Friday, September 4, 2009

Some need to read “1984” more closely

Before I start dumping all over the people who want to make an issue out of President Barack Obama’s intent to speak to this country’s schoolchildren next week via the Internet and television, let me state one point.

It is a cheap stunt.

OBAMA PLANS TO use the website, along with C-SPAN, to deliver a speech telling children about the significance of staying in school. He will be at a high school in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C., but all children in the United States who are in school on Tuesday will have the option of watching him.

It is a stunt meant to get the president into the news on an issue as innocuous as the need for an education. It will take place solely to give the president a few minutes of positive public relations value.

But it was no more of a stunt than the day when former President George W. Bush walked across an aircraft carrier with a banner reading “Mission Accomplished” in the background, trying to take credit for “winning” the war in the Middle East that he had managed to create.

Personally, I find Obama’s stunt to be a little bit less offensive than Bush’s now-famed stunt – which may well go into the history books as one of the all-timed tacky political stunts.

OF COURSE, POLITICAL stunts are not at all uncommon. Political officials by their very nature create stunts that are meant to put themselves in positive situations, especially if they can be staged in ways so that the only people who can get close enough to question the president will be someone harmless.

My guess is that Obama’s handlers think a group of Virginia high school students will not be able to come up with any questions or do anything else that will make the president look foolish.

And he will be able to claim he’s delivering an inspiring message to the nation’s youth, while also showing off the fact that he’s the first president who “gets” how to effectively use the Internet to deliver his message.

As though the ’08 presidential campaign wasn’t enough.

SO THE PEOPLE who are now getting worked up over this are right in thinking it is cheap public relations.

But since when has that ever been sufficient reason to dump on incumbent president, or any other political official?

I can’t help but be offended at the people who are now trying to turn this into some issue of a heinous official trying to poison the minds of the Youth of America with his own 21st Century vision of what this country is supposed to be about.

Could it be that these are people still stuck in the 20th Century (literally, I expect someone to bring up the novel “1984,” which included messages broadcast to the public in the workplaces and the schools – all as part of the effort to indoctrinate thought)?

IT TURNS OUT that some school districts in the Chicago area are giving parents the opportunity to keep their kids home from school on Tuesday, if they really, absolutely object to the idea of their young’uns sitting in a classroom and listening to the president for however long his stunt speech takes place.

They’re giving credence to people such as the man quoted in the Arlington Heights-based Daily Herald newspaper, who said Obama’s stunt, “makes me angry as an American.”

What makes me angry is that this person thinks silencing an incumbent leader is somehow the “American way” of thought.

My guess is that had these parents not decided to make an issue of this, most children would have sort of slumped through the speech paying half-attention to it, and most would have forgotten its message by day’s end.

NOW, IT IS being elevated to some sort of significant cause. People are going to be giving their kids the impression that skipping out on a political leader is somehow worthwhile.

It makes me wonder how many of these same parents were the ones who would always rant about Bush’s critics that they were being “disrespectful” to the office of President of the United States.

But now that the POTUS is someone of a different ideology, they think they ought to be able to dump on him at will?

Actually, they can. It is all part of that “freedom of expression” that is protected in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They have the right to disagree and make that disagreement known.

BUT JUST BECAUSE someone legally can say something does not always make it right. The lesson they are passing along to their kids about “respect” is questionable.

And anyway, there’s also the fact that that same “freedom of expression” gives me the right to respond. So here it goes.

There are some parents in the Chicago area who are mental halfwits if they think keeping their kids from listening to the president for a few minutes next week will somehow make the kids better human beings.

Those people probably need to do a re-read of “1984” if they think that limiting the exposure to alternate ideas somehow expands their own minds. Because ultimately, that was what the concept of “Big Brother” was about.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Some school districts are willing to let parents exempt their children from ( Barack Obama’s national attempt to talk to the school kids of America.

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