Thursday, September 03, 2009

getting sick of the hysterics

. . .but this time, my scorn is not directed at a normal source.

President Obama is going to invade a good number of schools early next week, with an address direct to the children of the country. In response, some on the right (such as vodkapundit) have advocated keeping our kids home from school that day.

I disagree. For five reasons:

a) the likelihood is that Obama's address will be very generic. "Stay in school", "work hard", "learn something new every day", "challenge yourself", blah blah blah. I really doubt that anything that comes from the President's mouth is going to be objectionable; as long as the "extra" activities are kept in check, this event likely won't harm anybody but Obama.

b) keep in mind who is doing the talking in the eyes of those who will be receiving the talk. Obama, measurably, holds some kind of spell over a good number of people just a little older than high school kids, and may in fact hold an equal amount of influence over high school kids. If "he" says stay in school. . .maybe just maybe somebody will heed that advice. And let's not forget: that's a good thing.

c) Obama keeps presenting us with great teaching opportunities, and this is no different. In fact, earlier tonight I had a discussion with my sixth grader and told him what my expectation was of this event, and I asked him to listen on Tuesday. Not listen and obey, mind you, but just listen. I think that listening is something that civil societies do. . .and something that the activist youth of this country does not do, to the detriment of us all. My son and I will have a talk after the event (if it comes to pass; I have no idea if this school will participate), so I am unconcerned about how much influence this event will have on my son's life. For all I know, I'll have nothing to add to what the President says (and it should be noted that as of this writing, supposedly I'll be able to know the content of the lecture before it is aired); but if I do, I will have ample opportunity to inject myself into the situation. I want my son to develop an open mind and the ability to figure out his own "right" and "wrong"; that can't be done if he only hears me. It's a trap I think numerous kids fall into on our college's campuses year in and year out, and I don't want my son to be manipulated like the meat of the week when he gets out on his own.

Which takes me slightly off-topic, but here's a good place for my thought du jour: I think one of the reasons college-aged kids are so liberal (by number) is because the message of liberals is so new as to be intoxicating to that age group. Maybe liberalism is new because politics as a whole is new and the overwhelming message on a campus is liberal; maybe liberalism is new because the kids were raised conservatively without any exposure to the "other side". Either way, part of the attraction is the natural progression away from established authority (in this case, parents). I want to make sure my son isn't spellbound by the snake-charming music that he will likely be exposed to in a scant few years, and to me the best way to do that is to arm him with the arguments of the left and to share why I don't believe them. I hope he adopts my views, but more importantly than that, I hope he learns to speak for himself rather than channeling the wisdom of the nearest elder.

Anyhow, back on-topic now:

d) As I wrote earlier, Obama has nothing to gain here. By hook or by crook, he is probably well-liked in the youth of this country. But what better way to lose an audience than to waste that audience's time? If Obama does what I think he'll do--nay, almost what he MUST do in order to allow his beloved teacher's unions to survive next week--he will share no insights, no real inspiration, and will probably overdose on cliche. I can almost see the highschool classrooms filled with kids texting away to each other about what a lame President we have. In fact, I almost can't think of a message he could communicate that wouldn't be greeted with an overwhelming "whatevs, dude"--on the high side. On the low side, if he says something remarkable (like how he needs the youth of the country to help change the course of our nation). . .well, the reaction from the students may very well be the least of his concerns.

and 5) if there is a lesson to be learned from August, I think, it is that informed citizens that choose to engage in a debate have a great deal of power to shape that debate. In the off chance that Obama's address is completely inappropriate, if all the conservative-raised kids in the country aren't in a classroom to lend their voice to the after-action discussion, then there is a much better chance that indoctrination will be the order of the day. (keep in mind that a goodly number of the "facilitators" are likely Obamabots in teacher's clothing) All it takes to keep this from happening, however, is one voice per room that is willing to take on the "wisdom" of a leftist message. If the resident adult is faced with just one voice of dissent, hopefully they will decide that the moment has passed and it's time to get on with a real lesson plan. Never forget: you can't win a fight when you don't even show up. The left has gained politically for years based almost entirely on conservatives' low enthusiasm for activism--don't grow amnesia now that we've seen how effectively engagement can work for our side!

P.S. And about those "extra" activities: I've already asked my son to think about what he should write if he is asked to send a letter to President Obama detailing the ways in which my sweet, innocent 11 year-old could help out the most powerful man in the world. (talk about lame!) I know, I know--that activity is no longer on the "approved" list (because now we have to have our reactions to the appearance of the President scripted, don't you know. Thank you, media--this arrogance is entirely because of your obsequiousness with the man). But that doesn't mean it won't appear in our classrooms, and if it does, I want my son to be prepared. And I hope that he feels up to a fight. Because all he has to do is let me know that this request was even presented to him, and I will happily take it from there.


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