In the comics, wasn’t it the other guys who always shouted ‘Die, Yankee, die’?

Isn’t it interesting the way Iraq news gets reported in our media.

A Jan. 10 Associated Press story begins: “Nine American soldiers were killed in the first two days of a new offensive to root out al-Qaida-in-Iraq fighters holed up in districts north of he capital. …

“The losses came as many enemy militants fled U.S, and Iraqi forces massing in Diyala” — a lot of those guerrillas fleeing north into the province of Salahuddin — AP correspondent Christopher Chester continues.

Read down to the seventh paragraph — halfway through the story. There, we finally learn that our troops “killed 20 to 30 insurgents in the first two days of the operation,” including some in attacks in Salahuddin province.

Now, I’m one who thinks we shouldn’t be in Iraq, at all. In the end, we’ll tacitly endorse some strongman who’ll let us maintain a few military bases in the region — a deal we probably could have cut with Saddam Hussein. Then we’ll declare “victory” and come home.

But if the news report above had been written by the kind of reporters who covered our advance through German-occupied France in 1944, I’ll bet it would have started off: “Badly disciplined enemy fighters dressed in dirty rags, abandoning the women and children they had vowed to protect, scampered like scared rabbits ahead of advancing American soldiers and their allies in Diyala Province this week. They thought they could find safety in Salahuddin province to the north, but Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling’s boys were ready for them there, too. Hertling estimates 20 to 30 enemies died, despite the fact they ran like shrieking monkeys ahead of a forest fire.

“Nine American soldiers died, six in a booby-trapped house in Diyala. The reason American soldiers die in booby-trapped houses, soldiers at the front explained, is because our rules of engagement place the protection of civilians — even those who have harbored the enemy — above the safety of our own boys. Otherwise, neighborhoods could be ‘cleared’ by artillery fire, rather than more dangerous house-to-house searches designed to spare civilian lives.”

The newspaper stories on June 7, 1944 didn’t lead off “Thousands of Americans died on some beach in France yesterday,” implying Congress should investigate how those sad sacks in the U.S. Army had bungled things again, did they? No, I think they said something more like, “The issue is not yet decided, many brave boys gave their lives yesterday, but the liberation of Europe has begun. Our guys hit the beaches at dawn, overran all opposition by noon, and kept on going.”

Each way of reporting the news is “true.” But the second version gives you a little different feeling about how things are going, doesn’t it?

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A number of correspondents have written in, pointing out many American states and colonies made provision for the establishment of common schools long before John Dewey and Horace Mann brought the Prussian factory-school system here in the late 19th century.

Yes, Americans have long put a premium on education. But “education,” in its natural form, looks a lot different from our current coercive youth camps.

Think about the things you’ve learned since you left school. Did you learn these things by studying golf from 9 to 9:50, French cooking or blues guitar from 10 to 10:50, and taking an Italian lesson from 11 to noon, at which point you gobbled a lunch of half-raw frozen veal cutlet in 40 minutes so you could pull on some silly “gym shorts” and play a rousing 50-minute game of tennis on a full stomach — loud bells clanging to interrupt your chain of thought just as you started to “get it” in the 49th minute, to ask that important follow-up question?

No. In real life, you wade into whatever one subject has piqued your interest, devoting however many weeks or months it takes for you to gain whatever level of skill or expertise on that topic you’re ever likely to enjoy in this lifetime. Then you move on.

Were the families of Tom Jefferson or Ben Franklin or Abe Lincoln threatened with legal penalties because their kids didn’t report five days a week, for ten years running, to some government youth camp designed to resemble something between a prison and a factory assembly line, where subjects are taught in 50-minute bursts like workers allowed only a certain number of seconds to screw the same nuts on the same set of bolts as each Ford chassis comes down the assembly line? I don’t think so.

Ben Franklin went to a private school for a few months — didn’t like it much. Ran off to apprentice in the printing trade.

If Ben Franklin had been locked up for the 10 or 12 years during which the human intellect is at its quickest and most fertile, would he ever have become the “back-woods genius” who so captivated the French court and swung the invaluable French alliance … or would Washington have been caught and hanged, remembered today as some quaint historical martyr on the level of Guy Fawkes?

If Ben Franklin had been caught up in today’s channelized “schooling” system, I submit he might have become a Ph.D. electrical researcher — but he never could have also been a statesman and diplomat. He might have become a statesman and diplomat with a degree in international relations — but he never could also have been a wealthy merchant and inventor. He might have invented bi-focals and the Franklin stove — but he never could also have become a radical pamphleteer, revolutionary, president of the governing body of the independent Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, creator of publications so well-loved they lasted for centuries after his death.

Our current system invented “involuntary unemployment” by banning low-wage jobs and thus barring such lateral flexibility, as demonstrated by Ludwig von Mises in 1931. Choose your “major,” son.

At the age of 12, David Farragut was commanding ships at sea. By that age Thomas Edison — whose light bulbs have just been banned — was allowed by his mother to become a railroad baggage handler, using a rack of discarded type to set up and publish a newspaper (“The Grand Trunk Herald”) that he sold at every stop, saving up the nest egg that would finance his future ventures. Allowing such a thing today would have gotten both their mothers arrested under our repressive “child labor” laws. At the time, no one cared because a) we hadn’t yet invented the artificial multi-year extension of unproductive childhood called “adolescence” so necessary to perpetuate the government schooling scam, and because b) the schools of his day had essentially kicked out young Edison as a retard, anyway.

One writer, last week, objected that I used Rose Wilder Lane as a “sole source” for the fact that American schooling was taken over, in the late 19th century, by state socialists enamored of the Prussian example, aiming to re-mold the common man by crippling his intellect — making reading seem real hard, for starters, by replacing phonics with a “whole word” method better suited to decoding hieroglyphics.

In July of 1991, John Taylor Gatto, New York’s (government-school) Teacher of the Year, quit, saying he was tired of working for an institution that hurt children — crippling their ability to learn. He explained why in an essay published that month in The Wall Street Journal. Next week, let’s look at that essay, and see if we can find our “second source.”

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