Pomp and Circumstance

It’s graduation season, and around my neighborhood, nestled as it is between two high schools, that means plenty of parties and festivities. Suddenly, all the kids who’ve been running the stop sign in front of my house and tossing empty Jim Beam bottles into nearby woods will assume the aspect of serious scholars—for an hour or so, at least.

In truth, it’s also a season of reflection—but not just the kind extolled in graduation speeches. Certainly many will scan their four years of high school and ponder all the friendships, football games, or pandemic challenges—all good, but ultimately fading into irrelevance. Instead, it’s worth reflecting on something with far-ranging implications: what America’s newest graduates actually learned in their 12 or more years of schooling.

Our graduates have been blasted and brainwashed with the left’s carousel of craziness for years; and now they are charged with carrying this “21st century learning” with them as they go and fulfill the commencement charge to “make the world a better place.” We would do well to consider what lessons they’ll be taking into our broken world.

Their curriculum started early on, when they learned that they were the center of the universe. With trophies and honors spanning the modern renaissance man’s pedagogy—from pre-K soccer participation to Peruvian eco-camps—they were the most celebrated children on earth. Mom and Dad’s schedules were organized around dreadful “play dates,” travel team practices, and ceremonies for basic milestones that went unheralded in the past. Helicopters whirred over their schools and sports fields—parents hovering to guarantee success and protect tender feelings. All of this was documented on parents’ phones, which now store a generation’s digital biopics.

Graduates learned that special identities deserve fanfare, too. Thanks to clownish educators and activists, they identified as a variety of genders and marginalized classes; the pinnacle of distinction might be identifying as an indigenous, autistic and transgendered diabetic—type 2, ideally. They charted new courses, too; many boys shrugged off the heavy lifting of emerging manhood and spent hours as gamers, warming basements and wasting muscles.

America’s wealthiest graduates, who hail from expensive private schools, learned lessons in cowardice. Many of them learned that despite dad’s high-end recreational prowess, he couldn’t spot courage if it walked under a deer stand or rolled across a green. Mom didn’t speak up about anything if it didn’t involve Signup Genius or the tennis court. Who has time for fighting the culture wars?

On the other hand, many of our poorest graduates learned that some fathers are not only cowards, but also absent. Long ago abandoned by the men who fathered them, these graduates were left to fashion manhood from violence and drugs. Achievement wasn’t cool at school, but fights were. Both boys and girls were seduced by the flash and cash of the criminal element praised in rap music. Their futures always include the real possibility of getting locked up or knocked up, but that’s little deterrent, given our generous welfare state and revolving-door jails.

Across the income spectrum, graduates learned that history is a story of skin color. This was an easy lesson based on the last acceptable binary—all white people are by nature oppressors, and all “people of color” are innocents, marginalized by their privileged tormentors. Our nation, even with its advanced healthcare, economic mobility and charitable spirit, is forever tainted by its pale founders. In summary, nothing about America is virtuous because it was conceived in the original sin of whiteness.

They learned that skin color not only explains the past, but also determines the future. Therefore, students must dissolve into protective tribes, also called “affinity groups,” along certain racial lines—part of the famous “unity” that the left promised us in 2020. Some teachers even infused the revolutionary spirit of Mao and Marx into lessons by romanticizing their American offspring, the Black Panthers and BLM. This thinly-disguised revolution also has an official dogma and “equitable” sorting system taught by the highly-paid DEI “practitioners” who visited campuses to lecture everyone.

The practitioners taught students to reflect on their inherent bias and “sit in their discomfort;” after that, they could join the mob to rectify injustices like microaggressions, misgendering, and Columbus Day. It didn’t matter that the students attended an elite $35,000 per year school, had iPhones, and never knew a day in their lives when Americans of all stripes could not attend college, apply for loans, vote, or hold public office—and with more accommodations than ever. There is much to celebrate in our imperfect melting pot, but these graduates didn’t learn much about that.

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