Conservative media figures have used President Obama's planned back-to-school speech -- intended to encourage students to succeed and persist in their studies -- as an excuse to baselessly connect Obama and his education policies to William Ayers, a favorite bogeyman of the conservative media during the 2008 presidential campaign. A Washington Times editorial invoked Ayers while criticizing the administration's suggestions for student activities related to the speech, calling it "troubling in light of Mr. Obama's history of radical activism in schools," while Michelle Malkin claimed the speech amounted to "[a]busing and exploiting children" and said "[i]t all goes back to Bill Ayers in Chicago."
Secretary Duncan: Obama speech "about persisting and succeeding in school"
Duncan: Speech is about "the importance of education" and "persisting and succeeding in school." In an August 26 letter to principals, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described Obama's September 8 speech as being about "the importance of education" and "persisting and succeeding in school." Duncan also offered K-12 "classroom activities" to "engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives."
Media baselessly link speech to Ayers
Wash. Times: Administration's recommendations for student activities "suggestive of the Pyongyang public school system." Despite noting Duncan's statements about what the speech will entail, The Washington Times wrote in a September 3 editorial:
President Obama's planned address to America's schoolchildren on Sept. 8 is generating a firestorm of controversy from concerned parents who think he should mind his own business and stay away from their children. It's easy to see why.
According to an Aug. 26 letter from Education Secretary Arne Duncan to school principals, the president wants to "challenge students to work hard, set educational goals and take responsibility for their learning." He also will call for "shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible."
If the speech was simply limited to this kind of feel-good rhetoric, it would be harmless enough. But there is more to this noontime event than simply interrupting lunch. The Obama administration has recommended a series of activities before, during and after the speech intended to drill home the president's messages. Given that the teachers' unions are some of Mr. Obama's most ardent supporters, we expect that the supporting activities will have the feel of pro-Obama pep rallies.
In a move suggestive of the Pyongyang public school system, the U.S. Department of Education recommended that before the speech students collectively brainstorm questions like, "Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us?" Classrooms are to be festooned with "notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama's speeches about education," presumably alongside benevolent-looking images of the dear leader.
One of our favorite notable quotes was from a Sept. 9, 2008, speech in which Mr. Obama said that his administration would reform education "without mortgaging our children's future on an even larger amount of debt." This is a particularly salient passage in light of the fact this president is recklessly running up the national debt to unsustainable heights that our children (and their children and grandchildren) will have to pay for the rest of their lives. Class, talk among yourselves.
During the speech, students are to engage in a busy-work nightmare, writing down key concepts from the speech, trying to capture direct quotations, and afterward matching them up to key words "to increase retention and deepen their understanding of an important aspect of the speech."
This is troubling in light of Mr. Obama's history of radical activism in schools. This week, Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center revealed details of Mr. Obama's tenure as chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in the 1990s, where he forged a close partnership with self-described small "c" communist Bill Ayers. Under Mr. Obama's leadership, the group funneled $100 million to left-wing activists to promote a radical political agenda under the guise of education reform.
Radicals always have viewed children as wards of the state to be shaped into shock troops to advance their revolutionary agendas. It is an idea of ancient provenance. Plato said that "children must attend school, whether their parents like it or not; for they belong to the state more than to their parents." Every radical leader of the 20th century put indoctrinating children at the top of his agenda. So when someone with Mr. Obama's background reaches directly into every school in America, parents are rightly concerned.
The planned speech reinforces the lurking creepiness factor around the cult of personality being erected for this president. The White House is billing the speech as "historic," and perhaps they even believe it. But there is no reason for this federal intrusion into family and community affairs. It's not the president's job to be a surrogate parent, teacher or principal for America's children. He would better serve our kids by not bankrupting the country they will inherit.
Michelle Malkin: Obama education policies "rooted" in "Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers' pedagogical philosophy." In a preface to her September 2 Creators Syndicate column about the speech, Malkin wrote: "Downplaying academic achievement in favor of left-wing radical activism in the public schools is rooted in old neighborhood pal and Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers' pedagogical philosophy. It was the Chicago Annenberg Challenge way when the two served as board members of the educational foundation -- and it is the Washington Obama way now."
Malkin on Hannity: "[A]busing and exploiting children. It all goes back to Bill Ayers in Chicago." Similarly, on Fox News' Hannity, Malkin purported to make the same connection between Obama's education policies and Ayers, claiming "we're coming full circle with regard to the second story of them abusing -- abusing and exploiting children. It all goes back to Bill Ayers in Chicago." Later, Malkin said: "[T]his is not a merely a morale-boosting speech that he's giving. He's giving it in the context of his Obamacare plan completely under siege. We know that the left has always used kids in public schools as guinea pigs and as junior lobbyists for their social liberal agenda. And of course, as I said, it goes back to Bill Ayers. ... His pedagogical philosophy was to use the schools as tools for left-wing activists."
Limbaugh fill-in Steyn: Obama's speech is "consistent" with what "he learned in Chicago from William Ayers." On Rush Limbaugh's radio show, guest host Mark Steyn said that "President Obama is going to beam himself into every schoolhouse in the country and give an address to schoolchildren. I don't know how you feel about this, but it doesn't seem quite right to me. ... It doesn't seem entirely consistent with the idea of education, and it seems to be closer to what is a consistent part of the model here that he learned in Chicago from William Ayers, that essentially the public education system is a useful tool for getting children to be good subjects of the big government state when they grow up." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/02/09]
Conservative media accuse Obama of trying to "indoctrinate" kids with speech
New media smear: Obama will try to "indoctrinate" kids with his speech to advance agenda. Numerous conservative media figures have baselessly accused Obama of trying to "indoctrinate" America's children with his back-to-school speech. Sean Hannity claimed that "it seems very close to indoctrination," while Fox News commentator Monica Crowley said "just when you think this administration can't get any more surreal and Orwellian, here they come to indoctrinate our kids"; similarly, Malkin claimed that "the left has always used kids in public schools as guinea pigs and as junior lobbyists for their social liberal agenda."
Media routinely bring up dubious Ayers connection to smear Obama
Hannity says Obama "is Bill Ayers," he "is Reverend Wright." In an interview with Dick Morris, Hannity said on show that "but the idea, though, in his heart and in his soul, as you predicted and now you see the implementation of -- the radical socialist agenda, the weakening of our national defenses, his unwillingness to even speak out for freedom as we've been discussing, showing weakness with North Korea -- all these things. You think it's about what, who is this person? Look, I said this statement, and every time I say it, people say, 'Hannity, you're going over the line.' But I think he is Bill Ayers -- and not the terrorist. I think he shares the political ideology. I think he is Reverend Wright. I think he hid it well, but I think he's now implementing and proving me right." [Hannity, 06/22/09]
Limbaugh invokes Ayers during discussion of killings of Tiller, Long. On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said, "We've been warned, of course, that this guy, this whacko, this Scott Roeder guy that murdered the abortion doctor -- we got to be careful, we can't associate with these kinds of local terrorists. Has anybody -- anybody heard the name William Ayers? Here is a terrorist that launched President Obama's political career in Chicago with a fundraiser in his home. A man who proudly admitted to blowing up the Pentagon and wish he'd gone further. So we got a president who has associated with a domestic terrorist, is friends with him. Guy now runs education in Chicago, Bill Ayers." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/2/09]
Limbaugh: "A lot of what's going to happen in education, right out of Bill Ayers' curriculum." Discussing Obama, Limbaugh also said on his show that "a lot of what's going to happen, right out of Bill Ayers' curriculum, his extremist terrorist buddy." [03/30/09]
Savage fill-in Stigall: Obama kept Blackberry to communicate with "domestic terrorist" Bill Ayers. On Michael Savage's radio show, guest host Chris Stigall said:
STIGALL: Who do you suppose he's talking to on that BlackBerry? Who does he want to keep on his hip, in his pocket? Literally, on the BlackBerry. Who is it he can talk to, untraceable, by anyone and everyone, including the press, you and me. No one will ever get to see who he communicates with on that BlackBerry. Now, why would he want that kind of access, that kind of privacy, that kind of intimate communique? Who's he talking to? Certainly worth a discussion. It could be Ayers. Isn't it worth a discussion? Isn't it possible? Isn't it possible that his friends back in Chicago like Bill Ayers might -- might be someone he's talking to? Because after all, we cannot -- we cannot have White House records with a domestic terrorist on the line -- on the hard line. We can't have email exchanges with a domestic terrorist from the president that's actually traceable through the Freedom of Information Act. Can't have it. Bill Ayers can't be seen going into the Oval Office. Bill Ayers can't be on phone logs, he can't be traced on email logs. Ah, but that's where a BlackBerry comes in. [The Savage Nation, 03/09/09]
From the September 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
MALKIN: Now we're coming full circle with regard to the second story of them abusing and --
MALKIN: -- abusing and exploiting children. It all goes back to Bill Ayers in Chicago.
HANNITY: Well, I think a lot of people will be surprised -- and we'll get into this. Ann Coulter will join us and we'll talk about, well, an appointment he made of somebody that supports compulsory abortion, somebody that called America an imperialist nation after 9-11.
I want to move on. I want to ask you, though, I would not normally have a problem with any president that wants to address schoolchildren, wants to encourage them to study hard, to develop -- to learn, to have a great education, to inspire them that America is the greatest country and they can be all they can be.
But when you read the specifics here, what is the president asking me to do? How can I help the president? Now we're getting into an area where it seems very close to indoctrination, or, at least, has the potential. Your thoughts?
MALKIN: Well, my first thought is that people have to understand the context, the timing, and the culture of this speech. Although a lot of leftist and Fox bashers will make fun of us for calling attention to this event and say, what's the big deal? And they'll point to some sort of prepared text from Obama that looks very innocuous on its face.
But this is not a merely a morale-boosting speech that he's giving. He's giving it in the context of his Obamacare plan completely under siege. We know that the left has always used kids in public schools as guinea pigs and as junior lobbyists for their social liberal agenda.
And of course, as I said, it goes back to Bill Ayers.
HANNITY: All right. But let me ask --
MALKIN: His pedagogical philosophy was to use the schools as tools for left-wing activists.