Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war. – Maria Montessori, physician and educator
I am certainly not in the habit of defending Barack Obama against his detractors, but the controversy drummed up by rabid right-wing hysterics over President’s back-to-school speech on Tuesday is quite simply bizarre and absurd. However, the manufactured uproar and outrage over the President’s socialist/fascist/communitarianist (hey, pick an ideology, any ideology!) “brainwashing” of unsuspecting and impressionable students on one of their first days of school brings up very real and very serious concerns over both the potential and realities of aggressive government indoctrination and the abuse of open access to America’s youth.
In the days leading up to Obama’s fifteen-minute long, syndicated speech, the conservative netherworld was abuzz over what sort of cultish and dangerous hypnotism our Kenyan-born Commie Muslim commander-in-chief would dish out in classrooms all over the country. The paranoia and fear promoted by political and media demagogues and repeated thoughtlessly by their audience of ventriloquist dummies created a sort of dual-McCarthyism, equal parts Joe and Charlie.
Last week, Glenn Beck warned listeners of his radio show about the dangers of Obama’s upcoming speech and “the indoctrination of your children,” saying that the Presidential address was evidence of the “get ’em while they’re young” approach of of big government’s brainwashing tactics. Meanwhile, NewsBuster‘s contributing editor Mark Finkelstein repeatedly compared the address to Chinese communism, likened Obama to Mao Zedong, and even inquiring in one blog post whether “our MSM report on the interesting parallel between our president’s plan for our children and the approach of another Great Leader from the past?” Then there was Mark Steyn, a Canadian author and political commentator, who, while speaking on the Rush Limbaugh Show made extensive reference to Saddam Hussein’s cult of personality in Iraqi schools and warned against Obama’s attempt to do the same here in the United States.
On September 2nd, Michelle Malkin accused Obama’s classroom address (still six days away at that time) of serving as a government tool for recruiting “junior lobbyists” to serve as foot-soldiers for promoting his crazed liberal agenda, citing the “activist tradition of government schools” (I think they’re called public schools, actually) as evidence:
Zealous teacher’s unions have enlisted captive schoolchildren as letter-writers in their campaigns for higher education spending. Out-of-control activists have enlisted their secondary-school charges in pro-illegal immigration protests, gay marriage ceremonies, environmental propaganda stunts, and anti-war events.
Yeah, if only.
In a recent article, Lauri Regan of American Thinker wrote that “Obama has turned his team of brainwashers on the task of indoctrinating America’s youth…My children are off limits,” whileTownhall.com‘s Meredith Jessup bemoans the loss of mandatory prayer and religion in public schooling as “big-government influence continues to be ushered in.” Jessup thusly concludes that “This massive abuse of government power – reaching into our kids’ classrooms – is unacceptable.”
A OneNewsNow column from September 4th identifies Diane Jewell, a parent in Indiana, as worrying that “her daughter is being indoctrinated into socialism” by attending public Junior High School. Jewell believes that “it is not Obama’s place to talk to children directly, without parental input” adding that she is “very concerned with the increasing involvement of federal government in education.” Obviously, Jewell now “regrets her decision to quit homeschooling and in retrospect she wishes she had stayed at home in order to continue homeschooling her daughter.”
In a September 1 post featured on her tellingly-titled “Atlas Shrugs” blog (and headlined “Obama in the Classroom: Keep Your Kids Home from School September 8”), Newsmax.com contributor Pamela Geller wrote,
The fascist in chief is taking his special brand of brainwashing to the classroom. Keep your kids home. I think this man is a threat to our basic unalienable rights. I don’t want him indoctrinating my children. Seriously.
Ask your school what their participation is in this leftist indoctrination outrage. Keep politics out of the classroom. Keep communists and their propagandists away from small children.
Not to be outcrazied, American Family Association radio host and conservative activist Bryan Fischer wrote in a September 1 column that Obama’s speech “is likely to be an exercise in nation-wide indoctrination…The capacity for mischief here is enormous.” Then, echoing Geller’s sentiments that parents should opt their children out of viewing the speech, Fischer continues,
Unless we get public assurances from the White House that the president won’t address health care or global warming or the homosexual agenda (under the color of “human rights for people different than us”) this might be a great time for parents to exercise their opt-out authority and give their students a biography of George Washington to read while the President turns the minds of an entire generation to mush.
WorldNetDaily news editor Bob Unruh floated the idea that Obama’s speech to students has “been cited as raising the specter of the Civilian National Security Force, to which he’s referred several times since his election campaign began, but never fully explained” while also pointing out how creepy it is for the elected President of the United States of America to speak directly to the nation’s children about the importance of education. “Parents across the country are rebelling against plans by President Barack Obama to speak directly to their children through the classrooms of the nation’s public schools without their presence, participation and approval,” Unruh wrote, before quoting random insane rantings of conservative web-forum comments:
“He’s recruiting his civilian army. His ‘Hitler’ youth brigade,” wrote one participant in a forum at Free Republic.
“I am not going to compare President Obama to Hitler. We’ll leave that to others and you can form your own opinions about them and their analogies. … However, we can learn a lot from the spread of propaganda in Europe that led to Hitler’s power. A key ingredient in that spread of propaganda was through the youth,” wrote a blogger at the AmericanElephant.com blog, where the subject of the day was a national “Keep-Your-Child-at-Home-Day.”
“Totalitarian regimes around the world have sought to spread their propaganda and entrench their power by brainwashing the children. I guess it’s easier to indoctrinate a six-year-old instead of fighting a 26-year-old or being challenged by a 46-year-old in the voting booth,” the blogger wrote.