A thought came to my mind several months ago whilenwatching a television interview of two rival groups from Texasninvolved in a debate concerning school curriculum. Thosenwhom one could identify as conservatives protested passionatelynagainst using our schools to “peddle” unpatriotic and antireligiousnviews. The other side countered by appealing to thenseparation of church and state and by attacking their opponentsnas enemies of intellecmal freedom. This exchange of platitudesnshould be familiar to any observer of the contemporary culturalnscene. Indeed, only a mental incompetent or stranger to contemporarynAmerica would have been unable to anticipate thencliches uttered by both camps. Yet cliches do remain important—notnas vehicles of original thinking, but for definingnpositions and evoking reactions.no. ^n balance, the grass-roots conservatives featured on thenprogram were operating with less-persuasive commonplacesnthan their opponents on the left. In making this judgment I amnnot evaluating the demonstrable validity of either presentation.nBoth sides engaged in grandstanding and appealed tonsentiment and conventional prejudice (resorting to whatnAristotle called the forensic device of the enthymeme), as wellnas to analytic understanding. Unhappily, the conservativesnfailed to grasp what would be the popular perception of theirnrhetoric outside of their own community. They sacrificedncogency to “tell it like it is.” They thereby lost the opportunitynto present themselves as defenders of freedom, not simply ofn”sectarian” virtue. They also, by the way, missed the chance tonrender more intelligible a conservative view of reality.nWhat these good people should\sst stressed is that educationnis not “value-neutral.” And, given this tmism, the parentsnof those who attend public schools should have at least as muchnright to determine the values taught there as the socialnengineers who staff educational agencies. The most seriousnmoral question in terms of public education only indirectlynbears on the tension between religion and secularism. The corenquestion around which other issues fall is “Who should socializenthe young?” or, to put it a bit differently, “Whose valuesnshould be used to achieve this end?”nEven a cursory examination of my children’s social-studiesntextbooks reveals the wide gap between what I was taught innpublic school and the information on history and society currentlynbeing presented. The difference cannot be reduced tondegrees of factual accuracy. The argument is over competingnparadigms, values, and visions of the good. This was broughtnhome to me when I heard the Texas religionists complain aboutnthe anticapitalist bias pervading their schools’ textbooks. Theynalso lamented the use of study materials which seemed tonblame the United States for, among other disasters, the brutalitynof the Vietnamese conflict. As a trained historian, I suspectnthat these leftist interpretations of history are no more scientificnthan those that proceed from diametrically oppositenChronicles of Cttlturen• TOWARD A WELTANSCHAUUNG •nC O M M i: N Tnnnphilosophical premises. Those who believe in the free marketnand Judeo-Christian social values and who see America as tryingnhistorically to embody these principles are certainly asncapable of teaching “educational facts” as those on the othernside. The question, however, is whether social traditionalistsncan keep the liberal left from having a monopoly over publicneducational policy.nvTrass-roots conservatives do not always effectively expressntheir opposition to proposed legislation supposedly on behalfnof homosexuals and women. In these matters they have largelynconfined themselves to stressing the sinful and unnatural characternof homosexual relations and to associating feminist causesnwith a lesbian assault on the family. Much of the legislationnthey have opposed does aim at blurring the distinction betweennnormal and aberrant social behavior. It seeks to institutionalizena transvaluation of moral values, often by appealing to annamoral sentimentality. On these points the Moral Majority maynhave even aw^erstated the utterly vicious and brutalizing effectsnof the institutionalizaton of what was once perceived as thenadversary culmre. But even more important for mounting anbattle against it is that “liberationist” social legislation assaultsnthe rights and liberties of the nonradicalized segments of society.nLaws to protect homosexuals would require those who considerntheir lifestyle morally and culturally repulsive (e.g. allnreligious traditionalists) to rent public lodgings to self-advertisingnhomosexuals and to serve them in restaurants and othernplaces of business. The effect of such legislation (which is nondoubt intended) would be to obliterate the social space innwhich traditionalist communities have hitherto managed tonexist.nThe now-defiinct ERA posed an even more massive potentialnthreat to our eroded liberties and to the toleration ofnnonradical social values. Such an amendment would stronglynencourage judges and bureaucrats, most of whom are beyondnelectoral recall, to impose guidelines upon the rest of society.nThat many such impositions have already taken place does notngainsay the likelihood that greater and more regular controlnover human relations would result from the passage of annequal-rights constitutional amendment. It is hard to exaggeratenthe lengths to which enterprising jurists and cmsadingnlawyers might push its application to the detriment of historicalnliberties. One need only recall that the 1964 Civil Rights Actnaeated legal mechanisms and justifications for what has beennproperly called “reverse discrimination.” When this possibilitynwas anticipated by senatorial critics who pointed especially tonTitle VII of that bill. Senators Humphrey and Muskie, two laternsupporters of the quota system, ridiculed their supposedlynalarmist reaction. Particularly in the wake of bureaucratic andnjudicial encroachment upon the majority’s freedom of actionnin the name of oppressed but often bogus minorities, socialnconservatives may find in the appeal to liberty an unexpectedn