May 15, 2013
I’ve had my fair share of gripes about Fox News. They went after the Muppets and Sesame Street. They’ve championed the Second Amendment despite overwhelming evidence of the dangers of firearms without sensible gun control. They’re an unabashed arm of the Republican Party, if not the controlling force behind it. In every way, shape, and form, Fox News represents dishonesty and an antithesis to journalism.
But now they went after Fred Rogers.
This… will not stand. I don’t care if the clip is a few years old. This is a crime.
If you have the stomach, check out the following clip.
In essence, the Fox hosts here are reporting on a study (actually a single professor just talking) on how Mister Roger’s message of “You’re special just the way you are” has created generations of lazy, self-interested little socialists and he’s also the reason American children don’t do well in school.
Fox going after Mister Rogers is another piece of evidence that shows the American Far Right has lost its collective mind in the last several years. Things like compassion and empathy have already been vilified on the Right, but to overtly say that a man like Fred Rogers is evil is a bit like saying the Dalai Lama eats puppies and can’t achieve climax without thinking of the Holocaust.
The Right has been hijacked by Randian “ethics” in that a person’s worth is tied to his or her bank account and how much he or she resembles the “superman” who cares not for morals but only self-interest. Modern American conservatism has been led down the path of the Tea Party, of might-makes-right, of thinking businesses are people and people can be shot simply for not being citizens. Mister Rogers’ message is a splash of cold water on those beliefs.
Mister Rogers is the closest thing this world has had to a physical saint in a long time. The man had a message of hope and peace that endures after his passing. He taught millions of children, myself included, that we are special. Every child, every person, is a unique individual.
Of course, there’s also a major difference between “You’re a special person,” and “You never have to try to achieve anything.” The second is a strawman by Fox. Mister Roger never implied anything like that. He never said you should get things just for asking. He said you should have a feeling of self-worth no matter what.
And on a personal note, I was raised on Mister Rogers, Sesame Street, and Doctor Spock, all things these brain cases complained about. Guess what? Dean’s List in college, am in a loving, long-term relationship, and I’ve got the drive to publish my work on Randomology.org, here, and in my upcoming book. And I teach college and middle school courses.
I know I’m special. Mister Rogers told me so. Fox News? I’m sure even Mister Rogers would hesitate before telling them they’re special.
Actually, I’m pretty sure they are “special.” They’re a very special channel with very special people.
Let’s all remember Fred Rogers for what he was: one of the most decent human beings to ever live among us.
I remember the moment I became interested in politics and world events. When I grew up in Mexico, I heard from someone that the United States had gone to war. To me, the United States was a magical land where people could find jobs, where you could be anything you wanted to be, where I could go to McDonald’s. That was my youthful, limited view of this country. I’d lived here when I was much, much younger, but before the age of ten, the United States was still a mysterious place where anything could happen. I mean, come on. It had Disneyland.
Eleven years ago, I was in my room while practicing for an upcoming choir competition. I had just popped in a tape (wow, I’m dating this) with the instrumentals to the songs we needed to learn. I was halfway through “Danny Boy.” I was just past the line about all the flowers dying when my mom called me to her room and said something had happened in New York City.
I looked at the television and saw that a plane had struck one of the towers in the World Trade Center. I imagined every possible cause of this catastrophe. The announcers were concerned, of course. They were in New York City themselves.
“This wasn’t an accident,” I said.
I watched for several minutes but knew I had to go practice. I couldn’t focus, however. I kept seeing the fire and the gutted skyscraper. By the time I went to school, I heard from others that a second plane had hit. I knew then it wasn’t an accident. The school administration wouldn’t let us turn the televisions on and said we had to focus on studying, but everyone was talking about what had just happened.
When the televisions were finally allowed back on hours later, we saw a dust cloud over Lower Manhattan. Someone started muttering, “Where are the towers? Where are the towers?”
It might have been me.
The rest of the day just disappeared. When we left school, my sister and I went to put gas in the car. The line stretched around the block as people rushed to get the soon-precious commodity. It was the last time I’ve filled up my tank for less than twenty-five dollars. It was also the last time I’d felt truly safe.
I was angry. This was my home, my country. I wasn’t born here, but I certainly worked to prove myself as a good American citizen, so for someone to do this to us, to me, was infuriating in a way I’ve never experienced since. The school year sort of faded away. The invasion of Afghanistan came and victory loomed over the horizon, or so I thought. As summer finally arrived, I questioned my earlier anger. I was angry at an entire group of people, a whole country. I wanted to see them pay for supporting the slaughter of thousands…
Then, I went to college. It’s become a cliché that education makes you liberal, but it’s true. Being exposed to new ideas, new concepts, new people, all have a profound effect on us. I know it did to me. By the time I left ten years ago, I had lived and worked with people who were Jewish, Christian, Wiccan, atheists, gay, straight, bisexual, conservative, liberal, communists, libertarians, and everything in between.
I learned to not just live with, but accept other points of view. The Second Iraq War came and I felt disgusted with myself. The nation I’d admired so much was now a bully, a scared child that had been hit hard, had suffered, and was now lashing at anyone and anything it felt was a threat. I’d never been part of the minority before. In South Texas, Hispanics are the majority, but in Indiana, I was very much a minority. I’d been bullied when I was much younger, but it wasn’t until I went to college that I felt like an outsider.
After graduation, I worked odd jobs, eventually working as a Congressional speechwriter in the fall of 2008. While on the Hill, I saw apathy. I saw people calling in, sometimes screaming, over imagined slights. I saw the uneducated behind doors and banging on said doors to get attention. There was a fear in the air. It was the same fear of the other, of something alien coming in and taking away that which was ours. It’s the same kind of fear the GOP is relying on this time around. It’s the same fear and botched education that fueled the Tea Party. It’s the reason Fox News can claim to be news. It says what the subconscious wants to hear.
When I was a child, the United States was a magical land. It was a goal, but once I got here, it took years for me to realize it was something that needed to be tended. It grew. It breathed. It could not survive the ignorance and fear of that day, and yet it’s still used as subtly as using a lead pipe to perform brain surgery.
Whenever someone asks why I write about politics, education, and art, and why I spend time trying to make sure my students develop critical thinking skills, I remember that younger me. I remember the things I said and wished.
I’m grateful that version of me never had the power to make good on those threats.
It’s official. The Republican Party, the Grand Old Party, has made it clear that Obama is not their enemy. Who is the enemy?
Critical thinking and facts.
When asked about the thoroughly debunked talking point of “You didn’t build that,” the one where the GOP, led by Fox, claim Obama slammed small businesses, Romney’s people had a very interesting answer. After all, all they’d done was base their campaign pitch on a lie, right?
Their answer? Fact-checking wasn’t important.
This isn’t something trivial. Critical thinking and facts are the basis of growth, both personal and social. They are the basics of science, something a lot of conservatives seem to think is a bad thing going by recent examples, but never has it been more clearly stated.
Facts don’t matter, they say.
It’s not that hard to see how this works to the GOP’s advantage. The Texas GOP tried to ban critical thinking and inconvenient facts in schools. Tennessee pushed a bill that would allow creationism in schools. Bill Nye was booed in Texas for suggesting the moon doesn’t glow, something which creationists find insulting. The entire concept of the scientific method is missing from the GOP brain. When Limbaugh, for example, tries to make the argument that The Dark Knight Rises is an attack on Romney or that Robin Hood would have been a Tea Partier, he is showing the kind of thinking that most educated, mature people learn when they’re in high school.
More recently, the NRA actually came out and said that mass shootings are essential to an “open society,” that it’s not a good idea to ask questions after mass shootings like the ones we’ve experienced the last few weeks.
Remember, this is the same mentality that makes some people kill abortion doctors because life is sacred. This is the same culture that believes the Bible is the infallible word of God, yet charity and sharing are now sins. The ability to think critically is what has given us medicine, the reason we landed on the moon, and the reason you can read this on a screen that manipulates light and is controlled by a small piece of silicon and metal.
Everyone is entitled to an informed opinion. The ability to come together and debate issues only happens when we can all agree that REALITY EXISTS. It’s the most basic foundation for an argument, for science, but since the GOP and many conservatives have simply decided that reality doesn’t work for them and they’d rather go with fantasies about anti-rape vaginas and an Arab conspiracy to destroy our country, I guess we can just stop the debate now. After all, with everything that’s happened, it’s obvious that conservatives really are scientifically incapable of understanding reality.
We’d have a better chance of discussing Chaucer with a mentally handicapped tapeworm. At least the tapeworm is more pleasant company.