The late Paul Harvey was a conservative talk-radio pioneer. He intrigued listeners by beginning a story, stopping to take a commercial break and returning with his trademark line, now for “the rest of the story.” Usually, the rest of that story held a surprise ending. His niche was not necessarily to preach as much as it was to educate through storytelling, often sharing the “mysteries of history” to make a point.
When Harvey did don his commentary hat, it usually was to voice concerns about America’s deterioration. One of his best-known broadcasts was a 1964 soliloquy on the decline of American moralism aptly titled “If I Were the Devil: How to Destroy America.”
In it, Harvey said, as the devil, he would seek to manipulate those institutions that had made America great – the churches, the schools, the media, etc. He would prey upon the minds of the young, steering them away from faith and discipline and toward a “do as you please” mindset – nurtured by alcohol and drugs and fanned by a “mesmerizing” media interested only in higher ratings.
The ultimate goal of Harvey’s devil was to divide Americans, causing them to turn upon themselves. How goes America would then go the rest of the world – for its collapse would be the linchpin in the devil’s pursuit of global conquest.
Ten years before his 2009 death, Harvey – even more worried than in 1964 – published his soliloquy as a written commentary with only a few changes. Despite Americans’ euphoria over having won the Cold War, the intervening three and a half decades that had passed since his broadcast had only further convinced Harvey America’s moral compass was badly broken.
What Harvey first grasped more than a half century earlier, most Americans, like the lobster placed in cool water before being heated up so as to not realize what lay ahead, had not. Now, eight years after Harvey’s death, the devil’s work in destroying America is more apparent than ever.
Let us briefly examine the relevancy today of some of Harvey’s concerns.
In 2017, church membership in America remains in a steady decline as the church lingers in a state of cultural irrelevancy. Estimates are that half of all Americans have no church affiliation. Statistics show for every 1,000 churches opening their doors, 4,000 are closing theirs. America now ranks third among those countries with the largest number of Christians not affiliated with a church.
As to education, Harvey foresaw where it was heading. “If I were the devil,” he said, “I would encourage schools to refine young intellect but neglect to discipline emotions. I’d tell teachers to let those students run wild. And before you knew it, you’d have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.”
Harvey was right. However, one observation he would fail to make was the moral morass into which many of those responsible for educating our children – their teachers – also would fall.
It is unconscionable some teachers, professors and school administrators have endeavored to impose their own political extremist and negative ideas upon malleable young minds endeavoring to grasp the values that once made this country great. Some of the mental giants to whom our young students have been entrusted include:
- A Texas high school teacher who conducted a mock assassination of President Donald Trump in her classroom, screaming the word “Die” as she did so.
- A professor at John Jay College and self-proclaimed antifa activist teaching law enforcement who tweeted, “Some of y’all might think it sucks being an antifascist teaching at John Jay College but I think it’s a privilege to teach future dead cops.”
- A Princeton professor who, on Constitution Day, delivered a speech titled, “F%*# Free Speech.” While her speech’s title sought to denigrate our Constitution, its message sought to undermine it. She argued (keep in mind this is an academic environment where students are to enjoy the free exchange of ideas) the best way to counter uninformed or incorrect speech was to limit it.
- A San Diego State University sociology teacher who offered students extra credit if they took a quiz to determine their level of inherent “white privilege.”
- A Clemson University professor, claiming expertise in online decision-making, who ignored that expertise as he ranted on his Facebook page, “All Republicans (are) ‘racist’ and ‘scum.'”
- A visiting University of Florida professor who tweeted as Hurricane Harvey pounded Texas, “I don’t believe in instant karma but this kinda feels like it was for Texas. Hopefully, this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them.”
- A Muslim professor at Cal State who defended genocide on the basis that sometimes it “is not in any sense distinctively heinous. Nor is it necessarily immoral.” Particularly, he suggested in a separate tweet, when directed against “Southern white people.”
- A Georgetown University professor and Muslim convert who defended his religion’s embrace of slavery and rape.
- A school board member in Elgin, Illinois, who commented on Facebook that the American flag “means nothing more than toilet paper to me.”
As to Harvey’s concerns about a media more concerned over ratings than reporting news, this came into much clearer focus in the aftermath of a 2016 presidential election won by a man the leftist press detested. Study after study supports the fact “an almost overwhelming fraction of journalists are liberal.” And, with Hillary Clinton, their champion of the left, defeated in the election, the media all-too-often now gives the news a leftward spin. Sadly, long gone are the days of the media simply reporting facts and leaving readers or viewers to draw their own conclusions.
The bottom line of these various factors has been the divisiveness Paul Harvey feared. It happens, in part, because the values that once made America great have been lost in the fog of debates often defying logic and the boundaries of mutual respect. Instead, debates are fueled by the undisciplined emotion Harvey foresaw decades ago that would descend upon us.
Unfortunately, we have met the devil and he is us.
A version of this piece also appeared on http://www.wnd.com/
Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.