In all the fuss about its racist and Creationist facets, an equally serious flaw of ACE usually get missed: The Orwellian political brainwashing that makes up ACE political material. With no alternative points of view even considered, I was still following ACE political ideologies long after I’d rejected their theology.
In secondary education, telling children what to think in any matter of conscience is unethical. It doesn’t matter if the ideology promulgated is liberal democracy or Nazism. On matters where there exists a range of acceptable opinions, students must be encouraged to question and debate.
As it happens, ACE’s politics are sufficiently poisonous that it won’t be difficult to persuade you of their unacceptability. It’s the kind of Religious Right Republican extremism you’d expect, leading one commentator to observe, pithily:
“Loyalty to God and country seems to be fused into a single entity. The Bible and the marines seem closely related. Communism and socialism are clearly equated with evil, while the American brand of democracy and capitalism seems to be ordained by God, Patriotism and the benefits of the American way of life are legitimate educational concerns, but the approach to these concerns in ACE borders on propaganda.”1
Right-wing = Correct.
As I’ve already mentioned, students are shown a chart of the political spectrum, with “God” clearly shown on the right. The political ideas are explained in a cartoon strip, depicting a conversation between a teacher, Mr. Lovejoy, and his students, Christi and Reginald. Lovejoy explains that “right” on the political spectrum is the opposite of “wrong”:
Lovejoy: “In every language there is a ‘right.’ The word ‘right’ comes from the same root as the words ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness’. We say, ‘You’re right!’ meaning, ‘You’re correct.’ We never say, ‘You’re left.’ …The word ‘left’ in English, the Romance languages, Greek, Hebrew, and hundreds of other languages, conveys the idea of ‘sinister’ or ‘reckless’.”
Reginald: “That’s why a politician who rejects God’s absolutes finds himself somewhere on the left.”
Lovejoy: “Good insight, Reginald! The substance of truth, ideals, and absolutes is on the right. Evil does not have substance: it is a departure from, and absence of the substance of, good. The left is the farthest extreme from that basic substance… Men on the left cannot walk in wisdom.”
Reginald: “The closer government is to God’s absolutes, the more righteous it is. The farther it is to the left, the less righteous it will be.
“Politicians who reject God’s absolutes and believe in extensive government regulations are called liberals. They are way over on the left and are very humanistic.” 2
A genius sentence at the end there, brilliantly redefining humanistic as a pejorative term, a point to which I shall return.
Communism = evil.
Professors Dan Fleming and Thomas Hunt note that “the portrayal of communism as an evil force is interwoven throughout the entire social studies program,” quoting this gem:
“The nature of Communism is atheistic, Satanic, and conspiratorial. World Communism began as an international conspiracy which was not limited by any geo-political boundaries… In reality, Communism is not a social system or an economic system, but an international conspiracy which attempts to destroy the church, the family, and all legitimate governments.” 3
“The United Nations was created by Communists and has always been used by Communists to further Communist goals… Satan is the real force behind man’s efforts to achieve world government.” 4
Generally, though, they aren’t this blatant. Instead, attacks on socialism, liberalism, and humanism are done through a steady drip, redefining the words. I never saw the terms explicitly defined in a PACE. Instead, each time they are used, it is with a negative connotation, so that eventually there is no need for argument. If the writers want a student to know something is bad, they can simply label it “liberal” or “socialist” and leave it at that. If you wanted to argue in favour of liberal ideas with an ACE student, you would have to choose your words wisely, because most of the terms are predefined as ungood. Observe:
“Although [President Kennedy’s] New Frontier sounds good, it was as socialistic as the New Deal and the Fair Deal had been.”5
“The New Deal programs were based on the humanistic, socialistic philosophy that the ‘end justifies the means.’ To achieve FDR’s goal of halting the depression, Congress was willing to spend more than it had. Because of this overspending, the government raised taxes.”6
“Later, more direct forms of government aid, such as Medicare and Medicaid were funded by social security. Like many other government programs, these programs are socialistic.”7
“Today a military government with socialist policies rules the country [Ethiopia], and missionaries are no longer welcome in the country as they once were.” 8