Sunday, September 6, 2009

Love of Country, Fear of Government


This little flap about having elementary school kids listen to a speech by President Obama isn't little; it's huge. There is much here. For starters, it mirrors the fear and paranoia (they are not the same thing) that some so-called conservatives harbor. I truly wonder what they think they are conserving? Reactionary? Yes, definitely. If nothing else, it highlights the irrational thinking that many teachers face daily when dealing with either parents, spineless administrators, or opportunistic politicos.
Another laughable dimension of this episode is the use of the words "lesson plan" to describe both Obama's intention and their worst fears. Most of these folks wouldn't know a lesson plan from a bed pan. Are they that insecure about their own political beliefs that they must censor the President of the United States? In some ways my use of the word laughable is terribly inaccurate. It's not funny; it's pathetic. It is such convoluted thinking. It reflects all the worst values that strangle any glimpse left of an American dream, an American promise. But I digress, I forgot that these folks are still clinging to the notion that the President isn't a citizen of the U.S. Somebody should tell them that we ALL came over here in a boat. Even Native Americans if you go back far enough.
If you look carefully here you can see the racism, the intolerance and the ignorance. It's like putting on polarized sun glasses and looking into a trout stream. Suddenly, shadows in the deep dark become visible forms. In this case, no spotted Rainbows or Brookies, what you get is old myths, worn out notions of "Socialism" and the unthinkable: health care for all.
I'm fascinated by a central contradiction here about the role of the government in people's lives. Back in the day there was a little story that opponents of the draft used to tell. "If a government representative came to your front door and told you (not asked) that he was taking your dog, most people would have a fit. But when they take your son, where's the outrage?" Many of these folks who rail at their government about health care, funding for education, and now the simple act of a President urging kids to stay in school, are unconscionably silent when it comes to questioning that government in the arena of foreign policy. Fear is at the bottom of it all.

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