Friday, December 16, 2011

Learning from the nations

The Bible contains many prophecies concerning various nations, mostly against them, but what for? Why do we need to know about Moab or even Tyre, unless we are rulers ourselves?

They're an example to guide us in our own affairs. When we see the pride of Moab, or the cleverness and money-grubbing of Tyre, we can take warning for ourselves from how things end up for these nations.

Not only the Bible, but the events that pass over modern states are most instructive. For instance, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi sneered at the rebels in Benghazi and promised to slaughter them, calling them rats. This did frighten people. But unfortunately for him, his father, and his brothers and sister, it provided plausible reasons for NATO to come into the picture and destroy the regime. Muammar is dead, and Saif is in custody. If he hadn't been such a conceited smart-mouth and threatened to kill a lot of people, the Gaddafi regime might have survived.

It's a lot the same in Syria. When things heated up in Deraa in March, Bashar al-Assad was still not in serious trouble. His regime actually had some solid popular support, unlike Ben Ali, Mubarak, or even Gaddafi. Assad even had a good personal relationship with his Turkish neighbor, Tayyip Recep Erdogan. If he had gotten ahead of popular opinion by repudiating his security forces and promptly granting far-reaching reforms, he would most likely be in good shape today.

What made me think more about these lately is two recent scraps with school districts. One noodled around all year and totally failed the kid. When we proposed a remedy, they gave us the one-finger salute and took refuge in trying to paste a mentally retarded tag on the kid in order to build themselves an alibi for having screwed everything up last year. By brazenly trying to ruin the kid's future just to cover their butts with his hide, they obliged Mama Bear to protect Baby Bear. Then, as though their brazen cynicism were a light thing, they followed the advice of their attorney to answer impudently in the manner of Rehoboam, denying everything like the adulterous woman of the Proverbs that eats and wipes her mouth and says, "I've done no wrong!" Then they filed against the parent for a due process hearing, at which point we brought the matter to the world in flyers we distributed at the high school for a couple of days before mediation. So we settled up and all is well now, but they could have saved six months and a lot of money by being reasonable in the first place. Arrogance and cruelty proved expensive, and got them nothing. Indeed, their legal maneuvers were precisely what enabled us to defeat them.

Another district we're working with had a minor problem, easy to fix, which they chose to handle by sending a threatening and insulting email to the parent in order to scare her into signing an IEP she was not comfortable with, and they followed up with a frivolous complaint to Child Protective Services (CPS). That didn't get the parent to heel and roll over as the district intended, because being Mama Bear, she too had to step up and defend her Baby Bear. She brought us into it, and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has now accepted her retaliation complaint. CPS is not happy to be used in this cynical fashion by school districts, who they say pull this stunt all the time. So, having found the complaint unfounded, they advised the parent to pursue the OCR complaint. Disability Rights Learning Center also wants to take up the matter, because they too are fed up with school districts using bogus CPS complaints to retaliate against parents and their kids.

Both of these districts could have learned something from the experiences of the Libyan and Syrian dictatorships, if they had been paying attention. And the moral of the story is, so can I, and so can you.

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