When I wrote my original post about President Obama’s planned speech to public school children across the country, I did so with my tongue planted pretty firmly in my cheek. I thought that the idea of the speech was fine, but the “activities” that were suggested by the Department of Education were “creepy.” I was pleased to see both Stephen Hayes and Charles Krauthammer use the same word in their discussion on Fox News the following night.
What I did not know when I wrote the piece was the firestorm this speech would set off. Parents are taking their kids out of school for the day, and Obama’s feet are being held to the fire with charges of indoctrination. Words like “Hitler Youth” are being tossed around way, way too casually.
Since my first piece was kind of jokey, even including a video of that really nauseating piece of child abuse called “Kids Of Obama,” let me take a somewhat more serious approach here.
I don’t have any problems whatsoever with Obama giving a speech to the nation’s children, provided the speech focuses on motivation and the importance of education. Study hard, work hard, you can do it. From what I’ve read, that’s exactly what the speech will be, and it’s a great message to send to kids. I don’t find this concept creepy at all, nor do I think it’s any type of indoctrination or attempt to get to the parents by targeting the kids. Hell, if the President wanted to give this speech every September I’d support it.
So what’s all the hubbub, bub? There are a couple of problems here:
- Obama has made it clear that he will use children to achieve his aims. The government is using school kids in bilingual education classes as census takers…the better to count illegal aliens. Outside of the Administration, kids have been used by Leftist teachers for years. Kids have been told by teachers and administrators to write letters deploring school budget cuts, been taken on field trips to illegal alien work centers, gay marriages, and anti-war rallies. Anyone remember the “deficit cutting” school bake sales from the early Clinton years? The Left may think we’re not paying attention to their outrageous use of children as political weapons, but the vast majority of the country finds this sort of stuff repellent and, to go back to my original word choice, “creepy.”
- The Department of Education issued a set of guidelines to help teachers when it came to Obama’s speech. The guidelines were full of suggestions that would have made your children into these same types of political pawns. Students would be enjoined to read books about Barack Obama. “Write letters to yourself asking how you can help the President.” “Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?” “Does the speech make you want to do anything?” “Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?” One suggestion is that students “Create posters of their goals…with the labels personal, academic, community, country.” While I doubt the substance of the President’s speech will be all that controversial, the fact that this sort of ham-handed Left wing activism is being promoted by the Department of Education with regards to the speech is enough to set off warning bells in parents everywhere. Creepy, creepy, creepy.
The Administration seems to be scrambling right now. They were really taken by surprise when the blowback started. The “teacher guidelines” have been revised to be less activist, and the Administration’s mouthpieces are rushing out to reassure people that the content of the speech will not be political.
The Left wing nutroots are mocking concerned parents, but the Left has no one to blame for this tempest but themselves. They have been politicizing children for years, and using the educational system in this country to jam notions of political correctness down our throats. So when an extremely Leftist President wants to speak to “all public school kids” and is backed up by an official government document that advises teachers on how to get these kids into the cult of personality the President thrives on, it is absolutely understandable that outrage and charges of indoctrination will naturally follow.
What the President should do is discuss the nature of the speech, retract the guidelines completely (why are government bureaucrats giving teaching advice in the first place?), and provide a copy of the speech to each school to be disseminated to the parents before the day of the speech. Schools should give parents an opt-out option.
There has been an enormous amount of hyperbole about this on the Right. Some of it is understandable, some of it is unjustified. It could have been avoided completely if the Administration would leave the Leftist echo chamber it’s currently inside.
Hot Air has more here and here. Michelle Malkin has a syndicated column about why parents don’t trust the President with this, and the post-backlash whitewashing of the guidelines.
UPDATE: The speech has been released and is about to be given and it is, as I suspected, pretty innocuous. Hot Air has the speech along with a criticism of the fact that the speech is more about Obama than anything else, and a fair criticism of a more politcial speech Ronald Reagan gave to kids in 1986. Michelle Malkin reiterates that the speech was never the problem.