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Worth stealing from Neal's Nuze, his 60 question history quiz:

Wednesday, July 5, 2006


I spent the first part of the Independence Day weekend at the Grove Park Inn & Spa in Ashville, North Carolina playing a bit of golf, relaxing and working on "Somebody's Gotta Say It" While there I was treated to several editions of The Asheville Citizen-Times. This is a Gannett newspaper ... same folks as USA Today. Needless to say, the slant is decidedly leftists. That seems to fit in quite well with the Asheville community which, I'm told, is quite proud of its liberal leanings.

A quick glance at the letters to the editor seemed to bear out the tidings of leftist leanings. It seems that the good citizens of Asheville are somewhat preoccupied with matters such as raising the minimum wage. Looks like we have an entire city here who's citizens feel that the government should force an employer to pay to an employee more than that employee's services are worth to the employer. I wonder how many of these people willingly pay more for an item than it is truly worth... just because they want to put some extra money in the merchant's pocket.

Well ... whatever floats your boat.

The July 2nd edition of the Citizen-Times carried a front-page questionnaire titled "How Patriotic Are You?" Readers were invited to take a quiz of ten questions and grade themselves. Under this questionnaire there was a quote from one Randy Goodstadt, the chairwoman of social and behavioral science at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. To wit:

"If people don't have a basic knowledge of history and civics, it means that people who are voting are complete ignoramuses, people who don't read a newspaper, who don't understand the policies of the people for whom they are voting. It's very scary. Very worrisome."

Well said, Ms. Goodstadt! Now perhaps you need to have a bit of a talk with the folks at the Citizen-Times. Here are the ten questions they posted to test the historical knowledge of the readers:

What is the date that the Declaration of Independence was signed?
What document is the legal framework of the United States?
Who wrote the words to the "Star Spangled Banner"?
What is the Pledge of Allegiance?
Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
What is the number of original Colonies?
Who was the first president of the United States?
What is the minimum voting age in the United States?
Who is the current governor of North Carolina?
What is the motto of North Carolina?
Well ... somebody's gotta say it, so here goes. There are only two questions out of the ten that are worth spending more than one nano-second in answering. Those would be questions 2 and 8. People do need to know that the Constitution is, or is supposed to be, the legal framework of the United States, and if you are at all interested in voting it might serve you well to know that the minimum age is 18. The other eight questions are complete BS. Worthless bits of information that do not make one either knowledgeable or patriotic.

Eight out of ten makes the entire article a vapid exercise in banality. Perhaps the Citizen-Times was having it's annual "Shallow and Meaningless Writing" contest.

Now you just know I must have some suggestions on how to beef up this particular quiz in order to give it some actual value, right? Of course! Let me noodle this out out for --- say --- 60 seconds or so to see if I can come up with a better citizenship quiz than did the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Forget when the Declaration of Independence was signed; tell me why it was signed? What were the signers trying to accomplish?
What happened to the men who signed the Declaration? Did they go on to be heroes and live happily ever after?
What does the Declaration of Independence say the people can do when a government becomes destructive to the ends of liberty?
What would happen to anyone who tried today to alter or abolish our government if it became destructive to idea that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed?
Which articles of the Constitution grant specific powers to the federal government?
Which article of the Constitution restricts the powers of the government to only those specifically set forth in the Constitution?
Describe the circumstances under which Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner?
Do you believe people living in a free country ought to be compelled to recite a pledge of allegiance to that country? Why?
Was the Revolutionary War supported by a majority of the Colonists?
Where in our Constitution is it stated that anyone has a right to vote for the office of President of the United States?
How did our original Constitution provide for the appointment of Senators?
Most foreign countries appoint an ambassador to be their official representative before the government of the United States. Who officially represents the 50 state governments before the government of the United States?
Explain the difference between a rule of law and the rule of man.
Explain the difference between a democracy and a constitutional republic.
Was our country founded to be a country of majority rule?
Can you imagine what our country would be like today if the majority did rule?
Aren't you glad the majority doesn't rule?
Why does it matter in the grand scheme of things who the governor of North Carolina is?
Isn't a governor something you put on a state to keep it from moving ahead very fast?
What possible benefit could you gain by memorizing the motto of the State of North Carolina, or any other state for that matter?
How many times can the word "democracy" found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution?
How many times can the word "democracy" found in the constitutions of any of the 50 states?
What does this tell you?
Define "civil war."
Was the war between the northern and southern states in the mid-1800s a civil war?
Who is third in the line of succession to the presidency?
Based on your answer to the foregoing question, would you demand that George Bush and Dick Cheney never eat from the same container of potato salad should the Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives in the next election?
How did the political class manage to fool the people of the United States into supporting a Constitutional Amendment creating an income tax?
How do most people get their news on a daily bass?
Does the "freedom of press" clause in the First Amendment apply to the broadcast media?
So, do most people get their news from agencies licensed to operate by the federal government?
Why were the words "under God" placed into the Pledge of Allegiance?
Do you think that it is proper for the federal government to compel students attending government schools under compulsory attendance laws to acknowledge the role of God in the formation of our country? Would this constitute "effecting an establishment of religion?" If not, why not?
Do Americans derive their basic rights from the Constitution?
If we don't derive our rights from the Constitution, just why was the Bill of Rights added anyway?
Define a system of government where the means of production are owned and controlled privately.
Define a system of government where the means of production are privately owned but controlled by government.
Define a system of government where the means of production are owned and controlled by the government.
What percentage of total income is earned by the top one percent of income earners.
What percentage of total income taxes collected by the federal government is paid by the top one percent of income earners.
Where in our Constitution does it specifically state that only U.S. citizens may vote for the office of President of the United States?
Name one right that a state government can exercise without interference from the federal level.
Where in our Constitution does it specifically state that only U.S. citizens may vote for members of the House of Representatives?
Look at the Bill of Rights. List any Amendments in the Bill of Rights that were ratified for the purpose of limiting the powers of the government.
If our Constitution provides for equal protection under the law, why, then, does the Voting Rights Act only apply to certain states who were held in political disfavor in the 70's?
List any Amendments in the Bill of Rights that were ratified for the purpose of limiting the rights of individuals.
If the Bill of Rights was written to limit the rights of government and to guarantee certain rights in the individual, try to explain why so many people seem to think that the 2nd Amendment was written to limit the rights of individuals and guarantee the rights of government?
Does the First Amendment protect speech that some people might find offensive?
Explain how our Republic was threatened when Janet Jackson showed the world that she likes to wear a Japanese throwing star on the nipple of her left breast.
What is the one exclusive power our government has that no individual or business can legally exercise?
Now this list could be expanded to fill an entire book. I could, for instance, add a hundred or so questions beginning with "Where does the United States Constitution give the federal government the right to .........." Fifty questions is enough, though, and it's time to finish the Nuze and head to the studios.

It does occur to me that some of you high school and college government teachers and instructors might have a bit of fun with these questions and your students. No ... I'm not providing the answers.
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