That’s what Tim Rutten, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, says American children will be learning from the public hysteria about Obama’s planned speech to schoolchildren on Tuesday:
On Wednesday, Fox News devoted a substantial portion of one of its prime-time newscasts to a discussion of whether Obama is, in fact, trying to seduce schoolchildren to some darkly obscure personal agenda. The sole guest, a spokesman for the libertarian Cato Institute, reported that “we’ve gotten a lot of calls from people asking, ‘How do I keep my child from being indoctrinated?’ ”
On Thursday, Jim Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, accused the president of attempting to “indoctrinate America’s children to his socialist agenda.” According to Greer, “the idea that schoolchildren across our nation will be forced to watch the president justify his plans for government-run healthcare, banks and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other president, is not only infuriating but goes against the beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power.”
The fact that Republican leaders and well-known public figures are leading the charge in this manner is, in my view, even more appalling than the parents who believe this stuff. They are the ones who should be injecting a note of reality and calming people down. They shouldn’t be encouraging it. Rutten quotes the president of a Texas school monitoring group (Kathy Miller):
“It’s hard to imagine anything more ridiculous than attacking the president of the United States for talking to students about the importance of getting a good education and being a good citizen,” said […] Miller. … “I wish our elected leaders were responsible enough to denounce this kind of wild-eyed paranoia. But the problem is too many of them are actually feeding this kind of nonsense — like when the governor flirts with secessionists and state Board of Education members say the president sympathizes with terrorists.”
Miller has identified precisely the process at work in the healthcare hysteria and, increasingly, elsewhere where the GOP thinks it can shove the Obama administration into a ditch. Republican officials such as the Florida state chairman are playing a dangerous game with an unhinged segment of public opinion that regards Obama not as an elected official with whom they disagree, but as an illegitimate usurper of the presidency. [Emphasis added.]
That paranoid fantasy is what’s really behind the “birther” movement and the allegations that the president is — take your pick — a secret Marxist or a secret Muslim.
It’s the kind of fanciful anxiety that produces comments like this, posted on a conservative website this week: “Barack Obama and his left-wing Chicago machine regime are putting into place laws and institutions which will insure that there will never again be free elections in America.”
These are the people who are stockpiling ammunition and keeping their children at home next Tuesday.