While in Ireland, President Obama said this:
“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. 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.”
Barack Obama is quite adept at saying one thing, while meaning another. Taken at face value, the essence of what the President said is accurate: fear and resentment may harden us to others; and it discourages cooperation. So, if one were to take out of context what the President said, it might make for a delightful sound bite; making Obama seem as wise and urbane as the media makes him out to be.
However, by reading the entirety of his speech, it is quite clear that Obama is directly comparing racial segregation to religious education. Let’s break down what the most powerful man in the world said:
1. He first establishes that segregation is a despicable thing. Ok, that’s accurate.
2. He then goes on to compare religious education among Catholics and Protestants to segregation. In essence, Obama is claiming that sending your child to be educated in an environment that you believe is better suited to your views is comparable to not wanting your children around black people.
3. He makes sure to evoke the everlasting tension between Catholic and Protestant so that it doesn’t appear as though he is talking directly about racial segregation; but rather religious and social segregation.
4. Beyond the obvious absurdity of comparing religious education to racial segregation, this has implications beyond the scope of school. By chastising the Catholic schools and Protestant schools for “segregation,” Obama is essentially taking a shot at religion in general. Is he saying that because many of us choose to be either Catholic or Protestant, that we are segregating ourselves? Is he saying that practicing one faith over another is comparable to black segregation? If so, he is making a clear and dangerous move against freedom of religion.
5. The President also links religion and religious education directly with hatred and resentment. He is taking liberties in terms of speaking about faith that no President should take. At its core, Obama’s message is that this school, and religious “segregation” is a source of resentment; that it creates and fosters resentment.
6. Finally, it’s Democratic policies that cause this supposed segregation in the first place. If the Democrats were to actually implement a voucher school choice program, parents would be free to choose the schools best suited for their kids. In that case, poor kids, whose parents cannot afford Catholic or Private school, would not be locked into an awful district. With choice, I’m sure many parents—even non-religious parents—would rather have their kids in a faith based school over a public school. Regardless, this “segregation” comparison is absolute garbage.
What Obama loves to do is speak these elegant and striking words that mean absolutely nothing. When taken apart, and understood clinically, Obama’s words often represent the exact opposite of his apparent intention. With this speech, apparently intended to provoke thought and discussion regarding a divided people, Obama has insulted schools of faith, religion at large, and those who simply desire a better education for their children.
Apparently, reptiles aren’t the only creatures with forked tongues.