Now you have to wonder why the far right is said to be on the "brink"
A Perfect Storm of Idiocy
Friday 11 September 2009
by: Joe Conason, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
US President Barack Obama delivers a speech to students around the country. Some factions opposed Obama's talk with students and forced some schools to avoid the broadcast. (Photo: Xinhua / Jiang Guopeng)
The wild furor over President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren raises many questions, but there is only one that really matters. How did America surrender its political discourse - not to mention the news cycle - to the most unreasonable and unstable elements of the far right?
Not so many years ago, nobody would have imagined that a bland presidential address to young students, urging them to remain in school, study hard and nurture their aspirations for success, could engender a raging national controversy. Nobody would have believed that such an ordinary event could excite suspicions among a significant part of the population that the chief executive is "indoctrinating" their children into a "socialist ideology," or that the fate of the republic depended on parents keeping their innocents away from the classrooms, lest they hear his words. And nobody would have believed that the resulting wave of paranoia, supercharged by talk radio and cable television, could actually grip the attention of the public when real issues demand action.
When the nation's first African-American president proposes to urge children, and in particular those children who regard him as a role model, to behave wisely and avoid self-destructive behavior, liberals and conservatives alike ought to be expected to applaud him. Indeed, conservatives especially should be clapping loudly, since they have so often bemoaned the cultural barriers to advancement faced by poor and minority students.
So why have the idols of the right, notably Glenn Beck of Fox News Channel, instead seized this moment to stir anger and fear among Republican parents by claiming that the president intends harm to their kids? Why did many Republican leaders, notably the party chairman of Florida, echo the craziness? (And why would any parent take advice from Beck, a college dropout and recovering alcoholic?)
While many Obama critics advertise themselves as "libertarians" who distrust any message from Big Brother in Washington, that healthy skepticism cannot be the reason for the current outcry - because two of the past three Republican presidents spoke directly to the nation's schoolchildren without provoking any significant reaction at all.
In the fall of 1991, President George Herbert Walker Bush delivered a speech in a classroom that was broadcast live nationwide by the Pubic Broadcasting System, Mutual Broadcasting and NBC Radio Network. The blanket media coverage was arranged by the Education Department (which gave rise to a few grumpy remarks by Democrats in Congress that were duly noted but mostly ignored by the press).
"Thanks for allowing me to visit your classroom to talk to you and all these students," he said politely to the teacher who was hosting him, "and millions more in classrooms all across the country." He went on to tell his audience: "Make your teachers work hard. Tell them you want a first-class education. Tell them that you're here to learn. Block out the kids who think it's not cool to be smart. I can't understand for the life of me what's so great about being stupid."
His predecessor, Ronald Reagan, addressed students directly on at least two occasions - once in a broadcast speech in 1988 and once in a session with high-school students at the White House in 1986. Both times, the Gipper seized the chance to promote his own policies, with particular attention to cutting taxes and his "vision of economic freedom." In fact, Reagan's remarks were entirely political, if not partisan. He did precisely what the right has wrongly attacked Obama for doing - but that was a message that conservatives like to hear, so they didn't object to the "indoctrination" of students at the public's expense.
The irony of this tempest of idiocy is that the same blowhards who constantly slander and slur President Obama were telling us, not too long ago, that criticizing the commander in chief during wartime was tantamount to treason. But of course, they are patriots of political convenience - with no allegiance to anything except their own power and their extreme ideology.
Joe Conason writes for the New York Observer.
I used to get angry about Glenn Beck, but the last youtube I saw of him made it really clear to me that he's got some type of schizophrenic tendancies. Not llike, me being snide and catty, but like seriously the way his brain works...there's a problem there that isn't his fault. Now I mostly just feel really bad that it seems to be going untreated.
If you'll remember the newsreels, Geo. W Bush was READING to a group of students,
When he was informed of the twin towers crashes, on 9/11.
The Republican'ts are out of power, the neocons and other conservatives are discovering that their old ways are no longer working, and a new guy, a liberal progressive, a Democrat, and a NEGRO . :eek: . seems to have ideas that are working.
They can't deal with this with dialogue alone. This calls for rioting in the streets. As far as the conservatives are concerned, circumstances and liberals have pushed them RIGHT OVER THE EDGE.
That's my take on it.
Thoughtfully yours, Bruce Chris
My $0.02 Worth
Here's my opinion. Much of the backlash has to do with an intelligent black man encouraging children to study, work hard, and achieve your goals. You have to remember that in 1972 a member of the Republican Party stated that black people were criminals. It is an erroneous statement that many folks believe today.
Another point is that children need to be taught to think critically. Doesn't matter if it may not be in line with the curricula or an ideology. Many of great inventions and social movement were successful because these men and women thought outside the box of convention and opinion. Black and Latino children aren't always encouraged to study, attend school, and do their homework because they will be accused of acting 'white'. I know this from personal experience.
The Repubilcans really can't talk either if John McCain was the best that they could put out in the last election. I am a future educator and intelligence and academics need to be encouraged.
Finally, American need not take their cue from media and celebrity. Many of those in the media have their own agendas and do not reflect the values of many people. I'm also tired of all knucleheads and air heads Hollywood puts up as roles models.
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