Obama’s stupid crack about parochial education

Much is being made of Obama’s speech in Ireland, in which he managed to insult parochial education.  Catholics seem most disturbed, perhaps because (a) most parochial schools in America are Catholic and (b) Obama has been at war with the Catholic church by trying to make churches pay for abortifacients and birth control, which is a big First Amendment no-no.

Reading what Obama said, there’s no doubt that, once you work your way through his sloppy formulation, it’s right up there with the best of Obama’s offensive statements:

Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity–symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others–these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it,” said Obama. “If towns remain divided–if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs–if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.

“Ultimately, peace is just not about politics,” he said. “It’s about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don’t exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.

“And I know, because America, we, too, have had to work hard over the decades, slowly, gradually, sometimes painfully, in fits and starts, to keep perfecting our union,” said Obama. “A hundred and fifty years ago, we were torn open by a terrible conflict. Our Civil War was far shorter than The Troubles, but it killed hundreds of thousands of our people. And, of course, the legacy of slavery endured for generations.

“Even a century after we achieved our own peace, we were not fully united,” he said. “When I was a boy, many cities still had separate drinking fountains and lunch counters and washrooms for blacks and whites.”

I actually understand what he’s trying to say:  in a country riven by past sectarian violence, it’s dangerous to perpetuate sect identity.  Put another way, he’s saying that the only way to live together in harmony is to abandon religion entirely.  “Hey, come on, guys!  We know you’re incapable of living together, so let’s just go all Soviet and renounce religion entirely.”

Understood properly, not as a slap at the Catholic church, but at the notion of jettisoning religion and religious identity entirely, Obama’s remark is even more stupid than it first appears.  He’s my age, so he should know exactly what happened when the stifling Soviet yoke was removed from regions that had mutually hostile religions that were suppressed under Communism:  they exploded into orgies of violence.  Suppressing religion didn’t make these hostilities vanish; it made them fester.  (Think:  Kosovo.)

James Taranto figured out that Obama’s problem is that he sees everything through a Civil Rights filter, despite never having lived through Civil Rights.  (He was only three when the Civil Rights Act was passed; he was in Indonesia when the last gasps of Jim Crow worked their way through the system; he was at a fancy school in Hawaii where Civil Rights were not an issue; and he emerged as a young adult into an Ivy League world.)  Here’s Taranto’s take on another facet of Obama’s colossal ignorance:

Note that Obama is talking–or attempting to talk–about Northern Ireland, a country that is unusual within Christendom for its recent history of sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. His comments make a certain superficial sense in that context, whereas they would be completely out of place and objectionable in reference to America, where pacific pluralism is the rule.

Note also that Obama doesn’t actually seem to know anything about Northern Ireland. Viewed in context, his comments are actually a homily about civil rights in America. His criticism of Catholic and Protestant “schools and buildings” is just a poorly thought out analogy: It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that while there’s no good reason to segregate schools by race, there are differences in content between the education offered by Protestant, Catholic and secular schools.

Obama is why I’m sour about the Ivy League schools.  They take in bright people (and I do think that Obama is innately bright) and turns out ignoramuses, who have no real knowledge, just a warped ideological framework to which they try to attach, however, poorly, what situation greets them at any given moment.  Obama’s not the only example of this problem; he’s just the most embarrassingly prominent.

One more point worth noting, although I’m far from the first to make it, is that Obama would never have the courage to argue that religious teaching leads to violence if he were in a Muslim country.

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  • Cheesestick

    And he doesn’t seem concerned about Muslims having their own segregated schools here in America either.  

  • gpc31

    Streetwise Bobby Rush, who handed Obama his only electoral defeat in 2000, said back then that Obama “went to Harvard and became an educated fool,” and “We’re not impressed with these folks with these eastern elite degrees.”
    And to cap it off:  “Barack is a person who read about the civil rights protests and thinks he knows all about it.”

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Obama would be perfectly happy if Ireland converted to Islam 100%. Religion is only a problem when that religion is an enemy of the Left.

  • Ron19

    I thought “The Troubles” was between Irish, who are mostly Catholic, and English, who are mostly Anglican, not the other way around.

  • Spartacus

    1) “[applause] Thank you. [applause] Thank you. [applause] Thank you… thank you very much for that very warm welcome.  Michelle and I have been truly humbled by the warm welcome extended to us by this beautiful city.  And we consider ourselves blessed to live in a time when our nations can work together so harmoniously together to try to bring about a better world in which citizens of different nations can interact freely and share ideas peacefully so that each and every one of us has the opportunity to reach, in freedom, our maximum potential and to help make the world a better place.  And without further ado, I would like to turn the microphone back over to [whatever local politician is waiting to speak next].”
    What would be so wrong with that?  Where exactly does he get the itch, when handed a microphone in a foreign country, to start lecturing the people there, and to do so with a strong dose of ignorance?  He’s on the green, looking at a 2′ putt — why must he grab a nine-iron and swing as if at Ted Cruz’s head?
    2) As the most willfully divisive POTUS ever, who divides to conquer as a matter of habit, isn’t he an odd one to be lecturing anyone on the subject of unity?  And, hello?  Empathy?  Him?  Is he kidding?  Fantasizing about joining the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2017?
    3) I still maintain that his “intelligence” is a collection of bright and dark spots.  Take math, for example.  Set aside the “57 states” business — he meant 47, but slipped a tens digit: not impressive, but hey, one digit out of two isn’t bad for a politician.  But after jacking up federal outlays by $1.8 t-t-t-trillion, he made this bold pronouncement about asking his Cabinet to find $100 m-m-m-million in savings.  This is like blowing $18,000 and ambivalently casting about for a theoretical $1 savings.  Again, is he trying out for the cast of SNL in 2017?  Reminds me of a former SNL cast member, Steve Martin, in The Man with Two Brains.  Having accidentally put a brain in the oven for too long, he frantically does a diagnostic test by asking the brain to count to ten.  “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10.”  “Oh my God!  I’ve fried her 9’s!”  Well, I think Barry Soetoro fried his own 9’s in his younger years, but the result is about the same…

  • Ron19

    47 states?  50 states?
    No, President Obama meant exactly 57 states.  For instance,

  • lee

    The protestants involved in the “Troubles” of Northern Ireland tend to mostly be NOT Anglican, and to be mostly Presbyterian. David Trimble, a leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, is a Presbyterian. Ian Paisley is “Free Presbyterian,” which is descended from the Reformed Church. The Orange Order took its name from William of Orange, who was raised in the Reformed Church. They make a point to this day of celebrating the Battle of the Boyne–which was a defeat of the Catholics by forces supporting William of Orange. The Apprentice Boys of Derry, another Protestant group in Northern Ireland, are descended from the group of William of Orange supporters at the Siege of Derry in the Williamite War in Ireland. 
    Many of the Protestants in Northern Ireland are descended from Scot settlers who were heavily encouraged/bribed/rewarded to move there under Cromwell,* who was a Puritan. (Puritans started out in the Anglican Chruch, but threw their lot in with the Reformed Church.) The (Presbyterian) Scots were allies of Cromwell’s during the first English Civil War. (Though when they supported Charles II, Cromwell was almost as brutal towards them during the second Civil War, as he had been towards the Irish Catholics during the first.)
    Interestingly enough, under the Protestant Ascendency, the non-Anglican protestants in Ireland were disenfranchised as well.
    *-though the immigration had started during James I rule.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Other countries often see America as the hypocritical Imperialist or World (self) proclaimed police man, out to set wrongs right, fight for justice, and the home of the brave, the truth seekers of liberty.
    The majority of people, plus some minorities here and there, think this is an illusion born of national hypocrisy and arrogance. Some of these international opinions come from ignorance, but others come from experience dealing with American government officials.
    America will preach to you that the only right way to do things is the American way. When you cooperate, they put you in their debt, then force you to do things their way, while impoverishing and destroying your own country.
    With a reputation like that, and corruption at home, America is in a very precarious position. For the superpower of the United States of America still exists, but it will not always be used for truth, justice, or good. The Left was not complaining about America power because they wanted to make Americans more just and more free and more Good. No, it was the exact opposite.

  • 11B40

    I went to Catholic grammar and high schools in the Bronx of the ’50s and ’60s. Grammar school was about 30 kids in one class room with one teacher. It worked well for me.
    In high school, we were divided into three sections of roughly 30 students each. All of the “A” section were expected to get into college, some of the “B” section and, simply put, none of the “C” section. Each section had a somewhat different academic subjects. For instance, the “A” section took two years of Latin and three years of French. The “B”s took three years of eSpanish.
    We took standardized tests every year, the Iowa Test of Educational Development, Preliminary SATs, and SATs (College Boards). It being New York, we also took the State Board of Regents tests for specific subjects in order to get both a school diploma and a Regents diploma. There were no resulting fatalities of either students or staff.
    We had different teachers for each subject, but the teachers, not the students changed classrooms. I had two electives in four years of high school. One was an Electronics course and the other was about Shakespeare. We had a religion course each year.
    And, there was an emphasis on discipline that included corporal punishment, detention, and suspension. All this was provided at basically no expense to the government or to our fellow citizens. A kind of “reverse voucher system” to put it in modern parlance.
    I am very thankful and you all are very welcome.

  • Ron19

    lee #7:
    Thank you.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    11B40:  I went to Seventh-day Adventist elementary and high schools (plus college) in the ’50s and ’60s.  My experience was much the same as yours, except for the high school sections – they kind of expected that we’d all go to college, but no one got any Latin.  I DID end up with 3 years of French, though (thanks, Mom…even though it did me little good during my later five years in S. Amereica).
    Anyhow, like you, I am also very thankful for my education, and it cost the taxpayers NOTHING, all while my family was paying California property taxes to support the government schools.  In fairness, the education being provided in those schools was not significantly inferior to the one I got…except that we took Bible every year.  I actually rather think that this would be a big improvement to the current school curriculum (although only if taught by the right sort of person).

  • beefrank

    Hmm.  Did not Obama receive his elementary education in a Flipino parochical Muslim school, his secondary education from a private Congregational high school and his collegiate education at a private Presbyterian university?  Does not his resume say he graduated from the law school of a prestigious Congregationlist and Uniitarian university?  On paper it says his entire education was provided from the parochial school system whose humanitarian missions ‘reached out’ to disadvantaged youths as Obama likes to claim he was.  Is not the university education model in the Western world historical rooted in European parochial systems?  Obama’s current views and comments appear to be disconnected from his resume. Could it be that…?

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Very nice trailing question there, beefrank.  It could indeed.