“Educating” high school students with lies and half truths about the 2nd Amendment, as well as the 4th Amendment, will only guarantee a quicker slide into tyranny, debasement and societal collapse.
A number of media outlets have been rightly sounding the about an AP textbook titled United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination that has effectively rewritten the 2nd Amendment to give primarily college-bound students the impression that the right to bear arms resides
The textbook summary of the 2nd Amendment reads:
“The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.”
While the actual 2nd Amendment states:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” [emphasis added]
As the added emphasis demonstrates, the rewording diminishes the impression that the right is given to The People and instead makes it seem as if the right to keep and bear arms resides only in the state body of the militia.
For tens of millions of gun owners, this interpretation – served up to potential future leaders and the adults of the near-tomorrow – is unnerving in an age where attempts to undermine 2nd Amendment protections appear to be sustained, mounting and deliberate.
However, another glaring deliberate misinterpretation also stands out in the wording presented for the 4th Amendment, which is supposed to guarantee to privacy and due process from unwarranted searches and seizures. In an age dominated by TSA screening harassment and VIPR checkpoints and ubiquitous NSA spying, its wisdom and apparent protections seem lost to the modern eye.
The textbook summarizes the 4th Amendment as:
“The government may not carry out unreasonable searches or seizures of the public’s property”
Again, the contrast with the actual amendment – and the ramifications for individual freedoms – is staggering. The actual 4th Amendment reads:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” [emphasis added]
Here, the shift in emphasis in a basic understanding of what the amendment was meant to safeguard is astoundingly skewed. A student or contemporary member of society might easily think that government has a right to search individuals, entire crowds of people and/or their belongings so long as the process is “reasonable” – a term that by itself is ambiguous and ripe for abuse.
This summary dismisses the meaning of the entire second half of the amendment which makes clear that “unreasonable searches and seizures” is defined, or put into context, by the specific requirement for warrants to be issued. Further, it is required that these warrants not be issued based upon ‘hunches’ or general searches, but instead upon “probable cause.” This means that agents of the government are only allowed to conduct searches under specific conditions that require the testimony of a sworn witness who can describe the wrongdoing and specify the reason the search is to take place.
Why would such an obvious misinterpretation of this important safeguard be presented to high school students in this manner?
We can only presume is for the same reasons the general public has been deceived on the matter. Travelers are told to comply with routine bag searches, patdowns an body scans to check every individual for evidence that could indicate them as a possible terrorist or threat! Police routinely give motorists the impression that they must be allowed to search their vehicles, even without a warrant! Somehow, the powers that be have lulled the public back to sleep with the rationale that it shouldn’t be concerned that a massive, high tech spy agency is illegally searching, storing and analyzing potentially every communication made in this country – because ‘if you haven’t done anything wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide,’ right?
Curiously, the EXACT same misinterpretation of the 4th Amendment presented by this textbook –the The government may not carry out unreasonable searches or seizures of the public’s property – was given by Michael Hayden, a four star general who was director of the NSA, then director of the CIA during the Bush Administration, during a January 2006 press conference.
With the dramatic and heavy handed response to terrorism during the Bush Administration an important and deeply emphasized topic in public policy at the time, National Security and Intelligence reporter Jonathan Landay asked Hayden about the kind of searches going on (such as those conducted by the Transportation Security Administration and National Security Administration) with respect to 4th Amendment protections. The then the current head of the NSA made a shocking denial (read transcript or watch video below):
LANDAY: “My understanding is that the 4th Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American’s right against unlawful… searches and seizures.”
HAYDEN: “Actually, the 4th Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That’s what it says.”
LANDAY: “But the measure is probable cause, I believe.”
HAYDEN: “The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.”
LANDAY:”But does it not say probable–”
HAYDEN: “No. The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure,” going on to state in the same press conference, “Just to be clear, and believe me, if there’s any amendment to the Constitution that the employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with it’s the Fourth. And it’s a reasonable standard in the 4th Amendment.”
As Hayden himself made clear, there was clearly every reason to be certain that employees of his agency were familiar with the Fourth Amendment. So their blatant violation of it as a matter of routine policy, as well as his astonishingly flat denial of “probable cause” cannot simply be chalked up to a mistake or gaffe.
Instead, the former head of both the NSA and CIA, two very secretive and powerful agencies influencing the de facto rules of the game during the post-9/11 era, just pretended it didn’t exist and lied. (Yet, the Wikipedia entry for Hayden claimed that this was stated “erroneously.”)
Will textbook writers and educators make the same claim after potentially years of ‘miseducating’ students on critical facts of history and American law? It seems obvious enough that this society is not interested in having its citizens be knowledgeable of their rights.
Perhaps they would be better served by recalling the words of warning issued by founding father and inventor Benjamin Franklin:
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
The AP textbook is technically a shorthand study guide for students prepping to take the Advanced Placement exam which could earn high schoolers college credit in U.S. history. Here is its summary of the Bill of Rights: