In the Wikipedia entry it states that the phrase "feet of clay" refers to "weakness or character flaw, especially in people of high station". The phrase comes from of The Book of Daniel, a dream that visited King Nebuchadnezzar II (Daniel 2:31-33):
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
In David Berlinski's book, The Devil's Delusion, he uses the image to illustrate that, though the use of scientific achievements by militant atheists like Dawkins to 'prove' the non-existence of God might suggest their arguments are unassailable, science itself actually has little if nothing to say when it comes to not only human experience but also when it comes to ethics and moral discourse that give meaning to human life.
I was listening in on the news this morning where a piece was featured looking at the knowledge of basic geography of university students and some couldn't even identify where Asia, Europe, Africa were (some thought South America was Africa, and some couldn't point out where Europe is). Going by some of the posts I've been reading on Huffington Post (the Canadian edition) regarding #idlenomore and the Chief Spence 'liquid-only diet'. it is not just basic geography that Canadian students are not learning in school but almost every subject, especially civics and history.
There is certainly a lot of hatred and racism targetted at aboriginal groups in Canada; not only are we lazy moochers, a fiscal blackhole, criminals and cheats but downright primitive (as illustrated in that despicable cartoon in the Morris Mirror). Please. Given social passing in schools, we can't even accuse these people of disingenuousness, and I'll tell you why:
The social passing is compounded by the fact that much of the curriculum has not the appreciation nor imagination for the use of 'the liberal arts' in every subject that is taught and expected of the student body. A civics course, by itself, is not enough. It requires some knowledge of the historical developments, and how the political traditions of our great country came to be the way they are. For this, a liberal arts education is required because the political principles and examination of values that are spoken of by the ancients will never lose their applicability in the discourse of what it is to be human.
The rise of the rightwing extremism in North America, in the guise of Stephen Harper (in our case), is a result of this intellectual negligence. Harper himself has shown time and again that he not only lacks appreciation of the notion of 'conventional wisdom' but is dangerously under-developed as a competent leader of a political party, let alone a country. His whole take on public policy is one that seems based on personal feelings. Omar Khadr, Henk Tepper, Conrad Black, are just a few of the examples that his is the complete absence of appreciating the rule of law. His scandal-ridden Cabinet Ministers is another.
I, myself, was never taught the liberal arts. I gave myself the program to do the reading up on my favourite subjects. It was through reading of the masters my appreciation of the political/philosophical discourse was developed; same with my acquired personal values (by way of supporting data in the guise of literary classics of the world).
There's been an unconscious program of eliminating the human element in Canada's curriculum. To mistake the sad, sordid history of organized religion as an absurdity of the need for personal growth and character development is nothing less than robbing ourselves and our children of the benefits of civilization. We cannot long exist peacably in a poisoned well.