What’s not to like about Obama’s back-to-school speech?

Today, as a Canadian, I witnessed political partisanship that is so over the top, and so beyond common sense, it is hard to know where to begin. No, I am not talking about Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff or Prime Minister Harper. I am talking about the Republican reaction to a back-to-school speech President Barack Obama gave to students in an Arlington, Virginia high school.

And, what did Mr. Obama say that so outraged Republicans? He essentially told the students that they should stay in school, study hard, find out what they were good at and pursue it, take full responsibility for their own behaviour and lives and be ready to contribute to the future of their country.  Here, for example, are some of the President’s own words:

  • Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is.”
  • “You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it,” Obama warned, adding “this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future.”
  • “What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country.”
  • “What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.”
  • “You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment.”
  • “You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free.”
  • “You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.”
  • “If you quit on school — you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.”
  • “At the end of the day, the circumstances of your life — what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home — that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude.”
  • “That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.”
  • “Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.”
  • “That’s the opportunity an education can provide.”

Republican reaction has been fast and furious — literally. The words and phrases to describe it: socialist brainwashing, indoctrinating kids with socialism ideology and proof of the worship of Barack Obama, the Pied Piper. 

Pardon me? How can the recognition of hard work, patriotism, self-reliance and  personal responsibility be considered socialist indoctrination?

I suppose the speech is in the ear of the beholder. But, from where I sit, I can only assume that Canadian conservatives are not at all like American Republicans because when I ask myself the question: What is not to like about Mr. Obama’s back to school speech? I would have to say nothing. It was an inspiring speech and probably one of the best I have ever heard.

Notes: This is from the google cache as I lost this post when I moved to a new hosting service. For the original 47 comments on this threat, check the cache here.

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