Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images
The insurrection at the Capitol building occurring on Jan. 6 was the direct consequences of an unregulated media environment free for expression. Without ethical information gatekeepers, the media has become an elusive place for truth. Citizens are free to share their opinions, technology a tool of disguise. No longer are legitimate news sources easily identifiable. Clever producers can deliver conspiracy in the form of facts. Even the most critical eye can be fooled by familiar media formats posing as news. The same can be said for educational materials. Not all textbooks and handouts are created equal. Some scholars pass their opinions off as fact, skillfully worded with bias. The arts and humanities is a good place for creative storytelling; however, science and math should deal strictly in fact.
Like the title suggests, political science is a discipline in the sciences. The WCU Political Science Department’s mission is to promote “responsible citizenship” while preparing “students for careers in government/public service, law, teaching, business and international affairs.” Therefore, the curriculum our future government leaders are learning should be based on facts. The Constitution is an instructional manual written by our most revered historical minds. It is not a story or narrative; there are no characters or drama, just directions for our elected decision makers to follow. Confusion over the Bill of Rights and the Constitution is common. The language is odd and uncomfortable for modern readers. Thus, a clear and concise explanation is vital to students yearning to know.
Currently, some of the information being shared in the Department reflects the same thought processes of the insurgents. Some of the materials are suggestive and biased, lacking any legitimate citation. Most disturbing is the implicit nature of the language, leading students to conclusions of what the authors deem right. The Constitution is neither. Like a recipe, the Constitution makes no judgements. Interpretations are left to the Supreme Court.
The insurgents deeply believe in their cause because of their own misguided understandings of the Constitution. Their media fueled fears have manifested into a divisive hate, encouraged by disinformation. The road to credibility will be a long one, most likely at least a generation. To breach this divide requires an affinity with the truth that can only start in the classroom. West Chester’s mission specifically states it strives to provide graduates with the ability to “understand the ethical implications of decisions and the world in which they live.” Nevertheless, some materials remain in question. If we can’t trust our educators to present us with the truth, what does that say about not only the future but the education system at large? Until the university can agree as a whole that all their materials will only express the utmost integrity, WCU may be just as complicit in spreading disinformation as the insurgents themselves.
April Strunk is a fourth-year student majoring in political science and media & culture. AS938710@wcupa.edu