Social studies insanity spreads through South


Texas isn’t the only state afflicted with people trying to gut social studies.

A Georgia legislator introduced a resolution to instruct the Georgia Supreme Court that our government is not a democracy, but is instead a republic.

See what the Texas State Board of Education wants to have happen?

Georgia House of Representatives H.R. 1770 (2010):

A RESOLUTION

Informing Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein that Georgia is a republic, not a democracy; recognizing the great differences between these two forms of government; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, on March 16, 2010, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein appeared before the Georgia General Assembly for the State of the Judiciary address, and in her speech Chief Justice Hunstein mistakenly called the State of Georgia a democracy; and

WHEREAS, the State of Georgia is, in fact, a republic and it is important that all Georgians know the difference between a republic and a democracy -– especially the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court; and

WHEREAS, the word “republic” comes from the Latin res publica, which means “the public thing” or “the law,” while the word “democracy” comes from the Greek words demos and kratein, which translates to “the people to rule”; and

WHEREAS, most synonymous with majority rule, democracy was condemned by the Founding Fathers of the United States, who closely studied the history of both democracies and republics before drafting the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the Founding Fathers recognized that the rights given to man by God should not be violated by an unrestrained majority any more than they should be restrained by a king or monarch; and

WHEREAS, it is common knowledge that the Pledge of Allegiance contains the phrase “and to the Republic”; and

WHEREAS, as he exited the deliberations of the so-called Constitutional Convention of 1787, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin told the awaiting crowd they have “A republic, if you can keep it”; and

WHEREAS, a republic is a government of law, not of man, which is why the United States Constitution does not contain the word democracy and mandates that “the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government”; and

WHEREAS, in 1928, the War Department of the United States defined democracy in Training Manual No. 2000–25 as a “government of the masses” which “[r]esults in mobocracy,” communistic attitudes to property rights, “demagogism, … agitation, discontent, [and] anarchy”; …

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES that the members of this body recognize the difference between a democracy and a republic and inform Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein that the State of Georgia is a republic and not a democracy….

Tip of the scrub brush to the Volokh Conspiracy, where you’ll find erudite and entertaining comment, and where Eugene Volokh wrote:

Now maybe this is just a deep inside joke, but if it’s meant to be serious then it strikes me as the worst sort of pedantry. (I distinguish this from my pedantry, which is the best sort of pedantry.)

Whatever government Georgia has, and whatever government the English language has, it is not government by ancient Romans, ancient Greeks, the War Department Training Manual, or even the Pledge of Allegiance. “Democracy” today includes, among other meanings, “Government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them (as in the small republics of antiquity) or by officers elected by them. In mod. use often more vaguely denoting a social state in which all have equal rights, without hereditary or arbitrary differences of rank or privilege.” That’s from the Oxford English Dictionary, but if you prefer the American Heritage Dictionary, try “Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.” Government by the people’s representatives is included within democracy, as is government by the people directly.

“Joke” is an accurate description, but one that escapes the sponsors and irritates the impedants on the Texas SBOE.

Gavel to Gavel offers the insight that this is the legislative response to an address to the legislature by Georgia’s Chief Justice.

When legislatures have too much time on their hands, and engage in such hystrionics, one wonders whether the legislature wouldn’t be better off left in the dark by not inviting the views of the Chief Justice in the future.  Perhaps the Chief Justice should decline any invitation offered.

What we now know is that some Georgia legislators are all het up about the difference between a republic and a democracy, though I’ll wager none of them could pass an AP world history or European history quiz on Rome and Greece.  And what is really revealed is that some Georgia legislators don’t know their burros from a burrow.

You can also be sure of this:  Such action is exactly what the so-called conservatives on the Texas SBOE wish to have happen from their diddling of social studies standards.

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5 Responses to Social studies insanity spreads through South

  1. Jaycubed says:

    While the idea of this petition is assinine & obviously politically motivated, the points made are mostly correct.

    Republic (res- publica = the public’s thing)
    Democracy (demos -cracy = peoples rule)

    The United States IS a republic, a form of government very different from a democracy.

    This is not pedantics, but two very different concepts of governance.

    There is little about our political system which is democratic except its pretense. We have longed claimed to be democratic; despite our history of the exclusion from the “demos” of (at various times) slaves, non-land owners, women, “freed-slaves”, chinese, the poor, native americans, etc.

    While our political system has become more representative of the “demos” over time, a better term for our political system would be “politocracy”, or rule by the “polis”.

    We are better described as being ruled by the “polis”, or those who scream the loudest & pay the most; rather then being represented by the “demos”, or the body of citizens making up our country.

    P.S. A lynch mob is an example of a democratic institution if it represents the will of the local majority.

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  2. Ed Darrell says:

    I may post on that yet.  Alpine District is where I attended school from 4th grade to graduation.  That attitude, that every possibility of learning is an open door to socialism and communism, had been replaced, I hoped.

    I watched the video of the board meeting — Guy Fugal was a year ahead of me in school.  He didn’t seem too concerned. 

    I wish the Provo Herald interviewer had interviewed some of the Scouts who were there, I presume, for the flag ceremony.  I think everyone would have been more at ease with actual children doing the talking.

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  3. This is a pretty hot-button topic for a group of conservatives in Utah right now. They take issue with Alpine school district’s motto of “Enculturating the Young into a Social and Political Democracy.” They want to get rid of the word “democracy.” The ultimate beef with it seems to be a perceived slippery slope to socialism and the undermining of parental rights.

    http://www.utahsrepublic.org/

    I’m not quite sure what to say about the whole movement, except that it seems based on fear more than anything else.

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  4. Ed Darrell says:

    In good classes in U.S. history and government, and especially in AP and IB courses, students learn that the U.S. is, as Ben Franklin noted coming out of Independence Hall, “a republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

    But this “instruction” to the Supreme Court — astounding in its arrogance, extremely humorous in its naive pedantry — is not in the nature of knowledge, but instead is in the nature of a not-very-veiled threat.

    I’ll pitch most AP government classes against the Georgia legislature on this issue. It’s inaccurate to say we are not a democracy, as much as it is inaccurate to say we are not a republic. They wish to substitute one error for another trivial error, for malignant political reasons.

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  5. Bryan says:

    I’m not excusing the extent to which the GA legislators have gone to make their point, but I don’t see the problem with making the distinction. We have a constitution that protects certain rights that cannot be taken away, at least directly or instantly, by the majority.

    There’s an undercurrent of pushing “republic not democracy” within the conservative movement. It gives me pause to think what their motive is. But I don’t see the problem with the concept.

    I’ve had enough discussions with conservatives where they attempt to argue that the will of the majority is more important than the rights of the minority. At least they’re starting to get it.

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