Dallas Morning News columnist James Ragland asks what we’ve been thinking:
So, my fellow Americans, this is how far we’ve fallen?
To the pathetic point where a few crackpots can smear and demonize the president of the United States for talking to kids about sticking with and succeeding in school?
Williamson county has its share of crackpots. Georgetown Independent School District sources say that they have received hundreds of phone calls from parents and concerned citizens about Obama’s September 8 speech encouraging school-aged children to work hard and stay in school.
According to the White House web page, “he’ll urge students to take personal responsibility for their own education, to set goals, and to not only stay in school but make the most of it.” It is a message that both former Presidents Bush delivered without the same reaction from political opponents.
The difference this time is the incendiary astroturf. We’re pilloried with more phony outrage from the John Birch Society wing of the Republican party, including a Glenn Beck comparison to fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin urging parents to yank their kids out of school.
The result of their incitement has been outrage among a few percent of the population in Georgetown ISD, and a flood of national media reporting. The New York Times noticed the simmering brouhaha, offering a report from (where else?) Texas about a “revolt among conservative parents.”
The Republican Party chairman in Florida, Jim Greer, said he “was appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.”
If we’re ever going to bridge the red-blue gap in this country, we’re going to have to stop shouting over each other and turning our backs when the other speaks. The right wing’s reflexive reaction to recoil in horror at the thought that someone may expose their children to ideas that they oppose is the same instinct that leads to home schooling.
This episode has resonated among the right wing because fundamentally conservatives oppose free public education. They don’t oppose education or health care for their kids, just ours. Republicans represent wealth. Rich parents are more likely to be Republican. A message that encourages the rest of us to work hard to get ahead threatens the safe passage of their progeny into the upper class. In a world with a lot of smart public school kids, how will Junior be assured entrance to an Ivy League school? In a world with well-educated high school graduates choosing higher education and skilled professions, who will be left to volunteer for the military?
We’ve heard Republicans at TEA party rallies this summer wail over what they perceive as the loss of “their” America. “I want my America back!” screeched one town hall disruptor. What they really fear is that “their” America is going to be more available to the rest of America. They fear having to actually compete to stay in the upper class. They just fear.
And that is why fear is all the right wing has to offer. Be very afraid, they say.
The rest of us actually have very little to fear. Recession? Pshaw! We’ve been through four in the last 28 years — one started by Pres. Reagan, one started by Pres. George H. W. Bush, and two started by Pres. George W. Bush. When Republicans occupy the White House, misery befalls the working class.
War? Republican Presidents have started five in the past 28 years.
Famine? Disease? We’re starving for nutrition while fattening up on ADM corn and acquiring type II diabetes.
What is left to keep us fearful and quiet that we haven’t already endured?
The answer is nothing. No longer will we be controlled by fears. Simply ignore the chatter on cable news. Watch Pres. Obama’s speech on Sept. 8, and start being optimistic about the future.
What was that word I am thinking of? The opposite of fear? Oh yes. Hope. We can use some of that.