After I posted a link to my short attempted intervention with Charlie Sykes on a blog-talk-radio show last week, my comments page lit up with all manner of accusers who were outraged by my inability to see the simple "truths" of the Sykes permanent campaign against too-tolerant teachers, indulgent parents and pampered children.
After avoiding my inquiries with a bemused "that’s not what I meant" to everything I brought up that he said he meant, I even got a grudging nod on Sykes’ vanity blog (which never seems to hold on to items very long these days, although I'm sure exceptions are made for the usual love letters from Scott Walker and David Clarke). Without mentioning me by name (Wing-nut Rule Number 1: Never acknowledge possibly worthy adversaries by name. Rule Number 2: Play up all lefty nutbags by name and proclaim them the "mainstream" of lefty thought), he proclaimed victory on behalf of himself and the gullible hosts of the show, one of whom, at least, claims personal knowledge of such injurious coddling by inferior parental units. Sykes claims to have taken particular pride in his comment that I "just wasn’t getting it".
So that's it, is it? If you don’t agree with Sykes or deign to challenge the phony premises of his sloppily-constructed "arguments", then you "don’t get it". Well, that’s easier than actually having to defend the nonsense that’s in the book. Among other things I "don’t get": the Iraq war, warrantless surveillance, wing-nut radio, etc. When I wondered out loud where, exactly, teachers were letting kids off with not knowing the value of pi, as alleged one Rule of his small, thin book, Sykes said he wasn’t saying teachers did this (although this is supposedly one of the rules "kids won’t learn in school" – I mean, it’s right there in the title of the book) and seemed to be saying that I shouldn’t take so seriously all this stuff he pretends to take so seriously when he’s not being directly challenged, which he never is.
Anyway, one of the hosts of the Dr. Blogstein show was so outraged about my lack of outrage about the daily damage to our poor coddled children, he splayed our whole conversation in my comments section on his blog and his comment page was thus lit up with helpful "I saw this happen" anecdotes and a side conversation about the ridiculousness of the No Child Left Behind "standards". The Blogstein crew made sure I was aware of a news item from just this week about a school in Colorado that was banning the game of tag on its playground. Right-wing sites across the internet made a point to play up the tag-banning as yet another example of the Coddle and the Damage Done.
Given this universally-accepted evidence of self-esteem and safety concerns run amok, what are we to make of this item in the paper on Sunday? It seems there is a growing movement – there must be, or else why would it be on the wires? – to raise the diaperless baby. Talk about not Pampering... Apparently taking Sykes and other scolds at their word, a new generation of parents is prepared to impose a Tough and Smelly Love regime on the pre-toddler set, from birth on. This can only lead to other you-figure-it-out practices later in life. Soft baby food? Hah! Suck on this carrot until you get some teeth in your head, you wimp. Toys? Here’s some sharp tools, blocks of wood and lead-based paint – make your own, you big baby. No reading books to these kids – they’ll have the books, alright, but they have to figure out what all those squiggly lines mean on their own.
I expect praise for the poopy-pants movement on the wing-nut blogs – until, that is, they figure out that the no-diaper experiments are probably being conducted by some back-to-the-land cult with a misplaced concern for disposable diapers that survive 3,000 years in landfills, or some other nutty notion like that. It is only a matter of time before they are rejected as reckless parents with a secret agenda to destroy Huggie Capitalism.
Well, you have your anecdotes and I have mine – that’s why they are called "anecdotes". Because Sykes can’t point to any studies, teacher training, or school board pronouncements that would, in the real world, establish a "trend", he pulls isolated incidents from various places on the planet, delcares the trend and dares anyone not to "get it". This campaign is like nothing so much as the phony "War on Christmas" that has become a holiday staple of the wing-nut talk shows. You take a banned Santa from a public park, mix in some lie about kids being banned from wearing red-and-green clothing in school and – voila! – you have another way that the secret leftist agenda is trying to Destroy You and the Way You Live.
Forget the Facts...it's the Fear that you'll remember...