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article imageOp-Ed: What Ever Happened to Respect for the President?

By Sitafa Harden     Sep 3, 2009 in Politics
What's going on, America? Since when is it okay to treat a president with the lack of respect we have witnessed in the past weeks and months?
We have all heard about the health care town hall meetings where some people have shown up with loaded guns and even made blatant assassination threats.
Then, on Thursday parents and school administrators in six states accused the president's planned back-to-school address to the nation's children of being a socialist tactic to take over the minds of young people.
ABC News reports that the chairman of the Florida Republican Party Jim Greer condemned Obama's speechas an attempt to "indoctrinate America's children to his socialist agenda", and Minnesota congressman John Klein asked to have an advanced copy of the speech in order to ensure that the remarks would be appropriate.
According to MSNBC's The Ed Show, Fergus Fall, MN school superintendent Jerry Ness wrote in a letter to students' parents:
In a simpler and less contentious time, this would be a very welcome message. But we live in both a time of instant communications and a deeply divided nation in terms of political values.
A simpler time? I'm not sure what period Ness is referring to but it certainly was not anytime in the past eight years or in recent history at all for that matter. Further, the implication that the president would somehow seek to poison the minds of school children is insulting and downright ridiculous.
For the record, the subject of President Obama's address will be on the value of education. If by some wacked out, right-wing stretch of the imagination his speech is a socialist propaganda tool, I hope it includes at least this one subliminal message: Stop being so ignorant.
When citizens have legitimate concerns, complaints, or disagreements with presidential policies we are encouraged to engage in debate and open dialogue on those issues. Thankfully, everyone is free to exercise the cherished right to free speech and thought in this country. But when basic privileges that every previous president has been afforded, like speaking to school children without his words being prescreened, and, frankly, protection from being shot, are either questioned or altogether disregarded for President Obama then the situation becomes dangerous.
It is dangerous because these are the same seeds of derision that fostered the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War and the same kind of publicly endorsed indignity that allowed the institution of Jim Crow to flourish for so many years in this country. It is dangerous, too, because there is no way in heaven or hell that the American people will stand silently by and allow our nation to ever again descend to such a moral low ground.
This proliferation of disrespect has reached a level that has exceeded what should be considered safe and tolerable behavior toward a President. By ignoring the problem and hoping it will somehow just play itself out, I fear that we are in fact giving the green light to disgruntled conservatives and political extremists alike to continue stepping up their abhorrent actions. The good news is that people harboring such noxious sentiments appear to be isolated to a relatively small segment of the population. The bad news is that their antics consistently get them airtime on the evening news.
If this lack of respect was displayed in most U.S. corporate workplaces, heads would roll and the offenders would be warned and sent to sensitivity training at the least. Unfortunately, the leader of the free world seems to have less protections than the typical American office worker. I am ashamed that President Obama is being treated this way, but I am also immensely grateful that he is strong enough to bear this burden for all of us. Thank you, Mr. President, and please watch your back.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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