After all the controversy about the kids in grade school (purported as preschool, but those kids look a bit older to me) singing the praises about President Obama, I thought that I would tell of my experience. You have to know that I was raised in that bastion of left thinking, liberal political area of west central Arkansas (yes, that was with a chuckle).
The last Democrat that carried the county until after Rockefeller (yes, Arkansas elected a Rockefeller to office) was elected to the office of governor was Orval Faubus, mainly because he stood up to “the niggers” and the federal government during the desegregation conflict at Central High School in Little Rock during the year of my birth, 1957 CE.
Here is a bit of what I grew up with in public school, so that the record may be set straight. I was indoctrinated.
First, just a short synopsis of my school experience leading up to this. I first started grade school in North Little Rock, Arkansas in 1963, as I remember. The school is no longer there, but my memories are. We would put our right hands over our hearts every morning and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It had recently been modified. Here is the original text, as written by a minister in the late 19th century, and the modified one as mandated by Congress in the late 1950s to fight the “Communist menace”. Here are the two versions.
I pledge Allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands. One Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The one after the Congress got finished with it:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.
Over the years, capitalization rules have changed. Interestingly, the German still requires that common nouns be capitalized, and I think that this is a good thing, but I digress.
Anyway, my class did this every morning, in addition to the Lord’s prayer (I kid you not), under the watchful eye of President Johnson’s ugly picture on the wall. Well, first it was that of President Kennedy, but by half way through the fist grade he had been killed. Still, the portrait of the President was in the classroom.
Then we moved back to west central Arkansas and I went to public school in Hackett, Arkansas. I finished the first grade there, and still wonder at the fact that I can read and write, or even think at all. That was probably the most concentrated pocket of ignorance in the Nation at the time.
Things were fine, I guess, until the forth grade or so. Then the school had a Viet Nam veteran, Gary Terrill, in about 1967 or so, to come and talk to the class. He wore his uniform and told us how great it was to be in the Army. At the time, he was shown to be nothing less than an heroic figure. Actually, he was a high school dropout from a couple of years before, and hovered on the habitual criminal list. But he looked good in the uniform to us, the little kids. He told about killing Communists, and how it made us safer. One kid in the class, Danny Hamilton, asked him how soon that he (Danny) could join, so he could, and I remember these words as well today as I did then, “…kill a real man?” I was appalled, even at my early age. Something just sounded wrong with wanting to “kill a real man”. Most of us had been brought up learning to hunt animals, but this was not good.
Gary said that you could take a shot or two almost any day, and Danny was delighted. That day I became sort of an outcast. The words that I heard disturbed me, and even my mum and dad were of no help since, when I asked them about it, they were both adamant that killing Communists was a good idea. I guess that they had already been indoctrinated as well, but I just could not accept that killing people of any kind was very often a good thing.
(Just for a bit of closure about Gary, after I had grown up many years, we used to drink together. He had most of his left ear shot off, and some significant brain trauma to go along with it. His innate alcoholism became more profound, and he stayed in trouble with the law until he killed himself with the daemon rum. He told me one night in a rare alcoholic moment of truth that killing that one man did something to him that he hated, and had hoped for another of them to finish him off so he would not have to live with the memory of killing someone). But he had been indoctrinated.
Later that year we had a school play. All of the grades put on a skit, and my grade had to do with the United Nations. Remember, this was in 1967 or 1968, and the United States pretty much dominated the UN, except for the Soviet Union, one of the five veto nations in the body. At the risk of going on much, much too long, the United Nations was the bastard offspring of the League of Nations that Woodrow Wilson imagined. I am no fan of Wilson, because he was, in my opinion, out of touch with reality, but the League of Nations would have been a better organization. The United Nations was the Phoenix from the ashes of World War II, and even to this day the permanent members of the Security Council are the winners from World War II: the United States, France (yeah, buddy, they fought hard), the United Kingdom, Russia (they inherited the old seat from the Soviet Union), and Communist China (at that time China was represented by Formosa, now called Taiwan, since the UN was chartered before Mao finished dominating the Chinese nation. The criminals Nixon and Kissinger were very influential in getting Beijing rather than Taipei to represent the Chinese nation in the 1970s). In my opinion, the United Nations, whilst a hope for everyone, is outdated. Why allow the victors from World War II to dictate 21st century policy? But I digress once again.
Anyway, I was a kid at a red neck school in Hackett, Arkansas (look it up on the atlas), and was called on, like the entire class, to participate in a skit. Mrs. Bools (the term “Ms.” was unknown at the time) took the lead to organize the show. She had only been there about one term, and was the high school French teacher. The Hackett school system had never had a French teacher before, and did not again for many years, but she was there.
She was about, as I look in retrospect, around 45 years of age, unattractive (as a very young boy at the time, I remember this sort of stuff), and had a European accent. I think that she was a Communist plant (Glen Beck, please have me on your show! LOL!) In any event, we rehearsed this song, and I remember almost all of the words. Then we performed it in the cafetorium (that is the real word for a lunchroom with a stage on one side). The only structure that was larger was, of course, the gymnasium, where the gods lived.
I was so proud to have remembered the words to the song, and also to have two little flags in my hands that represented two nations in the UN. I remember the United Kingdom flag well, but, unfortunately, can not remember the other one. I remember the UK one because I was fascinated with the UK at the time, so that is not any wonder. I just wish that I could remember the other one with clarity. Hell, it has only been 45 years, why not remember it?
I do remember the song that we had to learn to sing. Music, even poor music, has a way of attaching itself to one’s memory. Here is my recollection of it, but only the words. If there is a reference for this tune on the internet, or for Ms. Bools, I would appreciate a link.
United Nations of the world
United Nations, flags unfurled
If there is trouble brewing
Don’t run for cover,
Let nations get together and talk it over.
United Nations, we’re for you
We will support each thing you do
So may all your flags be ever unfurled,
United Nations of the world.
I swear that this is the song that we were taught. And now folks cringe when a teacher leads a skit that admires an AMERICAN president. I know not what to say, but do know that the classroom is an environment wherein indoctrination can happen.
My point is that adults, if they are doctrinaires, will attempt to influence the thoughts of children at any opportunity. The problem is that many excellent teachers are brought into conflict by teaching good science, because some folks are offended by the “theory” of evolution. That is no theory; it is a natural law. But unschooled, super religious folks still take issue with it.
I will refine this essay a bit tomorrow and repost it, and work on the Pique the Geek one. I think, this time, that I will be really geeky and talk about the most seminal of all scientific literature, the Periodic Table.
Any other suggestions are always welcome.