Say His Name
The article "Monumental Decision" [Nov. 6, City Weekly] starts out mentioning President L.B. Johnson, then refers to our current president as just "Obama."
Like him or not, he is our president, and should be respected and referred to as such.
Further Investigation Needed
I have a question for your readers.
Do you think The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in violation of any federal or state anti-gambling laws in regard to its "random" selection method of who can receive tickets for Christmas events on Temple Square, such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert?
I ask because I received an e-mail in which the word "lottery" was used. I am going to further investigate this question.
Salt Lake City
Stick to the Facts
I get that history teacher Stephanie Lauritzen ["Teach Me Liberty," Oct. 23, City Weekly] doesn't think much of either American exceptionalism or ancient traditions about how history should be taught.
But while I genuinely admire her honesty and eloquence, has it not occurred to her that many of her advanced-placement students will actually read what she has so passionately written? And when they do that, isn't their conclusion likely to be that, in order to succeed in her classroom, they too will have to reject what she rejects?
When Ms. Lauritzen puts quotation marks around the word "traditional," she quite succinctly demonstrates her contempt for the whole concept. And when she asserts that the study of history "cannot be reduced to a multiple-choice question," she undermines the idea of history as a chronology. It is just this attitude that explains why so very many high school graduates today cannot make any necessary distinctions between, for example, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
It is certainly to be applauded that Ms. Lauritzen wants to teach students the "critical thinking and writing skills that are vital to academic success." But those things can only be acquired in the wider context of historical facts, and whether a student has sufficient knowledge of those facts can, indeed, be determined by a series of carefully worded multiple-choice questions.
In 1967, when political scientist Ernest B. Fincher published, to wide acclaim, his book Government of the United States, he wrote an extraordinary account of American exceptionalism, one which (by today's standards) seems more than a bit unrealistic. Yet Ms. Lauritzen will do her students a disservice if she doesn't present them with the best possible case for that exceptionalism, and only then help them use their critical thinking skills to either support or oppose the idea.
No amount of genuine critical thinking can occur where the teacher merely demonstrates that history is "a complex, evolving subject," while at the same time wholly rejecting American history as in any way exceptional.
Thomas N. Thompson
Salt Lake City