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Teaching Children the Wrong Way


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Apr 21, 2012
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Birmingham, AL
There is this "great debate" raging across America regarding the presence of Confederate monuments. Previously, this same debate raged over the presence of the Confederate flag. In the future, will it be Confederate books or cemeteries? Al Sharpton is now suggesting we get rid of the Jefferson Memorial. Where does the scrubbing and cleansing of American history end? How far do we let this go before we understand there will never be enough to appease the offended?

From a purely intellectual standpoint, if we are erasing anything to do with past racist views, how do we avoid eliminating the Democratic Party? After all, they have a rich and storied history of supporting racist views. Indeed, it was Thomas Jefferson who essentially established the basis for the party. They were the party of the KKK and white supremacists. The party who fought to preserve slavery and later, segregation.

I don't want to get into a long meaningless debate over that. Instead, I want to focus on what is important to us as a society. We have an incredible responsibility to raise future generations of leaders. What message are we sending to them by constantly finding things to be offended by and calling for the removal of? How does that solve a problem? How is our society strengthened by continued insulation from all things offensive? What kind of hyper-sensitive creampuffs will this ultimately produce?

Aside from the fact this is a total mockery of free speech; non-offensive speech doesn't need protecting-- it actually reinforces the absolute wrong message to future leaders, our impressionable youth. Are they to believe that removing a statue or flag is going to change historical facts? If these symbols are no longer present, what will prompt a conversation or even basic inquiry? Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Child psychologists will tell you the most important attribute you can instil in a child to ensure emotional stability is resilience. Resilience is the capacity to quickly overcome difficulty. Toughness. My parents and grandparents generations had all kinds of sayings for this... Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. We learned as children to tolerate offensive things. Sure, we are free to speak out against grievous injustice. But how long before merely speaking out becomes an intolerable act that can't be permitted without offending?

We're teaching children the wrong lesson here. Rather than demanding statues and flags be removed from public display, we should be instilling resilience. We should be teaching these symbols only have power if we let them have power over us. Use these symbols as teaching opportunities or at least the gateway to an objective conversation. Being offended is not a violation of constitutional rights. It is an opportunity to learn about tolerance and instil resilience.


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Mar 31, 2009
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