September 8, 2009

What A Real Indoctrination Effort Looks Like

For the past week, the airwaves, the internet and newspapers have all been aflame with conservative uproar about President Obama's planned speech to schoolchildren on Tuesday, with noted performance artists Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh screaming that the president sought to bypass the guidance of parents and directly "indoctrinate" their offspring with his "socialist agenda." Unfortunately for the right wing, it strongly appears that the White House played them for suckers, as the actual content of Mr. Obama's speech was both rigorously non-partisan and genuinely inspiring:
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

It's early yet, but it's likely the biggest outcome of this will be not only most people scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss was about in the short term, but increased skepticism toward GOP criticism of President Obama in general, going forward. Given the level of substanceless invective, outright lying and empty-headed shrillness that has been emblematic of Republican attack politics since Barack Obama was elected, that's probably a good thing.

Be that as it may, however, while this low political drama was playing out, two very real efforts to enshrine discrimination and religious bigotry into law - GENUINE indoctrination, if you will - were gaining ground in Maine and Washington state.

In the Pacific Northwest, a push to certify a ballot initiative called Referendum 71 that would prevent expansion of Washington's existing same-sex domestic partnership laws was successful, and the measure will go before voters in November. Meanwhile, across the continent in New England, a similar exercise has triggered a hold that prevents same-sex couples from marrying, despite the fact that the state legislature and the governor legalized homosexual matrimony back in May. Under Maine's "People's Veto" provisions, the Question 1 ballot initiative will demand the repeal of "An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom".

In Maine, so far, more than 99% of the financial backing for Question 1 has come from the National Organization for Marriage; the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, ME; and the state chapter of James Dobson's Focus on the Family. In other words, to date, less than 1% of the money raised to foment this "people's veto" is actually coming from individual Mainers.

From where I sit, having large, (and predominantly non-local) political action organizations working to codify discrimination against a portion of a state's population - in other words, forcing their views on others - should be a lot more worrisome than a speech from the president urging children to stay in school and study hard in order to help themselves and their country.

But maybe that's just me.


eamon O'Connor said...

gee whiz, I heard part of the speech and immediately after I wanted to go down to my local socialist elementary school and play on the government owned jungle jim and sing rousing socialist hymns and I am an Old Gay Lawyer who Rambles a lot.

PBI said...


Thanks for stopping by. This whole thing has made the GOP look absolutely ridiculous to anyone who didn't already think Obama is the Antichrist...