I was going to open this column with remarks on the plight of the German Romeike family, who in 2008 fled Germany to the U.S. to escape the prohibition there against homeschooling and the severe penalties, such as harsh financial fines and the removal of children from their homes, for not obeying the state.
But, unexpectedly, and for unknown reasons, the Department of Homeland Security called the organization representing the Romeike family, the Home School Legal Defense Association, and said the Romeikes had been granted permanent asylum status and would not be deported back to Germany.
World War II has been over nearly seventy years, but apparently Germany still has a Nazi law on the books that requires German parents to send their children to state schools. In Germany, your children are not your own, neither to teach nor to claim. They are the state’s. You, the parents, are mere stewards of your children, and if they are not raised to be good, docile citizens, they will be reclaimed by the state and removed from your deleterious influence.
Among other blogs, the Free Republic reported the astounding and unexpected news:
“Today, a Supervisor with the Department of Homeland Security called a member of our legal team to inform us that the Romeike family has been granted “indefinite deferred status”. This means that the Romeikes can stay in the United States permanently (unless they are convicted of a crime, etc.) “This is an incredible victory that can only be credited to our Almighty God.
“We also want to thank those of who spoke up on this issue-including that long ago White House petition. We believe that the public outcry made this possible while God delivered the victory.
Up until yesterday, the issue has been reported in one fundamentally wrong way: that the Romeikes were escaping from “religious persecution.” Todd Starnes of Fox News, for example, feared the worst for the Romeike family after the Supreme Court refused to listen to their appeal, which would have resulted in almost instant deportation of the family back to Germany. On March 3rd, in his article, “Team Obama wins fight to have Christian home-school family deported,” he wrote:
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the United States in 2008 seeking political asylum. They fled their German homeland in the face of religious persecution for homeschooling their children.
They wanted to live in a country where they could raise their children in accordance with their Christian beliefs.
The Romeikes were initially given asylum, but the Obama administration objected – claiming that German laws that outlaw homeschooling do not constitute persecution.”The goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society,” the Justice Department wrote in a legal brief last year. “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the Romeike’s appeal – paving the way for the Christian family of eight to be deported.
Why didn’t the Justice Department call with the good news, instead of the DHS? What was the motive behind the reversal? That remains unknown, but very likely it was the “negative” publicity of a callous, behemoth government picking on a single family. The federal government isn’t scoring high in the likeability polls, lately.
The issue is not one of mere religious persecution. Certainly the German law accomplishes that, but isn’t it more than just “religious” persecution? It’s more than that. It is the negating of one’s convictions, religious or not, by fiat law backed by government force.
Fundamentally, the Romeike family fled to the U.S. to escape ideological persecution. That their reasons were religious are secondary.
As for the Justice Department’s reasons, that smacks of what could be called “legal tourism,” that is, respecting an irrational, oppressive law simply because it is “foreign,” and also because the Obama administration is friendly to all sorts of oppressive foreign law. It has nothing to say about the “home-schooling” of the children of Muslim parents to become unassimilated Americans, whose fealty is pledged first to Islamic religion and ideology, and not to the country they were brought to or born in. And don’t get me started on the children of Mexicans who prefer to fly the Mexican flag over the American and harass anyone in public schools out West caught wearing an American flag shirt. Our government sides with those invaders, as well. Neither the Mexicans nor the Muslims face deportation for “home-schooling” their children. Only European whites.
Starnes in his Fox News article noted:
There are nearly 12 million illegal immigrants living the United States. You’d think the Obama administration could find a place [for] eight immigrants who want to live here legally.
[Michael] Farris [chairman of the Home School organization] said the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case sends a chilling message to Americans who currently home school their children. “The administration thinks it’s a privilege to home school – not a right. We’d better buckle down and be ready to fight them every step of the way.”
If the government thinks home-schooling is a parental privilege, and not a right, then it will work to withdraw that privilege for the “common good.” Here is arch-liberal MSNBC hostess Melissa Harris-Perry on the government’s official position on education, as reported by the Daily Caller on April 8th, 2013:
“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have, because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours, and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of ‘These are our children.’ So part of it is, we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility, and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.”
A “kind of private notion of children”? One that needs to be “broken through”? Calling home-schooling a “privilege” helps to break down that notion. After all, parents had little to do with having children. They didn’t “build them,” the “community” or the government did by providing roads, jobs, government schools, and beds on which the parents might conceive children. It’s all so simple, you see.
Police State USA had an interesting account of another German couple who did not have a chance to flee Germany over the home-schooling issue. Its September 28th 2013 article, “SWAT-style raid on German homeschool family is a reminder of why the Romeikes deserve U.S. asylum”:
In the early morning hours of August 29, 2013, a team of at least 20 German state officials, including social workers, police officers, and special agents descended upon the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich to remove by force their 4 children (ages 7-14) in Darmstadt, Germany.
The SWAT-style raid was conducted on the family’s residence because of the Wunderlich’s (pronounced “VOON-der-lish”) continued homeschooling of their children in violation of the German ban on the practice of educating one’s own children in accordance with religious beliefs and beyond the influence of the state-sanctioned curriculum.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) obtained and translated the court documents that authorized this use of force to seize the children. They found that the only legal grounds for removal was the children’s lack of school attendance. The court papers did not allege abuse or neglect. Nor were the Wunderlichs charged with failing to provide an adequate education. The law ignores the educational progress of the child; attendance-and not learning-is the object of the German law. Authorities even took the children’s passports, making it impossible for the family to escape….
So, if you’re a parent and raise a child to excel in virtually every subject, surpassing all the poor clods in the state schools, it doesn’t matter. You must obey. We will have discipline! Under the threat of further force and never seeing their children again, the Wunderlichs caved.
As of September 19, the Wunderlich children have finally been reunited with their parents after being stolen from them during the raid on their peaceful village home. German officials ended the three week separation following a court hearing in which the Wunderlich parents were compelled to promise that they would send their children back to a state school.
According to HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris, “When the parents told the authorities that they would send their kids back to school during the raid, they were told it was too late. What we’ve seen today is a reversal in the German courts caused by the mounting international pressure from human rights advocates.”
It’s interesting to read the stand of the German Federal Constitutional Court’s on private education when it ruled against another home-schooling family in 2003:
“The general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area.”
Attorney General Eric Holder, certainly no paragon of freedom of thought, action, or of anything else, sided with German law and not American law. Notes Police State USA:
Likewise, in the case of Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, the Obama Justice Department argued to deny asylum based on the belief that governments may force parents to send their children to state-sanctioned schools. By siding with the Germany, Attorney General Eric Holder is endorsing the German government’s policy in defense of compulsory schooling defined in Art. 6 § 2 as follows:
The care and upbringing of children is the natural right of parents and a duty primarily incumbent upon them. The State shall watch over them in the performance of this duty.
And Art. 7 § 1 adds:
The entire school system shall be under the supervision of the state.
Well, is home-schooling a natural right, or something like a “free cell phone” from Obama? Is it a right defended by the 14th Amendment, or a privilege dispensed by the state? Have individuals the right to choose what their children will learn, or does the state have a “right” to decide the curricula to make your children better citizens and better prepared to serve the state and the community? The catch here is that the state has no such right – only the power to compel through force.
Why are the German and American governments so opposed to home-schooling, or any kind of private education? Why has the Department of Justice, and, indeed, the Obama administration, taken the side of fascism? It’s an easy question to answer: Power.
The Federalist had an interesting essay by Jayme Metzgar, “Home Schooling in Germany and the Future of Freedom,” on September 18th, while the Romeike family was awaiting their fate at the hands of a hostile American government:
….Totalitarian dictators throughout the past century have fully grasped the importance of indoctrinating children to ensure their dogma takes root. They have also understood that in order to do this, they must drive a wedge in the relationship between parent and child.
Adolf Hitler, who instituted the Hitler Youth in 1926 and made it compulsory for German children a decade later, explained this strategy: “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I say calmly, ‘Your child belongs to us already. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this new community’.”
However, Metzgar adds immediately after that:
However, contemporary German leaders and liberal American elites ought to be well-aware that robust parental rights have historically been an invaluable bulwark against totalitarianism. This is especially true of the parental right to direct the education of one’s own child.
Perhaps Metzgar overlooks the fact that the American “elite” – in government, in academia, in kindergarten through graduate school, the whole liberal/left/Marxist establishment – wants totalitarianism to govern the country.
Remember Elian Gonzales, the six-year-old Cuban boy who in April 2000 was taken from his relatives in Florida and handed back to Castro’s Communist prison? That disgraceful event may serve as a concrete symbol of what our government wishes to do over the long-term to all American children. How else to explain “Common Core“?
In December 2013 the Daily Mail reported on what happened to Elian, who is now twenty years old and thoroughly indoctrinated:
‘Fidel Castro for me is like a father,’ Gonzalez said in the recent interview. ‘I don’t profess to have any religion but if I did my God would be Fidel Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right path.’
In an interview with the Cuban weekly Girón published on the cubadebate.cu website, Elian, said his experience in Miami when he was six ‘charged me for life.’ Speaking in his native Spanish, he said his basic rights as a child – ‘the right to be with my father, the right to maintain my nationality and remain in my cultural context’ – were violated in the United States.
Those days were very sad for me, which marked me for life’, González said Monday. ‘It never gave me the chance to think of my mother, who died at sea as a result of the Cuban Adjustment Act,’ he said, referring to the 1966 U.S. law that allows any Cuban who reaches the U. S. by any means to be paroled and given residency.
Havana has called the law ‘murderous’ and blamed it for encouraging Cubans to board rickety boats to cross the Florida Straits in the hopes of reaching the U.S. González said he “suffered the consequences of the act.’ But he emphasized that “our struggle is not against the American people; it is against their government.’ He said. ‘From the moment Americans knew of my case, they took to the streets to call for me to be sent back to my country.’
That’s what our government and the German government wish American and German children to grow up to be: thoroughly brainwashed ventriloquist dummies spouting love for the state that reared and educated them.
Our government was willing to hand Elian over to Castro’s tyranny. When will American parents stop handing their children over to the brainwashers in American public schools? When will they stop being beastly to their own children?
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk series of novels set in England and Virginia in the decades leading up to the American Revolution, and also of Whisper the Guns and First Prize. His essays, books reviews, and other nonfiction have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other periodicals. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason and The Dougout.