Friday, January 14, 2011

Althouse's Gratuitous Turdism

In the wake of the Arizona shootings, the First Lady tossed off some bland pieties about nice things we should teach our children. No biggie, right? First ladies and bland pieties go together like cookies and milk, which is itself a good subject for first ladies. Here's a taste of her sweet and very first-ladyish homily:
We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis.  And we can help them do that in their own small way – whether it’s by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.

We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us.  We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.

We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families.  We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it. 
Nothing to see, right? Bland homilies. Pretty common Christian values about love and idealism. Blah, blah, blah. Next!  Right? Nope. If you're Ann Althouse, it's grist for the mill. It's an opportunity to take a nit-picking mean-spirited swipe, so that your idolators in the comments can use the word libtard. What fun:
... some of the individuals among us are, in fact, mentally sick and need something other than tolerance and wishful thinking about how good they might be? So why is the First Lady telling us to teach kids the opposite?...Some people seek power for the wrong reasons or go astray after they've reached power....It would make more sense to teach creationism instead of evolution than to teach these wishful lies about government... .
Silly me, for thinking that"wishful lies" by another name might be "simplifications for young children's minds." Teach the ideals first, in a way that makes sense. Exceptions can come later.

Here's the thing: I'm the first to agree that we need to analytical and critical, and perceptive, as Althouse asks. But any developmental psychologist can tell you that the capacity for such analytical thinking is quite limited in kids. Is Althouse really such a imperceptive and gratuitious turd in the punchbowl as to think we shouldn't ever raise our children with a little bit of hopeful idealism? Won't they have the rest of their lives to learn about the exceptions? Do we really want 8 year old kids in grocery stores asking "Mommy, is that man buying probiotic yogurt a libtard?

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