October 1, 2009

Lou Dobbs frames his Face Off segment of the show by calling President Obama's back to school speech and some school children singing a song about him for Black History Month "indoctrination".

DOBBS: Indoctrination in the classroom from President Obama's controversial back to school speech to grade schoolers singing in praise of the president and pledging to serve the president, politics are moving into the classroom and perhaps more. Listen closely as these New Jersey students sing.

Is all of this as we are discovering more and more incidents like this across the country, is it left wing propaganda? Indoctrination? Just what is it? Joining us tonight John Leo, he's senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, great to have you with us and David Foulk, he's dean of education at Hofstra University, great to have you with us. That video just there, is there any difference, do you think, in the acceptance generally in the national media in education, if the name is let's substitute Barack Obama and insert say George Bush.

DAVID FOULK, DEAN OF ED., HOFSTRA UNIV.: I think that if it were more systemic, if it were more widespread, if it were not sporadic and specific to municipalities, perhaps it would be a problem. I think I'm looking at this more as perhaps local issues that have received national attention. I don't see this as being a widespread, coordinated effort.

DOBBS: Of course, there are -- the Oprah Winfrey video pledging to serve Barack Obama with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, that was of course systemic and broadly propagated. It is also the case with another -- what is it, the story of stuff which we know had 7 million viewings. So it is a little broader than we were initially led to think and it seems John we're seeing more and more of this surface here.

JOHN LEO, SR. FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Well, the focus on the New Jersey event. It's clearly inappropriate. You don't want to have school kids taught to chance the glories of the sitting politics, but having said that, I think there's a maelstrom of our left and right debate now. It was a minor incident. I'm not sure if I see systemic stuff across the country and this was after all dreamed up during black power month, after an astounding event in our national life, the election of the first black president. I'd cut them a little slack on this. I think it was wrong but not a major event, the overall attempt to invoke Hitler and ...

DOBBS: Who did that?

LEO: I don't want to name names. They're all my friends.

DOBBS: Well, they may well be mine, but I don't care. We're more interested in --

LEO: Can I make a group indictment?

DOBBS: Sure.

LEO: That went on under Bush. Bush was compared to Hitler. And now, it's being turned on Obama. It's the rhetoric of the day.

DOBBS: But I wonder if we are not comparing two wildly different elements. One is idiots who would make a comparison to Hitler versus those who would seek to indoctrinate young people because as you say, when we start chanting, our children start chanting the names of political leaders with this -- and the idea of, I will serve any man in this country, that's about as un-American as it gets, isn't it, Dave?

FOULK: Except I think you take that oath when you go in the military, don't you?

DOBBS: No, you swear to uphold the constitution of the United States. You might chant drill instructor's name.

FOULK: Again, I don't see this as being directed to the schools. I think that the widespread popularity of this debate is outside of the districts. If we looked and saw this as going through schools in this wildfire in being promulgated, then it's a different issue.

DOBBS: It is, but we're also left with it, seems to me, and I would like you both to deal with this issue, where you have groups and whatever their motivation and however noble they might be, when you are putting these kinds of ideas in the minds of children, this is not part of the public educational system in this country. It is not part of our society and has never been, where we have children chanting that I means of a political leader. Whether it be president of whatever the position.

LEO: Particularly inappropriate because they were chanting a song about Jesus and they took Jesus' name out and Obama in. This is not what the president needs right now but I think one of the problems here is there are three incidents unrelated within seven weeks. One, was that NAA letter or the conference call where the --

DOBBS: National endowment for the arts.

LEO: Urged to cooperate with the white house by implication its agenda. Then this event. You just can't have these things happening one after the other. At the same time, I don't think Obama can be tied to a school event.

DOBBS: I don't think Obama should be tied to any of it.

LEO: He should be tied to the conference call. You don't make a call to artists appealing for grants and say, why don't we work together because the implication is either you work for us or you get no money.

DOBBS: To the credit of the president, he fired the communications director responsible for that. It does leave open the issue as to why there has not been some accountability for the Obama official who was on the conference call. This leaves open the Oprah Winfrey video distributed to thousands of schools. It leaves open the story of stuff, which is still being sent to thousands of schools and has been viewed by millions. What are we to do and parents to do who would be concerned about this, or do you believe this is something unworthy of both public attention and parental involvement?

FOULK: I think it's worthy of both and that's the point. I think that parents, if they're doing their job as parents, are active with their school boards and they're addressing these issues and raising complaints an electing officials who are like-minds to run the schools. I think it is very appropriate that parents be involved and express their concern or support for whatever happens.

DOBBS: Last word.

LEO: Now that we have a lot of publicity about this, we'll watch it again. If it keeps going on, then we'll know there's a concerted effort.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

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