Friday, September 4, 2009

Huey's Boondocks Dream: Obama Speaks at Schools

I was out most of the day and so missed the storm over President Barack Obama's planned September 8 speech to school children. I came home tonight, looked at the 10:00 news on WWL TV, and saw white conservatives objecting to Obama speaking to children about pursuing academic excellence. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the reactions signs of "silly season."

I'm sure these people are angry about Gibbs calling them "silly" the same way they were ticked off when Obama said the Cambridge police had acted stupidly in the Henry Louis Gates incident. It's a good thing I'm not running for office because I wouldn't say, "silly." I'd say, "Folks have lost their damned minds." Before the end of Obama's term, these types of people will be standing in front of the white house demanding he not leave his bedroom.
Republican leaders have not shied away from the debate. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible contender for the GOP's 2012 presidential nomination, said Friday the classroom is no place to show a video address from Obama.

"At a minimum it's disruptive. Number two, it's uninvited. And number three, if people would like to hear his message they can, on a voluntary basis, go to YouTube or some other source and get it. I don't think he needs to force it upon the nation's school children," he told reporters at the Minnesota State fair. (CNN story)
Some "ultra" conservatives are not simply objecting but demanding schools block the speech. Wait! Didn't George Bush also speak to school children? Where were these people then or when Reagan broadcast to school children? Bush could talk to their children, a man who regularly crucified the English language, but Obama can't speak to them because they think he has the power to convert their babies to something they believe is evil.

Yep, they think Obama's out to turn their children into socialists by telling them to stay in school and do their homework. They believe his speech is a devious plan to "indoctrinate" school children into whatever it is they think Obama believes, that somehow he will slip in a phrase that will turn their children toward some path to ruin.

WOW! They have far more faith in this president to influence America than I do. They think he's a Svengali of mega proportions. You've got to wonder to what extent such people go to prevent their children from possibly hearing anything that challenges their parents' way of thinking. Do their children ever watch the news with them, other than Fox News, and if they watch, do the parents sit beside them and say, "Now, darlin' what they said there is wrong. The Sun revolves around the Earth, not what they said."

While I stretched belief in that news-watching scenario, I'm not exaggerating when I say some strict conservatives (not all conservatives) fear mainstream education and anything that offers an alternative to their specific ideology, even the presence of people who are intelligent but think differently from them. This expression of fear of Barack Obama speaking to children isn't that strange if you recall that there are conservatives in this country who have persecuted college professors in ways similar to how the people of Salem went after witches. They complain frequently that our colleges and universities are brainwashing youth to be "liberals." This No Obama in Our Schools complaint mirrors that madness, I think.

Therefore, it occurs to me that these terrified people may be like the people in Huey's dream on the Boondocks, the episode in which Huey told white people his version of truth and everybody freaked out. The little boy, however, said some pretty extreme stuff. I suspect that no matter what President Obama says, far-right-wingers will hear a Huey-type message. Scratch that: They will hear a Hitler-type message because some of them are already carrying around pictures with Obama as Hilter and anyone who supports him is a Nazi Brown Shirt, they claim.

Think about it! They don't even want him to speak. The President of the United States is suddenly a danger to school children.

Later in that Boondocks episode, not dreaming but in the real world, Huey tells mostly white people at a garden party the same "truth" that he told in the dream. They don't go insane like they did in his dream. Instead, they pinch his cheeks and say, "Oh, isn't he cute!"

But Obama's not a boy, so his fate will be different. We have a certain kind of person in this country who will react like the people in the dream no matter what Obama says on September 8. They haven't even heard his speech, only part of a lesson plan that asks children to write letters telling how they would help the president and at that they scream like it's the end of the world.

BlogHer CE Pundit Mom's talking about this, "What are Conservatives Really Afraid of When the President Talks to Schoolchildren?." She's trying to make sense of the nonsense. In contrast, another BlogHer CE, conservative Dana Loesch, is pushing paranoia like a pro on this one. She's launched a website asking for a hall pass. Remember, is non-partisan.

The Christian Science Monitor attempts to put the protests within context of history, but I think the article is faulty because I'm nearly 50 and I don't recall there ever being an objection to a president talking to school children like what we're seeing right now. What's so different about this president that uber conservatives would ask that his speech be vetted first? What is it they fear most?

The CSM article has a glaring omission. While it says that conservatives have "historically" been opposed to interference from the federal government in public education, it fails to say that one of the earliest and biggest conservative objections to federal involvement was conservatives against integrating schools. Segregationists stirred so-called conservatives to rally for "states' rights" to keep white public schools from accepting black students.

When some conservatives object to federal mandates in Education, it's sometimes about money, but more often it's about race or fear that schools will teach evolution instead of creationism or that the school is not allowed to discriminate against gay men and lesbians in hiring. That's what conservatism is about, conserving the status quo, and if the status quo steps on other people's rights, that's okay with them because what a certain segment of conservatives really believes is that only they and people who think exactly like them and look like them should have power and equal access.

These people who see "socialism" demons behind a speech on academic excellence need Thorazine or some other anti-pschotic drug. A black man's the president and they can't handle the truth that the world changes. Like typical paranoids, they're willing to believe any conspiracy theory that comes to them from the radio that confirms their worst fears about their futures. It's like I said, "Folks are losing their damned minds." Send them foil hats for Christmas.

But to be fair, this next video which was produced in January 2009 but not by the White House, is a little creepy. "I pledge to be a servant to Barack Obama"? Yikes! It's been circulating on the the Web, and the video's producers clearly don't know what Christians believe about the end of the world and the worship of a man.

Again, the video was not produced by the White House. Ashton Kutcher and his wife Demi Moore are behind this weird production. Demi must've been high when she developed how to direct it, and who ever wrote it must've been smoking what she was smoking. Here's the information on it from YouTube.
To encourage ever greater levels of service throughout the country, MySpace and Katalyst Media, a production company co-founded by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, teamed up with celebrities to record their personal pledges of service. The moving pledges illustrate how they will help make the nationwide change, inspired by President-elect Barack Obama, a reality. Directed by Demi Moore, the videos will be presented to President-elect Barack Obama during the inauguration festivities.
Hat tip to Tennessee Guerilla Women for alerting me to the video.

If the White House was behind this video, I'd be more concerned. However, for third time, the White House did not produce this video. Some of Obama's Hollywood supporters produced it.


Anonymous said...

President Obama WON the election. When are the hateful Republicans going to show some respect for our President? This is ridiculous!

Have the Republicans ever complained about any other President speaking to our nation's kids? I am not one to inject race in to an argument, but would the Republicans be complaining if it were a white President talking to our nations kids?

When is the media going to stop polarizing these issues? The media frenzy about anything that anyone "says" get's put all over the internet and TV, and then there is a controversy when there should be none.

The kid's of our nation should here the leader of the free world, our President, President Obama, speak to them. I ask that the parents of these kid's set a good example for their children, and show some respect for the President of the United States.

ISA said...

[The goal of the speech and the lesson plans is to challenge students to work hard, stay in school and dramatically reduce the dropout rate,] I strongly support him everything that is for education we must support even more. Our children, my children your children deserve to have good education. To accomplish it we need to support our president. Our country need scientist, engineers, doctors and so on. won't be able to waste their time by doing drugs as majority of kids do while their parents are working. I think it is excellent idea mr. President!!!

msladyDeborah said...

This whole thing is not silly. It is the America that I know and hate so very much. It is also the America that they love so well.

I had to entertain George and Barbra Bush in my classroom. I bit the bullet and did so because the director of our agency wanted them to see the type of work that we did. I learned something by doing so. Even though I worked at a predominately African American site, our parents were thrilled that their wee people would be meeting the POTUS and FLOTUS. It was an event that many of the now grown folks remember. We were the news that day. My family was all excited about the visit. I wanted to call off and stay home. But, that was not possible. I hate GOP politics to the core. So, you know I was not a happy camper. The best thing that happened out of that visit was the knowledge I gained about what the SS does prior to a President's visit. When I met Obama in person-I watched every move the SS made at OSU. Just to make sure that they did the same for him as they did for Bush Sr. Otherwise, I was not impressed with the whole show.

We all known that American HIStory is biased. These people are the product of mis-education and their life-long prejudices. I am not angry with them. I am just sick and tired of their non-sense being held up as good sense.

Do you notice that no one is talking about No Child Left Behind. The educational policy of the Bush Administration. The mandate that got pushed back because money for war was more important than money for education. No one seems to be upset that there were more dropouts during his administration than we know about. Do you notice that no one is talking about the studies that indicate that NCLB failed to include math and science as part of its core curriculum demands. No one seems to realize that we have a educational system that is shot to hell due to misguidance from the previous adminstration. Now that we have a POTUS with an actual working brain and edcuation-they want to protest. Ha! It never ceases to amaze me how racial prejudice works on the minds of people.

PPR_Scribe said...

This reaction to the planned talk is not "silly." It is frightening--the latest (but, I am sure, not the last) in a long march of statements, activities and initiatives that are at there core everything that this country is not supposed to be about.

I do not know what it will take for us progressives to do more than poke fun, or rant, or shake our heads in disbelief. And I include myself in that statement. I feel like--if all I do is just blog about this nonsense, I will feel momentarily as if I have some agency but if anything serious happens I will know I will have been nothing but a blowhard.

I guess I am awaiting leadership, but not taking it myself, and no one else is taking it on either.

I did write to my own school superintendent to protest his move. Guess that is a start, but I still feel like I need to do more.

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Hi Nordette,

In eight short months, I've seen:
1. Citizens holding tea bags who call themselves patriots advocating the overthrowing of the U.S. government.
2. So-called birthers assail the citizenship of the President.
3. A respresentative of a major television network call the President, "a racist" on national TV.
4. Town Hall gatherings for Health Care Reform be disrupted by those who have no interest in intelligent discussion.
5. Citizens brandishing weapons outside Town Hall meetings.
6. Citizens brandishing signs depicting the President as Adolph Hitler.

The President has been defamed as a Muslim, terrorist, illegal alien, racist, socialist and nazi.

It's obvious that many White conservatives find it difficult to accept that a Black man is the President of the United States. The idea that a Black President would encourage their child(-ren) to excel in academics is "heretical".

Ask yourself what's more frightening:
a) A Black man sitting in the White House? or,
b) Angry, enraged conservatives spreading fear and hate?

The same people who spread fear and hate are reminiscent of Whites who blew up churches, murdered and protested school integration during the early 60's.

It would appear their seed has taken root.


le0pard13 said...

When a party, or group of ideologues, have no constructive ideas to help forward their country and citizenry, you get this. Bread and Circuses. But, I don't know what news was worst (or worrisome) this week. This dog and pony show, or reading about my parent's home state trying to change their curriculum to Reading, Writing, and Reganism. It'd be ridiculous except given the size of Texas, it has influence on what other school districts follow.

Marvalus said...

I just posted a brief little blurb about this on my site. I received an e-mail alerting me to the speech on Tuesday at my son's school, and sent an e-mail to the teacher letting her know that not only would my son participate, he would also complete both the assignment and the extra credit work.

The time has come to stop all of this if only we knew how...

Respecting the President is our jobs as citizens of the United States; I don't care what your political affiliation is.

Vérité Parlant said...

Thank you, Dan and ISA. It's disturbing that the first black president is not being treated as POTUS but as someone who's "intefering" with "real America."

Deborah, you are so on point with your comment, and PPR, you've given us bloggers something to think about. Is just blogging it enough?

Le0 and U, you both add good points and information to his conversation. LeO the Bread and Circuses link is useful and Reading, Writing, and Reaganism. OMG!

Marv, as you wonder how do we fight it? I dunno for sure either, but we must because as much as these people like to invoke Nazis when talking about Obama, it's their pattern of hates speech and misinformation that better correlates with the rise of Nazism. The supposed sane people in Germany took to long to speak out against insanity, beginning with the dehumanization of "the other" in society and so the ethnic cleansing nationalists took over. Bad things happen when good people do nothing.

Vérité Parlant said...

Oh, and U. I choose "b."

RiPPa said...

You know, I remember that video that was taken from one of those Glen Beck watch parties just before the Tea Baggers got into full swing. I was amazed when I saw grown people assert that sending their kids to college was a bad thing.

Fear and ignorance is scary.

Jill said...

Great post, Nordette. Thank you for your vérité parlant (probably didn't use that right but you know what I mean). :)

JB said...

Wow! These are great posts and have reaffirmed my confidence in our citizenry. As an educator, I'm appalled and disappointed that my district restricts us from airing the speech and even using any transcripts without parent permission.

As for what we should do? I suggest those that want our students to see the speech, in any district not airing it, KEEP YOUR KIDS HOME TO SEE THE SPEECH! Use the same "scare tactic" on the schools the other side has... hit them in the pocket-book. You can even take them to school late, after the speech... but be sure to let them know why. We can't be mistaken for those who keep their kids home out of fear & ignorance.

rachel said...

Yes! I just spoke with a teacher who reported that her district was not going to be showing Obama's speech. I am infuriated on her behalf. I think the idea to keep kids home to WATCH the speech is a fabulous one.

The day Obama was elected, I was absolutely elated. But the campaign running up to the election, and the tea bagger/birther/who-the-heck-knows -CRAZY movements have shocked me. The capacity of this country to hate terrifies me.

PPR_Scribe said...

JB, Nordette and others:

OK, here is what I came up with. No--not just "keep my kid home." That will not nearly be message enough.

Like I said, I wrote to my school superintendent (who passed the decision onto the procopals and teachers.) I also emailed the school principal and both of my kids' teachers requesting to know what their plan on Tuesday will be.

If they do *not* air the address, I will drop my kids off at school, then come to the school shortly before the address to remove them, bring them home to watch the speech, then return them to the school for the remainder of the school day.

At the age they are, my kids are fine with this plan. (They are not yet embarrassed by their mother's mere presence at the school. LOL) Plus they are excited about much of what the President does so are looking forward to the idea that on Tuesday he will be speaking directly to them.

SjP said...

Yeah, that "servant to the president" line was a tad bit creepy. Probably would have been better to say "support the president" rather than servant. But, having said that, this whole thing is a classic example of how the rules change for people of color! Even when it comes to the president!

Anonymous said...

Well, everything is just compounding, isn't it. Those who are protesting have underlying fears that may or may not have to do specifically with Obama's race. At this point, what matters are his policies and the direction this country is headed in.

I would say the conservatives have some valid fears. Their way of life is threatened. Change is a terrible thing to many.

The cultural wars are all that the Right has left, and they're on it like a dog with a bone. It does speak to their core beliefs, and it doesn't help at all that Obama is surrounded by the very people and factions that those on the far right AND the far left have been railing against for decades.

We'll see what happens. Whatever it will be, will be par America's destiny and an extension of its past. We've quite a bit to deal with in this country, and this bruh-ha-ha is only a sign of the times.

I eat popcorn while I watch. :)

Vérité Parlant said...

Thanks for the visit, SJP. If they had even stuck to "the president" that may have been less creepy, but to actually say, "I pledge to serve Barack Obama." What were they thinking? Still, as you say, there's a whole lot of rule changes going on when it comes to respecting the POTUS. A little color apparently is a powerful motivation for change after all. :-)

PPR and everyone else who's contributed to this discussion, thank you kindly.

Good and plenty said...

Wonderful post! Wonderful! It's because Obama is black - pure and simple. My sister, who's been teaching for more than 25 years, was instructed that she has to have an alternative lesson plan for her kids when President Obama's speech airs for those parents who've selected not to let their children listen to the speech. Never in her years of teaching has she ever been instructed to do this. She is livid.
Change is hard for people. Having a President who is intelligent, who cares and who acts presidential is revolutionary in some quarters. Oh, well...