Hey, lots of you have been sending me your comments on Facebook. That's fine, but...

... I'd prefer if you embedded the comments below the articles. That way we can see more fights when people disagree!

And besides, I do my best to respond to all your comments, so check back often for what I say about you behind your back... and tell your friends to come along, too!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Presidential Indoctrination

Okay, I know... when I heard that some people were saying that President Obama was trying to indoctrinate people, I had the same reaction everyone else had: "What the heck? He's already President, why does he need to be a doctor, too?"

Then I took a step back and realized that this wasn't about whether he wants to be the first African-American Doogie Howser, M.D. (yes, I know there have been doctors of color, but have any of them been named Doogie Howser? I don't think so).

Instead, it seems that there is some hoopla going on over the fact that he is addressing our children.

"Egads," methought. "How can he have the unmitigated gall to want to talk to our kids! Next thing you know they'll all be wearing brown shirts and talking about 'our leader' and stuff." Then I added another "Egads" to my thoughts just to drive home the seriousness of what was going on.

First of all, I have to admit that this one just barely misses me. It's like in Indiana Jones when he gets in the refrigerator and the nuclear blast goes off and he flies like three miles through the air 'cause of the blast wave and then gets out and dusts himself off because phew! he didn't get radiation poison. Yeah, I feel like that because my kid starts school tomorrow. That's right, the day after the indoctrination is set to occur.

Still, he does have relatives in other locales, and I'm sure he's going to wonder what happened to them at his next phone call:

MY KID: Hey, Cousin!

COUSIN: Hey, Cousin!

MK: I got some new megablocks for my birthday!

C: Have you thanked Obama?

MK: What?

C: All good things flow from Obama.

MK: What?

C: Have you not heard? Did you not hear THE SPEECH?

MK: What speech?

C: [indistinct muttering in the background] Don't worry. Re-education teams will arrive shortly. When they do, please assume your "I'm having fun" position.

MK: What's that? [sound of choppers in the background]

C: Lay down flat, arms outstretched, fingers spread.

MK: I have to go. Guys in black just crashed through my windows on ziplines.

C: All hail Obama!

I know, you're thinking the above is a little ridiculous: after all, my kid is only five years old. So how the heck would he even know what a zipline is?

But I see the fear that a lot of people have. Because they disagree with the president's views, and they worry that their children will hear something that makes them question the views that Mommy and Daddy want them to have. And I understand that. I really do. It's the reason I don't let my kid watch certain shows.

At the same time, though, I have to wonder if the real reason for so many people's concern isn't the message itself, but rather the fact that so many of us have essentially delegated our parental communication responsibilities to the television. And President Obama will be seen by most kids on a television. So he's coming from the Box of Authority. And therefore what he says must be true.

You see where I'm going here?

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of President Obama's, but nor am I a big "hater," either. I'm still kind of waiting to see if he does anything that actually impresses or disgusts me. But even if I was a "hater," and my kid had to see him at school, I don't think I'd be too worried.

Why not?

Because I believe Truth (capital T on purpose) usually wins out.

Because I believe my kid (no caps, he's only five) is not going to believe everything he hears. In fact, he doesn't understand a lot of things, and so...

He will ask me or my wife about it. Because we've managed to maintain our positions as his primary teachers. The Box of Authority is strictly monitored in our house, and that leaves him with no alternative but to talk to us.

I know, it's horrible how we're raising him to turn to us before all others. What lousy, fascist people we are.

But it keeps my blood-pressure down on days when I worry my kid is going to hear something incorrect, improbable, or just downright stupid. Because I believe that he'll talk to me about it. Before bed, when we have our nightly talk, over the dinner table, when I always ask what he did that day, or in between wrestling matches (the kid can do arm bars like a Cage Fighter!).

To sum up: I have no idea what President Obama is going to tell the kids of the nation. But I do believe it is a good idea for them to have access to the political process, and if that's one way for it to happen I'm all for it. And I do believe that any parent worth their salt should be able to sit down and reason with their kids over things that are said to them, over whether or not they're true.

And I do believe that Truth wins in the end. Every dictator or would-by tyrant falls in the end. Not calling President Obama that, just counseling for a little bit less hand-wringing and a little more sitting down with our kids to talk about what they learned in school today.


KlareBear said...

So, I am finally getting around to reading your blog. I have been wanting to for awhile, I guess I just haven't made it a top priority. ;)

I totally agree with you. I sent my kids to school today AFTER we had a talk with them last night. I know my 5 yr. old could care less. I even asked him if he watched Pres. Obama when I picked him up from school this afternoon and he said no. I know his teacher was going to show it, so if he did watch it he certainly didn't care. haha
With my 8 and 11 yr. old I also told them that their teacher's will want to add whatever they feel after the speech. Actually, that scares me more than Obama, because I know their teachers have a bigger influence on my kids than Obama does. We plan to talk with them again after they come home from school to see how it all went. We shall see.

Michaelbrent said...

Thanks, KlareBear!

monika said...

Michaelbrent, I agree with you. Our JOBS as parents is to redirect the kids on things they learn that we don't agree with. Yes, we do shield them when we can, but this is also a great time to teach them about freedom of speech, and the right to disagree if we want to. I do have older and younger kids, so I understand the concern, but not the hysteria. My kids and I will discuss this with daddy the same way we discussed our views of little Johnny-up-the-road's gay uncle and his open relationships. We will teach them and ask their opinions, and ask what their teachers said. We ARE the parents after all, so we'll parent.

That was the plan. I had started to comment when I was interrupted by life. Now I am having the discussion with the older ones anyway, but the schools here chose not to show the speech, because of the hoopla. I am a bit disappointed, actually. I am of the opinion that the speech might have inspired some kids who didn't care about school, and the ones who do care probably have parents that care too. These parents probably care enough to be involved with what goes on at school. If not, shame on them. Those kids are most likely already learning worse things from the "Box of Authority", as you so eloquently put it.

Corey Judd said...

Politics as usual. It was just a speech that most kids won't remember 5 minutes after it's over. I think the right gives Obama too much credit.

As for the TV, have you read Neil Postman's "Amusing ourselves to Death"? Its from a few years back so it's relvance may be a little different with all the changes in technology/internet but is still along the lines of what you discuss.

Anonymous said...

This issue sure was a big stink over nothing. I asked my 8 year old what the president talked about and he said "I don't remember". Yep, it was a boring adult talking to him and he didn't retain a word of it. If the pres. would have mentioned Star Wars or Spider-man or Harry Potter in his address, he would have at least gotten my son to pay attention.
-Ryan S.

gurustump said...

Sorry I was a bit late reading this post, but I do have a comment:

You never have to worry about your kids putting on brown shirts and talking about "our leader" under Obama. Just listen to Glen Beck. He's a communist, not a Nazi.

Rebekah V. said...

My five year old knows what a zipline is. I'm just sayin'.

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