Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A New Kind of Ignorance?

Back in the late 1970's, when I was all of eight years old, or so, President Jimmy Carter addressed the nation to discuss the oil crisis, and, specifically, ways we could conserve. Among his suggestions was the idea that we should delay turning on our furnaces until it actually got cold, (Mid October?) and turning them off as early as possible in the spring.

To this day, our family practices these, because the president asked us to.

Today, President Obama will give a speech to almost all of our nation's school children, calling on them to work hard, and take responsibility for their own education. In the speech, he cites his own and Michelle Obama's struggles to get ahead, and an education.

"Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in."

He specifically names three students who, against tough odds and in a backdrop of difficult circumstances, have persevered through nothing less than willpower.

"Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same. "

And he gives encouragement as well:
"Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. "

And all we've heard for days, is that Republicans have been decrying the speech. They've beens saying everything from "Obama is going to indoctrinate our children in his socialist agenda" to "Obama is abusing his authority in speaking to students."

So the President has posted his prepared remarks for all to read on the White House Website, and there are still people, and worse, schools, who don't want the president to make the speech, or don't think he should be allowed to speak to kids.

What, exactly, do Republicans have against an authority figure like the President urging kids to stay in school and take responsibility for their education? What, exactly, do they have against a presidential address at all? Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan also made similar addresses in their time.

I think they have two objections:
  1. They object to students actually studying, because if they do, they'll be far less likely to support the obviously morally bankrupt policies of the conservatives and
  2. They object to a black man speaking to their white kids about education.
Go on- read the speech, and try to come up with another objection. I dare you. In the meantime, those of us who, you know, studied in school, and are free of racism, will quietly record this speech, and show it to our children.

1 comment:

Scoopernicus said...

Speaking of ignorance, this award winning documentary on evolution can't find a US distributer because it is considered 'controversial'.