Praising the Dear One? Videos Raise Concerns Over Use of School Children To Praise the President

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obama225px-Kim-jong-il_portraitWe have been discussing the propriety of public schools putting on worshipful performances about President Barack Obama. While I voted for him and support many of his policies, it does concern me to see children enlisted in such performances, which are not the norm in American education or politics. While some extreme conservatives have been campaigning on this issue, I do believe that there is a legitimate objection to the use of children to sing the praises of political leaders.

There are the lyrics of one of the videos published from these schools:

We believe in Barack Obama
He loves you and he loves your mama
We believe in Barack Obama, yeah
With all the change he’s building
Gonna bring hope to the children
We believe in Barack Obama, yeah
Change
That we can believe in
Change
That we can believe in
Change
That we can believe in
We believe in Barack Obama
He loves you and he loves your mama
We believe in Barack Obama, yeah
With all the change he’s building
Gonna bring hope to the children
We believe in Barack Obama, yeah
Change
That we can believe in
Change
That we can believe in
Change
That we can believe in
Yeah, haha, haha.
Alright, come on now, here we go;
You know we gotta get Barack and all of his crew
In the White House so they can prove that
In their hearts they know what to do
And that includes Michelle and the kiddies too
[kids chanting] “There is not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.”
We believe in Barack Obama
He loves you and he loves your mama
We believe in Barack Obama, yeah
With all the change he’s building
Gonna bring hope to the children
We believe in Barack Obama, yeah
[Chant at end of song – unintelligible

Another song includes such lyrics as:

Barack Obama there is none higher
Other politicians should call me sire
To burn my kingdom you must use fire
I create change till I retire!

Democratic Party come correct
Our cuts are on time our rhymes connect
Got the right to vote and will elect
Others can’t feel us but give us respect

That strikes me as significantly over-the-top. I expect that, if such a song was performed about George Bush (defending us and our families), liberals would be equally upset over the use of children to lionize a conservative leader.

I have long objected to how this country is increasingly deifying our presidents through elaborate inaugurations and unquestioned loyalty. I spend a lot of time pushing civics in schools, particularly elementary schools. This is not a valuable civics lesson. These songs advance the same type of cult of personality. It is not the civics lesson that I would want kids to learn. Indeed, it is precisely the opposite lesson. Kids should view a president as a citizen leader who carries out the will of the people — not our divine protector and national father. Citizens, not the President, protect our rights and our future.

The hard-right voices who denounced Obama’s speech to the nation’s children were clearly alarmist and unhinged, here. Moreover, Obama is legitimately a figure for discussion and inspiration in the schools. However, we should recognize that some of these videos cross the line and tend to politicize our public schools. Putting aside the fact that conservatives and Republicans send their kids to public schools too, school administrators should not make adoration of a leader part of the curriculum.

For the story, click here.

55 thoughts on “Praising the Dear One? Videos Raise Concerns Over Use of School Children To Praise the President”

  1. “All in all not a bad testimonial to military service.”

    Byron,
    Military service can be a good thing, except if you’re one of the more than 5,200 who have died in two unneeded wars, or perhaps their close relative.

  2. Byron,

    This is a big problem because the data is collected under false pretense without parental permission or awareness. It is also used in ways that raise true moral questions. Because the recruiters know so much about children they can tailor the pitch to them. One girl was pitched how if she enlisted she wouldn’t be a burden to her (single) mom anymore. That was true because now she’s dead.

  3. Jill:

    why is that a problem? Colgate does it as does Nickelodeon. Market analysis is not illegal and neither is marketing to a target audience. But I do agree that private records should be private.

    In addition when marketing you put your best foot forward. They aren’t lying to these children, the military can be a very good career. Granted the down side is serious but everyone knows the down side is death and dismemberment.

    My brother served as a Marine aviator for 20 years and was in 3 wars and had nary a scratch. He had a great career and saw the majority of the world and had some great and not so good experiences. He has many friends from his service years, a good retirement and the satisfaction of having served his country.

    All in all not a bad testimonial to military service.

  4. Elaine,

    I had wanted to address your feeling that the govt. would not know about these schoolchildren. While I cannot say they did in these particular cases, it would not surprise me. I try to help out with counter recruitment at the schools and local festivals. The military is quite interested in children and tracks them extensively. There’s a link to an article on some of that below. At my dingy local school board meeting and in run down auditorium there were 6 recruiters present. At local festivals the military likes to bring out the hummers and climb walls for 8 years old on up. See what you think.

    “In the past few years, the military has mounted a virtual invasion into the lives of young Americans. Using data mining, stealth websites, career tests, and sophisticated marketing software, the Pentagon is harvesting and analyzing information on everything from high school students’ GPAs and SAT scores to which video games they play. Before an Army recruiter even picks up the phone to call a prospect…the soldier may know more about the kid’s habits than do his own parents.”

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/few-good-kids

  5. lottakatz–

    “One wonders if the wingnuts considered this date being Guy Fawkes Day when they planned the anti-healthcare reform, anti-government rally?”

    ***************
    I doubt it. That would indicate that they had some knowledge of history.

    That Michele Bachmann is definitely one of the wingnuttiest folks in Congress.

  6. One wonders if the wingnuts considered this date being Guy Fawkes Day when they planned the anti-healthcare reform, anti-government rally?

  7. Mike Appleton:

    Would you believe he’s the first Pope in my entire (lapsed) Catholic life that’s ever made me feel uncomfortable?

    For a religion that prides itself on immaculateness, you’d think the guys in red would have picked someone who wasn’t in the Hitler Youth before sending out the white smoke.

  8. BTW

    Happy Guy Fawkes Day

    Remember, remember the fifth of November.

    Sleep tight, Washington.

  9. Bob, Esq., Pope Benedict would likely complain that the music does not possess sufficiently martial passion.

  10. Buddha:

    “His Confusion Ray was a mighty weapon.”

    That has got to be a classic line. Roflmao in spirit.

    That muzzle in the outhouse, I am still thinking about that one.

  11. Buddha–

    I’m against indoctrination of any kind in schools. I agree that even though educators may not have looked at some of these songs as propagandistic in nature, that doesn’t make it is any less dangerous. I consider myself a liberal. I wouldn’t want teachers with a neocon leaning to indoctrinate my child or children in my community with their beliefs. It works both ways.

    Besides, all this stuff is just a waste of valuable educational time.

  12. Elaine,

    Punctured equilibrium is exactly what I mean. And bottom up is exactly how this kind of propaganda usually works. At it’s most effective, the tactic can impact every level of an organization at once. As to the accidental nature of it? I have no issue accepting this was a song written by supporters at election time. That it has been subverted to an improper use was by accident/coincidence rather than purpose? I’ll admit it’s possible. But how did those people at the bottom of the pyramid find out about a song from what is essentially a local band? The very same kind of word of mouth network that got Obama elected. Do we all not share musical finds from time to time here at RIL? Let’s just say this is “organic propaganda” (e.g. spontaneously self-propagating). Let’s say it’s totally inadvertent. That doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Music is fundamentally an emotional (and mathematical) language. Parring it with words designed to influence is an inherently dangerous combination when the influence sought is political in nature. “Love To Love You, Baby” isn’t nearly as dangerous as “Deutcheland Uber Alles” or that jingoistic ultra right-wing crap that poorly educated redneck Toby Keith calls music. It can mask blatant falsehoods and manipulative language with the pure emotive appeal of music.

    And I ask all of you this: What if the teachers were just giving the text of this song as a speech or as part of a lesson plan? Is that more or less dangerous? I think less dangerous, but conversely, also more blatantly offensive. It has nothing to hide behind.

  13. “I wouldn’t trust him/her in a shit house with a muzzle on.”

    I’ll take a stab at this: A mussle is basically a strainer. Pols are known to do things ass backwards. So rather that place on the face, it is put on the ass and the shit is therefore strained. So the large chucks nestled on the ass become quite messy as there is no way for it to go out.

    The shit house is where all the shit sits and the smell is, well, smelly.

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