We need to teach our kids truth

For all of our concerns about international terrorism, new studies reveal a disturbing number of domestic indicators that are akin to, as an old movie title goes, “The Killer is in the House.”

I’m talking about trends reported in a new Washington think-tank study showing a dramatic surge in the number of Americans who think violence is the answer to the country’s problems.

Nearly a fourth of Americans (23%) agree that “things have gotten so far off track” that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”

The study by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the left- leaning Brookings Institution surveyed more than 2,500 Americans on such familiar hot-button issues as abortion, gun laws, QAnon, immigration and election integrity — particularly in regard to Trump’s insistence, despite a profound lack of credible evidence, that the 2020 election was stolen.

PRRI has asked that political violence question in eight surveys since March 2021, and this is the first time support for political violence exceeded 20%.

The differences unsurprisingly followed familiar party lines: A full third of Republicans, compared with only 13% of Democrats, agreed on the possible need for “true American patriots” to resort to violence.

And believers in QAnon conspiracy theories — think Democratic Party-led child- sex trafficking rings and elaborate “deep state” plots — jumped from 14% to 23% of Americans, the survey found., Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to give credence to them.

I thought of a news report I read as the suspect being hunted in connection with the mass shooting that left at least 18 people dead in Lewiston, Maine, was quickly identified as an Army reservist. As an Army veteran myself, I would note that it was way too soon for anyone to jump to conclusions about the suspect’s guilt or innocence, especially based only on their military experience — or lack of it.

A study of extremism in our armed forces, ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after the Jan. 6 insurrection, found that people who served or are serving in the armed forces “are 2.41 times more likely to be classified as mass casualty offenders than individuals who did not serve.”

Still, despite trends that sound like everyone in police, politics and governance is going crazy, there are signs of hope in the national survey that what’s truly great about Americans remains alive, if we take time to notice and encourage it.

“Overwhelming majorities of Americans today support teaching the good and the bad of American history, trust public school teachers to select appropriate curriculum, and strongly oppose banning books that discuss slavery or Advanced Placement (AP) African American History courses.

That sounds like pushback to the “anti-wokeism” crusade voiced by certain conservative politicians who aim to stir up fears and resentments that turn Americans against one another.

We’ve had a disturbing decline in civics education in recent years, educators say. We need to help our kids learn the truth — while they’re still allowed to hear it.

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