President Barack Obama gathered a great amount of controversy in the week before he made his speech to American students. Conservative parents feared that the speech would be tantamount to indoctrination, forbidding their children to listen to it. Republican bloggers blasted the president, fearing that such a speech would be tantamount to mind-control. An outraged senator accused Obama of attempting to promote socialism. The speech itself had little controversial content, merely encouraging pupils to do well in school. So then, where did all this controversy come from?
The sad truth of the matter is that such fear is the result of a dangerous slippery-slope. Previous, Republican presidents have made the same speech to schools in the past. The fact that Obama is liberal, coupled with his recent healthcare bill, caused many conservative parents to misconstrue the announcement of the speech as an attempt at indoctrination. By blowing the speech out of proportion and context, they were responsible for creating their own hysteria.
Hysteria and its Effects
Previous Republican presidents have made similar addresses to American students, none of them have faced the same scrutiny that Obama was placed under. No complaints were made when Reagan spoke to students in 1988. No demands of censorship were made when George W. Bush read to students in 2001. Yet, Obama's association with liberal values garnered him a false reputation for indoctrination. Thus, Americans panicked, vehemently demanding censorship out of fear and close-mindedness.
However, the most disturbing part of this issue is that parents blatantly demanded that schools not broadcast the message. These demands are tantamount to censorship, and represent an attempt to suppress the intellectual freedom of students. By preventing students from accessing this knowledge, they are preventing them from being able to make their own, independent decisions. Thereby preventing children from developing individuality. While parents blast Obama for indoctrinating their children, they fail to see that their own indoctrination of their children is far more harmful than any presidential address conceived.