Saturday, September 11, 2010

Get Over It!

On Friday evening, we received an automated telephone call from my daughter's high school.  The call informed us that President Obama was planning to address the nation's students on Tuesday, September 14th, and that if I wanted my daughter excused from our President's speech I simply needed to send a note to school with her on Monday.

I briefly mentioned this on my Facebook wall earlier, but I decided that this issue needs a bit more depth.

First of all, I am appalled that our school district would make such a call to families on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001.  I realize that the word "appalled" is thrown around loosely and often these days, but I am truly appalled, as in "greatly dismayed and horrified."

Second of all, I am stunned that the school district even felt the need for this.  Perhaps it is a function of my age -- I'm 57 -- but when I was a student in the public school system, if the President of the United States wanted to address the children of this nation, we filed into the auditorium, they set up the televisions for us, and we watched it.  I didn't have to like the President, nor did my parents have to have voted him into office.  Once the election was over, we supported the current leadership and if that leadership did not perform to our expectations, we had the opportunity to remove them in four years' time.  It was a no-brainer.

Not that I can recall him ever doing so, but if George W. Bush wanted to address my daughter and her peers, I do not think I would have received the same telephone call.

I think this needs to be said, as simply and clearly as I know how:  Mr. Obama is the fairly elected President of the United States of America.  In spite of what the many conservatives, racists, rednecks and Philistines in my community and my country would like, Mr. Obama won the election fairly, by a majority of both the popular vote and in the Electoral College.  He is entitled to the office by virtue of being a legitimate citizen of this country.  And he is most definitely a legitimate, legal citizen, since he was born on United States soil AND his mother was a citizen.  Either of those circumstances confers citizenship legally; Mr. Obama has the benefit of both.  Finally, not that it matters in the least where Mr. Obama spends his Sundays, but he is not a member of the Muslim faith.

We are supposed to be a free nation where anyone and everyone is free to worship in accordance with their conscience, whether that worship is of God, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  We were founded by a group of dissenters who disagreed with their existing government, vocally protested that government, and ultimately overthrew it.  Somewhere along the way we have lost our path, and with it, our reason.  I would respectfully remind us all that dissent and disagreement do not equal treason.  The labels of "liberal" or "conservative" never should be demonized or vilified simply because one belongs to the opposite camp.

The late Kurt Vonnegut's once said that, "There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too." [Italics are mine.]  I could not agree more.  I believe that this phone call was to appease the people who have elevated disagreement and partisanship into hatred, often goaded by media pundits as much as by their own shameful prejudices.

Barack Obama is our President.  My daughter is going to hear what he has to say.  I was raised in a time when, once the election was over, we shook hands and united behind our President.  It's what made America a truly great nation, and a truly great democracy.  I didn't like George W. Bush, I didn't vote for him, but once he was sworn in as our President, that's what he was to me -- our President.

Well, now we have a new President, a black man from Illinois.  He is the leader the majority of our people chose.  As far as you people who don't like it are concerned?  GET OVER IT.

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