Whatever happened to discussion and debate? Where is the joy of arguing over ideas and opinions and beliefs just for the sake of discovery and learning? Where are the young fledglings, who are spreading their wings and just beginning to explore politics? Have you noticed, around the whole country, that these days it seems babies are coming out of the womb either red or blue, Republican or Democrat?
Take my daughter’s 5th grade class, for example. In honor of the elections, her social studies teacher instigated a discussion of the political issues of the two presidential candidates. Whenever he mentioned President Bush’s agenda, the class collectively groaned and rolled their eyes. When Senator Kerry’s ‘plans’ were brought up, the class cheered.
So, in an effort to contribute, my daughter correctly raised her hand, waited for her teacher to call on her, and said, “President Bush may have done all those things you say. I don’t know??¢â???¬ ¦but everyone makes mistakes. But I could never trust someone who believes in murder.”
The class went crazy, screaming “WHAT?!?!” She tried to raise her voice explaining, “John Kerry believes in abortion — he believes in murdering babies.” What happened to these innocent 5th graders? They scared her to death! They shook their fists at her, standing up from the chairs to better threaten her, screaming at her that it wasn’t murder. One little boy menacingly pounded his desk in what I gather was angry frustration. My daughter wanted to discuss her views, but the students wanted to intimidate her into being silent.
Throughout the rest of the day the children persecuted my daughter. The little boy who pounded his desk and yelled at her persisted in being mean to her, prompting my daughter to ask him, “What’s the difference? What’s the difference between grown ups and babies?” She was still trying to get him to think for himself. Another little girl came up to my daughter and said, “Sorry you lost.” As if my daughter had lost a competition or a race instead of participating in a social studies class.
I read Richard Morin’s article in the Washington Post on Sunday, October 10, regarding the venomous e-mail he received from a liberal reader. I heard that the Kerry spokesman angrily walked off the set of “Hannity & Colmes,” because Sean Hannity was asking him to justify Senator Kerry’s voting record in the Senate. The radio talk shows are filled with instances of liberals’ rude and malicious behavior toward conservatives. I have conservative friends who are afraid to put out Bush-Cheney placards because of threats from neighbors. And now little 10-year-olds are attacking my daughter.
The thing is ??¢â???¬ ¦ I’m not surprised that most of the children in my daughter’s class were in favor of John Kerry ??¢â???¬ ¦ after all they were just parroting their parents. So was my daughter. But there were two differences. My daughter could defend her beliefs — they could not. Their parents were telling them what to think without teaching them how to think. And my daughter was polite and considerate. She raised her hand, waited to be called on, and then said her opinion. The other students failed to extend her the same respect. They angrily denigrated her. From what I have seen, heard, and read in the world, I know that the children are modeling their behavior after their parents. Their parents are angry and insulting to those who oppose their views, so the children are as well.
When did the liberals become such a mass of ill-mannered, angry, malicious lemmings? And yes, I said lemmings. They don’t think any more. They argue and they fight, and they call people names but they no longer are willing to discuss and chit chat. They’re not interested in conversation or a mutual sharing of ideas. Why not? I miss being able to share what I think. Mostly, I miss being able to ask others why they think the way they do. I grew up thriving on discussing religion, politics, and social issues. I love hearing what others think and the challenges of debate energize me.
We isolate ourselves by refusing to talk civilly to each other. We are ensuring our narrow-mindedness by refusing to engage in controversial and challenging discourse with our neighbors. Argue, debate, discuss. But argue with passion, not anger.