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The Obama Youth are OK

by Jesse Fruhwirth
- Posted // 2009-09-03 -

Conservatives nationwide are worried Barack Obama is going to propagandize the nation's youth. Even some normally reasonable conservative minds are making allusions to "Hitler's youth." 


Utah blogger Connor Boyack, who I enjoy, makes this claim on his blog today:

The simple fact that a single man [Obama] is addressing himself to the nation’s children and using the network of government-funded (and regulated) teachers to instill certain thoughts in their minds should worry all parents.

With all due respect, Connor, you're wrong. And I think mentioning Hitler Youth in this context is rediculous.

Propagandizing youth is not inherently bad, it's only bad when the message is bad.  And the underlying assumption in your post, I think, is that propagandizing youth is rare for a president.  I think that is wrong, too. 

Let me give some personal examples of good youth propaganda:

  • In the early 1980s my elder sister brought home anti-tobacco ideas she had received at school.  Rather than becoming aghast that her daughter had been propagandized, my mother quit smoking after months of brow-beating from her daughter. My mother still tells this story today, with pride and a snicker.

  • I mentioned this one yesterday. In 1991, George H. W. Bush came to Bismarck, North Dakota, when I was in second grade.  The whole school went down to the capitol to watch the prez plant a tree for Earth Day.  We all got little trees to take home so we could plant them also.  My family planted three of them--at least one is still alive on the banks of Lake Sakakawea, a living legacy of presidential youth propaganda.

  • In elementary school, I never achieved the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, but just last year my niece did.  As a student, I got all kinds of propaganda from the president, via my gym teacher, on the day the awards were handed out. Propagandizing students to exercise and be healthy isn't a problem, is it? 

So what is the content of Obama's propaganda that is so concerning?  Is it his call to serve one's community? No. Initially, although its been changed, Obama's printed materials to be sent to schools included a passage suggesting that students be asked to "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." 

Obama should have asked the youth to think about what they could do for the country, not what they could do for Obama himself.

Fair enough: I agree.  

The materials have been changed per requests by critics.

Is this story over now? Was this just an excuse to use "Hitler" and "Obama" in the same breath?

Also, I'm really impressed with Gayle Ruzicka being a day ahead of a national news trend with this whole youth propaganda hysteria.  Since hysteria is her job, this speaks well of her qualifications. 

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Post a comment
Posted // September 8,2009 at 15:24

Well this is fairly balanced, excellent job! You are what people call a journalist. Unlike the blowhard barberi you have an understanding of fairness whoo hoo thank you for this. As far as propoganda though, my opinion is, school should be used to educate and considering how poorly they did with barberi ( I intentionally don't capitalize little boy's names) they can't afford the luxury of doing otherwise.

With warm regards,

from the smooth and balanced easy going little tinfoil hat wearing kook


Posted // September 9,2009 at 07:30 - Harold, You're either brilliant with sarcasm and irony, which I doubt, or you're not exactly playing chess at the local Mensa clubhouse. It seems you missed out on the education you reference here and in other posts, or you wasted your money in obtaining one. Of course, if it's public education you're talking about, you wasted our money and are a good example for Republicans to use when trying to point out why socialism sucks.


Posted // September 4,2009 at 09:23

So I visited this Connor fellow's blog and, after reading his comparisons of Adolf Hitler (murderer of millions) and Obama, was not surprised to see that he is, in fact, a Mormon living in Happy Valley.

I am still confounded that the local herd could today proclaim things like, "The President is elected to do a job defined by a limited set of powers", without seeing the irony. They literally worshipped a man that flouted, indeed, fought against this idea for eight years and said nothing to the contrary.

I wonder if Connor remembers Bush sitting in an elementary school in Florida while New York came under attack when he wrote this: The President of the United States was never intended to be a leader to our children, nor to speak to them directly. Only individuals looking to mold public opinion in their favor aim to do this on a large scale, and historically those individuals have had ulterior motives of ill repute.

And of course, if you have an opinion differing from that of the herd, great thinkers like Connor write you off with comments like, "Those parents who themselves have fallen prey to the propaganda will, of course, see no problem with their children participating in the same."

After living here for so long, this makes perfect sense to me. Connor is simply restating the fact that if you don't think exactly like him, you are wrong.

Connor is just another fool using Hitler as a catalyst to squeeze a weak idea from a closed mind.


Posted // September 4,2009 at 08:09

If any person or group understands the process of indoctrinating children better than our local religious corporation and that corporation's members, I'd be surprised.