I'm currently in New York, looking for a place, but I've lived much of my life in Austin, Texas. Since this blog is about southern matters, I thought I'd start with some news from my hometown. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Austin schools will start "teaching values." Midway through a formulaic speech, the Austin Superintendent of Schools departed from his script and said
"We've got to counteract MTV, folks," Forgione said to an audience that quickly began nodding its agreement. "There's messages out there that are not acceptable, and our kids are picking them up."
They will be asking the help of local businesses and civic organizations in teaching what they have deemed to be "universal values," with a month devoted to each of the "touchstone values" -- caring, courage, fairness, honesty, integrity, perseverance, respect, responsibility, self-discipline and trustworthiness.
It's interesting that MTV is seen as the main thing to "counteract." Not that I care for the values implicitly espoused on MTV, but can't we find more serious targets?
Caring: Tom Delay. His extreme empathy for Terry Schiavo, whose life must be preserved at all costs, doesn't exactly jibe with his attitude toward the tsunami victims. On January 6, at a Congressional Prayer Service, where others were presumably uttering banalities about the horror of the tsunami, Delay thought it more appropriate to recite Matthew 7:21-27 about the wise man who built his house on a rock and the fool who built his house on sand -- i.e., saying that the tsunami victimes brought it on themselves.
Courage: Rush Limbaugh, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and all the other fanatical war hawks who, like Cheney, "had other priorities" than going to the Vietnam War (which they also supported).
Fairness: The new bankruptcy bill, which keeps the loopholes used by the rich to avoid paying their creditors but destroys the ability of the poor and lower middle class to start over again.
Honesty: Where to start?
You get the idea. Ever since that ridiculous exit poll question last November, pundits, Democratic politicians, and the chattering classes in general have been losing whatever little intellectual ability they had left. Apparently, to them "moral values" are more important to voters than politics; few are the people who dare to suggest that politics is about moral values (many of us on the left do, but few of us really work through it and present it effectively). Even fewer are those who might say that the instillation of state-sponsored "moral values" in helpless, captive audiences might be a cure worse than the disease.
Initiatives like this one in Austin are, of course, nothing new. They're just a re-packaging of all the crap anyone my age or older who grew up in this country, especially in the south, had to deal with every day in school. The forced recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the idiotic "inspirational" lectures in the school auditorium in which somebody always slipped in a reference to God, the course on "free enterprise," the insipid textbooks talking about America's progression from greatness to greatness, etc., etc.
The Democrats learned from the election not that they should present warmongering, torture, lies and hypocrisy as immoral, but that they should "me-too" the Republicans on most of the big issues and "soften" on one of the few issues where a majority of people identify Democratic -- abortion.
You'd think that those concerned with morality might pay some attention to the recent AP report concluding that at least 108 people have died in U.S. custody since the "war on terrorism" started -- a staggering figure even for your average police state.