THE VOICE OF REASON
A School Song

  OVERREACHING IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Fact Number One: We live in a politically polarized nation. Many citizens appreciate Barack Obama's policies and the advisors with whom he is surrounding himself, and many do not.

Fact Number Two: Except for monumental historic icons like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, public figures are generally not offered uncritical, adoring praise. It is typically the office of the presidency that has been exalted rather than the person who occupies it. This practice is in accord with the familiar maxim that we are a nation of laws and not of men.

Fact Number Three: Public schools are financed by tax dollars, which are in turn contributed by people of various political persuasions. A large percentage of these people, to put it nicely, do not think of Mr. Obama as a messianic figure.

Why, then, were New Jersey schoolchildren of tender years taught to sing odes of praise to our newly elected president? Here are the lyrics:

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

Yes!

Mmm, mmm, mm

Barack Hussein Obama

You may ask, "What's wrong with these lyrics?  Let me tell you. They are, as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. would put it, a "filiopietistic commemoration."  They single out Mr. Obama for saintly status, while his legacy is far from settled. There is more myth than fact in them. The last stanza of the song is even an echo of the familiar Christian children's hymn, "Jesus Loves the Little Children."  It is as if the intent of the administration at B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington, New Jersey was to encourage children to worship Mr. Obama!

The retort might be, "But this exercise was part of Black History Month!" Oh, please!  Aside from the fact that Mr. Obama was elected to the presidency less than a year ago, and has tended to govern from the left, there is little else to report at this point. Teaching elementary schoolchildren to sing his praises is not an historical endeavor.

"What I hate," Gore Vidal has emphasized, "is good citizenship history. That has wrecked every history book. Now we're getting, 'The Hispanics are warm and joyous and have brought such wonder into our lives,' you know, and before them the Jews, and before them the blacks. And the women. I mean, cut it out!'"

I have nothing against teaching African-American history.  But somebody should point out to the principal of this elementary school, as well as to other public school administrators throughout this country, that the purpose of history is not group self-esteem, but a dispassionate understanding of the past.  Granted, kindergarteners and first-graders may not be capable of high-powered historical analysis, but it also does not follow that they should be indoctrinated with superficial praise for a person because he is black.  Admit it or not, this is the racial premise upon which the "mm, mmm, mm" song is established.

The parents who complained that they and their children were overreached and abused by this exercise are absolutely correct.  I would append the following footnote to their righteous indignation:  public schools are monstrously out of control, and it began years ago.  Those who desire to rein in these institutions have the power to do so, but it is a power that must be tapped.

September 26, 2009