Why gangs? Why shooters? The answer, my friend, is blowing through the schools.
The answer to the second question is simple enough: If you want to stop the rise and rise of gangs, then stop giving them an income stream. Stop giving them money. As any student of history can tell you, prohibition plays into the hands of gangsters. We've done the same thing here, and too few seem to want to recognise that.
Why do people join gangs? What makes someone drive through a crowd of young people with the intent to kill? I think the answer to both is the same, and to demonstrate the answer, let me tell you about young Katelynn Johnson (right), a student at Virginia Tech -- a 'Hokie' as they call themselves -- who had a rather enlightening reaction to a monument for the 32 dead 'Hokies' in the Virginia Tech shooting. This martyr to worthiness added a 33rd stone (to the monument, not to her weight). The 33rd stone, she explained, "was meant for the shooter."
When there was an outcry and someone removed the 33rd stone, this was Johnson's reaction:Well, I can say with certainty: "Yes, I am!" But Johnson, who is the very model of Progressive education, cannot. For her, as blogger Rob Tarr noted, her identification with the collective as a primary trumps everything; as does her complete inability and unwillingness to make any moral judgements whatsoever."'To see this community turn on one of its own no matter what he did is heartbreaking to me,' Johnson said. 'If we're a community, we're a community. If we're a family, we're a family. You can't pick and choose your family.'
"'We lost 33 Hokies that day, not 32,' she wrote. 'Who am I to judge who has value and who doesn't? I am not in that position. Are you?'"
Johnson is a perfect product of modern Progressive education, in which moral relativism and socialisation -- ie., identification with the collective -- are taught almost from birth as values that trump everything. As Glenn Woiceshyn explained after the Jonesboro shooting, Progressive education is "Socializing Students for Anarchy":
As you can see, moral relativism is only one part of modern failure, and Johnson isn't the only perfect product of modern Progressive education in the news. So too are school shooters, drive-through party killers, and gang members -- they're all part of the same coin. The overwhelming need to belong, the identification with a collective -- any collective -- is part of what explains the rise and rise of gangs; it is part of what makes them so attractive to members, and it is what Progressive education has succeeded in teaching these poor saps. That most gangs are tribal, and their members often Maori, is just a further aspect of that collectivism, a message of tribal socialization that would no doubt have resonated for young Maori.
According to the founder [of Progressive education], John Dewey, "The school is primarily a social institution," whose central purpose is not "science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography . . . but the child's own social activities." Our schools certainly embrace both parts of this doctrine: teachers now attend to the child's "social" needs as devoutly as they dismiss his intellectual ones. Why, then, is social conflict--rather than social harmony--escalating?
The answer is: precisely because of this doctrine.
The Progressive philosophy maintains that the cause of social strife is the unwillingness of an individual to sacrifice his convictions to the group. Dewey maintained that it is the insistence on distinctions such as "true versus false" and "right versus wrong" that generates social conflict. If only children did not hold strong ideas, disagreement and conflict would evaporate in the sunshine of social harmony. Truth, therefore, is socially fractious--while ignorance is bliss.Hence, what the Progressives mean by "socialization" is the surrender of one's mind--of one's independent knowledge and judgment--to a "group consensus."
For young hoods who shoot their fellow students or who mow down fellow party-goers with their cars, I think there's a similar thing going on: the collective and the need to belong trumps everything -- for these destructive bastards rejection by that collective is worse even than murder. At least murder gets them recognised.
As blogger Gus van Horn notes, to understand such an outlook, to get an inkling of how such an attitude is possible -- an attitude incubated in the Progressive education system delivered in the state's factory schools -- one need go no farther than this essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education that discusses US school shootings [emphasis has been added]:
[R]ampage school shootings are never spontaneous. Before they loaded a single weapon, [shooters] let fly with dozens of hints, ranging from vague comments like, "You'll see who lives or dies on Monday," to more-specific warnings to friends to "stay away from the school lobby." Those warnings started months before the shootings themselves. ...So the answer to that last question posed above should now be simple enough. What the hell is happening to this country? Answer: Progressive education.
Why do school shooters broadcast their intentions? They are trying to attract the attention of kids whom they hope will embrace them as friends but who have typically denied them the social status they crave. Michael [Carneal, for example] desperately wanted the acceptance of the "goth" group in his high school, which barely tolerated his presence. He posed as a delinquent when he was actually quite intellectual, passing off CDs he owned as stolen property. He stole pistols from his home and brought them to school as gifts for the most charismatic of the goths. "Not good enough," was the response. "We want rifles." No matter how hard Michael tried to change the way his peers saw him, nothing worked until the day he started fantasizing out loud about taking over the school and shooting people. That did work. He began to get attention. And once he had announced his intention, he risked social failure if he declined to go through with it.
School shooters are problem solvers. They are trying to turn the reputations they live with as losers into something more glamorous, more notorious. Seung-Hui Cho, a student of creative writing, probably didn't get a lot of "street cred" for his artistic side. Young men reap more social benefits from being successful on the football field. When their daily social experience -- created by their own ineptness, and often by the rejection of their peers -- is one of disappointment and friction, they want to reverse their social identities. How do they go about it? Sadly, becoming violent, going out in a blaze of glory, and ending it all by taking other people with them is one script that plays out in popular culture and provides a road map for notoriety.
Progressive education has been socializing students for anarchy now for at least half-a-century, so why should we be surprised that it is succeeding? It is exactly as Rob Tarr says, that for such misbegotten products of Progressive education, identification with the collective as a primary trumps everything else.
The antidote to this collective nihilism is course is the promotion of rational individualism, and an urgent change in the values taught that are taught every day in those factory schools -- or else, perhaps, the destruction of those schools.
And that's surely worth a thought?