitutional blueprint had designed it, they would be able to adapt.
I don’t know Richard Dreyfuss’ ideologies, but assume he was, like me, a liberal in his youth. As I’ve told the story many times, I quit being one in 1976, at age 31, when Mary McGrory announced that in order to be member of the “New Liberalism” I had to ally myself with ideologies I despised, and even broadcast in the way I spoke and wrote a solidarity with not only people, but entire foreign governments, that I was allied with them. I was just a tree-hugging environmentalist who wanted to save wild rivers, only to realize I could no longer be a “real environmentalist’ if I also believed in God, or later, the ideal of an absolute Truth, which sort of brings us back to cognitive dissonance, for most of those Truths are wrapped up in that Reality we rely on walking up and slapping our children in the face some day, as had occurred the 250 years of our existence in this land.
So I quit being a liberal.
You see, Civics, as it was known in my day, was part of that process the public schools were designed to develop in American kids; part patriotism, part common sense, part survival skills, part get-ahead skills, for dealing with the world specially designed for American freedom and free markets and its lucky inheritors. In 9th Grade we got Civics, in 11th Grade we got American Government, then in 12th, American History. building blocks to citizenship.
Civics was the set-up, the Introduction to Americanism, as it were, without which, there were would be no “why of America” to precede the course outlining the blueprint of America’s government. Without Civics, American Government would be no more relevant to a young 17-year old student than the owner’s manual to his mother’s GE Mixmaster.
As it turned out, in the 1990s, I actually was given the opportunity to prove the survival-enhancing relevance of Civics when I was hired by a small Cincinnati business college to teach American Government courses to predominantly urban black women, seeking associate degrees so that they could go out into the world and fend for themselves and their children after Congress cut off their AFDC. (Most were excited, only a few afraid, while only a couple were angry, as if something had been robbed them.)
Going in, I knew those ladies would find nothing in an American Government course that would interest them, and that they had probably slept through a similar course in high school only 3-4 years earlier: three branches of government, checks and balances, and all that. So, since I had taken Civics in my own 9th Grade, around 1960, I decided to merge it with the American Government text, and teach entirely from the view point of “relevance to these young men and women’s lives going forward”, from taxes, to jobs, to the importance of voting, and even some mention about how nice it would be if they could get married and fill out their house with a permanent man. But mostly the course was about what the Indians called “the seasons of things”; continuity, the shoulders they stand on (most were two generations removed from northern Alabama) and why everything, THEIR HOUSE, depended on their being able to pass those key critical survival-enhancing tools onto their children, playing across the hall in the nursery.
For me, it was an amazing success. Students stayed after class to ask questions. I gave them book lists, including three copies of “the Federalist”. One student, a 6’3, 240 lb kid out on bond even blew off his hubcap-stealing partner who barged in one day and whispered loudly, “Anthony, let’s go.” And Anthony replied, “No, I’m listening to the man.”
Tell me, what finer compliment can a teacher ever be paid?
This was mid 1990s, so those students were Generation Y, and I was pleased I could connect with them, so I stayed with them for three years until I began traveling more regularly to the Balkans, practicing another part of my ministry, small business and free market capitalism.
I’ve said nothing here Richard Dreyfuss does not already know. The teaching of Civics is as much the teaching of a sense of place and belonging, and of generational renewal as it is about the long list of items one must learn for a Boy Scout Citizenship merit badge. As my (wise) 46-year old son once told me, “…if people can visualize where they fit in the long line of their own family’s place in America, and where their children will fit next in line, there will be less divorce, and fewer tattoos. ”
That is a wisdom I did not enjoy at a similar age.
You’ve heard me speak of the “American theology” in the past, and that is the essence of it, the (re-) creation, survival and regeneration of a moral society in both the Biblical and Darwinian sense, that is passed from one generation to the next
I bring up Darwin here, who sometimes agrees with God, especially about a “common morality” in almost every animal group, since this sense of urgency is largely felt by our entire baby Boomer generation, and while it may take on political overtones, as with the high demographic of over-50s, especially those without college degrees, who voted for Trump, there is a great deal of anxiety, even pain, found here. More than anger. Many people who voted for Trump see in their own pursuits of self in the 60s -and 70s their own failings in raising their children, perhaps by not providing a home basis for moral teaching or in ceding to public schools that moral teaching, and their apathy in not doing anything about it even though the signs were clear. Part anger, part guilt.
As the Europeans are proving today, having “un-reproduced” themselves out of existence, and having become a principal target of colonization from peoples who breed like rabbits who will make for a labor pool to keep their entrenched bureaucracies in power for maybe two generations more…there is such a thing as point of no return.
Regardless of his other politics, is he has any, Richard Dreyfuss sees the hand-writing on the wall, and is absolutely correct by seeing a reinsertion of the teaching of Civics, as it was known in the 1960s, real American citizenship, into the education system as 1) the main cog in restoring the original constitutional blueprint and 2), that the time remaining to accomplish it is limited.
I can’t believe Mr Dreyfuss does not also know that the American Left has understood the generational math of re-indoctrinating America in the same way the sharia-ists understand the math of a dying Europe…or that, should the people of Europe ever rise up to put his invasion down, it will be their own governments who will put down the rebellion. Violently.
The entire Washington establishment also knows this, just as the EU bureaucracies do, so they are in sympathy, (useful idiots) with the Left, under the similar illusion as the EU bureaucrats that they will be that ones the alligator will eat last.
This is why our generation chose Donald Trump. I will continue to beat home this sense of urgency as it exists in his voter base, lest he lose sight of it.
And I encourage, in the strongest terms, that people out there financially assist Richard Dreyfuss in being able to not only raise funds to make his Initiative into as large a major league big-ball project but also provide planning support as to how best to get maximum support from at least this administration, who should be sympathetic with the Initiative’s goals.
Steve Bannon, call your office.
Publications: Famous Common People I Have Known and Other Essays
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