Because Melissa Harris-Perry is That Good, Limbaugh and Palin Are Attacking Her
You know that when people attack you with the craziest assumptions about what you have said and done, then you must be getting in their craw. The 35-second ad above starring the MSNBC host of her Sunday show, Melissa Harris-Perry, is currently upsetting the 1,000,000-pound sanctimonious blimp of hot air that is Right Wing Punditry.
Anything, and I do mean anything, to make Dr. Harris-Perry out as some kind of godless commie tool, when what she was really saying is that our responsibility as parents also extends to making our children the kind of responsible citizens—who as neighbors, voters, and members of a larger community are responsible for each other—that we need to carry on. But of course, these kinds of people are tone-deaf and have nothing else better to do or say, except to make big things out of nothing.
In her new “Lean Forward” ad, the MSNBC host argues that the U.S. should invest more in public education. “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,'” she says in the ad. “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.”
Last week, conservative media watchdog Newsbusters criticized Harris-Perry’s ad for its notion of collective responsibility. Newsbusters’ Ken Shepherd wrote that “the notion of collective responsibility for children was a philosophy that undergirded the Cultural Revolution in Communist China under Chairman Mao.”
The Daily Caller’s Jeff Poor reported that Limbaugh called Harris-Perry’s comments were “as old as communist genocide.” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reported that Beck characterized Harris-Perry’s comments as “My kids do not belong to me. My kids are not my kids. They’re the community kids.”
And the Witch from Wasilla who couldn’t finish her term as governor, chimed in on her Twitter feed:
Apparently MSNBC doesn’t think your children belong to you. Unflippingbelievable. http://t.co/o9Ap4wHxjv
Frankly, if they are losers like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin and their lower-case echo chambers, one does have to question what reality they dwell in. What Harris-Peary actually was saying is that it takes a village to raise children. Responsible adults in a neighborhood raising children by example, mores, and reason.
After all the acid that had been spilt on Right Blogosphere and Right Twitterverse, Dr. Harris-Perry delivered a “honey hush” by responding thusly on her Twitter page:
For those of us who aren’t practicing Christians as Harris-Perry, she said:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…
Harris-Perry’s attackers are all supposed to be devout bible thumpers, right? Matthew 5:44 is from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, and is one of the most important statements in the New Testament. It also differentiates the practice of Christianity from any other religion at that time, except for Buddhism.
One thing is for sure: I have no intention of apologizing for saying that our children, all of our children, are part of more than our households, they are part of our communities and deserve to have the care, attention, resources, respect and opportunities of those communities.
When the flood of vitriolic responses to the ad began, my first reaction was relief. I had spent the entire day grading papers and was relieved that since these children were not my responsibility, I could simply mail the students’ papers to their moms and dads to grade! But of course, that is a ridiculous notion. As a teacher, I have unique responsibilities to the students in my classroom at Tulane University, and I embrace those responsibilities. It is why I love my job.
Then I started asking myself where did I learn this lesson about our collective responsibility to children. So many answers quickly became evident.
I learned it from my mother who, long after her own kids were teens, volunteered on the non profit boards of day care centers that served under-resourced children.
I learned it from my father who, despite a demanding career and a large family of his own, always coached boys’ basketball teams in our town.
I learned it from my third-grade public school teacher, who gave me creative extra work and opened up her classroom to me after school so that I wouldn’t get bored and get in trouble.
I learned it from the men who volunteered as crossing guards in my neighborhood even if they don’t have kids in the schools…
And on and on. And I could add from my own experience, from my grandmother’s tenants who were also our neighbors, from the Wilsons across the street and the Smiths next door in my long-dead New Orleans childhood; from my California teachers, from the moms and dads of my playmates in San Francisco, East Palo Alto and San Jose.
Harris-Perry had one more thing to add. She doesn’t want anyone’s kids except her own. However,
I believe wholeheartedly, and without apology, that we have a collective responsibility to the children of our communities even if we did not conceive and bear them. Of course, parents can and should raise their children with their own values. But they should be able to do so in a community that provides safe places to play, quality food to eat, terrific schools to attend, and economic opportunities to support them. No individual household can do that alone. We have to build that world together.
So those of you who were alarmed by the ad can relax. I have no designs on taking your children. Please keep your kids! But I understand the fear.
We do live in a nation where slaveholders took the infants from the arms of my foremothers and sold them for their own profit. We do live in a nation where the government snatched American Indian children from their families and “re-educated” them by forbidding them to speak their language and practice their traditions.
But that is not what I was talking about, and you know it.
They know it, but their job is to parse people’s utterances in order to whip up fear. And in fear, people make stupid assumptions and follow that up with stupid mistakes. That whatever whites visited on us is going to be visited on them in triplicate, with no evidence whatsoever that it is going to occur, in a kind of lights-out, settler mentality, circle-the wagons revenge scene. So why continue to support what was insane then and disparage something that is far saner today?
I’ll never fathom the right-wing mindset, but I will help to smash its puny arguments to bits.
- Melissa Harris-Perry doesn’t want to steal your children (salon.com)
- MHP Responds To Limbaugh, Palin (huffingtonpost.com)
- There Is Nothing Controversial About Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC Promo (kstreet607.com)
- Melissa Harris-Perry Responds To Limbaugh, Palin, Beck With Simple Bible Reference (mediaite.com)