President Obama is scheduled to speak to the nation's school children today, encouraging them to study hard. (Photo: Pete Souza, White House)
In a full-throated attack on President Barack Obama's forthcoming nationally televised speech to school children encouraging them to study hard, fundamentalist and Republican leaders smear the president with accusations of "indoctrination," "brainwashing" and "cult of personality." They compare his leadership to the Hitler youth leaders and Saddam Hussein.
"As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education—it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality. This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq," said state Sen. Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma City). "His role should not be to bypass parents in the educational discussion by going directly to classrooms."
A member and Sunday school teacher at First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, Russell said, "The President should address voters, not their children."
State Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) charged that Obama's broadcast appears to be "more about indoctrination of students than education."
Married to Steve Kern, pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, Kern said, "[I]t looks like children are going to be held 'accountable' if they don't propagandize on behalf of the Obama administration."
State Sen. Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso) said, "President Obama has shown time and time again that he has no regard for the Constitution or our founding principles. [I]s this the person we want addressing our children?"
A 2010 gubernatorial candidate and member of Woodlake Assembly of God, Brogdon said he was worried that Obama might address "environmental conservation and other social issues. These are topics for parents to talk about with their children, not the President of the United States."
The Christian Coalition's blog made the claim that Obama's speech would result in teachers directing school children "to do volunteer work in the areas which he is concerned about: going to rallies and getting their parents to go with them to support universal health care; encouraging their Members of Congress to vote for Obama's huge tax increase schemes."
After asking if children would be urged to attend rallies to support Obama's redistribution of wealth, the blog said, "American parents need to tell their children's schools to say NO to Obama's indoctrination machine."
The fundamentalist OneNewsNow posted several pieces against Obama's speech. One was titled, "Mother Fears Obama School Speech Will Be 'Indoctrination Into Socialism.'" Another title said, "Obama's School Speech—Social Indoctrination?"
Accusing Obama of wanting to "brainwash" American school children and comparing his administration to the "leaders of the Hitler Youth," the founder of the American Family Policy Institute urged parents to boycott the president's speech.
"Take your child or children to lunch and then return them to school when the propaganda program has ended," advised Brannon Howse, who claimed Obama was "building a worldview propaganda machine" and that "social justice" was part of his agenda.
The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida knotted the Republican agenda with that of the Christian Right.
"I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology," ranted Jim Greer, who declared that Obama would use the broadcast to justify his alleged takeover of health care, banks and carmakers.
Greer spewed: "Public schools can't teach children to speak out in support of the sanctity of human life or traditional marriage. President Obama and the Democrats wouldn't dream of allowing prayer in school. Christmas Parties are now Holiday Parties. But the Democrats have no problem going against the majority of American people and usurping the rights of parents by sending Pied Piper Obama into the American classroom."
Such unhinged anger toward and paranoia about President Obama make one ponder the truthfulness of the notion that the sins of the fathers are visited upon their sons.
Having fled to the suburbs after court-ordered desegregation to protect their white children from black children in public schools, do the sons and daughters of the conservative, white-flight parents want now to protect their children from a black president?
Did the generation of religious and political conservative white parents, who opposed civil rights and associated welfare programs with blacks, breed into their children the hatred that sees all government action as socialism?
Is that what this unhinged moment is really about—racism from generation to generation?
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.