Wild-Eyed Paranoia

This is just nuts.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that plans by President Obama to address students across the country next week have right-wingers — including Texas State Board of Education members — foaming at the mouth about “political indoctrination” and students being “ostracized” if they don’t agree with the president. One Houston-area parent tells the newspaper:

“I think it’s inappropriate because it smacks of political indoctrination of the worst kind. It’s not just a speech. It’s a specific curriculum to go along with the speech directly from the president of the United States without review.”

Good grief.

A letter from the U.S. Secretary of Education to school officials explains that the president will talk about “the importance of education”:

“The President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.”

That kind of radicalism will destroy this country, right?

Of course, presidents making speeches to students is hardly new. In 1989, for example, the first President Bush talked to the nation’s students about the dangers of drugs. Schools held assemblies and wheeled televisions into chassrooms so students could listen.

But now the Internet is filled with wild-eyed paranoia from the right. Some right-wing posters on one Web site are even comparing President Obama’s speech to efforts by the Nazis to recruit Hitler Youth.

Texas Freedom Network’s Kathy Miller told the Chronicle:

“It’s hard to imagine anything more ridiculous than attacking the president of the United States for talking to students about the importance of getting a good education and being a good citizen. I wish our elected leaders were responsible enough to denounce this kind of wild-eyed paranoia. But the problem is, too many of them are actually feeding this kind of nonsense – like when the governor flirts with secessionists and State Board of Education members say the President sympathizes with terrorists.”

And sure enough, state board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, is protesting the speech:

It simply “obligates the youngest children in our public school system to agree with Obama’s initiatives or be ostracized by their teachers and classmates.”

State board member David Bradley, R-BeaumontBuna, chimed in, warning about follow-up activities after the speech and reminding parents that they have a right to keep their children from participating.

What about those devious follow-up activities? They include guided discussions with suggested questions like:

  • What is President Obama inspiring you to do?  What is he challenging you to do?
  • What do you believe are the challenges of your generation?
  • How can you be a part of addressing these challenges?

In addition, students might be asked to set personal goals and craft strategies for achieving those goals. Yes, we know. That’s all just Marxist hippie nonsense.

Of course, at least Bradley’s and Cargill’s comments are rather restrained considering what fellow board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, has said about the president in the past:

“We have been clearly warned by his running mate, Joe Biden, that America will suffer some form of attack within the first 6 months of Obama’s administration. However, unlike Joe, I do not believe this “attack” will be a test of Obama’s mettle. Rather, I perceive it will be a planned effort by those with whom Obama truly sympathizes to take down the America that is threat to tyranny. What nobody seems to be discussing is the fact that if such an attack takes place, what about Martial Law? What happens to expand executive power when a state of civil disorder is declared?”

Why should anyone be surprised when everyday folks parrot the paranoid fantasies that their elected “leaders” are spouting?

You can read the whole Chronicle piece here.

UPDATE: At least one far-right group can’t even tell the truth about something this simple. The Family Research Council has blasted out an e-mail telling activists that President Obama “will become the first President to address the nation’s schoolchildren.” But e-mail links to a Washington Post news story that clearly says, “White House officials said Obama’s speech would be the first by a sitting president to students about achievement since 1991.” Maybe the folks at the Family Research Council didn’t bother to read the whole story — or maybe they just want to convince people that this speech is unprecedented and dangerous. Here are questions the e-mail asks recipients to consider:

1. Should President Obama be directly addressing American children during school hours?
2. Do you expect the President’s message to children to acknowledge parental authority in education and encourage obedience to parents?
3. Should President Obama discuss his administration’s current or future policies with schoolchildren?
4. What do you think President Obama should say in his address to American children?

Maybe they forgot one: “Do you think President Obama should admit to students that he is a gay-loving, white-hating closet Muslim out to undermine capitalism, kill their grandmothers and destroy all that is holy about America?”

SECOND UPATE: Peter Morrison, a far-right activist serving on one of the Texas State Board of Education’s social studies curriculum writing teams (see a post about Morrison here), is now telling recipients of his e-newsletter that the president is “using” schoolchildren as “political fodder” with his “Orwellian” speech:

“Children are young, impressionable, and eager to please. They should be considered off-limits to a politician pushing a socialist agenda.”

He is also calling on his readers to demand that local school officials not allow students to listen to the president’s speech:

“It is unfortunate that so many school districts across our state are treating this as a ‘news event’ and allowing a political speech to displace classroom time. Imagine: millions of our students being propagandized to accept Obama’s socialist rhetoric under the authority of their classroom teacher.”

It’s becoming harder and harder to avoid the conclusion that far too many people on the far right have simply lost their minds. What’s truly alarming is that the unhinged rants of people like Morrison could influence the public school curriculum for the next generation of Texas students.

20 thoughts on “Wild-Eyed Paranoia

  1. You mean Nazi Marxist hippie nonsense. That probably promotes Teh Homosexual Agenda.

    Get those talking points right………

  2. Help!!! Help!!! Help!!! Help!!! The monster under my bed is real!!! He’s a negro and he spoke to me!!! Help!!! Help!!! Help!!! Help!!!

    You know. To tell you the truth, with each passing news day, it becomes more clear to me that I have vastly underestimated the number of fruits on our fruited plain.

  3. Which reminds me, Charles, of one of my favorite church billboards: “God wants fruits of the Spirit, not religious nuts.”

    But I’m not as kind as you are. It’s becoming more clear to me by the day that this country is filled up to overflowing with frothing-at-the-mouth demagogues, far too many of whom have highly-rated “news” shows and other bully pulpits such as the SBOE from which they inflame their slack-jawed, mentally deficient minions. A pox on all these rabble-rousers and their useful idiots!

  4. Y’know Charles, I spit out my root beer reading your comment. At work no less. Now our IT person is wondering just what I’m doing. Just for that, I’m stealing your line.

  5. Cargill and Dunbar are making me crazy. I’m in Cargill’s district for the SBOE, and have written careful, polite letters regarding my concerns. I’ve never received a response.

  6. I am a teacher in a well known school district in the Houston area. I am appalled that we are even considering censoring the president of the United States. Hopefully the idiots who are raising such a ruckus will be humiliated when the president inspires young people with his message.

  7. I would wager that you never will.

    Lets see, how did Bob Dole put it back in 1994 when his election results were 52 percent for him anf 48 percent for his opponent? It went something like, “I consider myself to be the elected representative of that 52 percent in my state that voted for me. Who represents that other 48 percent that did not vote for me? I don’t know. It’s sure not me.” Yep, he really said that. I was sitting right there on the couch, and my jaw dropped all the way to the floor.

    In my opinion, if you do not share their philosophy and religious perspective, you are basically just scum bag fodder to feed the Lake of Fire.

  8. Morrison stated that ” children are young, impressionable, eager to please.” He just confirmed why ID should not be taught in public schools. I’ m with the Dixie Chicks- so embarrassed to live in Tex-ass.

  9. If parents don’t want their kids to watch that
    black man telling white kids to stay in school.
    He should be telling that to little black kids. They are the ones that are dropping out and getting pregnant at 13.
    Texas has a long proud history of keeping the blacks “in their place”. So now we got to listen to one of them blacks lecturing our white kids to stay n school??
    If Obama wants to push a broom down the school halls, that’s ok. But to put that black man in a suit and tie and treat him like he’s the president of the United States or something like that….
    Now that’s taking things too far.
    I miss the good old days when those darkies had to address us as “massah”, don’t you

  10. You deleted my response to Ben. I was actually attempting to congratulate Ben’s “perception” about what Norris Hall said. When I first read what Norris said, I had to read it 3 or 4 times to try to figure out whether it was parody—and still was not totally sure until Trog69 and Ben clinched it for me. I was in no way trying to be critical of Ben.

  11. I wouldn’t sweat it, Charles. Unless it’s a regular commenter a this, or any site, you can’t tell anymore. Kinda like a “Poe”, but for wingnuts rather than full-blown fundies.

    Beck wasn’t exactly right; They don’t surround us, but they do have one heck of a surround sound system.

    I love how the sub makes the room shake when their heads explode.

  12. I think we should eschew attempts at Poe. The nature of what passes for political discourse from the Right has descended to such depths that it truly defies parody.

    And I wish each of these fools would be issued a dictionary and forced, on pain of disenvowelment, to use it. I am sick to death of the conflation of communism, fascism, socialism, and every other “ism” that they throw around with a complete contempt for the meaning of the words.

    I also think we should pass a law, immediately, that confiscates the Medicare card of any idiot who comes out to protest “socialized medicine”. Take that socialized medicine away from them, I say, and see how they like it! Social security benefits, too. They should be ashamed to cash those checks anyway. Furthermore, the morons who keep their kids home from school on Tuesday so they won’t be contaminated by a pep talk from the duly elected President of the United States shouldn’t be allowed to send them back, ever. Or to any state- or tax-supported college or university either. Heaven forfend that they be forced to take part in socialized education. We should shut off their water and electricity, too, and keep them off the city streets and public highways. And let their garbage pile up in their back yards. When they get sick from it, maybe a kindhearted Democratic neighbor can carry them over the public roads to a private hospital, whereupon they can sell their houses to cover the co-pays and the claims their insurance company denies. After that, of course, they’ll just have to die, because their policies will be cancelled.

    They dislike socialism so damn much, don’t they? Well, let’s just protect them from it.

    Man, I love posting under the influence of pain medication. It lets every antisocial impulse I have just come pouring out. But what must it be like to live that way all the time, with every civilized, altruistic, and decent filter turned off? What kind of existential hell do these people live in, divorced from any kind of human empathy and any vestige of rationality?

  13. I think that’s what makes it a Poe, isn’t it? hehehe, but you’re right; They’ve found a new gear to grind, that’s for sure.