This is definitely yesterday’s news. Yesterday President Obama made a benign, encouraging and inspiring address to the nation’s students, some of whom saw it, some of whom didn’t, and some of whom will see it after the fact. Which students see it and which don’t will depend on decisions made by the districts, the teachers and the parents.
I was told well in advance that my son would not be able to see the webcast live, but would likely see the recording at a later time, whenever it would be most convenient for his class. I actually gave my son a preview by reading from the text of the speech, which was available on the internet, while he was doing his homework yesterday. He seemed very engaged in what I was reading and in what he was doing.
Now that it’s all over, isn’t silly how people overreacted? Why wouldn’t parents want their children to respect their nation’s president as a representative of the country and the institution of the presidency? Why would anyone not want their child to have the opportunity to be inspired by an eloquent speaker and our country’s current leader? Is it not appropriate for our leader to encourage our children to dream big and work hard for those dreams? Haven’t other presidents, including Reagan, delivered similar messages to our nation’s youth? Really, what was all the fuss about?
Well, the fuss started not so much with the announcement that the President would be issuing a webcast to students, but with the lesson plan that was offered up by the White House to accompany the speech. This included requesting the students write letters to themselves stating how they would help the President. The White House, amidst the public outcry, admitted that this was “inartfully worded” and was corrected.
The fuss was fueled by the fear that students would be “indoctrinated” to support the President’s policies, which many parents do not support. The fuss was that the address would be a step toward a socialist indoctrination of the nation.
Before the speech, a friend asked me what I thought of Obama. I had nothing negative to say about the President, but responded that I am not a socialist. She laughed. She believes most people in this country aren’t socialists. I wonder.
Socialism is an economic model based on state ownership of the means of production and distribution, resulting, theoretically, in a more egalitarian distribution of wealth than we find in a capitalist model. The idea that the White House would encourage young and impressionable children to listen to the President’s message and consider how they can help the President sounds a little like they are trying to plant the seeds of loyalty to the State as an ideological model. Why would this be important to a leader who embraces a socialist economic philosophy?
“Socialism cannot exist without a change in consciousness resulting in a new fraternal attitude toward humanity, both at an individual level, within the societies where socialism is being built or has been built…”
If a socialist system will ever be accepted in this country, a change in attitude will be necessary, and it must start with the youth. This is what all the fuss was about: the belief that President Obama, who wishes to take steps towards nationalizing health care, who wants to appoint czars to run various aspects of the economy, who associates with radical extremists (think Reverend Wright and the erstwhile Green Czar Van Jones), and who wants to issue lesson plans to all of the nation’s schools, is leading this country in the direction of socialism and wants to get the kids on board.
In retrospect, that may seem silly and paranoid, but we don’t know what the President’s speech looked like before the public weighed in. In hindsight, the White House would have done better to release the contents of the speech early on and encourage teachers to use the public address in any way they felt appropriate, allowing schools to develop their own lesson plans based on their own goals. As a pep talk or a civics lesson, the speech would fit well in to a social studies curriculum.
At any rate, after much ado about everything, all’s well that ends well. I am happy to have my son hear the President’s message, and – for those who read my previous article – my son is happy to report that I am still the only girl he has kissed on the lips. J