Talking Cultural Diversity

a discussion board for cultural and diversity issues by Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis

Mom was Furious

By Jean Mavrelis - 09.17.2009

My 89-year-old Mom called me in tears.  She picked up a neighborhood newspaper and read that schools gave parents an option to have their children NOT hear “Our President Obama’s back-to-school message”.  Through her enraged tears she demanded, “What is happening – I don’t understand – why wouldn’t Americans want their children to hear our President?”

My Mom is from what Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation” – the World War II generation.   For her, respecting the President of the United States trumps every other consideration – including race, ethnicity, or gender.   Mind you, my mother used to stand in the living room when they played “Hail to the Chief” and Republican President Eisenhower came to the podium.

Isn’t this basic respect what is behind the outrage about Joe Wilson yelling “you lie” as the President addressed congress? I beef as much as anybody about politicians, but yelling disrespectfully at the President as he formally addresses congress feels like desecrating the flag.

2 Responses so far

I had a similar experience as a child (age 7), growing up in a right-wing household. When President Carter was elected, I was apoplectic. Of course, I had heard at home that President Carter would be disasterous for the nation, our economy would tank, ERA would pass and eliminate single-gender restrooms, and people would be able to marry their dogs (sound familar?). So, as any 7-year-old might do, I announced at school that the country was going to hell in a handbasket. The problem? My dad was on the school board.

Well, naturally there was a conversation among my teacher, the principal, the superintendent and my father. And I got a stern lecture: even though Mr. Carter was not our family’s choice for President, he was still the President, and therefore entitled to 100% of my respect.

All this went away during the Clinton administration with the rise of talk radio, when it became fashionable to be disrespectful.

lol what a great story! And point well taken on how talk radio undermined respect for the office.

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