Earlier today, when going through my RSS feeds, I stumbled upon an old post from the mental_floss blogs about bedtime storybooks with strong political agendas. The two main culprits are a couple of books (one from each side, appropriately) titled “Why Mommy is a Democrat” and “Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!”
Clearly there’s a problem here. “Why Mommy is a Democrat” is clearly targeted at the Pre-K crowd; the simplicity of the text (some of which is reproduced here), the characters and art style, and the subject of each page look like they’re intended for very young children.
From what I can gather on the Amazon page of “Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!”, this one is aimed at older, elementary school readers. The characters are grade school children who open a lemonade stand and have a dream that they live in “Liberaland”, where caricatures of famous Democrats come and take half the profits of their lemonade stand, demand that they take down a picture of Jesus and stop praying, and give away broccoli with every cup of lemonade.
“Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!” really disturbs me, more than “Why Mommy is a Democrat”, even though the latter is aimed at a much lower (more impressionable?) age group, and not because of my political leaning (goes both ways anyway). The political agenda behind “Why Mommy is a Democrat” is to teach toddlers the good things about Democrats. However, the political agenda behind “Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!” teaches children to hate liberals. “Why Mommy is a Democrat” doesn’t directly teach the kids to hate the opposition… “Help! Mom!” does. By looking at only the bad aspects of the liberals, it teaches kids intolerance before they know their right from their left – both meanings.
Whether someone is liberal or conservative doesn’t matter – I don’t think anyone should try and indoctrinate their kids from a young age by preaching hatred and intolerance of the opposition.
More upsetting than the existence of these books is the comments left on their Amazon pages. Here are the comments left on the “Help! Mom” book, just because these are more upsetting than the ones on “Why Mommy is a Democrat”. As you can see, they alternate between 5-star and 1-star reviews, with a little more than half praising it as the light in a world gone mad and the other 45% or so claiming it’s propaganda. The comments from the 5-star reviewers scare me: “Need to teach them the difference between conservatives & liberals when they are young!” (yes, from a very heavily biased children’s book)… “It has my five year old asking us questions about liberals which we are more than happy to answer.” (Hate to hear what those “answers” would be.)
Worse yet, read the comments left to 1-star reviews.
A 1-star review said this:
“We need wider understanding, cooperation and critical thinking in coming generations if America is not to be torn apart and self-destruct for the most banal and avoidable of behavior patterns. This book is completely counter to such goals and is probably driven as much by a desire to make profit via sensationalism and controversy as it is the desire by adults to further their own selfish, myopic inflexibility at the expense of clean, bright, trusting little minds. Such behavior by adults not only sets a horrible example, it is pathetic and cowardly.”
And a couple of the responses to that particular review:
“Liberals are easy to predict. This book teaches children a conservative point of view and this infuriates liberals. They only want your children exposed the ideas of the left wing Marxist agenda. Because liberals can’t debate the facts and their point of view is many times irrational they just call it ‘hate speech’. They say that it is ‘dividing America’ or they refer to it as ‘brainwashing’…”
“Great another Bin Laden supporter in our midst.”
If this was an isolated incident I could understand… but the entire review section of this book’s page on Amazon is littered with the exact same bigotry – on both sides of the spectrum.
Democrats have done stupid things and can believe stupid things. Republicans have also done stupid things and can also believe stupid things. As a society, we really need to move on. It’s an old message that you can hear anywhere, and it won’t make much difference complaining about it here, but it needs to get through somehow.
In my last ‘Weekend Reading’, I linked to an article that I found on Digg: Sick Children, Working Moms. It was about how some working mothers had to send their sick kids to school because staying home to take care of them could mean losing their job. Digg has a very large gender imbalance, so it wasn’t surprising that the consensus among the commenters was that there should always be a dad so the mom can stay home – and that’s not always a bad thing.
Then one woman came on and said this: “I’ve had to stay home with my kids many times. Hell, I was out for a week at Christmas because of some awful flu they caught. I actually did end up getting “laid off” a month later. But I got a better job in a much more family friendly company. Do I *have* to work? Not really. We’d get by fine if I stayed at home with the kids. But would I be happy? No. I enjoy my work. Don’t minimize me by telling me it’s my “responsibility” to sit at home with my kids while my husband brings home the proverbial bacon. It’s insulting.”
…To which I one-hundred percent agree. As a female who genuinely enjoys being out in the world and working myself, I would die inside if someone forced me to be a stay at home mom all my life. I have interests far beyond cooking and cleaning, and it is also insulting to me that culturally I shouldn’t have kids and a job at the same time – while my theoretical husband would have to bear no such stigma. Some women may enjoy not having to work; great for them, but I’m not among them. Things are certainly changing, but the replies to the comment above, like the intolerant replies to the reviews of “Help! Mom!”, are very disheartening:
“I’m sorry you feel minimized and insulted over the thought of raising your children.”
“Get back in the kitchen where YOU belong and make me a sandwich. Oh, and cut the crust off it while you’re at it. Notice I said YOU, not women, but YOU.” (<- notice the failed attempt to not sound sexist)
“The floors in the kitchen need a good scrubbing, laundry needs to be washed and folded, the vacuum needs to be run, the toilet could use a good cleaning, and dinner needs to be made. *enjoy* your work.”
If the last two are jokes, I don’t think they’re very funny.