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

Posted by in Commentary, politics

[From JONATHAN TURLEY]

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.