Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obama Praise Songs Taught in NJ School

One of the strongest arguments for a republic is that it promotes loyalty to a system rather than blind loyalty to a leader. Even a wildly popular leader needs to be humbled by the knowledge that he must follow a constitution.

At least as critical as the role of the republic is the role of schools. One of the first things I learned as a child in school was that not everyone shared my parent's opinions. It was back in the 1960's when Republican John Volpe was running against Democrat Francis X Bellotti. I was the only kid whose parents supported Bellotti. My only knowledge of the issues was the fact that a local Republican campaign headquarters let us take bumper stickers and buttons for free on our way to the candy store. The discussion in class was as intellectually deep as it would be if it had revolved around baseball. Our teacher was a nun of the old school who would not even hint at her personal opinion. In matters of politics, according to her, you do not raise your hands. When we asked her who she was voting for, she was like a sphinx.

When I was in high school in Italy, I had a teacher who voted communist and a classmate whose father was an ardent admirer of Benito Mussolini. The fact that I liked both the teacher and my classmate forced me in a memorable way to separate my feelings about individuals from my feelings about their political convictions.

When I saw a video of some public school children being taught songs of praise for President Obama, I was appalled. The children were even younger than I was when I went to school at the age of nine with a lapel full of free campaign buttons and knowledge of my parent's gubernatorial choice. A better lesson in civics would have been the one that I got as a child, that we all have opinions that differ and we all have to live together. This is basic civic literacy. Its loss is no less tragic than the manner in which standards of literacy have fallen and deteriorated.

School is supposed to be a safe haven in which children are exposed for the first time to diversity of opinion and thought. It takes special skill to explain social issues in a way that a child can understand them. Any teacher who respects their own mission should be loathe to let education deteriorate into indoctrination. I had a teacher in high school who required that I participate in a World War I peace conference as a representative of Austria Hungary. I wanted to be a representative of the newly victorious Bolshevik government, but she wouldn't budge. She made it clear that I had to put myself in the shoes and mindset of an ideological opponent.

Lessons from my childhood took years to blossom and take root. They have served me well as marriage and work has put me in close contact with people of different persuasions than my own.

It did not bother me to see children singing praises of Obama . If they had done so at recess, it would have reminded me of my childhood. What bothered me was that the song was being taught during school hours in what looked like a school auditorium. When I was a kid, we went to the school auditorium to sing America The Beautiful, Home On The Range and Kumbaya. These songs and others were the common ground upon which Americans meet. It was with time and maturity that I learned their value as common denominators. The auditorium was a place where you were supposed to be on best behavior.

Millions of Americans hail Obama as a standard bearer of ideas that they hold dear. Millions of others oppose him. Our constitution and social traditions provide the common ground to meet as our fleeting loyalties shift in the sands of time. It is critical for children to learn that there are others in the world with opinions that may seem strange to them, and that there is decency and goodness in those who differ.

Teachers should be teaching children how to think, along with the basic rules and values of a civil society. Teaching songs of praise for Obama does nothing to advance this goal. At a time when there is heated debate about our nation's future we should be demanding better from our teachers and our schools.


For reference, I have included the Obama praise video and the words the children are being taught to sing. If the video is taken down, I have uploaded to my personal site. Information is taken from the You Tube Link

This was filmed around June 19, 2009 at the B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington, NJ.

Song 1:
Mm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that all must lend a hand
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

Mmm, mmm, mm
Barack Hussein Obama

Song 2:
Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!
For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say "hooray!"

Hooray, Mr. President! You're number one!
The first black American to lead this great nation!

Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans
To make this country's economy number one again!

Hooray Mr. President, we're really proud of you!
And we stand for all Americans under the great Red, White, and Blue!

So continue ---- Mr. President we know you'll do the trick
So here's a hearty hip-hooray ----

Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!

School children being taught songs of praise for Obama

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1 comment:

H. Tawa said...

I disagree with you on this video. I feel the children singing a song to praise our president might help them learn to respect the position obama holds. I particularly liked the point in the second song where they say "the great red white and blue." Instilling children with a love for our nation and respect for our president seems to me to be a good thing.