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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 01/22/2017

Republicans hypocritical over Benghazi

Republicans hypocritical over Benghazi

*Republicans hypocritical over Benghazi *Equal opportunity not the same as equal outcome

Republicans hypocritical over Benghazi

The constant harping by Republicans on the unfortunate event in Beghazi in which four Americans lost their lives in a maelstrom of violence totally lacks proportionality when weighed against the 4,000 killed and 32,000 wounded in the phony war in Iraq.

Where is the investigation about why we went into a bloody and expensive war without any real actionable intelligence to justify it? And, how can the Republicans and the media, as well, ignore the fact that starting in 2010 and until Benghazi, House Republicans repeatedly voted to cut funding for embassy and diplomatic security.

The Republicans are trying to have it both ways, but it just makes them look like the hypocrites they are.

Ron Tamoschat

Rexford

Equal opportunity not the same as equal outcome

Two popular themes often pushed in schools are “celebrating diversity” and “preaching tolerance.” At first glance, these ideas sound really nice. However, the roots of these messages stem from an ugly past in which people were judged by the color of their skin (or gender/ethnicity), rather than the content of their character.

The battle Martin Luther King, Jr. and others fought was intended to make these debates obsolete. Today our schools are filled with children making posters, flying balloons, and drawing colorful rainbow pictures showing the blending of cultures and acceptance of others’ beliefs in order to showcase their collective tolerance for one another. This helps to create a school environment that discourages discrimination.

Most students have an intrinsic sense of fairness and sharing. When teachers appeal to the idea of equality, students tend to gravitate towards it. Therefore, teachers need to distinguish the important difference between equal outcomes, which inevitably lead to greater government controls, and equal opportunities, which free the individual to succeed and to make mistakes. Simply talking about equality as a global ideal can easily be misinterpreted.

Even prior to the Super Bowl, the most watched event in American television history, a patriotic video was shown stating that “our country was founded on the principles of liberty and equality.” There’s that word again: equality. There’s no explanation that equality is enshrined in the administration of justice and opportunity. The idea that we should all be able to start with equal opportunities, coupled with our own individual God-given strengths and weaknesses, by definition, ensures that some will do better than others.

Each year, I do an experiment in my classroom that highlights the problems with forcing equal outcomes. I adjust the grades from a chapter test by rewriting the “new” grade to account for the successes and failures of each student. For example, those who score in the 90s receive an altered grade in the 70s. Those in the 50s, jump to the 70s. Seeing the reactions of those who celebrate their sudden fortunes and the anger from those who have seen their intellectual efforts destroyed by a “central authority’s” arbitrary decision is quite interesting.

Izzit.org’s video “2081” presents educators with an entertaining and graphic example of what happens when you force equal outcomes. The students see how equal outcomes drag the successful down, while institutionalizing mediocrity and incompetence. The heavy hand of government is highlighted in this wonderful adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian short story, “Harrison Bergeron.”

The production value matches the important message. My kids watch intently and are actively engaged in class discussion after viewing it. I ask them to compare and contrast the video with Lowry’s, “The Giver,” which is another dystopian novel we read. I show students that rugged individualism, with no guarantees, and free-market economics are not only about making money.

These principles also help people tear down the many barriers that tend to make people judgmental and intolerant, without the government attempting to equalize outcomes.

Brian McGarry

Rotterdam

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