For those who might not know, education is not just about putting ideas into the heads of children. In fact, it is more about drawing out their ideas and developing their learning skills. The word education comes form the Latin roots, educare and educere, "to lead out". It means that children are to be helped at every stage to dispel ignorance through their own endeavours, not just by what is fed into them but by how they recognise, appreciate and discern such ideas. No one can help them to do that except themselves. When they are deprived of such opportunities, that is the time they become ignorant and feeble followers of those who would stunt their growth.
Key questions for Americans
Secondly, children do not learn much by what adults consciously say. Their greatest learning comes from what adults DO and the implied messages they give out. Parents and the media who are whipping up this sick and pointless hysteria, especially without first seeing the speech, need to ask themselves some key questions:
1. With this block on free speech, and of the highest ELECTED official in America's administration, what exactly are they teaching their children?
2. When they make this president into a kind of bogeyman aiming to harm their kids, when they haven't even heard the speech, what are they actually saying about their own intolerance?
3. When they treat this president vastly different from all the other WHITE presidents, what are they actually saying about their own race hatred, and exactly what are they teaching future citizens about him?
4. As such unwarranted action is entirely divisive, how soon will this individual fear of the President by the children begin to be transferred to all black people?
5. Will parents now be withdrawing their children from every future speech and activity the President will be doing?
6. How does such intolerant action help children to become intelligent and discerning adults in their own right?
7. And what precedence is being set here? Will they be withdrawing their children from every future speech they disagree with?
I remember clearly, about 12 years ago in Britain, when many 'caring' parents would withdraw their children from lessons that taught about homosexuality and answered questions on children's curiosity around it. There was a fierce debate around the issue as some fearful parents did not want their children exposed to such 'unnatural' thoughts and ideas and they withdrew their children. They foolishly thought that by depriving their children of the information around it, they were 'protecting' them from any 'contamination' with it and that would make homosexuals and the whole issue go away! The tragedy is that those ignorant children are likely to be the most homophobic peers through lack of understanding and knowledge of the issue.
It seems that America elected its first mixed race president and the novelty was fine. Those against it obviously believed it was just a temporary thing. It would be business as usual, from a white perspective, while the president stayed meekly in the background and more or less did as he was told. What is finally dawning on his detractors is that Barack Obama IS the president, whether they like it or not; that he will be there for at least four years and he will be changing certain things they have grown accustomed to, as he promised. That realisation is leading to some pretty intolerant, racist and dangerous behaviour. But in the end, such selfish actions are likely to engulf ALL Americans, not just the more bellicose ones!
As Tim Ruttun explained in the Los Angeles Times: "Republican officials such as the Florida state chairman are playing a dangerous game with an unhinged segment of public opinion that regards Obama not as an elected official with whom they disagree, but as an illegitimate usurper of the presidency. "¨"¨
That paranoid fantasy is what's really behind the "birther" movement and the allegations that the president is -- take your pick -- a secret Marxist or a secret Muslim.
It's the kind of fanciful anxiety that produces comments like this, posted on a conservative website this week: "Barack Obama and his left-wing Chicago machine regime are putting into place laws and institutions which will insure that there will never again be free elections in America.""¨"¨These are the people who are stockpiling ammunition and keeping their children at home next Tuesday."
Lawfully elected President
This president was lawfully elected by a majority of Americans. Like all other presidents before him, he deserves the respect, the dignity and the cooperation to do what he and his officers think is best for the country. The ballot box is still there to remove him in four years time, if people are unhappy with his actions. Those who would wish to decry everything he does and to de-stabilise the country for their own selfish aims mean America no good at all.
As Bob Ray Sanders from the Star Telegram adds: "It wouldn't be the first time a president has tried to inspire young people to think, to talk and to act. John Kennedy did it, as did Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Who can be a more persuasive role model for students to stay in school or commit to serving their country than the person who holds the highest office in the land?
Unfortunately for a growing number of frightened, misguided and hate-filled Americans, this president should not and must not be a role model for their children. Therefore, their young sons and daughters should not be in class -- or perhaps even in school -- if there's a remote possibility that the plague-spreading left-wing devil called Obama will speak to them.
They've labeled him the Antichrist who is set on desecrating the Constitution, destroying the country and annihilating their children's futures.
It is theater of the absurd, being played out in exaggerated dramatic fashion on stages large and small -- in offices, backrooms, broadcast studios and on the World Wide Web. I would find it laughable if it were not so tragic, so sinister and so sickening."
I fear for America's children because blocking free speech for spurious motives is a terribly divisive thing to do to innocent youngsters who lack the knowledge, appreciation and hidden agenda of political matters.
Time for commonsense to prevail and for the silent majority to let their voices be heard, too, because the current intolerant, hysteric action against the President is leading America down a very dangerous and ignorant path. The biggest lesson of all being given to these vulnerable children is that when they disagree with something, or are unsure of it, they can dispense with constructive discourse. All they have to do is to bully their way through defiantly. It is both disgraceful and shameful from the leading country in the free world.
Finally, the most important question: Is this the example America is setting the rest of us who don't have its money, opportunities, privileges or advantages? In that case, heaven help us!