Educated ignorance is doing real and lasting damage

July 5, 2020

“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” John F. Kennedy

That quote comes from a speech delivered at Vanderbilt University on May 18, 1963 commemorating the 90th anniversary of the school’s founding.

Quintessential Kennedy, the speech manages to refer to the social tensions of the time while also reminding the crowd of citizen responsibility “our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities. Each can be neglected only at the peril of the other. I speak to you today, therefore, not of your rights as Americans, but of your responsibilities.”

He then spoke specifically of three traits critical for that educated citizen: “your obligation to the pursuit of learning, your obligation to serve the public, your obligation to uphold the law.”

Especially significant for our society today is his third pillar.

“Third, and finally, the educated citizen has an obligation to uphold the law. This is the obligation of every citizen in a free and peaceful society–but the educated citizen has a special responsibility by the virtue of his greater understanding. For whether he has ever studied history or current events, ethics or civics, the rules of a profession or the tools of a trade, he knows that only a respect for the law makes it possible for free men to dwell together in peace and progress.”

As our cities burn and our statues topple, the “educated citizens” who run those cities seem to have forgotten the single, most important tenet for a functioning society: respect for the law.

It would be one thing if they were just incompetent fools hiding in their mayoral residences guarded by their own security details. What makes the current crisis so frightening is that in all too many cases, those “educated” mayors are actually throwing in with the mob.

Too cowardly to face the political backlash from a “woke” wave of activists they instead turn their backs on their fellow citizens as safety and security take a back seat to appeasement and anarchy.

The mayor of Seattle, Jenny Anne Durkan has a B.A. from Notre Dame and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington School of Law. She served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington from 2009 to 2014. She is no doubt a JFK “educated citizen”.

Yet when a group of radicals forced Seattle to Police to abandon their East Precinct building and then took over a six block area and named it their Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) (now changed to CHOP, Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) what did Durkan, the educated citizen do?

She sided with the occupiers. Noting that it was “not a lawless wasteland of anarchist insurrection – it is a peaceful expression of our community’s collective grief and their desire to build a better world”. When asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo how long the occupation might continue she quipped “I don’t know. We could have a summer of love!”.

It took only three weeks for Mayor Jenny’s (her twitter handle) summer of love to turn to a den of death. With four shootings and two deaths, one a 16 year old, Police Chief Carmen Best was finally allowed to move her officers back in and began regaining control on Wednesday morning.

If it were only Seattle it could be written off as just another left wing mayor getting her priorities wrong. Yet it’s not just Seattle. It’s Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Portland and around the nation it goes.

These “educated citizens” are as much a threat as the rioters themselves.

It’s one thing when anarchists and Marxists take to the streets, it’s entirely another when elected leaders join them in their march. The COVID 19 crisis is nothing in comparison to the danger this current political pandemic poses to our Republic.

As vaccines and therapeutics come online, COVID 19 will pass. But the intellectual virus that has infected so many of our “educated citizens” is embedding itself into the national psyche at an alarming rate.

The calendar says that in six short years, two and a half centuries will have passed since Thomas Jefferson’s “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” first entered the annals of history.

The challenge for us today is to ensure that when that time comes, we heeded Lincoln’s “a house divided” warning and still have an America left to celebrate.

Because if one ignorant voter is a threat, imagine the danger as millions of them march to the ignorance of their “educated” leaders.

If there is any hope of peace tomorrow, it must start with upholding the rule of law today.

PUBLISHER NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the July 5, 2020 print edition of the Joplin Globe

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