I like this clip of President Obama speaking forcefully and passionately, and I think, from the heart, about teaching our children to expect more from themselves.
Embedded video from CNN Video
Obama is speaking to the NAACP, but his message is pertinent to all of America, where we spend a lot of time telling our children how “special” they are, but don’t re-inforce that message by allowing them to really discover their uniqueness and individual genius by offering enough daily challenges and responsibilities.
I count myself in that charge. Although I tried to instill certain disciplines in my kids (and heaven knows they’re anything but social conformists), I know I also let some bad habits develop. Allowing laziness (or thoughtlessness) to become habitual in our kids really does prevent them from living out their lives to their fullest potential. I do bless the Boy Scouts (and their BSA-active Dad) in helping both boys realize their abilities in surprising ways.
Obama’s message is a good one, a positive and constructive message for all of us. “No excuses,” is a difficult and mature mindset that we do well to cultivate.
Barbara “Call me Senator” Boxer, on the other hand, betrays an ugly and condescending “soft bigotry” that delivers a bad message, a negative and destructive one, to the nation, and it is almost painful to watch. Thankfully, Harry Alford, President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce rejects her message, and gives us a better one:
Just how awful is Boxer, here? She not only plays the racist game of assuming that because she is speaking to a black man, he will undoubtedly be swayed by the opinions of other black people, but just listen to how she speaks to him. Such condescension! Her tone is creepily reminiscent of a kindergarten teacher’s; she doesn’t exactly speak to Alford in words of one syllable, but very nearly.
How proud Boxer is to repeatedly pronounce the word “div-er-si-ty,” as though it is a magical power word! And what disdain she shows when her target does not obediently bow down before that false idol!
When Boxer says, “Let me talk to you, this is friendly,” I don’t know how Mr. Alford managed to restrain himself from leaping across his table, yanking her tongue out of her mouth and beating her senseless with it. He did manage to let her know how out of bounds she was, but I think he was too much of a gentleman, and too respectful of where he was, to really lay her out with a verbal thrashing.
He should have let her have it; that was a “have you no decency” moment waiting to be articulated.
I suspect Barbara Boxer is not a particularly smart woman, and that she is so intellectually deficient (and ideologically obedient) that if anyone were to do to her what she did to Alford (i.e., if anyone had shown her various feminist opinions in order to demonstrate to her that she should not bother to formulate an opinion of her own, because “all of the right sorts of women think in this correct way”) she would not even realize that both her intelligence and her individuality had been dismissed and disrespected. She would just moo and fall in line. And she expects everyone else to moo and fall in line, too.
President Obama’s highlighted remarks about the need to challenge our children, and to let them know that we expect more from them – that they should expect more of themselves – are very welcome. We all of us would do well to adopt a mindset of “no excuses” and to apply it both to ourselves and to our press, our churches and yes, our political leadership; I welcome the notion that a “no excuses” president might therefore stop blaming his predecessor or his nation nearly every time he steps up to a microphone, that a “no excuses” congress might admit they have erred terribly in their earmarks, their pork and their overall spending habits, and then enact a “no excuses” reformation of their own corrupt and greedy body, that a “no excuses” press might ask real questions about broken promises on transparency, lobbyists and much more, and that “no excuse” bishops, ministers, rabbis and other clerics might challenge the rest of us by displaying great fidelity and humility to the creeds in which they profess to lead their respective flocks.
“No excuses” does not have to mean “no compassion,” or “no reasonable consideration.” But it does draw a line, and increasingly lines and boundaries are blurred in America, the most dangerously blurred being the lines between government authority and individual thought and liberty.
Barbara Boxer displayed a “soft” racism, but within it there was something even more insidiously destructive, a deliberate attempt to erase the distinct and intrinsic line – the one recognizing an American man as an individual, with valid powers, opinions, abilities and reasons of his own.
There is no excuse for that.
There is no excuse for lying to the pope. No excuse, at all. If you’re lying to a pope about an issue as important as human life, well…that’s pre-tty inexcusable.
There is no excuse for devaluing human life over bottom lines.
There is no excuse for calling the police and shutting constituents down when the people who elected you want to peaceably communicate their displeasure.
There is no excuse for destroying the middle class while trying to “save” a nation with an excellent and (if unmeddled with) rather self-correcting economic tradition.
There is no excuse for hating Trig Palin. Hatred of his disabilities and resentment of his very existence powerfully reveals your own deficiencies.
There is no excuse to driving down the dollar for political expediency
There is no excuse for doing all the things you say you hated other people doing.
There is no excuse to propose infanticide as a solution for population control.
There is no excuse for either of these stories or the double standards they expose.
There is no excuse for who you vote for. You cast your vote, and then deal with it.
There is no excuse for the sort of baseball the NY Mets are playing.
UPDATE: Per Hot Air, Harry Alford calls Barbara Boxer a racist – listen to the man – he pulls ZERO punches.
Last year, after Hillary’s “hard working white Americans” remark, we talked a little about racism, and I quoted a friend:
“…when you constantly need to go out of your way to mention someone’s race, or someone’s gender, or someone’s sexuality, it’s because you are conscious of it. And if you’re conscious of it, that means you’re not really “color-blind” or “gender-blind”. In fact, it means exactly the opposite. It means you’re fixated.”
It’s true. And if you’re fixated on race (or gender, sexuality, creed) then it is very difficult to see the person before you as anything but a member of a group-identity, rather than as an individual human being, worthy of your attention and respect.
There’s really no excuse for that, either.
Fausta has more, including another video with Alford “giving ’em hell.” Listen to the whole thing. Alford is not having any of what Boxer is pushing, and he is great – funny, irreverent and smart, and even moving; “the hug I got from my son afterwards told me I did the right thing.”
Also, check out Moe Lane