Its a column night, as I always say Tuesday morning. Of course its the morning to you, but grim thin night to me now, as I try to hammer out something to post before I put my head down and bellyflop into Lethe. Last weeks column is over at Jewishworldreview.com, and this weeks column will be there eventually. When its done. Its a hard day to find something to write about - too much news. All the major chin-pullers will be thrashing the obvious, and I try not to be just another voice braying the company line. No one needs the 549th column about how the capture of Hedgehog Khalid means we can fight a war against Al Qaeda and Iraq. But the capture of that hairy sod made me recall a comment made by George Clooney a while ago. You know Clooney - small mind, big chin. I used to enjoy his movies, but thats been spoiled by reading some interviews with the chap. The most famous was the recent Guardian interview, where he made this brilliant remark:
"Listen to the language! 'Evil'? 'Nexus of evil'? 'Evil-doer'? That's my favorite, 'Evil-doer'! What's wrong with their vocabulary? Couldn't they come up with 'schmuck'?"
Lets go over Khalids vitae (courtesy Opinion Journal / Best of the Web)
He helped kinsman Ramzi Yousef bomb the World Trade Center in 1993. He hatched plots, never carried out, to bring down U.S. airliners over the Pacific and to assassinate President Clinton and the Pope. He may well have masterminded--officials aren't sure yet--the deadly assault on the U.S.S. Cole off Yemen and the U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa. Accomplices told Pakistani police that Mohammed slashed the throat of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl a year ago. And everyone agrees on his culpability for one other crime: directing the 9/11 attacks in New York City and Washington, the worst terrorist acts in history.
Well, George? What would you call this fellow? Schmuck-plus? A Schmuck-doer? Khalid al-Schmuq? The Schmuckmeister? Schmuckerino?
Its like Jimmy Stewart in 1941 giggling over Roosevelts speech. Listen to his language - infamy! Whats wrong with that cripple? Couldnt he say it was payback for the oil embargo?
Itll be evil to George when they bomb Cannes.
But. Well. Its a Monday, and while that means I spend too much time marinating in the news, it also means I get to retreat to the Pure Idyllic World of Gnats Monday playgroup at the Mpls Public Schools ECFE program. (Early Childhood Family Education.) While she plays I join the troupe of moms for a weekly download of joys and concerns, as theyre called. Each week the facilitator passes around a big binder with handouts and announcements that might be useful to parents. Honest to God, I do not examine this thing looking for Signs of the Blue-Helmet Hegemony, but sometimes things just leap out and require attention. This week the big binder had a newsletter from an organization that preaches peaceable parenting, and as someone who has freely chosen not to model my parenting skills after Mike Tyson, I was interested. There was a section on explaining the war to your children.
What if your child asks this: What about bad people who try to hurt us, like Saddam Hussein? The answer to this question will vary according to the age of your child. Young children need lots of reassurance. Tell them that Mom and Dad will always protect them and when they are in school, their teachers and principal will do everything possible to keep them safe from any threat. Then, tell them about the United Nations, and stress that the UN was formed to help the countries of the world live together in peace. Let them know that the United Nations is working on exactly that right now. Also tell them about the World Court and how this was set up to bring bad people to justice.
Now. Whats missing? Class? Anyone besides Martin? Right: the United States government is missing. The author just skips over that one, because it might lead to an uncomfortable discussion about soldiers, and that would defeat the entire point of peaceable parenting. (As well as rev up all the boys who are pointing paintbrushes at each other and shouting BANG.) Children do not need to know there are soldiers who will defend them. They need the sort of ironclad, monster-proofed, nightmare-banishing power that the WORLD COURT can provide. Dont worry about the boogeyman under the bed, honey; daddy will petition some Belgian jurists to issue an injunction, and if you really think theres a monster in the closet we can send in some inspectors. Whats that? The monsters are invisible? Well, we'll have muscular, robust inspections, then. Eh? Leave the hall light on? Well, well put it to a vote, but I hope you understand that some people think the monster has a valid claim to your closet, and if we keep the closet closed we can contain him. Now go to sleep.
It gets better:
- Tell your children that what we put our energy into is what we get. Over the past 70 years or so, our country has become very focused on war. Huge amounts of our financial resources, technological advances, and intellectual energy have gone toward developing the ways of war. We have neglected creating the ways of peace. If we put as much energy into developing the ways of peace, we would stop seeing war as the only option.
Yes, thats America: focused on war since 1933.
This is what the public school system in Minneapolis wants me to tell my 2 1/2 year old daughter.
In all fairness: I raised the issue with the groups facilitator, just as I did the last semester when the Earth Pledge, Million-Mom-March and the March for Peace fliers were included in the big binder. As before, I didnt object to the materials inclusion, just the lack of balance. As before, the facilitator grasped my objection in a trice, and even though I sense that shes inclined to side with the material, she gets it. This is tripe. This is mendacious drivel. Failing to teach children that the United States is more important to their lives than the United Nations and the World Court is educational malpractice.
I intend to send Gnat to public school, but Im already weary - if this is the sort of stuff that creeps into preschool, I wonder whats coming down the road.
More wisdom from the handout:
If your children ask, What if another country attacks us? tell them that by working with as many countries as possible, eradicating hunger, poverty, and preventable diseases, it will be less likely that this will happen. Tell them that is very important that all of us work to prevent the conditions that lead to war, and these are some of the root causes.
Other things we can do are: Be willing to not build as many nuclear weapons so that other countries dont feel they have to build them to keep up with us.
Also let your children know that there may be certain instances where we have no choice but to protect ourselves like if we were directly attacked, but this isn't happening now.
Right, right. That happened before, not now. I feel so much better.