Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, July 3, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page A:13

Mountain View News Saturday, July 3, 2021 MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT 13 
Mountain View News Saturday, July 3, 2021 MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT 

You can become an American 
citizen by being born 
in the U.S. or you can 
become one by getting 

Becoming naturalized is a 
heck of a lot harder. 

It not only means having 

to meet all the legal and 
residency requirements Congress has established, 
it means passing a U.S. civics test that 
would stump a random cable-news talk show 

Sadly, based on the results of the civics test they 
take, naturalized American immigrants understand 
the uniqueness of their adopted country 
better that many native-born Americans. 

The civics test is an oral exam during which 
a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service 
(USCIS) officer asks test-takers 10 questions 
from a list of 100 possible questions. A passing 
score requires that six out of ten questions are 
answered correctly. 

Typical questions include: “What does the U.S. 
Constitution do,” “Name one right or freedom 
of the First Amendment,” “How many representatives 
are in the U.S. House?” and so on. 

Immigrants in the naturalization process routinely 
pass the test 91% of the time, demonstrating 
their strong understanding of our history, 
the functions of our government and the 
duties of being an American citizen. 

Meanwhile, according to a recent Woodrow 
Wilson National Fellowship Foundation survey, 
only 40% of native born Americans can 
pass the same test — a worrisome finding for a 
representative republic that requires informed 
and engaged voters so it may thrive. 

In 2020 the Trump administration made the 

U.S. civics test harder. 
Test takers were asked 20 questions from 
a broadened list of 128 possible questions 
like “Name one of the many things Benjamin 
Franklin was famous for” and “Name an 
American innovation.” 

Critics warned that the failure rate would increase, 
making the legal path to citizenship 
harder, but it didn’t. 

The immigrants’ pass rate increased to upwards 
of 95 per cent. (The Biden administration has 
since repealed the 2020 test and reverted to the 
prior 10-question test.)
How can we make native-born Americans as 
passionate to learn and understand the basic 
workings of their government as newcomers? 

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation believes 
that the traditional method of teaching American 
history — “memorization of dates, names 
and events” — is the crux of the problem. 

To address the challenge, the foundation has 
created the American History Initiative that 
will use interactive, digital tools — games, videos 
and graphic novels — to make American 
history more engaging to young and old. 

Such initiatives are to be applauded and we 
better hope they produce millions of well-
informed young people who understand the 
uniqueness of a country founded upon the 
moral and political principles of the Declaration 
of Independence, which we celebrate every 
July Fourth. 

We are a country of individuals who are not to 
be divided by our differences but who should 
be unified by our fundamental rights to life, 
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

Our government was designed to protect these 
basic human freedoms and our duty as citizens 
is to make sure our government doesn’t take 
our rights away. 

It’s too bad so few native-born Americans are 
aware of this sacred duty to themselves and 
their children. 

I think our Independence Day celebrations 
should start featuring the men and women 
who come from other countries to become 

The passion of naturalized citizens for their 
new country will renew the desire of the rest 
of us to better understand and appreciate our 
many blessings and motivate us to become better 

Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist 
for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him 


When hammer-thrower Gwen Berry turned 
her back on the American flag at the Olympic 
Trials last weekend, it made me think of 
Sergeant William Carney. 

Berry probably doesn’t know who Carney 

Neither, I bet, do the Black Lives Matter activists 
who spent last summer blindly tearing 
down statues of historical figures to 
protest the racist origins of America and the 
systemic racism they claim exists today. 

Thanks to the lousy way history is taught 
in our schools, most Americans – of every 
color – have never heard of William Carney. 

But who he was, what brave things he did on 
a Civil War battlefield, and what he thought 
about America and its flag should have become 
common knowledge many July 4ths 

Carney was born a slave in Virginia in 1840, 
but his father escaped to the North on the 
Underground Railroad and made enough 
money in Massachusetts to purchase the 
freedom of the rest of his family. 

In 1863 Carney, at age 23, joined a local militia 
and became part of the all-Black Company 
C of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry 

As shown in the Oscar-winning 1989 movie 
“Glory,” the historic 54th and 55th regiments 
were founded to prove that Black men could 
be good, brave soldiers – and they quickly 
proved it. 

During the bloody battle of Fort Wagner in 
Charleston, S.C., in 1863 Carney saw that 
the soldier carrying the 54th regimental colors 
had been wounded. 

He left his position and ran into the thick 
of the fighting to save the American flag 
from being captured or hitting the ground 

– which was something they cared about 
deeply in those days. 
Despite being hit four times by bullets, Carney 
was able to bring the U.S. flag safely to 
Union lines, where he collapsed. 

It took 40 years for Carney’s battlefield heroics 
to be rewarded, but in 1900 he was 
awarded the Medal of Honor in Boston. 

The first Black person to receive the award, 
he explained his heroics by simply saying, “I 
only did my duty.” 

Can you imagine how Carney – a former 



slave – and the other 
patriotic Black men 
who enlisted in the 
54th and 55th would 
react today to the 
protests of Gwen 
Berry or the constant 
complaints of the BLM crowd and Critical 
Race Theorists? 

America’s not perfect now, and it never was. 

But BLM and the others are fixated on the 
past – on the shameful stuff that our white 
ancestors did to blacks that we regret and 
are ashamed of but can’t do anything about 

That shameful stuff includes the horrors of 
slavery, 70 years of legalized racism in the 
Jim Crow South, the de facto discrimination 
and segregation in the North and white race 
riots like the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. 

Activists need to acknowledge all the good 
that has been done to make America a better, 
fairer, freer country that lives up to its 
founding ideals. 

Blacks in America live far better and freer 
lives than Carney’s generation could ever 
dream of living. 

Yet they constantly disrespect the flag and 
the country it represents, which they claim 
was founded on racism and is still systematically 

Gwen Berry said this week she doesn’t hate 

She said she turned her back to the flag because 
she doesn’t like the third (and basically 
unknown) stanza of the National Anthem, 
which she claims “disrespects” Blacks 
with its brief reference to slaves. 

Berry says she knows her history, but she really 
doesn’t. She and the BLM and its allies 
have no appreciation of what life was like for 
Black people like Carney and his generation. 

They take a knee to the National Anthem or 
turn their backs on the same flag that Sergeant 
Willian Carney, a former slave, loved 
and risked his life to keep from touching the 

What would Carney say to Gwen Berry, Colin 
Kaepernick and the members of BLM today? 
He’d probably want to turn his back to 
them. Download the movie “Glory” if you 
want to see why. 

Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan, is 
an author, speaker and president of the Reagan Legacy 

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 
Email: Website: