Monday, September 14, 2009

Parents Say No to Obama's Pro-Education Speech To America's School Children

Friends and loyal readers (both of you), this blog was not intended strictly as some liberal soapbox for me to vent my frustration with the body politic or with radical conservative pundits and their hate-speak. But every so often as needed I have to let out some steam for the sake of my soul. A soul can only take so much mental manure before it starts to show the weary tatters of apathy and acquiescence, and it's better I spread it out here where it might help other ideas grow than let it pile up and stink up the place. I ask your kind indulgence during this smelly ordeal.

Stupid Is That Stupid Does

If there is one pet peeve I have (and believe me, there are a few) it is this...I don't do stupid. Which is why certain stories in the nation's press really get my goat sometimes. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt that they aren't the unmitigated fools I suspect some of them to be. Then they open their mouths and all doubt is forever wiped away.

I know there are areas of the country where the intellectually challenged tend to congregate and spew their right-wing rants and carry their signs around trying to deprive other people of their basic human rights because it better fits their world view. I can't stand people like that. So certain are they that they are right that they will do anything to convert the rest of us "unwashed heathens."

Give me an 'effin break!

Today I speak specifically about the uproar over the President's recent live national address to schoolchildren where he advised them to "take pride in their education — and stick with it even if they don’t like every class or must overcome tough circumstances at home."

Seems like sound advice to me. But rather than share the telecast with the students as planned, many school districts around the country refused to air it. In fact, in many places around the country where the school districts did air the broadcast, parents pulled their children out of school so they wouldn't see it. My son Bryan, who lives in Texas (home of "W" and a virtual cesspool of other radical right-wing miscreants), was telling me last night that parts of his fair state banned the viewing of the speech as well. Some teachers and school administrators refused to show the speech because of pressures from parents and their fears that Obama was trying to interject his "liberal" politics on their young, impressionable minds.

Oh....My....God! The President of the United States of America sets up a live telecast to inspire the American children to do their homework, stay in school, follow directions, stay away from drugs and make wise career choices and they react as if he is telling them to smoke crack, have unprotected sex and become lobbyists for abortion rights and gay marriage.

Why are people so freakin' stupid? Are they so full of hate and rage that their old guy and his ditzy running mate lost and that a new voice has ascended the mantle with fresh ideas and solutions for addressing the various social and economic disasters that the prior administration created or made worse? Or is it simply that this new voice is coming from a black man? I'm inclined to think it's a lot of both. When Nancy Reagan told kids to "say no to drugs" was she labeled a liberal commie pinko? Not hardly. But when our president says the same thing he is slammed as a left-wing radical trying to force feed his dangerous liberal agenda to the tiny tots.

Here is an excerpt of the speech that he gave last Tuesday at a school in Arlington, Va., where the president shared with the students some of his own challenges as a child and how he overcame them to eventually realize his success in politics.

“Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

“I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was 2 years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

“But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world — and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

“And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.”

Makes you want to go join Greenpeace and save the whales, now doesn't it? I didn't think so.

Nothing in his speech attempts to persuade children to do anything other than to study hard and focus on creating a successful life. Why the uproar? If Bush or McCain were delivering this address they would be welcomed with open arms and the speech recorded so that parents could have their children watch it often for constant affirmation. But coming from a black liberal president, it just doesn't wash. Instead it triggers that "you can't tell me what to do" reaction in conservatives whose sentiments are more akin to "I'll do whatever I want with my children, even keeping them up all night playing on the Xbox on a school night if I feel like it, so keep your liberal views to yourself."

The reaction by these parents is tantamount to watching two trains crashing into one another in slow motion. You want to turn away in horror and disgust, but you just can't. It's a tragedy not only for the children who suffer for the lack of insight of their parents and communities, but also for the country as a whole who will undoubtedly be picking up the tab for yet another generation of Jerry Springer Show wannabees. It's painful to watch people consciously put their children in harms way, and by methodically keeping the tools of success out of their hands, it's like sending your kids to the Manson family to be home-schooled.

I feel sorry for the children of these redneck bumpkins because their fate is almost certainly sealed. Since no president who isn't a card-carrying member of the NRA will ever have their respect or allegiance - particularly if he is non-white - they will undoubtedly inherit their parents disdain for education, progress and human rights and continue on their path to ignorance and intolerance. What a shame that the cycle of stupidity continues to churn away in this fashion, all because the children that should be getting the words that will bring hope and future success to them are being stifled at home.

It doesn't take a genius to see that our future as a country will require a workforce that has the technical skills and knowledge to adapt to a much more sophisticated job market as the shrinking availability of low-level assembly line type factory work continues to shift to poorer countries. The average high school graduate lacks this knowledge. Whereas their parents were able to get by working menial grunt work at the meat packing plants or factories, those jobs will be taken over by the millions of foreign immigrants pouring into this country who will do it for a fraction of what American workers would. So where does that leave our next generation of leaders? Pushing carts at Walmart and flipping burgers at fast-food restaurants will certainly not suffice. The only solution to this situation is a good education.

In his speech, the president beseeched the children to understand that education was vitally important and that they must take responsibility for their own education. What an important and strong message that is in these difficult that all students should take heed to follow if they want a future that's bright and filled with unlimited opportunities. But I guess some parents want different for their children.

Obama told students in his speech that “Every single one of you has something that you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer and you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is.”

Any parent that takes issue with this kind of encouraging, uplifting and inspiring advice to a young child doesn't deserve to be a parent.


Do I have space for a liberal tirade? I do? Okay, good.

Obama campaigned on the platform of real change for America. Instead of continuing the same errant ways that made a disaster of our economy and brought America to the brink on so many fronts as the McCain plan promised to do, our president wants to put his efforts into retooling and revamping these failed policies and practices and giving them a much-needed facelift, reinventing a few along the way. Change to a republican is like kryptonite to Superman. Change only threatens their goals of somehow returning our country to the 1950's and of Leave It To Beaver where wives knew their place, children were polite and everyone went to church (blacks in their churches, whites in theirs) and obeyed God's rules and those of their patriotic white president.

I've often asked hard-core republicans about this fixation they have about living in the past and why they can't seem to let go of it and deal with reality. They just stare dreamily off into space and mutter "So what would be so bad about living in the past?" How about that it's impossible and that you can't halt the march of progress and the country would sooner revisit the 1950's as it would the 1850's, I argue. Then a placid look of serenity descends upon their white, God-fearing faces as they contemplate living in an even more archaic period and a smile rolls up on their face as they imagine how many slaves they would own.

Why do right-wing wackos want so badly to make Obama fail at every turn, even at the cost of harming or causing the death of innocent American citizens who are only looking for a break with issues they are struggling with like healthcare, the economy, employment, social security and the wars waging in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is this incessant need to maintain a semblance of superiority over the "radical left-wing agenda" that republicans are so quick to denounce. Even when some of them miraculously "get it" and come to the conclusion that they are, in fact, full of crap, they still vote the party line because that is what is expected of them. Wrong or not, they are doing what they are told to do. Is it any wonder we are in the mess we are in?

Why does every republican think that complete and utter annihilation of our way of life is just one liberal vote away? Does passing an air quality bill always lead to legalized marijuana? Will improved roads and highways foster in an era of gay marriage and encourage our eventual enslavement by the "evil axis?" Will saving social security weaken our military defense and spread AIDS? They are not sure if it will or not, but they are not taking any chances.

But I digress.


  1. Very well-stated. You are a strong writer and I look forward to more.

  2. Bravo, bravo, bravo. Tom, I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see someone saying what needs to be said AND knowing what the hell they're talking about. You had me hooked at, "I don't do stupid." Neither do I, nor should any self-respecting intellectual. It says nothing but shameful things for those who were willfully ignorant enough to not allow his inspiring and, dare I say, beautiful message to be delivered to their children. Unfortunately, you are correct in saying that doing so only encourages them to continue the legacy of idiocy.



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