President Obama is set to talk directly (via webcam) to school students across America Tuesday. While there has been a lot of criticism over what people think he will say (Power Line, HotAir, Pajamas Media to name a few), I think everyone needs to calm down and stop making assumptions.
First off, President Obama is in fact the president (best efforts of the goofy birthers notwithstanding), and as such he deserves the respect of the office he holds. You don't have to respect the man if you feel he is not worthy of it, but to try to keep him from talking to schoolkids is in itself disrespectful. While teenagers likely have some idea of who Barack Obama the man is, most elementary schoolchildren simply have a healthy respect for 'The President', as well they should. If we stop teaching our kids to respect those we elect to lead us, and especially those we disagree with, we are sending them down the path of permanent PDS-politician derangement syndrome.
Second, stop making assumptions about what President Obama will say. While most of the furor has centered on the teaching outline that goes with the speech, a lot of critics have simply assumed that since they don't like Obama, he can't have anything useful to say. But the soaring rhetoric that helped Obama win the presidency is exactly what our kids need to hear right now. In the midst of the recession, a war in Afghanistan, fears over terrorism and H1N1, isn't it at least possible that Obama may inspire kids to study hard and stay in school, and above all to keep dreaming about what they might be or do someday? If the president uses the speech as a political tool, asking kids to help him pass health care reform or save the earth by passing cap and trade, then yes, we will have a right to be upset. But give Obama the chance to speak before you decide to take offense to his words.
Last March, a few indignant parents managed to prevent the Vets For Freedom Heroes tour from speaking at the Forest Lake High School because they assumed they knew what we would say to the kids. I was one of the local veterans scheduled to go with that day, and it still saddens me that a group of decorated war heroes were assumed to be too controversial to talk to a group of high school kids. It was wrong to make assumptions then, and it is still wrong now.
And lastly, aren't we selling our kids a little short in this? I can't speak for everyone, but I think my kids could hear the president advocate openly for socialism without going over to the dark side just because President Obama said so. So much of what is taught in school today is stuff that I don't agree with-global warming, political correctness, and so on, and the only way I know it is being taught is if I check into it. But here I will know exactly what is being taught, so that I can discuss it with my kids if I disagree with what was said. Conservatives should look to turn Tuesday into a teachable moment for their kids, no matter what Obama says. If he sticks with an inspirational theme, it gives you a chance to explore your kids' hopes and dreams. If it turns into a cap and trade infomercial, than use the chance to tell your kids the other side of global warming theory.
During the height of the Iraq War, parents in Minneapolis were screaming bloody murder that military recruiters could actually call their kids and talk to them. Imagine the nerve! They seemed to be afraid of their kids being seduced into the military, which they clearly believed to be evil in some way. As I wrote back then, if you raised your kids for 17 years but worry that they can't use their own brains during one quick phone call to decide if the military is a good idea for them, then you didn't really do a very good job of raising your kids, did you?
Rather than follow the lead of the far left during the Bush years who simply had a knee jerk reaction against anything President Bush did or said, conservatives should set the example with respectful dissent, based on facts and logic rather than emotion and fear.