It is no secret that America’s education system has been failing our children and our country for over a half-century now, ever since the radical left realized that subverting American institutions from within was more effective than outright domestic terrorism. But thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and remote-learning mandates, parents have gotten a glimpse of just how insidious and shocking the dumbing-down and ideological indoctrination are. Parental outrage has led to confrontations with bullying teachers unions, hostile school boards, and tone-deaf political leaders who declare openly that parents shouldn’t have a say in their children’s education.
A recent book from Regnery Press addresses this hot-button topic and laments a whole generation or more of American youth whose brains as well as souls have been “hollowed out” by ideological brainwashing, technological distraction, the disintegration of families, and the collapse of moral and civic virtues. Hollowed Out: A Warning about America's Next Generation, by Jeremy S. Adams, explores the different facets of this disheartening crisis, but also concludes with a rallying cry for action from a California teacher writing from within the very belly of the beast.
A graduate of Washington & Lee University and CSU Bakersfield, Jeremy Adams was the first classroom teacher inducted into the California State University, Bakersfield, Hall of Fame. He has written on politics and education for the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Sacramento Bee, and many other outlets. Our mutual friend Evan Sayet, conservative political commentator and himself the author of The Woke Supremacy: An Anti-Socialist Manifesto and KinderGarden Of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks, put me in touch with Adams to talk a bit about Hollowed Out.
Mark Tapson: Jeremy, thanks for the insightful dissection of the state of our culture you’ve put forth in this book. Lamenting the divide that partisan politics has created in our country, you write, “Our democracy is hollowed out because the habits, the relationships, the institutions, and the values that allow us to become thoughtful, compassionate, magnanimous, and informed citizens no longer shape and define us in the ways they once did.” Can you give us a couple of key examples?
Jeremy Adams: I wish I could go back and add the word “content” or “fulfilled” or “joyful” to that list because every day the evidence is mounting about just how miserable—uniquely miserable, in fact—our young people have become. As to their civic deficiencies, the basic problem is a profound lack of knowledge and awareness of what went in to creating the institutions of our civilization. Almost everything they see is a consequence, they believe, of malevolent power being exercised against innocent bystanders in society.
A few examples: we have commercial institutions that create wealth and prosperity and yet what young people often see in economic activity is exploitation. I had a student recently try to tell me that capitalism cannot survive without a permanent underclass. And yet when we peeled back the layers, what was really being said was that there will always be a need for low-skilled workers which, everyone knows, is actually good news for anybody trying to enter the labor market for the first time. And what never gets said, of course, is that people who work hard, get educated, and are diligent don’t stay in a low-skilled job for long. They see political power almost always as an oppressive force and never as a tool for working for justice, which also requires significant political will. They don’t know anything about LBJ and Civil Rights. They don’t know anything about Daniel Webster and the Compromise of 1850.
And then this obsession with power gets carried into private life--families are seen as inherently patriarchal, organized religion is full of negative judgement, all institutions are seen as corrupt and unworthy of veneration. It’s a dark and dyspeptic worldview that most people don’t fully understand.
MT: In the book you identify some of the social, cultural, and political fault lines between older and younger generations of Americans, fault lines that seem to be dangerously widening, like the collapse of the traditional family and declining religious belief. How do we begin to repair those gaps?