What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Barack Obama
At a speech at the Reichsparteitag in 1935, Adolf Hilter declared that “he alone, who owns the youth, gains the future!” This ownership he described was a reference to the use of propaganda, emotion, and allurement to captivate the minds and secure the allegiance of the growing generation. Dictators, marketing executives, and others seeking influence have all worked to capitalize upon the impressionability of the youth to realize their objectives.
Barack Obama and his team—effective marketers of their political ambitions as they are—are no different. Next week, the President will be making the next step in an effort to mesmerize the minors attending school in the government-run system. Many see this event as nothing more than an innocuous speech encouraging children to pursue a good education, but the supplemental materials being provided to the nation’s schools betray this naive assumption.
The President is elected to do a job defined by a limited set of powers. While these boundaries have been violated repeatedly, the office of President in essence is that of a servant to the public—he is our employee, on our payroll, and does what “we the people” tell him to do (in theory, anyway). And yet children across the country are being prompted to consider how they can help the President.
Last night, the materials were edited to remove a line that told teachers to ask their students to “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.” Only after an outcry was this suggestion changed for something more tame. And yet the fact that it existed in the first place illustrates the intentions of federal authorities in relation to our children’s education. This is an extension of John F. Kennedy’s “ask what you can do for your country” theme, focusing the attention and effort instead on one individual—the one soliciting the request.
Ignoring the excluded remark, we are still left with other suggestions telling children to consider what the President is asking them to do, and what ideas and actions the President is challenging them to think about. The simple fact that a single man is addressing himself to the nation’s children and using the network of government-funded (and regulated) teachers to instill certain thoughts in their minds should worry all parents. Those parents who themselves have fallen prey to the propaganda will, of course, see no problem with their children participating in the same.
The President of the United States was never intended to be a leader to our children, nor to speak to them directly. Only individuals looking to mold public opinion in their favor aim to do this on a large scale, and historically those individuals have had ulterior motives of ill repute. Time will tell how Mr. Obama’s intentions manifest themselves in the fertile soil of our children’s minds.