Sunday, September 6, 2009
A Corner On Decency?
The latest manifestation of right-wing craziness has hit the airwaves. It seems that "President Obama is after our children!" In a fit of conservative paranoia in a season that has seen more than its share of the same, right wingers, stoked on a tad too much FOX news, are preparing to yank their kids in droves from school on Tuesday to prevent their hearing a special address to the nation's youth by the President. Spoon-fed on fear by conservative talking heads such as Michele Malkin, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh et al., parents nationwide are moving to head Obama's speech off at the pass. The speech, purported by conservative pundits to contain mind-altering messages about the wonders of socialism, has caused dozens of East Texas Schools to announce that they would not be showing the speech to their students. I can recall no finer civics lesson on censorship in the annals of American education. The lone standout unfazed by the hysteria gripping the region is the Longview Independent School District. Hats off to that oasis of rationality in East Texas.
Funny, I don't recall liberal parents yelling "Katie bar the door!" when Ronald Reagan gave a similar address to school children during his administration. Perhaps that's because liberals are just not as susceptible to the wild speculations, not to mention manipulations that irresponsible "journalists" and news "entertainers" traffic in these days. Beyond that, liberal and progressive parents seem to have a clearer understanding of the importance of a presidential address to the nation's youth, regardless of the politics of any given executive in any given year. It's the President, people! What is to become of us when we don't trust the individual elected by way of a thorough, legitimate democratic process to lead our country? I see this as the logical conclusion of a longstanding propaganda campaign that has reached its critical mass of "catastrophic success." After all, it was Reagan who famously opined that "Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem." Strange words from a man who invested so much to become the head of "government."
George Herbert Walker Bush also spoke to the kiddies when he held the tiller of our ship of state. Again, liberal parents didn't grab up their young'uns and head for the hills. Did liberals agree with the policy agenda of G. H. W. Bush? No, we didn't. Did we ascribe wisdom and clarity to his philosophy of governance? Not a chance. But neither did we attribute to him powers of persuasion so acute that he could, in the course of one speech, brainwash our little ones. Indoctrination is a long, drawn out, tedious affair carried out over years through a program that encompasses every level of society. One speech cannot possibly accomplish what these pitiful conservative parents hold in their fevered imaginations. That is giving President Obama way too much credit. One begins to think that in their minds, Obama has crossed over into some mythic realm of existence wherein all are rendered powerless to withstand his flights of oratory and his natural charisma and charm. Lighten up folks, he's just a guy like the rest of us. Seriously folks, it'll be alright. The children are OK. Really they are.
Finally, there's W. On that fateful day in September 2001, he was reading to school children when the planes hit the buildings in New York and Washington. Even though this same president would leave office when the nation's financial future was teetering over the abyss, when we were engaged in wars on two fronts, and all other economic indicators were flashing red, I still can say that the little ones to whom he read "My Pet Goat," received a rare historical treasure. If I disagreed with the father's policies, I abhorred the son's. That's to be expected in the adult world of politics. Yet few of us, including I suspect, President Obama, are capable of allowing politics to compel us to meddle with the innocence of a child. I have no trouble imputing integrity on this question to Republicans just as I do to Democrats. We have come to a sad and sorry pass when it becomes impossible to see our political opponents as decent human beings, or as being incapable of restraining themselves from tampering with the minds of other people's children. We forget at our peril that those on the opposite side of the aisle are not only our political opponents: they are Americans, too.