So, I ask my daughter last Friday if she had any homework over the weekend. "Yeah, I have to watch some video for Language Arts."
"Why?" I asked.
"We have to write an essay on it later this week about why America is great."
I later watch my daughter punch up the video on our laptop, and it's this website:
Well, my wife and I watched the accompanying video, and it's like a disgusting highlight reel of many overplayed Fox News right-wing manufactured controversies over the last 2 years. The video is 40 minutes, but if you have the time, the only way to fully understand our outrage is to watch all the segments yourself as if you are the parent of an 8th grader who has to write an essay on it. If you can't watch the whole thing, you can at least get a flavor from the first embed of the introduction. (Diary continues below the embedded videos).
The full-length video lists certain American values that distinguish America from other countries in a way that makes America great.
For example, there is a segment touting freedom of speech. The segment highlights examples of censorship and of free speech and begins with a video snippet of Canadian students protesting Ann Coulter giving a speech as a setup to the dangers of unfair censorship. The video then shows a person (whom I'm fairly certain was tea-partier) screaming "you work for me!!" at a health care town hall meeting as an example of how great freedom of speech is.
The segment on how America is less racist than other countries uses a video clip of Jeremiah Wright's sermon to set up the issue of racism in America, and interviews Dinesh D'Souza to talk glowingly about how America is not racist anymore. (Yes, the same author who believes that Obama harbors resentment to the British because of its colonial rule of Kenya, and furthers the notion that Obama is more African than American http://mediamatters.org/... ).
The video just goes on and on citing its list of benign and relatively non-controversial American values, then showing a video segment of a "liberal" foil seemingly opposed or hostile to the value, and then Stossel's or some stooge's slanted take on what that value means to real Americans. This is all meant to present to middle schoolers and high schoolers the Fox News right wing world view. There's not even really a token attempt at context or balance. It's just, well...obnoxious.
To give you some context and setting on the school: we live in a politically conservative suburb; the school and the school system are generally just fine and my wife and I are satisfied that our daughter is well on her way to having a solid educational foundation as she (hopefully) heads to college; the school district did just have an ideological purging of nominally Republican long term school board members in favor of 'true belivers' from the tea party, along with a new Superintendent who came from a hiring process influenced by the American Enterprise Institute; the teacher herself has previously used contests on the internet as curriculum; the teacher also told the class today that she has not herself seen the video yet (which, although disturbing for other reasons, likely means the teacher is clueless on who Stossel is and is not necessarily some right-wing ideologue on a mission to change America).
We have tentatively concluded that the teacher saw a seemingly benign essay contest with the students having a chance to win $1500 and a trip to New York City, and thought it sounded like a good idea. We are less upset with the teacher than at what looks to be a very pernicious attempt by Fox News and John Stossel of spreading their worldview in a Trojan Horse essay contest to children across America.
We thought it important to highlight this contest via a diary, as we have not seen any mention of it on Media Matters or any other blog/watchdog of the Republican propoganda machine. We are also wondering if any other parents out there are having their kids subjected to this. Finally, the contest states that it is being sponsored by the Sandra and Laurence Post Family Foundation, and I couldn't find anything out about the foundation or the Posts themselves on the internet. Anyone know anything about the foundation or the Posts?
If there is a silver lining, our daughter is getting a great education this week from her parents on what really makes America great while also learning about the evils of propaganda generally and Fox News specifically.