Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world, released gloomy 2017 findings on the state of free press around the globe. Freedom House results suggest that global press freedom has declined to its lowest point in 13 years due to unprecedented threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies as well as new advances by authoritarian states to garner heavier control. Only 13% of the world’s population enjoys free robust press coverage and even within those democracies, some news coverage is being shaped as traditional media outlets are undermined and broadcasters are subjected to coercive influence. Unfortunately, the United States does not surface as an exception. Today’s predominately left leaning press organizations are figuratively at war with the United States President leading to massive disruptions in programming, advertising and credibility of the institutions themselves. How is this degeneration of freedom possible in the nation that codified in the very first amendment of its Bill of Rights the freedom of the press?
While there are a handful of contributors to the decline of free press, one of those factors is simply a lack of defense for its right to exist at all. Focusing strictly on the USA, not only has academia and the media itself been responsible for perpetuating the idea that hate speech should be banned but, simultaneously, American schools are neglecting to teach to any degree of profundity an understanding of our founding documents and with them, the rights and principles they bequeath to our citizenry. The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania just released survey results finding that 37% of those surveyed could not name any of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment of our US Constitution and only 26% could name all three branches of government. The director of the APPC aptly observes “Protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution presupposes that we know what they are. The fact that many don’t is worrisome.” It does not require heightened intelligence or an advanced degree to grasp the scope of the problem. We are a population who is, to some significantly proportionate degree, ignorant of our history, our foundation and the principles which undergird our national character and protect our freedoms.
The goal of a preponderance of our academic institutions at all levels has not been to cement knowledge and deep understanding of the oldest written constitution still in use today.
Rather, academic trends have been much more smitten with teaching global civics, fundamentals of Islam, standardized testing techniques, career choices in a “21st century global marketplace” and planetary conservation.
What is the solution?
Put it back.
Not so fast. Thanks to a couple of generations trending away from education on the Bill of Rights, a large part of our population is supportive of shaping our culture into a post-Christian, post-Constitutional America. Many citizens in our country today don’t want to “put it back.”
Where does this leave us? Only time will tell. For the oldest constitutional republic to remain in tact as founded believers must make the argument for her defense, acknowledge critiques by fellow Americans, demand a variety of educational opportunities be available in all communities. We must understand that the youngest generations have never known America as we have. Our job is simply to keep the flame of American liberty alive as we pass the torch.