Strange cheerleading on collectivism and children on MSNBC promo

I’m not often surprised by what I see on political-argument TV, but this odd, sinister promo from MSNBC talker Melissa Harris-Perry surprised me. It’s a call for parents to cede more of their authority over the children to the state. Here is what Harris-Perry says:

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s we start making better investments.”

We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” That’s kind of creepy. I wonder if Harris-Perry has ever moved away from the faculty, or MSNBC lounges and encountered a mother or papa “bear” who doesn’t regard parenthood as a “private idea” and feels he or she ought to be first in line when it comes to their “cubs’” welfare.

Harris-Perry is also wrong on dissing our investments in public education. As this OECD report shows, our investments in education compare well with the rest of the world. From the report “… the U.S. spends 7.3% of its GDP on all levels of education combined. This is well above the OECD average (6.2%), and more than all other OECD  countries except Denmark (7.9%), Iceland (8.1%), Korea (8.0%) and New Zealand (7.4%) … Across all levels of education, annual per-student spending by educational institutions in the U.S. is higher than in any other country.”

Matt Lewis, writing for The Week magazine, has pointed out the unfortunate connection between Harris-Perry’s promo to this passage to George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984:”

The family could not actually be abolished, and, indeed, people were encouraged to be fond of their children, in almost the old-fashioned way. The children, on the other hand, were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations. The family had become in effect an extension of the Thought Police. It was a device by means of which everyone could be surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately.”

To me, Harris-Perry’s cheerless rant is more reminding of the dreary Obama campaign ad, “The Life of Julia,” where the president’s campaign team pitched the state as the primary supporter of a woman throughout her life. I don’t think Harris-Perry intends sinister motives. She merely underscores MSNBC’s role as the cheerleader behind the Democratic Party’s tilt toward more collective, statist policies. I find it very interesting that this promo, which must have gone through several reviews and approvals at the news network, made it through to the airwaves without objections.

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19 Responses to Strange cheerleading on collectivism and children on MSNBC promo

  1. TV says:

    Oh my gawd! Like that’s what she said … like that’s what she meant … like that’s what she inferred … like, like, like. And you are surprised by the strange commentary from political-argument TV. Orwell, indeed! The typical joke is that within 10 frames of an argument, the words “nazi” will arise. Replace Nazi with Orwell and you might being to see why it is that we seem to fight about anything rather than debate in ways that will move us forward. A less-Orwellian interpretation of her statement is that we (my county school taxes, for instance) ALL are investing in ALL of our lives when we begin to see value in making society better for our neighbors’ children too. No, we don’t want their kids; we their kids to grow up to be productive members of the society in which we all live. America, we call it. You can call it 1984.

  2. Steve says:

    The only way this become “creepy” or “sinister” is if you purposefully misinterpret the promo. You take it from “we all need to be involved and invested in the education of all our children” to “Orwellian Nazi goons are coming for your kids and Melissa Harris-Perry is showing them where you live!”

    There’s also a very narrow definition of “investment” on display here. To truly invest in the future of our kids takes a lot more than just throwing money at school districts. It takes involvement from the community; it takes making education a priority instead of an easy scapegoat; it takes expanding curriculum rather than attempting to narrow it to strict sectarian dogmas (I’m looking at you Intelligent Design and Abstinence Only programs).

    This is only sinister, in other words, if you think an educated generation of children is somehow a threat.

    And, I think we need a Godwin’s Law-type phrase for those people who over-use Orwellian the same way some people over-use Nazi.

  3. Asa says:

    I would have thought there would have been more outrage over this, but then I remembered it was on MSNBC. It will probably be seen by more folks here than the dozen or so devoted MSNBC viewers.

    • hawg says:

      “the dozen or so devoted MSNBC viewers.”

      who also probably have hyphenated names. pretty much explains that for me.

  4. Michael Trujillo says:

    TV and Steve covered what I was going to say about your bizarre interpretation of what this woman was saying in the promo. (BTW, do you realize that your email heading for this link that you sent says “sinister prom” rather than “sinister promo”. I started reading the blog with an entirely different expectation. Hahaha.)
    But I digress -
    What I’d like to mention, that the others have not, is your odd cherry picking of figures from the OECD report. The overall findings in this report are not very glowing for the U.S.’s educational attainment and the money spent on education. You money wonks are pretty good at messaging numbers to make your point, but the percentage of GPD we spend on all levels of education didn’t really jump out at me. What
    DID jump out was:
    1. The U.S. ranks 14th in the world in the percentage of 25-34 year-olds with higher education (42%).
    2. The odds that a young person in the U.S. will be in higher education if his or her parents do not have an upper secondary education are just 29% — one of the lowest levels among OECD countries.
    3. Teachers in the U.S. spend between 1 050 and 1 100 hours a year teaching – much more than in almost every country.
    4. Early childhood education in the U.S. is somewhat less established than in other OECD countries, especially in Europe…

    And on and on. What I get from this report, Dougy, is that we’re spending money, but we’re not educating very well. We’re cutting back on public funds for education and relying on private funds to make up the difference. (I’m no economist, but it seems to me that relating the percentage of GPD that goes into education spending is a sneaky way of throwing the scent of the fact that public funds are decreasing. Besides that, the problem with private funds paying for so much of education is that the privat donors get to say who gets their money. Kind of an economic segregation of resources, you might say.)

    Ach. This report is too long to go into more detail. Suffice it to say that it does NOT paint a glowing picture of education in the U.S. But how nice of you to comb through it to find a piece of data that, taken out of context, supports your argument.

    I also want to congratulate you for relying so heavily on an international study done by an international group ala the U.N. whose U.S. Ambassador is an avowed Democrat who worked for Kerry and then Obama. See, you CAN be non-partisan when you try.

  5. ScottH says:

    I always cringe when I hear someone use the word “investment” in the political arena. In political speak, “investment” = wealth transfer from private citizens to the government sector, its favored groups, and its politically connected cronies.

  6. Nicole says:

    I totally agree, Doug. It’s creepy. But one man’s creepy, is another man’s “hey, let’s go with this!” Democrats increasingly cannot seem to think of any decision or piece of property that shouldn’t be collectivized. Except, of course, when it comes to abortions! Then, what you do with your children is a PRIVATE choice, all the way!

  7. Pingback: Strange cheerleading on collectivism and children on MSNBC promo - StandardNet (blog) | Cheerleading Forever!

  8. TV says:

    “Can’t be resolved in compromise?” How about this as a compromise: Both parents and government are responsible for instilling values in children. Tough compromise, I know, to think that we all have a stake in the matter. Oh, I could call it an “investment” in the matter, but then Conspiracy-Scott will think I’m just out to take his money.

    BTW: Education already is “collectivized” (and has been for a long time in this country), except those of us who take deep, slow breaths instead of gasping at collectivist conspiracies just call it regular old public education.

  9. Bob Becker says:

    The leap from the to the totalitarian terror of “1984″ from an MSNBC tv promo is customary among thr tinfoil hat paranoia brigade on the fringe right. It is a rare and unfortunate thing to see it in the conservative but normally non-paranoid columns of Mr. Gibson. The sky is not falling, Doug, and the role of Chicken Little ill-suits you.

    • Doug Gibson says:

      Bob, we have a problem with the deterioration of the family structure and its traditional strength. We both agree with that, I’m sure. Do we favor a commitment policies that strengthen the family structure or do we increasingly outsource that responsibility to government, where people are paid to instill values in children? I’m not sure that’s a question that can be resolved in compromise.

      • Bob Becker says:

        Your assumption that only “traditional family structure” can and does instill admirable and desirable values in children is demonstrably false. I know parents of “traditionally structured families” whose values, I’m certain you would agree, stink. And they’re passing them on to their children. And I know non-traditionally structured families in which admirable values characterize the parent ( often it’s only one) involved, and the children display the same. Traditional family structure is NO guarantee that values both you and I treasure are being modeled and taught, and a non-traditional family structure is absolutely NO guarantee that they aren’t.

        As for contracting-out the teaching of admirable and desirable values, I’m not quite sure what you mean. I do know that I very much want the public schools to help instil a whole range of democratic ( small d) values in the children in their charge. Absolutely. Honesty for example. Of couse parents of any sort of family ought to be teaching the importance if honesty to children in their charge. But so should the public schools… just by way of one example. There are many many others.

      • Michael Trujillo says:

        Doug, there is no deterioration of the family structure. You are sorely mistaken if you believe there has been one model for the family unit through History. You’re so afraid of anything that seems to stray outside your accepted idea of what’s right or wrong, normal or abnormal, good or bad. This is the best time to be alive in human history. You’re healthier, safer, and more prosperous than you could have been at any other time. What ever you view as a deterioration must actually be what’s bringing about these changes.

        Beyond that, you’re being intentionally alarmist by making vague pronouncements about the “deterioration of the family.” What, precisely, do you see as a deterioration? Sloppy writing, as usual. But, evidently, the folks i No. Utah don’t hold you to a higher standard, so why should you strive to be a better reporter?

  10. Decider says:

    Gay marriage is, of course the “deterioration” du jour that is the TRUE subject of Doug’s blog — it has been carefully hidden behind the conservative slime encrypted, nonsense jargon of ‘collective’, ‘family structure’, traditional strength’, and Doug’s go to boogeyman, ‘DETERIORATION’ — words that do not mean anything, but offer refuge from reality and a solace to be had by indulging one’s prejudice, bias, and self righteousness.

    • Bob Becker says:

      Mr. Gibson doesn’t usually hide his intentions in his columns. He’s generally up front about what he means. I often disagree with him on matters of public policy. I disagree with this column for example. But he doesn’t dissemble much that I’ve see. I think if the “true intent” of this column was to attack gay marriage, he’d have said so.
      That said, I agree with you that his use of the term “values” needs more precise definition than he gives it here. And that conservatives in general have so abused the term “traditional family values” for political purposes that,beyond those pokitical purposes, it doesn’t have much substantive meaning left.

      • Decider says:

        If not about gay marriage, then what beliefs or positions would Doug have expressed would have been ANY different? — a distinction without a difference is still something logically identical.

        • Bob Becker says:

          Mr. Gibson, in his interview in the SL City Weekly goes on record saying he isn’t opposed to gay marriage (largely on libertarian grounds). And as I recall he’s said the same here previously.

          As to what decline in values he did mean, we agree that his essay needed greater specificity on that than it has.

          • Decider says:

            Doug Gibson NOT arguing that gay marriage is “deterioration” on MANY levels, and also a sinister part of that “collectivization” degradation/degeneration that he abhors? It is too much to get my head around — sorry Bob.

            Being ‘NOT OPPOSED’ to gay marriage on libertarian grounds . . . means what, exactly?

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