Opposing Obama's School Speech Isn't Partisan -- It's Just Crazy
This is what happens when you amplify insanity and call it by another name.
Earlier this morning, President Barack Obama gave his planned address to the nation's schoolchildren. This caps off a ridiculous period of time in the life of our Republic, in which a number of people completely lost their minds at the prospect of Obama talking to children about the importance of education, and the media -- to its great discredit -- pointed cameras at them and treated them as if they were sane.
With the address now behind us, the claims made by opponents of the address look more absurd than ever. And yet it should have never come to this point. To suggest that it is at all controversial, let alone nefarious, for the President to address the nation's youth is clearly demented. There is no other word for it. When the media was confronted by the "Birthers" and their bizarre assertion that Obama was not an American citizen, the media -- well, at least most of it -- rightly proclaimed the absurdity. Objections to Obama's address were, similarly, evidence of a great dementia loosed upon the nation. But in this case, even with all the clarity brought by the advance publication of Obama's speech, the political press somehow woke up this morning still wrestling with how to properly define the strange reaction to Obama's address.
Already today, I have heard this matter discussed in terms of how it's a product of "hyperpartisanship" and a demonstration of a larger "polarization" of the political discourse. This is more pointless mystification of the issue.
I have no idea where the idea of partisanship, let alone "hyperpartisanship," even enters into the story. This would imply that at the root of Obama's address is a core issue on which two parties have taken sides. It's not clear what that issue is. Chuck Todd attempted to establish a narrative this afternoon that it derives from differences of opinion on whether we should have a Department of Education. I have no idea where he's pulled that from. It's not from the address! The core issue elucidated in Obama's speech is that children should apply themselves in school, do their homework, take personal responsibility, and not drop out of school. If there is a group of people who believe children should do the opposite, we need to hear from them before we call this a product of "hyperpartisanship."
I'm similarly taken aback at those who wistfully opine that all of this is more sad evidence of the "polarization" of American politics. Now, certainly, the political discourse is, at times, highly polarized. But hey, you want to know a quick and easy way to polarize a discussion? Allow the yelpings of a bunch of insane people to occupy one of the poles!
THIS is what this story was: A bunch of lunatics made a bunch of claims about this address that were stupidly premised and borne of the same stuff as Birtherism: the simple desire to abolish Obama's existence and deny that the office of the president has any authority under his hand. If the media cannot figure this out, they deserve a failing grade.
For teachers, tell us both what stood out for you and for your students. If possible, include a picture of your classroom.
For students of all ages, tell us about the speech in whatever medium most interests you. This could be a poem, drawing or a description of how it has changed your perception of homework and the school year that lays ahead.
To contribute, press the "Participate" button below. Include your name in the title, write your response in the description box, include a photo of yourself or your classroom, and mark on the map where your school is located.
We'll be featuring your reactions to the speech as they are submitted.