This is just nuts.
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that plans by President Obama to address students across the country next week have right-wingers — including Texas State Board of Education
members – foaming at the mouth about “political indoctrination” and
students being “ostracized” if they don’t agree with the president. One
Houston-area parent tells the newspaper:
“I think it’s inappropriate because it smacks of
political indoctrination of the worst kind. It’s not just a speech.
It’s a specific curriculum to go along with the speech directly from
the president of the United States without review.”
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A letter from the U.S. Secretary of Education to school officials explains that the president will talk about “the importance of education”:
“The President will challenge students to work hard, set
educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will
also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of
students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every
school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the
global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as
That kind of radicalism will destroy this country, right?
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Of course, presidents making speeches to students is hardly new. In 1989, for example, the first President Bush talked to the nation’s students about the dangers of drugs. Schools held assemblies and wheeled televisions into chassrooms so students could listen.
But now the Internet is filled with wild-eyed paranoia from the right. Some right-wing posters on one Web site are even comparing President Obama’s speech to efforts by the Nazis to recruit Hitler Youth.
Texas Freedom Network’s Kathy Miller told the Chronicle:
“It’s hard to imagine anything more ridiculous than
attacking the president of the United States for talking to students
about the importance of getting a good education and being a good
citizen. I wish our elected leaders were responsible enough to denounce
this kind of wild-eyed paranoia. But the problem is, too many of them
are actually feeding this kind of nonsense – like when the governor
flirts with secessionists and State Board of Education members say the
President sympathizes with terrorists.”
And sure enough, state board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, is protesting the speech:
It simply “obligates the youngest children in our public
school system to agree with Obama’s initiatives or be ostracized by
their teachers and classmates.”
State board member David Bradley, R-BeaumontBuna,
chimed in, warning about follow-up activities after the speech and
reminding parents that they have a right to keep their children from
What about those devious follow-up activities? They include guided discussions with suggested questions like:
- What is President Obama inspiring you to do? What is he challenging you to do?
- What do you believe are the challenges of your generation?
- How can you be a part of addressing these challenges?
In addition, students might be asked to set personal goals and craft
strategies for achieving those goals. Yes, we know. That’s all just
Marxist hippie nonsense.
“We have been clearly warned by his running mate, Joe
Biden, that America will suffer some form of attack within the first 6
months of Obama’s administration. However, unlike Joe, I do not believe this “attack” will be a test of Obama’s mettle. Rather,
I perceive it will be a planned effort by those with whom Obama truly
sympathizes to take down the America that is threat to tyranny. What nobody seems to be discussing is the fact that if such an attack takes place, what about Martial Law? What happens to expand executive power when a state of civil disorder is declared?”
You can read the whole Chronicle piece here.
UPDATE: At least one far-right group can’t even tell the truth about
something this simple. The Family Research Council has blasted out an
e-mail telling activists that President Obama “will become the first
President to address the nation’s schoolchildren.” But e-mail links to
a Washington Post news story
that clearly says, “White House officials said Obama’s speech would be
the first by a sitting president to students about achievement since
1991.” Maybe the folks at the Family Research Council didn’t bother to
read the whole story — or maybe they just want to convince people that
this speech is unprecedented and dangerous. Here are questions the
e-mail asks recipients to consider:
1. Should President Obama be directly addressing American children during school hours?
2. Do you expect the President’s message to children to acknowledge
parental authority in education and encourage obedience to parents?
3. Should President Obama discuss his administration’s current or future policies with schoolchildren?
4. What do you think President Obama should say in his address to American children?
Maybe they forgot one: “Do you think
President Obama should admit to students that he is a gay-loving,
white-hating closet Muslim out to undermine capitalism, kill their
grandmothers and destroy all that is holy about America?”
SECOND UPATE: Peter Morrison, a
far-right activist serving on one of the Texas State Board of
Education’s social studies curriculum writing teams (see a post about Morrison here),
is now telling recipients of his e-newsletter that the president is
“using” schoolchildren as “political fodder” with his “Orwellian”
“Children are young, impressionable,
and eager to please. They should be considered off-limits to a
politician pushing a socialist agenda.”
He is also calling on his readers to demand that local school officials not allow students to listen to the president’s speech:
“It is unfortunate that so many
school districts across our state are treating this as a ‘news event’
and allowing a political speech to displace classroom time. Imagine:
millions of our students being propagandized to accept Obama’s
socialist rhetoric under the authority of their classroom teacher.”
It’s becoming harder and harder to
avoid the conclusion that far too many people on the far right have
simply lost their minds. What’s truly alarming is that the unhinged
rants of people like Morrison could influence the public school
curriculum for the next generation of Texas students.