At its very beginning, this country was a radical, establishment-shattering invention in a staid world of established order.
One of the most important and historically unique aspects the Founding Fathers built into the newly-constituted United States was the opportunity — not the guarantee but the opportunity — for anyone to achieve whatever they could.
That is all under attack now by an insidious effort to smother American exceptionalism.
Until that time, people around the world lived or endured their entire lives precisely where they were born – in geography, yes, but also in social position. Farmers’ sons became farmers, their daughters became farmers’ wives. Elites and royals were born into wealth and social positions. And they remained elites and royals no matter how ignorant, corrupt, or feckless they were.
In short, the horizons of life were set at birth by heritage and class and those channels were immutable.
It is rather astonishing that America’s revolutionaries were not impoverished street wretches looking for some bread, like so many of France’s insurgents 20 years later. They were well-to-do, rather educated gentry comfortably wearing powdered wigs who set out to create a nation where virtually anyone could rise to their level.
Who does that? Talk about revolutionary!
Those uppity colonials who risked their own lives against the world’s most formidable military could have no idea how successful, despite stormy eras and turmoil, that liberating concept would prove to be for more than two centuries in North America. And how contagious it would prove to be to this day around the once-distant world.
They unleashed not just political and social liberties. They ignited a culture of innovators and innovations that sparked individual imaginations and ingenuities that changed life for most everyone.
Names many may not know or recall:
Benjamin Franklin (Franklin stove, lightning rod, even the flexible urinary catheter), Robert Fulton (steamboat), Eli Whitney (cotton gin), Cyrus McCormick (mechanical reaper), Samuel Morse (early telegraph, Morse Code), Charles Goodyear (vulcanized rubber),
Alvah Sears (mail order), Thomas Edison (electric generator), Henry Ford (assembly line), Horatio Alger Jr. (author of young adult novels heralding impoverished youths rising to success through hard work), the Wright Brothers (human flight), and many others.
These people, their competitors, and their descendants were not equal to their countrymen. They were superior in unique ways and were widely hailed, celebrated, and usually rewarded for their individual achievements.
Now, comes this disturbing report from my RedState colleague Nick Arama about an effort cloaked in professed good woke intentions but absolutely antithetical to an essential element of what is American.
Two twisted high school administrators appointed themselves guardians of the feelings of underachievers. For years, they’ve been hiding the names of anyone in their once-renowned school who was honored as a National Merit Scholar. Their professed thinking: They didn’t want the overwhelming number of non-recipients to feel bad, because “Equity.”
Ironically, the offending high school is in Virginia, home state to a large number of those same Founding Fathers, and at a school named for one of them, who went on to become the third president whose personal book collection became the founding core of the Library of Congress.
This is an extreme and perverse extension of progressives’ ‘everyone gets a trophy’ so no one is a loser. That demeans achievement. And, of course, that also means no one is a winner, gets rewarded for excellence, or is encouraged to excel.
There’s even a campaign to show that individualism is actually white supremacy. And Woke sponsors also seek to signal virtue by canceling contradictory speech, as they did here to my colleague, Kira Davis.
Turns out, these arrogant administrators on their own initiative have been secretly applying a perverse twist to this American tradition in recent years. They hide the names of any student there who was recognized as a high-achieving National Merit Scholar – even from the recipients themselves.
In contrast is my small Tennessee town. Every June, instead of shielding a few dropouts, the town posts an oversized portrait of each high school graduate on light posts around the square to celebrate and encourage such achievements.
Reality check for progressives: Not everyone gets a trophy in life. There are losers and winners and competition and values, like work ethic, to be learned. And the sooner parents and educators teach that – or perhaps learn it themselves – the better off we’ll all be.
The offending school administrators in this race to the bottom are Ann Bonitatibus, the principal, and Brandon Kosatka, director of student services, at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County.
They did this under a so-called Equitable Grading Policy that involves, among other things, no student ever receiving a zero for anything and everyone getting a score of at least 50 just for showing up. That policy probably could have doubled my Algebra score.
I’m not a lawyer and I haven’t stayed at a Holiday Inn Express recently, but this arbitrary withholding of National Merit certificates on phony woke thinking strikes me as fertile grounds for one helluva lawsuit if the Biden Department of Justice was interested in anything other than going after Donald Trump.
Let’s see, an estimated 1,200 Jefferson students were affected over the years. A National Merit certificate would have given each of them a huge boost in college applications as well as opportunities to apply for thousands of dollars in scholarships, but now all gone.
Oh, and the withholding policy affected a disproportionate number of youngsters with Asian backgrounds. See, they were doing too well in school and others weren’t, so the scale needed adjusting down for equity purposes.
Perhaps the National Merit Scholarship folks simply need to adjust their notification policy as well to include the student and parents and not just the student’s school principal.
One parent said she talked with Kosatka after the achievement censorship was exposed. She reported that he said, “’We want to recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements,’ claiming that he and the principal didn’t want to ‘hurt’ the feelings of students who didn’t get the award.”
Another Townhall colleague, Jazz Shaw at sister site Hot Air, accurately calls this “barely disguised racism” and adds:
Efforts have been underway to eliminate merit-based achievements. In the opinion of the progressives pushing such “reforms,” too many of the “wrong” types of students were getting the awards, most commonly students from Asian families.
To correct what they see as an “unfair” system, they keep lowering the standards until everyone is equal, meaning equally underachieving and denying everyone to chance to excel. Which, when you think about it, is the genuine “unfair” system in a real America that was founded to do exactly the opposite.