For the past month or so, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry has come under intense fire for a TV promo aired on the same channel. In the “Lean Forward” spot, she speaks on the flaws of the American attitude towards education and the notion of children as part of a community.
Harris-Perry said, “We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children …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.”
What conservative commentators heard was, “Children belong to the collective. communism. Give your children to the government. Communism. Socialism in schools. COMMUNISM!” Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and other great philosophers of our time all called out Harris-Perry for what they believed to be an advocacy for giving your child to the community and letting everybody else and the government be responsible for them. The Red Scare rears its ugly head.
As an active Democrat (I know, shocking!), I, of course, watch Harris-Perry and MSNBC all the time. I’m not going to try to deny that she and the channel have liberal leanings. We can’t all be “fair and balanced” like Fox, after all. But Melissa Harris-Perry and her ad are about as close to communism as Patrick O’Grady is to Francisco Franco. She didn’t say “collective,” she said “community.” Entire families belong to communities. There’s no reason that children, as part of those families shouldn’t be able to enjoy affordable education and benefit from a communal attitude from us all.
We should invest in the education system because everyone benefits when people are educated. Each generation ought to benefit from the generations before. What Harris-Perry was saying, and what the education system ought to reflect, is that we ought to be concerned with the betterment of all of our children, not with arbitrary test scores and dollar amounts. We, as a community and a country, should be concerned with all children, not just our own. No one is asking you to give your children to the government. No one is taking control from you as to how your children are raised. What we should be promoting is an education system and a collective attitude that benefits all, not the few and privileged. Raise your children; be responsible for your children. Care for everyone.
Perhaps if Coulter, Beck and all of their conservative (and some moderate and liberal, let’s be honest) constituents in Congress stopped yelling and hell-raising like Joseph McCarthy and started actually listening to people like Harris-Perry, they might learn a thing or two. Then we could all benefit from their education and some real, effective education reform could happen in this country.