Monday, September 07, 2009

More on the Issue

This blog is linked to my facebook; here is a worthy comment from an respected dissenter.

Earlier he had repeated the misinformation that the “I Pledge” video that was made by Demi Moore to honor the inauguration was made by the DOE in order to be shown with President Obama’s talk with students on Tuesday.

The video was in fact shown in a school in Utah for an unrelated event.

From Grant:

“Sean - thanks for correcting me on that one, but I still feel that the way this is being handled and packaged crosses the line. What better way to convince children that the President (and by extension, his policies) is cool than to have celebrities endorse his message? The fact that even one school showed the "I Pledge" video shows poor judgement... Read More from left-leaning educators, regardless of whether or not the White House endorsed it. Of course, I could just be jealous that Democrats always have the cool celebrities and Republicans are stuck with country music singers.
I'm sorry to be hi-jacking your post like this, but there's one last thing I wanted to say. There's also another sentiment here that at least 48% of the population is feeling and it's this - we don't agree with Obama and that's why we're being vocal about this. You're right to say that the pundits and the politicians don't mean what they say, but we do.
Alright, I'm off to write my own blog now...”

Grant -- No apology necessary. However, you are proving my point exactly.

The argument being presented out there boils down to this:

"The left has proven its extreme power by getting one educator at one school out of 100,000 schools in the nation (total population of said school: under 400 students) to show a four minute long video that includes five seconds of endorsement of the current sitting president.

“This show of power is so overwhelming, that we must respond with a carpet bombing force (and forget that the principal - who didn't watch the vid before hand - had already apologized for the clear error before it even made it to the press) by linking it to an unrelated, pro-education event and calling for a nation wide boycott of said event, and use the unrelated event to demonize the President for wanting to put out a pro-education message by calling such a message the literal equivalent of the master race policies of Adolf Hitler.

“Because we truly believe that the extermination of millions is the moral equivalent to Ashton Kutcher voicing a political opinion.”

My argument is thus:

“This is an extreme, irrational, over-reaction.”

You say that 48 of Americans disagree with the President on this issue, and that “you are right to say that the pundits and the politicians don’t mean what they say, but we do.”

My point exactly.

A large percentage of Americans disagree vehemently with the President on this issue.

They disagree that kids should stay in school and that education is important.

A message they did not disagree with before the pundits and politicians started lying about what the message was;

before those folk got folks like you to believe that the “I Pledge” video and a boatload of other materials were part of the message;

before it became a message linked to a President that is not an American citizen, is a practicing Muslim extremist, pals around with terrorists and (apparently like the other 52% of the country) has only one wish in life: the complete and utter destruction of the United States of America.

I will repeat: virtually none of the politicians or pundits that spread that crap believes any part of it.

But they sure hope you do.

And that’s why it is so dangerous to not know when they are lying.

Just my thoughts,



Grant Lawley said...

Sean - I feel as if you've taken something I said and extrapolated from that to make your point. What I meant was that 48% of Americans don't agree with his policies, NOT that they disagree with the President's opinion that education is important.
The rational argument from the opposition (I said "rational") has always been about the accompanying study materials. Originally the focus of these materials was always on Obama, "How can you help the President?", "What do you think the President is asking you to do?"
Now how much of a jump would it be for a liberal teacher to take that and run with it. Do you understand now how conservative parents, who don't agree with Obama's politics, would be concerned that their children were being "indoctrinated" by teachers that do?
Yes, I know that that sounds like an over-reaction, but this issue reminds me of a biology teacher I had in high school. There is one thing that he said to us that will always stay in my mind. He said, "Whether you want to believe it or not, we all evolved from fish."
Admittedly it's not surprising to know that a secular biology teacher would be an evolutionist (and most of us laughed at the absurdity of his statement anyway), but where was the discussion and moderation in that classroom?
My point is this - teachers wield an awesome power and sometimes those teachers abuse it. They push their own belief systems on children, whether it be religious, scientific, or political.
To say that a speech from the President on the virtues of education is harmless is basically true. It's when the President's politics enter the classroom after his speech is over, that's when it becomes disconcerting.
Now, having said that, isn't it interesting that the White House has since removed all the "questionable" language from it's study materials?
Did they do that just to appease an irrational opposition or did they realize that maybe, just maybe, they had crossed a line?

There's another point that you're trying to make here that actually disturbs me quite a bit. You seem to believe that any opposition to Obama is based solely on what the politicians and pundits want us to believe. That we can't, or don't, want to discern between fantasy and reality, but are so blinded by our hatred for Obama that we would stop at nothing to compare him to Hitler. Sean, you are wrong.

Well, basically.

Yes, there are those conspiracy freaks out there that won't rest until they have Obama's forged birth certificate in their sweaty palms. "SEE!! WE TOLD YOU SO!!!" I am not one of those people. Neither are most conservative Americans. We take Obama at his word. We look at what he has said in the past, who he has associated with, and what his political record looks like. We are doing what he himself has asked everyone of us to do , "Judge me by the people I surround myself with."
We cut through his majestic and awe-inspiring rhetoric to see what he is really saying. What we realize is that he will never speak TO us or FOR us because he doesn't believe the same things that we do. That is not being extreme or irrational or even over-reacting. It's simply being true to our beliefs. I might also add that that it is the exact same argument that every self-proclaimed Bush-Hater would make. So why is it that when they did it they were praised, but when we do it we are marginalized and ridiculed?

You are absolutely right when you say that, " is so dangerous to not know when they are lying," I would just hope that you're following that same advice as well.

And those are just my thoughts...

Linds said...

There are teachers who maybe irresponsible. I'd be interested to know what in the speech (which has now been published on the White House website) you find that such an activist could use to twist the minds of the young toward the dastardly policies of the Left.

As you may be able to tell, I'm not of the conservative persuastion - even so, if President Bush had done this (as his father and Reagan both did, Reagan making explicit arguments for his tax policies!), I would have made sure to show that to my students too.

We're training a generation of students who live steeped in argument without any substance. We avoid views with which we disagree, and we're training students not to wrestle with the truth. Even if Obama used this, as Reagan did, to promote his political position, it's good for a class to argue over it later. I'm not saying this is a good thing to adopt on a normal basis (when would I have time to teach anything otherwise?), but in special circumstances, it's great. I always assign my students to watch primetime news addresses made by the president throughout the year - because it makes them smarter to listen to someone present an argument, especially if they disagree with him.

That said, Sean, I'd love to share your posts on this topic with my AP classes if that's alright with you!

Grant Lawley said...

Linds - I have no issue with his speech. I never have. It was always about the wording of the accompanying study material and how that could be used by irresponsible teachers.

I do agree with you about the way this generation is being brought up, but I fear that they will never have the benefit of hearing a balanced argument. We are in the midst of a love affair with a president that not only ignores factual evidence about who he is and what he believes, but ridicules anyone that dares to disagree with him.
Your statement about "not training students to wrestle with the truth,' may be more telling than you think.

Linds said...


Good points. I agree that there are irresponsible teachers who may use these materials poorly. Heck, there are teachers in my own school who will use it as a chance to condemn the president and his policies.

The thing is, we live in a democratic republic that allows political power to change hands constantly. We spent the past 8 years on the other side of this seesaw! And for 8 years before that, we were on this one.

If a teacher endeavors to shield her pupils from the reigning political ideology of the day, that teacher will only raise a generation of politically ignorant children (not so great in a democracy that offers universal suffrage to adults straight out of high school!).

I guess I'm just not as alarmed because the pendulum swings back and forth. Despite what the Right says, there was plenty of 'rah rah Bush & Iraq' in classrooms for the past 8 years, and there will be plenty of 'rah rah Obama' in classrooms while he's in office. It eventually balances out, and in those geographic regions where it doesn't (California and Texas come to mind...), it never will under any administration. :)

David Goulet said...


What percentage of teachers would you say are irresponsible? And what do you mean by irresponsible?

A biology teacher that teaches evolution -- that's irresponsible?

It seems to me that you equate irresponsible with "does not agree with my beliefs".

Grant Lawley said...

David -
What I mean by irresponsible is simply this - when a teacher would conduct their classroom in such a way that only one side of the argument is supported and discussed.
My biology teacher example was meant to show how one man refused to accept that there were students in his classroom that would question his "statement of fact." When he said, "whether you want to believe it or not," he was irresponsibly shutting down any dialogue on the subject. I could remove any students that believed in Creationism from that example and still have a classroom full of kids that were left wondering why, all of sudden, we weren't evolved from apes.
You certainly don't have to have the same beliefs as I do to be a great teacher. That's not what I am saying, in fact, I would hold a conservative Christian to the same standards as I would a liberal athiest. Education is meant to be free of propaganda and personal agendas. Responsible teachers know this, irresponsible ones don't.

David Goulet said...


I think your biology teacher example isn't a good one. He sounds more like a teacher with a poor pedantic method than one who is irresponsible. But you were there, I wasn't. Let's toss that one out to avoid distraction.

Yes, a teacher who passes along propoganda and personal agenda is acting irresponsibly. But who decides what is propoganda and personal agenda? The teachers' association? The individual school? School board? Parents?

With whom does the buck stop?