Moyers Indoctrinates College Students

Moyers Indoctrinates College Students
By Mark D. Tooley | June 6, 2007

Former Lyndon Johnson aid Bill Moyers long ago strayed from his Southern Baptist roots before becoming the self-styled political prophet in residence at PBS.  Last week he delivered his latest jeremiad against America, in the form of a commencement speech, to the graduating class of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in

Moyers darkly warned against an American “empire” and decried all threats to the welfare state that he helped erect 40 years ago.

America is a great promise, but it is a broken promise,” Moyers sanctimoniously intoned.  He insisted that
America’s calling is “not as an empire. Or a superpower. Not a place where the strong take what they can and the weak what they must.”

Moyers showed incalculable self-restraint by omitting any mention of SMU’s recent decision to host a George W. Bush presidential library.  But why was Moyers, the left-wing political polemicist, the featured speaker at an at least nominally Christian school in what is supposed to be the Bible Belt?

While most graduates probably hope for inspiration and hope from commencement speakers, Moyers grimly pointed to a dire future for

“I am not…trying to spoil your day,” Moyers falsely promised to the fresh young graduates, as he proceeded to do just that.  “I am an old man now, past his biblical three score and 10, and it is from long experience I tell you: Take hold of this day… pull it close… squeeze from it every drop of joy and camaraderie-for it’s almost noon and already half over.”

Most of the young twentysomethings were probably checking their cell phone clocks right about then.

Inevitably, Moyers referenced the Iraq War.  “It’s not right that we are entering the fifth year of a war started on a suspicion.” Like many who served under Lyndon Johnson, Moyers is haunted by the Vietnam War and cannot peer beyond its gloomy legacy. “Whatever your party or politics, my young friends,
America can’t sustain a war begun under false pretenses because it is simply immoral to ask people to go on dying for the wrong reasons.”

Was Moyers speaking of 2007, or 1967? It is not clear, but he may as well have cited the

Gulf of
Tonkin resolution. Moyers, of course, helped Lyndon Johnson frame his arguments in support of the Vietnam War and assail the war’s opponents. Then he left the Johnson Administration and became a 40 year chronic critic of nearly all vigorous exertions of American military power. In his speech, he condemned the Bush’s Administration’s “assault” on the Constitution and the rule of law.  But was Moyers actually recalling the Johnson Administration’s wiretapping of and covert actions against the anti-warand civil rights movements?

“We cannot win a war when our leaders don’t have the will or courage to ask everyone to sacrifice, and place the burden on a few hundred thousand Americans from the working class led by a relative handful of professional officers,” Moyers bleakly opined, seemingly having forgotten that the draft ended 35 years ago.  ”
America’s not fighting the war; the American military is fighting the war, everyone else is at the mall. Our leaders are not even asking us to pay for it.

They’re borrowing the money and passing the IOUs to you and your kids.”

Speaking about America’s economy, Moyers sounded like he was touring
Appalachia with Robert Kennedy in 1964. “More Americans live in poverty-37 million, including 12 million children,” Moyers pronounced.

“Twelve million children!”  He cheerlessly complained that
America’s ranking among industrialized nations is “dead last in combating poverty,” while for “regular Americans” it’s “harder and harder for them to figure out how to make ends meet.”

Americans of all social strata are in fact far wealthier, healthier and longer-lived today than they were 40 years ago in the heady days of Johnson’s Great Society. But is there any level of wealth that would ever persuade a preacher of class warfare like Moyers that the horsemen of the apocalypse are not riding over the horizon?

Reluctantly admitting that
America is currently prosperous, Moyers tried to guilt-trip the well-heeled SMU graduates. “On one side of this city of
Dallas people pay $69 for a margarita and on the other side of town the homeless scrounge for scraps in garbage cans,” he recounted, implausibly.  Where does Moyers do his drinking?  PBS must offer a spectacular expense account. And if the homeless are fishing through the trash of
Dallas, it is not because government and private charity is lacking, or that jobs are scarce.


The Great Society that Moyers once championed failed because it saw the poor only as stereotypical exploited victims, not as complicated fellow humans with a wide range of moral and economic motivations.

SMU could have saved itself the honorarium fee by simply playing a taped sermon from the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin.  Moyers, as did Coffin, equates the

Kingdom of
God with an endless domestic and international welfare state, ceaselessly redistributing wealth to alleviate the guilt of a privileged few, without consideration for actual results.

Moyers, in a brief ode to actual Christianity, referenced SMU’s Methodist roots, citing Methodism’s rise from a few hundred followers in the 18th century to
America’s largest church in the 19th century.  “No institution has done more to shape
America’s moral imagination,” Moyers enthused.   But in fact, he would not have liked the early Methodists, who preached salvation to crusty frontiersmen, and whose spiritual entrepreneurship was more about divine help than government checks.

SMU’s outgoing student body president told the “United Methodist Reporter” that Moyers’ speech was “a little too negative and depressing.”  Probably most SMU graduates well understand that
America is a far happier nation than the grim reaper of PBS could ever admit.


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