Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Double Standard

Yesterday the Los Angeles Unified School District restructured the schedule of the entire district in order that all students might have an opportunity to watch the inauguration of president elect Barack Obama. Every class on campus here at Hollywood High School witnessed this historic event in the theater auditorium. This was essentially a mandatory event, one in which I chose to not attend.

Four years ago when then president elect George W. Bush was reelected to a second term, the mood on campus was anything but historic. Anger and animus were the order of the day. I do not recall being given the option of attending an inauguration for Mr. Bush that day, nor do I recall anything like the restructuring that occured yesterday.

While not a fan of either Mr. Bush nor Mr. Obama, I believe this sends a very bad message to our students. If indeed our roles as educators is to teach students to think and choose for themselves, this inconsistency is dangerous. While I understand the historic nature of the day, I am troubled by this double standard.


Blogger Michael Pascoe said...

I respect your comment on this issue, but to say there is a double standard is not understanding the importance’s of the events of yesterday.

First and foremost, the country just got rid of the worst president of all time. Bush’s assent to power was no different than Napoleon coronating himself. Bush’s reelection four years later was just as crooked, but less publicized than what occurred in 2000. I researched the election of ‘04 and what I found disturbed my allusion on how a democratic country should act.

But, here we are four years later and the worlds eight year nightmare is over. Would we still have the same pomp and circumstances over McCain? Maybe. But, what happened yesterday was far bigger than any inaugural of a president. It was the end of Jim Crow, to separate but equal, and the end of four hundred years of repression of a people that I think you should understand. In the United States, the Jews are treated well, (in contrast to how they were treated in other countries of course.) But historically, they too felt the same kinds of discrimination that American Blacks felt in this country.

The event was not a double standard. It was something that will be talked about in history books. Why not have the students witness this history for themselves?

3:38 PM  
Blogger Tony Forkush said...

Thanks Michael for your eloquent comments. Ironically, I agree wholeheartedly on your assessment of the last eight years and the damage that Bush and his cronies created. In addition, I agree on your take of the historical significance of the event, without question. We are in complete agreement here.

However, my post had to do with a double standard as regards the decision of LAUSD to honor one presidential event over another. While individual political affiliations are the purview of each teacher, to actually have an entire school district dictate that view to the detriment of any other point of view is dangerous in my opinion. This has nothing to do with the issues you discussed and everything to do with the inconsistencies of such decisions. My protest is valid in that any movement one way or the other by a supposedly neutral educational system to the exclusion of another (I'm getting redundant here)is unethical. I completely approve of individual teachers showing the inauguration at their discretion. The Long Beach School system agrees with me as well. They chose to leave it up to each teacher and not to have a district wide viewing.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Michael Pascoe said...

After Iran captured our citizens back in the late '70's, Americans started to wave the American flag again. The same was true after 911.

After Nixon left in disgrace, the office of the presidency took a hit. When George W. fucked things up, the same feelings shook our faith of the office.

When Obama was elected, there was a feeling of pride in our country and the office of the presidency. We will never know if the LAUSD would have done the same thing for McCain.

Not showing the swearing in of Bush is a reflection on him and his reign of terror. Besides, a precident has been set. Maybe future inaugurals will be shown.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Gerald Ollison said...

Jou muzt folo zee rulez und vatch zee teeVee et hum!

Are you really being genuine with yourself? Are you really such an ideologue, or are you using this argument to excuse your ongoing disdain? And when did either of those things happen?

Frankly, the disdain I can almost take. We’ve grown use to it. But an insincere argument about bureaucratic fairness over students watching this or that inaugural..? Pul-lease...

Look, occasionally you have to guard against making such strict idealogical arguments (like in the face of historical paradigm shifts-- yeah, I think that's appropriate), or it can strip you of your humanity. Mostly because ideals are abstract; not real; not life itself.

This is the reason why in the U.S., we have juries instead of lone judges. Sometimes the rules don't apply. And feelings do... We don’t always make the right decisions when we go against the rules, and go ‘with the flow’; but we’re only human after all. That’s our prerogative, to fuck up when we disobey the standards we set for ourselves... but more often than not going against the rules (and taking a little TeeVee time when a tyrant is kicked out of office) is our salvation; our grace.

This is why we laugh at the truth behind the statement from the movie 'Pirates of the Caribbean'; the line about the pirate's code, "...more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules."

This country was founded on rebellion after all.

We’ve all said this to you before, in one way or another: Lighten up, mien liebkin.

10:32 PM  
Blogger JamieB. said...

I think the LAUSD reaction is just to how the prevailing winds are blowing in this regard - not to bias or even double standard, as Forky asserts. In my Citi Bank branch, year before last, they had televisions set up during business hours for when the new pope was being chosen and introduced (the dude who sounds like one of Hitler's henchman, you know who I'm talking about.) It's not as big a deal as Forky, or even Jerry O going the other way, is making it out to be. It's just where people were at at that particular moment. And yet I find my sobriety on this matter rather boring and I'm tempted to withdraw the whole thing.

12:10 PM  
Blogger KB said...

Which other view were they supposed to offer? I'm not clear on this. I think Nickelodeon was inauguration-free. Perhaps a choice of networks, between CNN's tight closeups intermingled with Wolf Blitzer's teleprompted drone, or FOX with their regularly-intercut long-lens closeups of people in the crowd yawning and picking their noses?

Around here, the TV to-do was muted compared, say, to the World Cup game between India and Pakistan.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Gerald Ollison said...

Let me be clear about something-- I do not watch CNN (although I used to work for them) or any other cable channel; I do not have cable. My comments were primarily about whether Tony's 'double standard' argument was coming from a genuine place.

I think, Tony, you are being honest when you say you are not an Obama fan, but I also question that this is the ultimate source of your dislike of the inaugural festivities; and 'not' some trumped up principled concern for fairness over the televised rituals.

As for me making a big deal outa everything "going the other way". I suspect this comes from reading my asides about 'paradigm shifts' or a 'tyrant' getting kicked out of office.

To be clear, I think Obama is very perceptive and has excellent judgment, but I know he is a man and must have flaws. But I think he is a dignified man who attempts to stay moral, and who is sensitive to the pulse of history, and I believe he is brave; in short, I think he's mensch. That's all.

As for this moment in history...

I do believe this ‘time’ in history is a major shift, and this is why:

Didn't you watch the Apollo splashdowns when you were in school? I and almost every other kid I knew did. And I, for one, reminded my child's school principal of those space shot experiences when I explained that my son would be in late for scool, because we were keeping him in to witness the televised
inaugural event with his family.

Anyway, that picture of the Earth from the moon changed the perspective of an entire generation about or percieved place in the universe. Furthermore, for many of us who were children at the time, this concrete perception of Earth from out there is a ‘history’; it is past tense. It is therefore an inherant part of our everyday reality. Most do not question its possibility; nor its myriad implications. It is simply a fact of our existence.

I had an aunt who, for years after the moon landing, continued to argue that this could not possibly have happened. For her it still just could not be!

I'm sure most of you have heard by now via some media outlet or other, from various blacks, that they did not believe they would see a black president in our lifetime!

But I question if you’ve thought through the depth of the scarring this statement comes from.

When I was a child a met my great grandmother once. She was bedridden in an old broken down house, had had one leg amputated, and had been the daughter of slaves and, I was told, had even been a slave herself...

You are reading the writing of a person who talked to their relative, who was the daughter of slaves. Many of the people who never thought they'd see a black president, personally 'knew' their slave relatives. It’s like speaking to a relation who was a Holocaust survivor. The scars are that deep.

I do not blame you but I believe, because some of you appear to question the paradigmatic nature of this shift, that the healing nature of this single event may be unperceivable to you.

But for our children, whatever else they may believe... They will never even question the reality of this time. It is ‘past tense’. They will never know this event as an impossibility because for them it is a ‘history’. It has already happened...

And from here on out, everything is very, very different.

10:42 AM  

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