Obama and Socialism

Today, the mother of one of my daughter’s best friends kept her children home from school, because of an irrational fear that the President of the most powerful country in the world might be trying to indoctrinate students to some socialist agenda. It was not because she did not want her children to hear the President’s speech. It was because she wanted them to hear it and the school where her kids attend refused to show it.

Apparently, a small group of people, lacking patriotism and critical thinking called and complained, and the school administration capitulated to the fears of a small vocal minority, thus depriving the majority of students of a great educational experience. Yet this, in and of itself, perhaps is an important educational experience for all of us.

What sort of respect should be shown the President of the United States? Especially, when he is talking about the importance of the children of our country staying in school? What do you think about political pundits encouraging people to not listen to our President?

In my daughter’s school, they watched, and talked about the speech. The part of the message that she remembers is that students shouldn’t drop out.

Jack Nork has a blog post up about How Bethany, Woodbridge and Amity are handling the Obama Speech, including a quote from the chair of the Woodbridge Board of Education:

My understanding is that, as the CSDE notes in its letter, this is a local matter for each BOE to decide. Accordingly as Chairman I've consulted with the Superintendent and signaled that after viewing the relevant material available at the whitehouse.gov website, and consulting with the Public Information officer at the CSDE, I have concluded that this initiative can in no way be viewed as controversial subject matter, and does not necessitate a letter home to parents or opt-out notice (such as we see routinely with sex ed or mature subjects in films like Schindler's List, etc.). Therefore, teachers will be free to incorporate this material into their curriculum, either live at noon or by viewing a recording the tech department will make available (many kids will be at lunch at noon, etc.). I've also advised that anyone calling with "political concerns" be directed to me, in my capacity as their elected representative in this little thing we call a democracy.

You can read the prepared text of President Obama’s speech on the Whitehouse Website. I have only briefly scanned it. It does not jump out at me as one of the top one hundred speeches in United States history, but it may be that the uproar about the speech may place it in a special place in our history. I hope that teachers at the high school level will look at this speech and one speech that is often listed as one of the top one hundred speeches.

On June 9, 1954, Joseph Welch delivered the famous, ”Have You No Sense of Decency" speech which led to the downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy. It is time to dust off that speech and for high school history teachers to discuss it.

How is the fear of communism in the 1950s like the fear of socialism today? How is it different? How is the fear of communism in the 1950s like the fear of terrorist, Muslims, or immigrants today? How are political pundits like Sen. McCarthy? These are questions that should be discussed in history classes, as well as around the dinner tables of today.

Perhaps most importantly, who will deliver the “Have You No Sense of Decency" speech for the twenty first century? I’m proud that the chair of my local Board of Education erred on the side of decency and Joe Welch, instead of the side of McCarthyesque fear mongering.

I disagree with President

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