All of you reading can now repeat after me... Well, duh...
But seriously. Set aside all the blamecasting that's gone on over the past five days and think about what Michelle Obama is saying here in her open letter to all parents:
As parents, an event like this hits home especially hard. It makes our hearts ache for those who lost loved ones. It makes us want to hug our own families a little tighter. And it makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in – and the world in which our children will grow up.
In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well. The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers. But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons – about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.
We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis. And we can help them do that in their own small way – whether it’s by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.
We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.
Call me crazy, but haven't we all had thoughts like this, no matter whether liberal or conservative? Wasn't your first instinct when you heard about that sweet little NINE-YEAR OLD girl to grab your kids and pull them tight to you? Your grandkids? Your siblings? Those whom you love?
It was mine. In fact, when I first heard about Christina Green I put that information away in a safe place and walled it up, because I had to write about the ongoing news and analysis, and so I pretended that she was just a name and not someone's daughter and not a little light in her home and not a child who was full of light and love and believed she lived a blessed life. An old soul in a young body could not -- COULD NOT -- be taken from us and so I simply walled it up and let her hide in a back corner. Because I wasn't ready to face the fact that it could just as easily have been my daughter. Or my husband. Or my neighbor.
Until the President said these words last night:
I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.
At those words, all the walls crumbled. At those words, and the ones that followed, I was crushed with grief not only for Christina Green but for my own hopes.
Because I truly believe what he said. I truly believe we live in a country where government is of, by and for the people. Because I truly -- down to the core of my soul -- believe that we are better than the sum of our parts, that we create something better, and that participation and yes, even criticism, is what makes us a nation governed of, by, and for the people. In this, I'm an idealist and I just don't want to surrender that.
So Michelle Obama's letter struck a chord with me. I thought it was a good call for all of us to teach our children well, to rise above the personal animus to a place where we could teach kids to disagree but still be tolerant, to "love everyone well", and to make the world a better place.
Call me Pollyanna. It's still what I believe. I won't give it up.
This is why it is so difficult to see the knee-jerk reaction of right-wing bloggers to a letter which has not even one iota of politics in it. So very difficult.
So far, the reaction from the right has been this:
Shouldn't we learn to be perceptive, analytical, and aware that some of the individuals among us are, in fact, mentally sick and need something other than tolerance and wishful thinking about how good they might be? So why is the First Lady telling us to teach kids the opposite?
I will note that for all of Althouse's paeans to 'perceptive, analytic' thinking, she doesn't mention trying to explain that those mentally ill people need something other than tolerance, like treatment. No, in Althouse's world we must teach our children to judge others and then walk away from them.
I don't live in that world.
Here's Pajamas Media Clarice Feldman, claiming that Mrs. Obama's letter is somehow politicizing the Tucson events by blaming them on the political climate of our times. I would appreciate it if someone could please point me to that section.
I don't live in her world either, where there's something conjured behind magic doors no one else sees.
And on and on it goes. Gateway Pundit is outraged at the idea of tolerance asking:
How did these far left loons ever get the keys to the White House?
Because tolerance is such a bad thing, why?
Where is it written in the conservative handbook that tolerance is evil, left-wing, and wrong? Where is it written in the conservative handbook that it's somehow wrong to teach your children to disagree agreeably, and to do it in the spirit of assuming the best of others? Where is it written in the conservative handbook that there is tacit permission for claiming to be a Christian while standing in judgement of others and depriving them of basic human kindness?
And if it isn't written in that handbook, then why are people like this allowed to constantly get away with their petty, chickenshit little slams on others that carry no substance but are laced with heavy and deep resentment about the black family in the White House?
Will this nation grow up? Or will we just grind over and over and over and over in this endless, idiotic loop of attacking for the sake of attacking?
What does THAT teach our children?