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The Speech

A few weeks ago, as kids across America returned to school to begin another academic year, a fever pitch arose from din to clamor over the President’s then-upcoming address exhorting students to stay in school and work hard.

At first, I was amused by the few comments I read, though even amongst this partisan America, was still surprised, but when all hell broke loose within the next few days I had to step back, take a look and figure it all out.

How could anyone have any objection to any President past or current, addressing students and giving them a pep talk about buckling down, doing the work and staying focused? In recent years Presidents Reagan, GHW Bush and Clinton gave “new school year” speeches without the maelstrom of protest we saw this time around. (GHW Bush’s speech was decried by Democrats post-speech but on the basis of spending taxpayer money for “paid political advertisement” purposes. Bush the W was conspicuously absent from the practice.)

I went to the website of the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, which had raised one of the first objections. There I found a press release explaining their position.

It seems they were miffed by the Dept of Education’s handouts and lesson plans that were distributed and/or available to teachers to help students prepare for the speech and analyze it afterwards. They objected to the “glorification” of the President by the suggestion that students “read books about Presidents and Barack Obama” and by questions to be answered after the speech, such as “How did President Obama inspire you?”

They didn’t like that the children were asked to make posters about setting “community and country goals” and to “listen to the President and other elected officials”.

Are people actually worried that this will “indoctrinate” our children into “group speak/group think” and social activism of the Democratic persuasion?

Sorry, but this kind of thinking will indoctrinate children into a world of paranoia and a culture of fear that has no place in anyone’s America.

October 6, 2009 | Link to this entry

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Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

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