Taking Pride In Being Ignorant

Well the reviews are already in on Obama’s big speech on “the importance of education”, and they aren’t pretty. The descriptions range from “brainwashing” and “indoctrination of your children” to accusations that Obama’s speech shows that he is actually Mao, Hitler, Mussolini, and of course, a terrorist.

Right now you might be asking yourself, what speech on education? I didn’t see any speech. Did the media not cover it? Why didn’t I see any tweets??

Relax, relax, you didn’t miss anything, I’m talking about the speech Obama hasn’t even given yet, the one he is due to deliver on September 8th, a little less than a week from now. Now you might be asking yourself, but you just said there were damning reviews of the speech already, how is that possible??

Silly reader, didn’t you know that conservatives have time machines? They don’t need to wait for an event to actually happen to lambaste it with outlandish attacks of tinfoil hat lunacy. They have seen the future!

Yes, a week out from Obama’s speech on education, in which he is expected to impart upon students the importance of education, as well as to challenge students to do such abhorrent things as “work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning”, conservatives are already in a frenzy over his possible words. And of course the President’s anti-American sacrilege doesn’t stop there. Oh no, he also brings the war-against-all-that-is-good to parents and teachers, according to a letter from the Secretary of Education:

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.

If that isn’t a sign of the impending Red takeover of our society I just don’t know what is.

So the speech probably isn’t even written yet, but that hasn’t stopped conservative opinion leaders from writing their damning rebukes of the President’s future speech.

On his radio show Glenn Beck told listeners that “your republic is under attack” and warned them that the public school system, under the direction of President Obama, “is capturing your kids” and “indoctrinating your children.” Beck later compared the President to Mussolini.

NewsBuster’s contributing editor Mark Finkelstein, attacked “Chairman Barack” alongside a picture of the book, Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong. He warned that teachers “will be sure to imbue every student with correct thinking in the wisdom of the president before he or she is freed, um, graduates.” He also suggested there was an “interesting parallel between our president’s plan for our children and the approach of another Great Leader from the past.”

Michelle Malkin, in a post with a picture of a sign saying “School Indoctrination” warned that President Obama’s emphasis on academic achievement is “Downplaying academic achievement in favor of left-wing radical activism in the public schools” and attempted to tie Obama’s future speech on education to the philosophy of “old neighborhood pal and Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers.” Malkin also accused teachers of coercing children into “pro-illegal immigration protests, gay marriage ceremonies, environmental propaganda stunts, and anti-war events.”

Lauri Regan with the American Thinker (how ironic) suggested that Obama and his “team of brainwashers” was committed to “indoctrinating America’s youth.”

No crazy montage would be complete without WorldNetDaily, whose editor Bob Unruh cited a bunch of right-wingers claiming that Obama is “recruiting his civilian army. His ‘Hitler’ youth brigade” and warning that “we can learn a lot from the spread of propaganda in Europe that led to Hitler’s power. A key ingredient in that spread of propaganda was through the youth.” Another “concerned parent” warned that “Totalitarian regimes around the world have sought to spread their propaganda and entrench their power by brainwashing the children.”

Meredith Jessup on Townhall.com wrote that “your kids are going to be made a captive audience to this forced nonsense” and suggested that the government was trying to force parents to “relinquish your rights and responsibilities as parents to the government.” She also called Obama’s future speech a “massive abuse of governmental power.”

Newsmax.com contributor Pamela Geller raised the alarm that the “fascist in chief is taking his special brand of brainwashing to the classroom. Keep your kids home. I think this man is a threat to our basic unalienable rights. I don’t want him indoctrinating my children.” She also stated her belief that we should “Keep communists and their propagandists away from small children.”

I’m sure it goes on and on (and a big thanks to Media Matters for keeping track of these attacks), but you get the idea. All of this in response to a speech emphasizing the importance of education, that the President hasn’t even given yet. And where were these people when, as Media Matters notes, Bush Sr. gave a nearly identical speech to children, or when Bush Jr. “posted a ‘teacher’s guide’ on the White House website intended to help students understand the ‘freedom timeline’ and encouraged them to ‘explor[e] the biographies of the President, Mrs. Bush, Vice President, and Mrs. Cheney.’”? What about when Reagan gave a speech directed at schoolchildren that was almost certainly far more ideological in nature than President Obama’s future speech will be?

It turns out it has absolutely nothing to do with the substance of the speech, and everything to do with who is giving it. Bush Sr. can give the same speech, and gets wild applause from these people. Bush Jr. distributes “teacher’s guides”, has the Pentagon engage in a media propaganda campaign, tortures people and holds them indefinitely without charge, starts wars based on lies, and engages in an unprecedented domestic spying campaign which violates federal privacy laws, and not a blink from this crowd that is so fond of crying “fascism”. Yet when Obama’s Secretary of Education announces that Obama will give a speech explaining the importance of a good education to kids–hardly a radical or partisan statement–they are instantly up in arms, raising the specter of Nazis, communists, government brainwashing, and terrorism.

This episode serves to highlight what has become one of the defining characteristics of conservatives when they are out of power. Some have suggested that they are part of a “Party of No“, since Republicans have essentially adopted of strategy of unanimous (or near-unanimous) blanket opposition to any legislation proposed by Democrats, no matter how many concessions they are able to gain to water it down.

Yet I would submit that it goes far beyond that. Legislatively, conservatives are indeed defined by a single word: NO; however when it comes to issues, it turns out they have a lot more to say. Now I don’t want you to get the impression that they like to talk about issues, because they actually don’t. In fact, almost completely absent in any right-wing commentary on serious issues like health insurance reform, the stimulus package, or global warming are facts, of any kind.

The “debate” coming from the Right is instead packed with lies, hyperbole, outlandish claims, and of course a heavy dose of hate, paranoia, violent rhetoric and racism. It used to be that we’d have to wait for Obama to actually say or do something to have them viciously attack it with lies, to have them call it Nazism or communism or terrorism or the end of the Republic. Now they have devolved to the point where they attack preemptive, reflexively, that is, they attack things that haven’t even happened yet. They don’t even need anything to attack, they just attack air (or their own straw men).

Conservatives have achieved a remarkable knee-jerk reflex for insanity. If the President so much as twitches a muscle they spring into action, mouths foaming, spewing out an uncontrollable torrent of epithets–”Nazi!” “Socialist!” “Muslim!” “Brainwasher!” “Terrorist!” “Murderer!”–like projectile hate-vomit. It doesn’t matter what he says. It doesn’t matter if he hasn’t even said anything. They will reflexively attack it, and attack it in the most ridiculous, over-the-top invectives you have ever heard.

If Obama says he wants a Supreme Court Justice with, dare I say, empathy, conservatives jump to the attack saying that this shows Obama is against the rule of law, the Constitution, the principles of democracy, and is probably a fascist.

If Obama says he believes health care is a fundamental human right, conservatives attack him as a socialist who is trying to kill your grandma, and your babies. They’ll also call him a Nazi and compare his policies to slavery.

If Obama announces he is planning on giving a speech about the importance of education, conservatives attack him as a Nazi, a communist, a brainwasher, a terrorist and Mao Zedong. Oh and he is going to take away your children.

If Obama orders a hamburger with “spicy mustard”, conservatives attack him for being “elitist”, some suggest he might just be a little gay. No, really. They actually attacked the President for wanting mustard on his hamburger instead of “plain old ketchup.” (Thankfully on this occasion they were able to restrain themselves from drawing the obvious comparison between mustard and Hitler…although this was a few months ago, when they were relatively “restrained”.)

And that highlights my point: What happens in reality has absolutely NO bearing on how they react. In fact they aren’t “reacting” to anything, they just spew lies and hate reflexively–they don’t need a reason.

Another thing that this “education speech = brainwashing” lunacy highlights is the general antipathy that conservatives have always had against education. The Right continually rails against so-called liberal bias in public schools and in universities. Why are they convinced there is an omnipresent liberal brainwashing conspiracy in academia, not just in the United States, but in every country? Well because they, like the rest of us, have noted an interesting phenomenon that is evident in pretty much every survey comparing education and political ideology–liberals are more educated than conservatives!

See?? SEE?!?! That proves that education brainwashes people into being libruls!! It couldn’t be that *GASP!* maybe the act of gaining knowledge actually makes people more liberal because reality has a liberal bias! Or put another way, perhaps conservatism thrives on the darkness of ignorance and misinformation, and just maybe has a hard time surviving in its absence, under the harsh light of facts, education, and knowledge.

So it should be no surprise that conservatives have done nothing to make higher education more affordable and everything to make it less affordable (except by private loans, which are acceptable because they pump profit into banks and fill their campaign coffers). Nor should it be a surprise that conservatives routinely vote against increased funding for public schools and strongly support charter schools which aren’t subject to the same quality standards that the public school system must meet.

Given the hysteria cited above, it should also come as no surprise that millions of conservative families have opted to cut out public education altogether and instead home school their children so they can maintain absolute control over every piece of information or disinformation that comes into contact with them. Don’t want your children exposed to “liberal brainwashing” like evolution or a less flattering interpretation of the Civil War? No problem, skip that chapter. Hell, don’t even buy that book.

In the end it all comes down, not so much to taking pride in being ignorant–as a flabbergasted Obama once observed during one of his first encounters with this right-wing misinformation during the presidential campaign–but to being utterly reliant on ignorance for political power. So while they engage in generalized anti-education rhetoric and policies, they also have to drown out intelligent debate on any issue, not just education, because if logic or facts (or even common sense) are heard above the frenzy, they will lose the battle.

That is where these insane, almost comical (if there wasn’t so much at stake) knee-jerk reactions to anything the President or Democrats in Congress say or do, no matter how benign or uncontroversial, come into play. When in doubt, Obama is a Nazi, period. You have your marching orders, now go scream at a town hall meeting.

What this made me think of is a toy from my childhood, the one where you pull a string or a lever and an arrow spins around, lands on a barnyard animal, and says something like, “The Cow says ‘Mooooo!’”. That basically seems to be the new modus operandi of the right-wing. Wait, the President is about to speak, get ready pull the lever…

The teabagger says “HITLER!!”

See 'n Smear

(Post Scriptum: I have discovered that the See ‘n Say doesn’t quite work how I remembered it working and described above, but whatever, my way is better)

Update: Read the followup: Post-Speech: Conservatives, How Stupid Do You Feel Now?

Comments