Eugene Cho

the outcry over obama’s speech to america’s youth

schoolbadge2Most folks who’ve read my blog over some time should know that while I very much respect President Obama, I don’t go Ga-Ga and drool over this man. I can understand why so many love him but I can also see why many disagree with his views and policies.

But having said that, I simply cannot understand the outcry of some parents, schools, churches, politicians, talk show hosts, your mommas, and whoever you want to add to this list that are going nuts about President Obama addressing America’s students. Of course, he has an agenda. As the President, he has certain goals, convictions, and “agendas” and in this case, he’s made it clear that he wants to address the youth about “working hard” and “personal responsibility” which umm, are clearly dangerous socialist, communist, and muslim agendas.  Huh?

[from the NY Times] Mr. Obama’s back-to-school address, scheduled for Tuesday morning, will encourage students to study hard and will steer clear of political themes, Mr. Duncan said in an appearance on “Face the Nation” On CBS. In any event, he said, whether students watch the speech is entirely up to parents and local school officials.

“The whole message is about personal responsibility and challenging students to take their education very, very seriously,” Mr. Duncan said. The speech text was to be posted on the White House Web site on Monday.

Last week, conservative talk show hosts accused the president of sinister motives, and some parents vowed to keep their children out of school on Tuesday.

Part of what I don’t understand about parents taking their kids out of school is “What’s the message we’re conveying to our kids when we take them out of school in order to avoid the Presidential speech?”  I’m also very concerned at our collective inability or unwillingness to listen to others that don’t share in our personal worldviews…

What do you think?

As the President of the United States, I think it’s actually incredibly important for him to do this and hopes he does this every single year during the beginning of the school year.  The positives far outweigh any negatives that I’m still amazed with the negativity. We Americans might not want to admit this but if you’re talking about excellence and competition in the global market, the hard and painful truth is we are lagging further and further behind and it’s connected, in part, with the educational system.

I intend to have my kids watch it online…  You?

Part of the Press Release from the White House:

THE PRESIDENT’S BACK-TO-SCHOOL MESSAGE TO AMERICA’S STUDENTS
Help get America’s students engaged! On Tuesday, September 8 — the first day of school for many students — the President will talk directly to students across the country on the importance of taking responsibility for their education, challenging them to set goals and do everything they can to succeed. We want to make sure that as many schools and classrooms nationwide can participate in this special opportunity, so we are making the President’s address and all the information that comes with it available as widely as possible. Whether you are a teacher, a school board member, or a member of the media, find information below to help you watch and be engaged with the President in welcoming our students back to school.
When

Tuesday, September 8th, at 12:00 PM (EDT)
How to Watch

The President’s message will be streamed live on WhiteHouse.gov/live, and broadcast live on C-Span
Downloadable video of the speech will be made available on this page later that day as it becomes available

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52 Responses

  1. BL78 says:

    Most parents concerns are about indoctrination or some would call it brainwashing. Some are not concerned about indoctrination or brainwashing but they are against the Obama agenda. Taking their kids out of school is just a sign of protest. There are other reasons but Im just naming a few.

    On a radio station called Line of Fire, they played some clips from a video that was shown to little kids at school. It had celebrities sharing a “positive message” but mixed with Obama’s liberal agenda. The message is presented like a nicely wrapped gift. Kids will not fully know what really under the wrapping.

  2. AllThingsToNoOne says:

    Has everyone forgotten about the millions of young African American children who may need the extra push of hearing from a potential role model to “stay in school” and “do your best to get a good education”??
    This entire “controversy” is so completely ridiculous; I can’t believe the life this news story has taken on in light of the extremism in this country.

  3. missional girl says:

    If this were Bush doing it, the same people crying now would swear it was a God-ordained moment. They hypocrisy is beyond ridiculous.

  4. Debbie says:

    Obama may be facing challenges in the USA, but he’s working wonders with the youth here in Palestine. The following article is by a Christian Palestinian who lives in Amman, Jordan.

    “Palestinians opening up to US due to Obama”

    http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=34142

    Middle East Online Sun, 06 Sep 2009 07:52 AM PDT

    Presence of son of African immigrant in White House effects psyche of Palestinian youths.

  5. elderj says:

    I think the concern about this is a bit overblown, but it is for many people just one more thing that is bothering them about the president in addition to many things he’s done or people that he’s appointed to positions that have less than savory views. Coming on the heels of the poorly handled health care issue, this is just one more thing.

    Additionally, a lot of people’s concerns came from the advance lesson plans that came out for schools that had students doing things like writing about what the president wanted them to do, how they could be of service to him or something like that. It seemed rather inappropriate (and in many ways is a bit unusual). When you combine that with the video that BL78 mentioned, and with the fact that few presidents have ever done anything like this, it raises a lot of suspicions.

    @missionalgirl – the implication of your comment is that objections are either racist or ONLY political. I don’t think that’s fair.

    @Allthings – as a former young African-American child, and a current African-American adult, I find your comment somewhat patronizing and offensive.

  6. pjchris says:

    I am concerned about our nations diminishing willingness to listen to opposing views. However, this does not seem to be that type of issue. I was in school when President George HW Bush (the first President Bush), gave an address on TV to public school children. There was absolutely no out cry in my community when all the students were herded into the library to watch. I confess to thinking it was one of the most boring things I had had ever watched and can’t to this day remember anything he said (mostly I got in trouble for whispering with my friends during it).
    I am also concerned that the respect for the Office of the Presidentcy has fallen so far, no matter who is in office. Even if we disagree with our leaders, are we still praying for them and respecting them, as Paul calls us to? I know that I have fallen short.

    I do not know if my children’s school with air Mr. Obama’s speech. If they choose to or not, we will watch it at home.

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  8. Matthew Svoboda says:

    ‘I’m also very concerned at our collective inability or unwillingness to listen to others that don’t share in our personal worldviews…’

    Is that not what you are doing to those who feel is necessary to pull their kids out of school?

  9. missional girl says:

    Elderj, what in the world are you talking about? Race never even crossed my mind: rather, the hypocritical, GOP-worshiping sector of the evangelical church is specifically who I was thinking of. Please don’t play the race card when not one person even brought the deck. Peace.

  10. Eugene Cho says:

    @matthew svoboda:

    you certainly can come to that conclusion.

    i’m not going to delete any comments that have a different perspective. i’m here and ready to listen.

  11. Allison says:

    Racism. It’s rampant.

  12. elderj says:

    @mg – I guess that’s fair. You didn’t bring race up, but I’m so used to it being brought up by people who support Obama to describe those who do not. My apologies.

    as for:

    the hypocritical, GOP-worshiping sector of the evangelical church is specifically who I was thinking of

    Those are fairly incendiary words don’t you think? I don’t any true evangelical who worships the GOP nor even have I heard specifically that it is evangelicals who are most concerned and are taking their kids out from school.

    Also I wonder how it is that those evangelicals who are in the GOP are hypocritical. In what ways are they failing their faith? Are they not praying for the president? Are they not submitting to the established authority of the state? Does the fact that they’re evangelical mean they cannot have political disagreement with the president or express it?

    And what does President Bush have to do with any of it? “If it was Bush they wouldn’t complain!!” So what? Does that mean they shouldn’t complain now? Does silence on one issue forever strip someone of their right of protest on any other? How do we know how they would have responded if Bush had done this? We don’t because he didn’t. George H W Bush did and some Democrats complained about it.

  13. Adrienne says:

    I’m more interested in our response to this outcry about the President’s speech to schoolchildren. I imagine that many who read your blog feel they are children of God and co-heirs with Christ before they are conservative or liberal or independent.

    So how can we, as witnesses to Christ, use this event (the speech controversy) to further the gospel? Can we love our neighbor through it? Can we build unity in the Church through it?

    Can it be done by blog posts and comments? How can it be done with our friends and neighbors in person?

  14. reJoyce says:

    Seems to me like a great opportunity to teach our children how to listen to something like this and analyze it. You can not protect your kids from opposing view points forever, so teach them how to discern what is in front of them.

  15. Jon says:

    Dear 49% that voted for other candidates,

    I know you were and are disappointed. You did not vote for Obama for various reasons. Sometimes, you win and sometimes you lose but the election is over. Your candidate didn’t win. Now, grow up and let him do his job.

  16. David Peters says:

    “And what does President Bush have to do with any of it? “If it was Bush they wouldn’t complain!!” So what? Does that mean they shouldn’t complain now?”

    But doesn’t this response underscore how partisan we are as a nation and/or as Christians. That’s what concerns me the most. And its the clear and ignored partisanship that cuts off our ability to hear each other as well as love and believe the best in each other – which for follows of Jesus does apply to our political involvement.

  17. Tony Lin says:

    I think parents are concerned because when you play his speech backwards it is actually the complete manuscript of the Communist Manifesto…

  18. missional girl says:

    @David
    Thank you.

    I’m a registered independent who votes for both Republicans and Democrats at every level of government. Both sides of the political spectrum demonize planned actions simply because of the person doing the action. That’s partisan and tacky. Sadly, parts of the body of Christ are mimicking culture in how to navigate the ideological divide. I suppose that’s where it gets messy for us.

  19. dritta says:

    @Tony: LOL! Love it!

    @elderj: You said that few presidents have ever done this before, but then you pointed out that both Reagan and Bush have done precisely the same thing? I am confused. It appears that it is a fairly standard thing for a president to do…

    I agree that this seems to point more to the political polarization than to any real ideological disagreements. The fact that the “outcry” occurred before anyone had even read the speech speaks volumes.

    Also, I cannot take anyone seriously who believes that their child will be “brainwashed” by a 20 minute speech. If 20 minutes is all it takes to brainwash your child, then you are not spending enough time with your child anyway!

    The example parents are setting for their children is that if you don’t agree with someone, you should run away and not listen to them. If a parent is truly concerned that their children are at risk, they would do better to watch the speech with their children and talk about why they do or don’t agree with the President. Education vs. ignorance – it seems like a fairly obvious choice to me…

  20. BL78 says:

    Here is the video message transcript titled “I pledge” that was shown to elementary students. You can find the full transcript online but heres part of it:

    Obama Voiceover: So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

    Michael Strahan: To consider myself an American. Not an African-American.

    Joel Schumacher: To never give anyone the finger when I’m driving again.

    Soleil Moon Frye: To help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

    Anthony Kiedis: To care for America’s elderly. [Of which he is one. -Ed.]

    Peter Krause: To make sure that senior citizens have access to healthcare.

    Brittany Snow: To bring awareness to mental disease.

    Gina Gershon: To advance stem cell research.

    Michael Strahan: To show more love to strangers.

    Rita Wilson: To reduce my use of plastic.

    Eva Mendes: By starting with using less bottled water.

    Eva Longoria: To plant 500 trees this year to help our planet.

    Laura Linney: To no longer use the plastic bags at the grocery store.

    Jason Bateman: For the environment I pledge to flush only after a “deuce,” never a “single.”

    Sean Combs: I pledge to turn the lights off. Because I used to leave the lights on, but we want to conserve energy, so I’m going to turn the lights off. You turn the lights off.

    Kevin Zegers: To sell my obnoxious car and buy a hybrid.

    George Lopez: To drive slower and not to use as much gas.

    Josh Groban: To express the importance of arts education in our schools.

    Rhona Mitra: To work to make good the 200 year-old promise to end slavery.

    Ashton Kutcher: To the abolition of 21st century slavery.

    Demi Moore: To free one million people from slavery in the next five years.

    Anthony Kiedis: I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama.

    Kenna Zemedkun: To be the change.

    Demi Moore: To be the change.

    Ashton Kutcher: I know you got a pledge. What’s your pledge?

    Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore in unison: I pledge.

    Demi Moore: To be a servant to our president.

    Heres some questions to think about: Is this video really to help our kids to do better or to promote Obama’s agenda? Would our kids really know the full details about Obama’s plans such as pushing abortion into the health care plan? Is it right for Obama to use the elementary schools as a platform to share his agenda?

    Like I mentioned before, the message is presented like a nicely wrapped gift but kids will not fully know what under the wrapping.

  21. BL78 says:

    I thought I found this humorous:

    Jason Bateman: For the environment I pledge to flush only after a “deuce,” never a “single.”

    Jason Bateman…. uhhhhh…. What the?!?!?!?!?!?! hahahahaha

  22. elderj says:

    @dritta – True, only two have ever done this: Reagan and George HW Bush. Obama is only the third to do so. Maybe this will become standard practice for presidents later on, but so far it’s not. But I think the lead up to it caused more issues than the speech itself.

    @David – the partisanship in our country is really bad which is why I said what I did.
    @Jon – you don’t know who people voted for and that’s not what this discussion is about.

    Honestly the partisanship really isn’t as bad as it’s been. After all we did have a civil war in this country. That’s pretty partisan. Not to mention the civil rights movement, which split the country along partisan lines (with republicans largely supporting civil rights legislation and democrats not).

    Partisanship is part of the reality in a democracy. The lack of partisanship is the mark of an imposed consensus, which is something we don’t want. I would rather though that Christians steered clear of name calling (calling folks GOP-worshiping hypocrites applies).

  23. Eugene, I am so right there with you. It’s a bunch of partisan nonsense, and as an educator, I tell you you are right about us lagging behind the rest of the world. And American kids are not seeing it until they go to look for a job.

  24. As a parent myself, I don’t get this controversy either, Eugene. Not about the speech. Not about the supporting materials created by the Dept. of Education. If you read the actual text of the speech (Thanks for the link, elderj!), the original question about “helping the president” clearly was not encouraging kids to do anything but stay in school, work hard, make positive contributions to the country, etc. There’s simply nothing else in the speech that it COULD refer to. So how is it that the materials were supposedly loaded with political propaganda?? I think that people’s willingness to mistrust this situation before they even had the facts in hand is a very, very sad indication of the state of public discourse in our country. People are content to pull assumptions out of thin air without even attending to the actual words and actions of others. That, in my opinion, is its own form of propaganda.

  25. Phil says:

    Eugene and Sue….I completely agree. May we be the hands and feet of Christ and love our neighbor making the most of every opportunity. I pray that the members of the Body of Christ would take as much time in bible study, prayer and reflection as they do listening to radio and tv talk shows….we need to hear His voice and allow Him to lead and direct all of our paths

  26. Elderj, your comment about Republicans largely supporting civil rights legislation while Democrats opposed it came as a surprise to me. So I looked around a bit online and came to the conclusion that it’s not really a fair statement. It would be more accurate, I think, to say that SOUTHERN Democrats opposed civil rights legislation … as did Southern Republicans. Among Northern legislators, the percentage of Democrats (94%) who voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was significantly larger than the percentage of Republicans (85%), although it’s clear that Northern members of both parties were solidly in favor of it. That doesn’t strike me as a partisan divide at all. (As a former resident of the Deep South, it also doesn’t surprise me in the least.) The geographic divide was always much more pertinent than any political loyalties, but the fact that the majority of Southern legislators were Democrats for several decades makes it easy to skew the statistics.

  27. m@ says:

    Anyone find it the least bit ironic that parents are choosing to pull their kids out of school to avoid hearing a speech encouraging children to stay in school? Misguided parents are awesome! ;)

  28. eljeffe says:

    once again we see the power of spinning a story by fox’s pseudo news channel. the spread of fear and untruth in the form of official sound bites has turned this into a bigger deal than it has to be. i hope the message DOES brainwash all those lazy a$$ed, overweight video game addicted kids to get their eyes off their apathetic navels and out there doing something for someone else for a change.

  29. This is my last post tonight, I promise.

    I think it’s important to clarify that the video BL78 keeps referring to is NOT a product of the White House and has NOTHING to do with President Obama’s speech tomorrow. It is a private project of Katalyst, a film production company co-founded by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg.

    Just so we don’t muddy the waters more than they already are….

  30. Eugene Cho says:

    @BL78: Sue@GraceCorner beat me to the punch.

    I’m not quite sure what your point was about w/ that video. As she said, it has nothing official to do w/ his administration.

    If you’re criticizing politicians for rubbing shoulders w/ celebrities, that’s another conversation.

  31. elderj says:

    @Sue – The plain and unfortunate fact is that for better than 100 years, the Democratic Party was the staunch supporter of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and the worst kinds of racist politics. It is also true that civil rights were planks in the Republican platform for all of its history beginning with its anti-slavery platform. I would not call the inclusion of Southern Democrats in the numbers “skewing” the data, and the subtle implication is that republicans are racist. That is an unfair implication.

    It has only been in the last 30 years that the Democratic party has become associated with civil rights though. None of us can rewrite the history though politicians endeavour to do so all the time. I am saddened that you seem to want to do the same.

  32. simplyintentional says:

    Three quick thoughts;

    1. Is there really a HUGE outcry or is that what the media portrays? I’m not saying that there are people out there who aren’t upset about this, but how do we really know what the “true” public opinion is? We are made up of many voices and the “loudest” doesn’t necessarily represent everyone.

    2. We should trust teach our youth to make their own informed decisions of what to believe from the President’s speech whether they agree or disagree with whatever he presents.

    3. Finally, this isn’t anything new. Presidents of the past have spoke with students, both republican and democrats.

    Let’s hear what he has to say and then debate.

  33. brundle says:

    It is true that once the speech was posted people should read it and make a judgement from that point. It sounds like it will end up being an OK stay in school kind of message.

    However it is not suprising that without knowing the contents of the speech Evangelicals/Christians/Conservatives and many others would be wary of such an action. Obama has done nothing to build the trust of his opponents since he has been in office and during his pre-election political carreer. In fact most everything he has done or is trying to do is very left of center and those who do not agree with liberal agendas will naturally be distrusting.

    While we as Christians should submit (to a point) to our authorities and in fact pray for them having voted for them or not – we should not stand by and watch agendas be pushed forward and ignore it as though it will go away. Nor should we turn a blind eye to the things that our impressionable children are taught in schools. It is our job to protect them. This includes being wary of a speech (with accompanying “study guide”) being given by a liberal president.

    But again – a good approach is to do the research, review the speech, then act accordingly and fairly. Being thoughtful and fair yet diligent is also a good thing to represent to your kids.

  34. chad m says:

    i wonder…how many “Christian” schools will be showing this tomorrow? now that would be an interesting statistic…

  35. Casey says:

    If the president didn’t have an agenda he wouldn’t be much of a president. The problem is when they have a secret agenda like the last one.

  36. Lauren Hertel says:

    Isn’t it amazing that people who go to such lengths to be heard don’t seem to believe they should have to listen?

    On our local news station they showed a “concerned parent” talking about how this was a waste of one hour in his daughter’s day at school. She knows the importance of hard work and staying in school and doesn’t need the President to tell her something she already knows. I was so irritated. I bet this same guy has no problem when the teacher shows a movie to the class around the Holidays, but somehow when our President wants to encourage our youth to work hard and be responsible – well, that’s just a waste of her time.

    The real waste of time is by any person who puts all their energy into disparaging any one man. It would be so great if those same people took their energy and channeled it into loving the least, the last and the lost.

  37. pjchris says:

    @Chad M-My childred attend a private, Christian school. Like may several public school districts (including a local one here in the metro Seattle area), they are choosing to tape the speech and air it later after teachers have watched it. When I talked with the school adminstrator about what the plan was, he was disappointed that the speech had become so politicized.

  38. elderj says:

    I think it is an interesting comparison to see how folks responded when George Bush Sr. made a speech to schoolchildren.

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/When-Bush-spoke-to-students-Democrats-investigated-held-hearings-57694347.html

    There were hearings in Congress and a General Accounting Office audit, both ordered by the then Democratically controlled legislature.

    Politics is always partisan.

  39. Dan S. says:

    The President wants kids to (gasp) stay in school, pay attention in class and do their homework.

    Be afraid. Be very, very afraid…

  40. danderson says:

    Except for a few comments, I found the postings here encouraging and edifying. I’m glad that Eugene prefaced his comments by saying he doesn’t “go Ga-Ga and drool” over Obama. I can’t say the same for other websites.

    My class of fifth graders (mostly Latino, a few Black, a few White) and I watched the speech live. Ironically, it’s the type of speech I would expect to hear from a conservative – talking about personal responsibility and having control over one’s destiny. In fact, if a conservative Republican HAD given the speech, some on the Left would probably have been up in arms, just as they have been when Bill Cosby was saying the same things that Obama did today.

  41. The Chiz says:

    I LOVE the logic: “I’ll pull my kids out of school to protest- that’ll show them!” Great, let’s take an opportunity to show civil public discourse to our children and flush it down the toilet, and instead model a I-don’t-like-it pity party that further deepens our inability to ACTUALLY dialogue with others, and will more than likely reinforce disengagement for future challenges.

  42. michael says:

    i have three words for you: racism

  43. GH says:

    Politics is always going to be polarizing because people have differing views. When President G.H. Bush addressed school kids, Democrats launched a congressional investigation to determine if he used government funds for a political speech. My view is that it’s fine to have strong political opinions, get involved personally and strive for positive change if the emphasis is on issues and not personal attacks. I believe it’s very important that we believers leave those opinions outside of our churches and focus on following Christ. When churches or organized Christian groups take on political agendas they tend to alienate people by suggesting they are on God’s side. It undermines the Body of Christ and confuses non-believers. I like what Quest and so many other Covenant churches do in the way of serving local, national and worldwide needs. We should leave our political opinions at the door, love each other and serve the lost and needy as we have been called to do. WWJD

  44. gar says:

    The speech was shown today at my school and the day proceeded as normal, though my class did have a short and interesting discussion about personal responsibility and hard work, especially these 2 quotes:

    “But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.”

    and

    “No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work.”

    Post-speech, no child left my classroom to immediately register as a Democrat, or build a golden altar to President Obama, or declare their everlasting love for socialism.

    The message was clear to the kids: work hard, be responsible, make good choices. Done.

  45. […] the intense media frenzy over Obama’s speech to the youth of America and a good discussion on the comments of this blog entry, I thought this picture was too funny not to […]

  46. Rusty says:

    @ elderj (9/7 8:55): whoa, whoa, whoa. Who exactly is rewriting history here? I always find your comments thoughtful and insightful but as a civil rights historian, I’m afraid I must strongly disagree with your assessment of country’s two political parties and their involvement with civil rights.

    The distinction Sue made between southern and northern Democrats is a crucial (and correct) one. The Democrats were actually the first political party in the 20th century to introduce a civil rights plank into their platform in 1948 under the Truman administration. (Which caused a split in the national party with southern Dems walking out of the convention and forming their own Dixiecrat party that year). LBJ, as you’ll recall, signed the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965. (Not surprisingly, it shortly after this time that many southern Democrats decided they were no longer Democrats and switched parties.) So your statement that it has only been since 1979 that the Democrats have become associated with civil rights is off by three decades. At least.

    Furthermore, you seem much more willing to whitewash the history of the Republican party than you do to give the northern Democrats their proper due. Yes, the GOP originated as an antislavery party and yes, Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens were among the most ardent supporters of African Americans, but this radical strain was dead in the Republican party by 1876. There were no civil rights planks in the Republican platform after this year. As Edward Blum has thoroughly documented in _Reforging the White Republic_ by 1880 both major political parties were complicit in supporting the “segregation, Jim Crow, and worst kinds of racist politics” that you seem to desire to lay solely at the feet of Democrats.

    In short, you are correct that the civil rights movement was a partisan phenomenon. But Sue is right that it was really regional partisanship rather than political. Yes, Republicans widely supported civil rights, but only because there weren’t Republicans in the South. And, again, it’s awfully telling that after a Democratic president signed the civil rights legislation, the South began its transformation into a GOP stronghold.

  47. elderj says:

    @Rusty – so the South is racist, Democrats are good except for their hundred year support of segregation, and I believe in whitewashing history. I’m glad we go that out of the way.

    The Republican Party’s history does not need to be whitewashed. The platform included statements on civil rights for Blacks (and women, including statements on equal pay)in 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1972, and 1976. Shall I quote them?

    The northern democrats were mostly based strongly in ethnic immigrant communities and trade unions. Your suggestion that republicans supported civil rights ONLY because there “weren’t republicans in the south” sounds much like those southern democrats you referenced who said that northerners didn’t really know how to “handle the negroes” with the implication that they would have done something differently if they’d had the chance. Maybe this is true; who knows.

    But the bigger issue is this, racism is an issue of the heart and of political, social and systemic realities. It doesn’t belong to one group or region. I am fairly SICK of criticism of Obama being chalked up to racism, or southerners being called racists… all of this is really quite wrong. I’m not trying to whitewash anything.

  48. Rusty says:

    @elderj: not to beat a dead horse, but I would like to clear up just a few things.
    1) Yes, absolutely the South is/was racist. But I by no means meant to imply that the North is/was not. Indeed, in many respects the North is/was MORE racist than the South. I by no means meant to imply that racism is exclusively a southern trait. That said, it is a historical fact that when it came time to vote on the civil rights act, the vast majority of resistance to the legislation came from representatives of southern states. Not that the northern representatives supported the legislation for benevolent purposes: you’re exactly right that for many of them it was a political calculation that appealed to their minority constituents.

    2. I certainly do not believe Democrats are good and Republicans are bad. Yes, Democrats supported segregation. But so did Republicans. I just didn’t understand how you could make a distinction between the Dems and GOP support of Jim Crow when historically they were equally complicit in maintaining it. Seemed inconsistent with your ongoing (and correct) mantra that racism isn’t soley a southern phenomenon. That said, I think it’s interesting that when the country finally starting moving toward redressing some of the country’s delporable racial inequalities, it was Democrats who led the way. And I also think it’s telling that Southen Democrats left the party shortly thereafter. All of which again suggests that both parties have a checkered history when it comes to race.

    3. No need to quote the GOP’s platform supporting civil rights prior to 1948, but I would appreciate it if you could point me toward the source for this. As I said, I was under the impression that it was the Dems in 1948 that first included a call for civil rights in their party’s platform that year. Apparently I was wrong?

  49. elderj says:

    @rusty – the horse is well beaten, by both of us at this point.
    1) pardon my sensitivity about the whole “southern racism” meme. I’ve been a southerner all my life and prejudice against people from the south is one of the most acceptable prejudices in our nation. An entire region, people, history, etc., is over and over again telescoped into black and white images from 50 years ago. People from the South are mocked for their accent, accused regularly of incest, considered racist, called ignorant, and generally disdained. Even now political differences are attributed to the race of the president as if no other factors mattered. So yeah, I’m a bit touchy about having my friends and neighbors found guilty for no other crime than being born south of the mason/dixon, of having people tell me they’re “afraid” to drive through the south though they come from some of the most crime ridden urban enclaves of the north and west, and to have people change their accent just so others won’t think of them as being dumb.

    2)The GOP NEVER supported Jim Crow policies and for much of the history of the twentieth century, republicans were the minority party in Congress. Though Truman desegregated the armed forces (though Wilson had of course segregated the Civil Service), it was under the Republican administration of Eisenhower that the first civil rights legislation was passed. Democrats did NOT lead the way. They followed.

    Democrats managed to change their image by spending large sums of money on ameliorating social conditions (basically vote buying which they’d done in the north via trade unions and political machines which were always a feature of Democratic Party politics), and through what is now known as “identity politics” (which the Dems had also practiced in the north to gain the voted of White ethnics – they simply added Blacks to the various groups), both of which was flatly contrary to Republican politics. Lots of southern Dems migrated to the GOP under the pretext of protest against that, but very many stayed right there in the Democratic Party (Robert Byrd anyone?).

    3. Just look up the platform for each party and the year. It isn’t hard to find.

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One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Video of Delta rivers and an amazing sunset in Myanmar on a #fastboat. We were on these boats for about 20 hours over 3 days. Exhausting but meeting villagers and experiencing these sunsets made up for the long and bumpy boat rides. 10 days ago. Unforgettable slow boat journey in the Delta rivers of Myanmar. Lots of reflecting and praying. Came to the conclusion - again - that in the efforts to change the world, I especially need to be changed by God's love, character, and justice. #Myanmar #slowboatreflections #onedayswages The 2nd baby turns 14 today. Oh my. How time flies. Every birthday now is bittersweet. So amazed at the young woman she is becoming ... and that much further away from being that little baby. Happy Birthday, @trintaay! The world is fallen, broken, and messy. This is the truth.

But the story is not yet finished. God is not yet done. This is the Truth. There is Hope. God is our Hope.

#Advent #MyanmarSunset #NoFilter #BackHomeSafe In solidarity. From Thailand. #ICantBreathe I'm in Thailand for two days to meet @theexodusroad - one of @onedayswages' partners doing compelling work in the fight against child sex trafficking in Thailand and other countries.

Several of their team members took me and Phillip (one of my staff ) into several brothels as part of their investigation. Needless to say, it was very disturbing but an important experience. Women were scantily dressed and places on stages ... as commodities. As part of the investigation, we spoke with some of these young women to collect information, liberate underaged girls, and shut down brothels that exploit underaged girls. To be honest, it's complicated... The evening was intense and my heart was beating so rapidly...but as the hours passed and my initial shock and fears subsided, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me that God loves each and every person and desires to draw them until Himself.  And so I prayed for these women, men, girls, pimps, johns, mamma sans... Lord, break these strongholds.
Lord, give us courage.

my tweets

  • Christmas isn't just a feel-good, cutesy, baby story. It's about a God who enters into our utter brokenness to show the depths of His love. || 34 minutes ago
  • Umm. I had an upset stomach one time before preaching...and it didn't turn out too good. #BeastMode || 11 hours ago
  • We need to get this. It's not US versus THEM. It's US and US. We're in it together. We need one another. And we ALL need a Savior. || 14 hours ago
  • "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love." - goo.gl/30BDi3 #PrayerOfStFrancis || 14 hours ago
  • Love became flesh. Love showed us the way. Love was betrayed. Love was killed. Love was resurrected. Love endures. Love wins. #Jesus || 19 hours ago
  • Grieving the senseless murders of the two NYC police officers. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Liu and Ramos families. We are so sorry. || 1 day ago
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