I attended a PTA Reflections reception last night. At the end of the program, after I listened to countless little kids read their stories and poems and describe their pictures and compositions (of which I could only hear half, having a hearing loss), the PTA representative in the state legislature gave a little speech.
She was trying to convince the kids there to participate in the election process. “Does anyone here know why 2008 is special?” She started her speech. “Does anyone here know that 2008 is a presidential election year? We will vote on a new president this year!” Oh, I can’t wait, I thought, a boring speech to get kids fired up on politics.
Boy, was I wrong. Way wrong. She turned this into a HELL YES I’M PATRIOTIC, reactionary propaganda speech.
Here are some highlights (in order of appearance):
- “You live in a country that is the most wonderful country in the world!”
- “This country is the most wonderful in the world because we have peaceful transitions of power.”
- “We don’t do it at the butt of a gun.” x2
- “Every child who wishes to vote may do so.” When they’re of age, of course.
- “Peaceful transitions of power.”
- “Someday, you [little kiddies] might be called upon by people who care about you to go vote.” This one doesn’t make that much sense to me. Hopefully I’ll call upon myself to go vote, if anything.
- “You will go the ballot box and make their vote known.” This is just picking at grammar. Yet still!
- “Peaceful transitions of power.” Do you see a pattern?
And her conclusion: Therefore, you must listen to your teacher, listen to your parents, and go vote.
Wow. First off, when did being an outstanding American citizen ever involve listening to teachers and to parents? Sure, usually the two fall in line, more or less, but this sounds like attempting to brainwash kids into being compliant. Secondly, there are plenty of other countries who hold elections voluntarily, and have peaceful transitions of power!! God forbid! Those darn Argentinians! There must have been a government suppressed riot somewhere.
And finally, I really resent people who present their political beliefs at an occasion with a variety of people with hella different backgrounds. A reception is not the place to preach – especially not in front of Asian, Hispanic, and black folks. And even more if a large fraction of those are immigrants. Yes, yes, the America = land of opportunity myth is still alive and kicking, and people love America, but some respect is needed towards other countries. Being more humble is not worse, either. Some of the adults in the room weren’t even American citizens – was she trying to alienate them? They can’t go vote!