Truth in Fables: Why Progressives Hate Aesop
The fable "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is more applicable than ever in describing the environment in which we live. Each interest group, especially those interest groups on the left, is infected with the need to describe ever more frightening futures, regardless what their interest is -- environment, education, energy, medical care, or whatever else the cause du jour may be. Of course, they also try to sell the idea of submitting yourself to their tender mercies and giving them unlimited access to the Treasury (i.e., your money), with which they might be able to mitigate the horrors. But only if you grant them dictatorial power over you and all your actions.
Sadly, there seem to be a lot of people who haven't heard of the fable the boy who cried wolf. Had they ever encountered Aesop at any time in a school setting, this technique wouldn't have worked for any of the special interest groups -- or the president, for that matter -- who use it again and again and again.
Doubtless there is some conflict within the left-leaning American Federation of Teachers (AFT) ranks concerning whether or not anything written by Aesop should be taught at all. He was, after all, an old European, which by default means that he was an imperialist taking advantage of every innocent within his field of view. On the other hand, one could trumpet the fact that Aesop, who was a slave, overcame the stigma of slavery and become a famous writer.
But the overarching problem of Aesop for Progressives is this: his fables show that one of the linchpins of Progressivism -- i.e., that humanity and human behavior have "evolved" -- is utter nonsense. Reading Aesop undercuts the Progressive narrative that the behavior of mankind has progressed beyond the behaviors of the past, which was dominated by paternalism, militarism, homophobia, sexism, imperialistic ambition...well, you get the idea.
If people could remember "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" how effective would the campaigns of fear and panic ever be for the president, the environmentalists, the pro-choice crowd, the anti-gun mob, and all the others who want to control everything?
How much of the Progressive demand for "income redistribution" would be undercut if people had a knowledge of Aesop's fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper"?
What about Progressives who are seeking to control more and more of our production, taking more and more of our incomes, and directly controlling more and more of our wealth? Might they not be be tarred and feathered if those low-information unfortunates (who graduated from our public school system) had learned from Aesop about "The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs"? Might not that fable give even those low-information voters pause?
And Aesop is not unique in his ability as a fabulist to convey the real facts of life to ordinary people in so simple a way that even children can understand their messages. Hans Christian Andersen and his stories are equally effective. Who can read "The Emperor's New Clothes" and not immediately think of our political elites?
On the domestic front, there was a home-grown compendium of fables made famous by a journalist named Joel Chandler Harris. Harris compiled African-American folk tales in the second half of the nineteenth century. You may not recognize Harris's name, but the name of his fictional narrator has lasted in our collective memories for 150 years. The name? Uncle Remus, or course.
The left has effectively banned Uncle Remus from being taught as being demeaning to our black citizens, yet during the Vietnam conflict, during the buildup toward Iraq I and again for Iraq II, the left was quick to describe each of these conflicts as a "tar baby." That just drips with irony, doesn't it?
And now, those on the left who are formulating the so-called Common Core standards plan on limiting the literature that our kids and grandchildren are supposed to read in favor of more technical, non-fiction stuff. It's almost as if reading Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, Uncle Remus, et al., is considered dangerous and harmful to the welfare of a minor.
But then perhaps the left isn't interested in your kids being able to see that "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" isn't just a story with a moral, but an illustration, clear even to children, of supposed adults who are acting like children. No, they want your kids to read things like the local library regulations or some such.
It appears that our exalted teachers' establishment, in emphasizing the ability of kids to read regulations, is more interested in teaching young minds to obey the rules than consider if those rules make any sense at all.
Of course, being leftists/Progressives, they might not be able to help themselves. Don't believe it? Read Aesop's "The Scorpion and the Frog." They are just acting according to their nature.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter. Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.