Sunday, February 26, 2006

Propaganda for Kids

I was just listening to a podcast from the Northern Alliance Radio Network on Powerline's blog--the guest was Jeremy Zilber, author of a new "children's book," Why Mommy is a Democrat. Zilber's site describes the book as bringing "to life the core values of the Democratic Party in ways that young children will understand and thoroughly enjoy. Using plain and non-judgmental language, along with warm and whimsical illustrations, this colorful 28-page paperback depicts the Democratic principles of fairness, tolerance, peace, and concern for the well-being of others."

Yes, in this "non-judgmental" book, one illustration shows a rampaging elephant crushing a homeless man's bench which is his only possession. But on the radio show, Zilber insists that the elephant isn't necessarily supposed to be a Republican! (Mr. Zilber commented below that he did not say this--you can read more in the comment section). And Zilber has such ignorance of child development as to state that most young kids would not know that the elephant stands for the Republican party and be able to put two and two together to get the message that Republicans are heartless brutes who trample even over the homeless.

Yes, Mr. Zilber, your non-judgmental messages certainly teach tolerance, peace, and concern. Given how little you obviously know about children, what makes you think you should be giving any advice to children at all? You obviously know very little about how sensitive young kids can be about the nuances of how politics work. I have had a four year old that knew enough about the system to pick up my phone and call 911 to report me for child abuse for asking him to take an IQ test. What makes you think four to seven year old kids don't understand the mesage you are selling. Republicans are thugs who are heartless while Democrats are good people who make no judgements. Well, let's hope the kids are smart enough to see through the irony of your non-judgmental book.

Oh, and by the way, if you are ever wondering about the warmth and kindness your "compassionate" Democratic Party has towards the homeless, why don't you check out the critical responses from homeless advocates in San Francisco when the mayor there actually found a solution called Care not Cash? The mayor is providing housing and services for the homeless and the better that works, the more upset the adovocates become. Are they so afraid of losing their own platform that they would jeopardize a program that works? Is throwing other people's money at a problem the only solution you can come up with?

Update: Yes, the mayor of San Francisco is a Democrat--but when you are accused of Republican-style attacks on the city's "most vulnerable" for providing the homeless with shelter and services, you know that you are dealing with housing justice activists so far left that they would rather throw other people's money at a problem than see a real solution put in place. But it's activists like this who set the tone for the Democratic Party. Housing and providing services to people is cruel? Somebody should tell the children.

Update II: Dr. Sanity has a more appropriate title for Zilber's book.

Update III: Here are more thoughts from Neo-neocon.

97 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

um, Gavin Newsom IS a Democrat.

and your link only shows one, very mild, criticism--to the effect that the focus is more on homeless singles and not enough on homeless families.

so i don't see what you're getting at.

11:54 AM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Jeff said...

I like John Hinderaker's pithy summation:

"I think the short explanation of why the Mommy squirrel is a Democrat is that there isn't any Daddy squirrel"

12:00 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

anonymous 11:54:

I know that Gavin Newsom is a Democrat--that makes it even worse-because it is a sign that the mayor of San Francisco is too conservative even for the activists who make up the democratic base. They're complaining about "the Mayor's Republican-style attack on the most vulnerable."

http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=2942

12:11 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Tim said...

I've long believed that those who veiw nearly everything through the lens of politics are mentally unhealthy, and that a society that does the same is on the verge of collapse. This "book" could just as easily been written by a Soviet apparatchik or a Nazi functionary, were they in politically competitive systems. That they weren't is really the point - Zilber, and those who support him - are just as keen on political indoctrination as the Communists and the Nazis were. There is nothing funny about this book, nor is there any remote sense about the larger virtues of being American. It, ironically for the mutli-culti crowd, defines the "other" as anyone who isn't Democrat. The only thing more pathetic than this book are the parents (esp. the dads) out there who buy this dreck and read it to their kids.

12:13 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Maxine said...

Don't worry, children won't read it. In my experience they can spot a "do gooder" book or person a mile off and tune it out.

12:29 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Tim,

The author said that since most of the kids lived with their mother's, he wrote the book for them to read to the kids. All I can gather from this is that mom is gay (which Zilber hinted at on the radio show) or maybe dad left because mom is a controlling socialist, or Zilber doesn't give a damn about men and what they think (because they might be Republicans)or most likely, he is pandering to female Democrats, the only group most likely to buy into such a bunch of propaganda.

12:33 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger McCarroll said...

Face it - Zilber is a Dilbert.

12:56 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Luke Holder said...

My biggest problem with what Zilber had to say on the show was when he tried to justify what he was doing by saying "we are all trying to teach our kids some kind of universal values," but his book specifically says that these values aren't universal, only democrats have them. He was in quite a pickle because he also tried to suggest that they are universal, democrats just care more, or democrats want the government to do it. If thats what he thought than his book should have been about how we all share these values and Mommy Squirrel wants the government to be in charge--but thats not what his book says. His book says that Mommy Squirrel is the one that cares about these things AT ALL in the first place.

In this same segment he tried to use the 'Little Engine that Could' as his example of how "all children's books indoctrinate." The problem is that it ISN'T the 'Little Republican Engine that Could.' The author lets the universal value of perseverence remain universal. Zilber wants to make it partisan. Thats all he did with his book

1:12 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

The "Democrats care" meme needs to be tested quite a bit more.

Yes, the Dems cared about My Lai -- to the point of claiming, and thinking, that Vietnamese people would be better off if the US went home, let the N. Viet commies win. "Because the Dems care so much about the Vietnamese people."
The US left, the commies murdered thousands, and dozens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands. Of course, without MSM fotos or Cronkite criticism.
And then there was peace.
Any examination of this evidence does NOT show the Dems caring about the Vietnamese people.

In Iraq, the Dems say the US abuse in Abu Ghraib is terrible. I agree that it is illegal and those who did excessive abuse should be punished. But Dems imply, sometimes say, the Iraqis would be better off w/o the US.

I don't think so.

It's a "moral superiority" public relations war, and the Reps are losing, badly, in rhetoric. Though not so bad on the ground, yet.

On schools, the Dems don't care about poor people getting better test scores enough to try vouchers. The Reps should be pushing this much harder.

2:11 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous kate q said...

The problem with the book, as far as I can tell from the interview and the online pages, is that it doesn't explain how, why, or in contrast to what these Democrats are. Democrats keep us safe, like Mommy does? That says so little as to be useless, even as propaganda. The only thing this book might teach an impressionable kid is what Zilber says he's trying to get away from: the idea that Democrat = Mommy, in some unspecific way.

I agree with the commenter who said that kids won't bite, though. There's not even a story to latch onto here.

(Here's one that looks like it might have a little more substance....)
http://tinyurl.com/jmvtr

2:21 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Actually, many of Gavin Newsom's political opponents in San Francisco aren't Democrats. He ran against Matt Gonzalez, who describes himself as a Green. For Republicans, Red plus Green makes Christmas.

Jeremy Zilber, for his part, walks in the shoes of Alan Colmes. Whether or not he intended it, he panders to Republicans. Here is the money quote from a blog entry by this guy: "I don't mind being criticized by the Right (what self-respecting Democrat would?), but I've been somewhat troubled by the relative lack of response from the Left." The second half of that is no surprise. The first half, "I don't mind being criticized by the Right", is the classic Colmes syndrome, and the opposite of real self-respect.

2:29 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have had a four year old that knew enough about the system to pick up my phone and call 911 to report me for child abuse for asking him to take an IQ test."

This is really sad.

kate q, I haven't read that book, but it, too, sounds like propaganda.

3:34 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah....so any Democrat who Kuperberg doesn't like "panders to Republicans."

Once again, the math professor knows...well, simply everything. Must be nice.

Hey, Greg, how do we know you aren't really an agent of Karl Rove, keeping Republicans all upset with Democratic style elitism and snottiness, so that Republicans never dare vote other than Republican?

It makes as much sense as what you wrote.

4:05 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Jeremy Zilber said...

Helen,

I think it's great that you've written about my interview, and I'm thrilled to see so much interest in my book, even if the majority of your readers are opposed. However, I don't appreciate the fact that you've lied about what I said.

For instance, you claim "Zilber insists that the elephant isn't necessarily supposed to be a Republican!" Well, I've listened to the interview, and when I was asked the question, "So you've actually got a page in the book where the Republican elephant squashes the bench of the homeless man?" my response was "That's right." Yes, I do state my belief that young children won't pick up on the symbolism of the elephant, but no honest person could possibly say that I claimed the elephant isn't meant to symbolize the Republican party.

You also claim that I "hinted" that the Mommy squirrel is gay. In fact, I was asked where the daddy is, and I said: "I don't know. Daddy may just be at work. Daddy may be taking care of the house. He's ambiguously missing." Later I was asked, "is it possible that the mommy squirrel may be a gay squirrel? Is that a possibility?" My answer: "Could be. I don't know. I haven't talked to her." (The host and I both laugh.) This, you think, is hinting that she's gay?

You also claim that I'm "pandering to female Democrats, the only group most likely to buy into such a bunch of propaganda." Aside from the fact that many (and I would estimate well over 50%) of the book's purchasers have been male, in the inteview I stated flatly that I intend to do a sequel book about daddies.

Based on your comments here, perhaps I'll have to include a page in my sequel that goes something like this: "Daddy makes sure we tell the truth about other people, just like Democrats do."

4:14 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Alan said...

I am frankly wondering what the big deal is about. This children's book (even if we take Dr. Helen's outrage at face value) seems mighty tame compared to what is seen elsewhere. Just go to the "Current Affairs" section of any bookstore and you'll find hordes of books calling one side or the other "traitors" and so forth (and, yes, the most blantant offenders tend to be on the Right). You know, the sort of transparently provocative demagoguery that seems to sell so well nowadays (and, one must wonder, poison the discourse on this blog).

And, if your criticism is that its a book aimed as children again I find it tame compared to, say, conservative Christian churches offering sermons and Sunday School classes (where many attending are obviously children) where being a democrat or liberal is effectively presented as a mortal sin.

I'm all for pointing out propaganda, but how about tackling the problem in general and not letting your side off the hook?

4:15 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure hope that no one minds if all the so-called "right wing media" started publicizing the reverse idea in a kiddie book: that Democrats want to take your money, that they think they know what is better for you and your family than you and your family do, that (presently, anyway) Democrats seem to take the side of almost anyone who claims to be "anti-american." We could even have a part where the little squirrel doesn't get to go to the college of her or his choice, because there aren't enough chipmunks there---and the Democrats have decided to favor chimpmunks over squirrels.

If you are fine with that, great. You aren't a hypocrite.

But the problem here is that folks on both sides think that they are correct in some absolutist manner.

It is horrible, I think, to inject politics into the world of children. Especially when the author presents arguable opinions as concrete and frightening (i.e., stampeding elephants) facts.

Shameful. I think all this is despicable. And I hope that Republicans don't follow suit with an empty-headed right wing propaganda job for kids.

4:21 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Karl Rove said...

Dear Anonymous at 4:05:

You have uncovered my ongoing secret plans for Republican domination!

But be forewarned. I have named my newest apprentice Darth Babel, whose Sith-powered words of contradiction and confusion will cloud your minds. I have many other apprentices who are assisting my longterm goals.

I am the Emperor, though you know me by my common human name....

4:42 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last post was odd.

Anyway, something was said awhile back that merits comment. It is a common Democratic dig to note that far-Right Republicans have allies among religious people.

I don't think that is entirely fair.

Me, I stopped attending church regularly (Methodist, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic) because of the drumbeat of liberal/progressive causes in sermons and homilies.

Please don't start with the whole "what would Jesus have said" business. Remember that the Right says much the same thing, and all of you are speaking to your own support.

How about the amount of Democrat fundraising that takes place in churches? Not much gets said about that. Or how about the Bush-bashing funeral for Coretta Scott King.

Oh, that's right. It was a "speaking," not a funeral.

My point is that ALL political sides use God and religion to support their wholly worldly views. Which is, if you will excuse the term, a sin in my book.

4:48 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

I don't know why anyone would bother to hope that Republicans won't "follow suit" with a right-wing book for kiddies that attacks liberals. Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!, by Katherine DeBrecht, was published last September. While Zilber's book is propagandistic and nauseating, DeBrecht's effort is outright ad hominem. It is also endorsed by two political heavyweights: Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist.

A pox on both of their houses. Neither of these books deserve any endorsements. But I do see an asymmetry here. Zilber's book is a failure in all senses: It's rancid saccharine for children,
and a small political gift to Republicans. But DeBrecht's book, even though it is just as bad for children, may well be politically shrewd. Otherwise I don't see why Rush Limbaugh would have mentioned it on his show.

4:57 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah...the DeBrecht book is supposed to be a parody of leftist nonsense for kids, and in my opinion isn't directed at children so much as their parents.

But I think that an interview/podcast with DeBrecht might be a great idea.

Still, funny that the only responsive argument is..."well, you're another." HIgh logic, that.

5:16 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, cool down, folks. I can't speak for this guy Zilber, but there was a good article from an Oregon paper about this controversy. Here is a webpointer:

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1135137339244610.xml&coll=7

Before you think it is seriously for kids, or aimed only at adults, maybe this article might give some room for thought.

I did think that the Zilber book was humor-free. And that, friends, is the most obvious sign of an ideologue.

The earlier poster who said that it would not be possible to get kids to read anything "good" for them clearly has children, as I do.

5:22 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, do go visit Zilber's site---Dr. Helen gave the webaddress. It's an amazing site in many ways---I am always disturbed when people choose to fit stereotypes closely.

The best part is when Zilber refers to his cat as a "lifelong Democrat." Tongue in cheek, sure. But I am here to tell you that cats are about as libertarian as it is possible to be---coupled with terroritorial aggression the equal of a Balkan country during the 19th century.

Maybe I'm being fair. But I'll reserve judgement until I hear how the cat put in time at the local Madison soup kitchen, helped harvest a vegetarian dinner, and so on.

5:27 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice one, 5:27!

How about this "game"? Follow every little statement in Zilber's book with "...except for Ted Kennedy." It seems to work pretty well. Give it a try.

For a horror movie version, try replacing every instance of "Mommy" with "Chairman Dean."

Brrrr....

5:30 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger dick said...

I listened to the Zilber interview and what I took away from it was that Zilber is saying to the kids that they don't need to worry, uncle democratic party is going to take care of all your needs. The problem with that is that the lesson passed on is the kid does not have to be or take responsibility for anything, the party will make it all better, kiss kiss!! Exactly the wrong lesson to teach a kid. How are you going to raise responsible adults from kids who are told that the government will take care of everything, you don't need to worry your little head about it.

The bit about the elephant is just too precious. Why not just put a sign on the elephant that the big bad monster is going to crush you so you should just be a good little squirrel and let uncle sugar take care of you.

This is pure pap and pure propaganda of the worst kind for kids. Teach them to stop thinking and toe the mark all the time. Don't learn anything that doesn't fit the program. Don't do anything for yourself. Don't try anything for yourself. This is so wrong.

5:32 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Marlowe Anderson said...

Alan Simpson said it all about such Leftist Drivel--whether directed to 4 year olds or 40 year olds or 80 year old--and his goes for both propaganda patrons regardless of party affiliation--it should be filed under Crap, Conspiracy, and Confusion--which all propaganda is including the MSM biased journalism of the so-called elitist press.

6:21 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zilber wrote, "Yes, I do state my belief that young children won't pick up on the symbolism of the elephant, but no honest person could possibly say that I claimed the elephant isn't meant to symbolize the Republican party."

If they don't pick up elephant = Republican, they'll pick up elephant vs. Democrat = bad and will subconsciously make the association later. I'll state my belief you intended that.

7:20 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger gs said...

From the book's sample pages: "Democrats make sure we share all our toys, just like Mommy does." Does this mean that Mommy shares all her toys, or that Mommy makes sure we share all--all--our toys? If the latter and you buy those toys with money you earn, then, kiddo, quit your paper route and sleep in like everybody else.

The illustrations show a mommy squirrel, young squirrels, and a mouse. The squirrels bustling around my house don't seem to be heavily into sharing, and I doubt that mice hang around squirrels. According to Wikipedia, "Despite the popular impression, squirrels are actually omnivores; as well as eating a wide variety of plant food, including nuts, seeds, fruits, fungi (for example, mushrooms), and green vegetation, they also eat insects, eggs, and even small birds, smaller mammals, and frogs." Perhaps I'm wilfully ignoring the spirit of the book's imagery...perhaps all too many Democrats insist on being oblivious to predation.

Anonymous 5:16 pm suggests that Katharine "Security Mom for Bush" DeBrecht's book is intended as parody. From this, I doubt it.

On this particular occasion, I am receptive to the tone as well as content of Professor Kuperberg's comment: a pox on both their houses.

Although the following Christian scripture might be out of context, its warning seems apposite: "It were well for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."

7:22 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

On a more serious plane, the main role of discussing Jeremy Zilber's pathetic book in Republican circle is simple confirmation of belief: If the liberals and Democrats are such dodos, then surely they are wrong and the other side is right. This is just exactly what Fox News pays Alan Colmes to be, the lame liberal who proves how wrong liberals are.

But these gimmicks does not make the real Republican decisions in Washington one whit better. If anything, as their support becomes entrenched, it lets them get away with more and worse mischief.

As it happens, Norquist mentions one important example in his smug endorsement of DeBrecht's book: He says that it teaches kids about "the threat that taxes pose to the American Dream." But suppose that Washington matches tax cuts not by spending cuts, but by borrowing. According to Congress' own historical data, federal spending went from 18.5% of GDP in 2001, which was the last budget that Bush did not sign, to 20.1% of GDP in 2005. Taxes, thanks to the work of Bush and Norquist, went from 19.8% to 17.5% of GDP. Should we conclude that the American dream is less threatened by 2.3% less taxes, or more threatened by 1.6% more spending?

The only honest answer from even the most doctrinaire libertarian is that the federal government is now worse by 1.6% of the American economy. A non-libertarian economist might argue that it is actually much worse than that, that the habit of borrowing in fat years (after all, the Republicans say that the economy is booming) is a very bad omen for lean years. Either way, the federal deficit is 2.6% of GDP, or $316 billion. If a thousand Jeremy Zilbers wrote ten thousand inane kiddie books, it would not make this threat to the American dream one whit smaller.

7:28 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, an earlier poster said something about a lack of a sense of humor being a sure sign of an ideologue.

A number of posts seem to confirm this idea.

Any parent who buys this foolish Zilbers book or the other one by the author whose name I do not remember...well, those parents are *already* pushing politics down their poor childrens' throats, I promise you. That is much more shameful than writing a "baby propaganda" book that gets laughed at or attacked by partisans.

If you want to read something very short that illustrates the dangers of what we do with children, propaganda-wise, read James Clavell's "The Children's Story." I think it is still in print. It is short, it doesn't cost much, and it will make you think about what we do with our children in our schools...let alone our homes...every day.

And please, please, please---let's not bring up the dismal science of economics here. I remember hearing that inflation was bad. Okay. Then I started hearing that too little inflation was also bad. Fine. Then... well, you get the picture. There are no rules, apparently.

Economists these days are all partisan and selling out,right and left both, to political agendas. They are like the clowns giving the weather news: the don't have to be correct, they don't have to be funny, and they get paid a lot of money.

But why am I even discussing the economy in a post about children's books and politics? I took Kuperberg's trollish bait. My fault entirely.

It's wrong to propagandize children. There. I feel better.

7:56 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Mr. Zilber,

Wow, for someone who is supposed to be a nonjudgmental children's author, you sure come across as judgmental--"lied" is a bit strong to address my criticisms of your book. After listening again to the interview, I note that you did, indeed, indicate that the elephant was a Republican--but my real issue is the host asked you if the big menacing elephant indicated that Republicans are dangerous to kids to which you said, "I meant it tongue in cheek, a young child is not going to have any idea of the symbolism of the elephant." I disagree--kids are not dumb but as another commenter said, they can spot a do-gooder book a mile away and probably wouldn't read it anyway.

In addition, you insinuate that I "lied" that you were aiming the book at Democratic females, but you stated in the interview that most children live with mommy and you did not want to alienate single moms (who I assume would be Democrats) who would not want to read a story to their kids about a Democratic dad because the dads were deceased or gone. So your target audience from your statement would be female Democrats. Perhaps the men who are buying it are Karl Rove's moles.

7:56 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember, Dr. Helen, that Democrats these days use the word "lie" quite differently than the dictionary suggests.

7:57 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Jephnol said...

First, I would like to thank Dr. Helen for not whipping out an AK-47, a rather large knife, or a bomb and calling out for the beheading of Jeremy Zilmer. Bravo. Many a Ronald McDonald statue will rest more easily tonight.

Kudos to Jeremy Zilber, for jumping into the fray over here at Dr. Helen’s comment section and adding his two cents. I enjoyed listening to his interview at Power Line.

As for Zilber’s book, well, such large issues in such a little book...

It’s inevitable that it will be largely perceived as a straw-man propaganda piece on one side and a reality based novelty on the other, but for the few sad people who will read this aloud for their children’s edification. (I’m sure many of the “read aloud” types will clarify any murky symbolism for their offspring).

To me it’s all just a little bit of rabble rousing silliness. The book takes a few cheap shots at political rivals and uses gratuitous oversimplification to define and beatify the Democratic Party. It sounds like politics as usual, only this is a kid’s book, which I think is in poor taste. Will it be an effective propaganda tool? I doubt it.

8:11 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wish Zilber did a little bit of research about red-state, blue-state wealth and charitable contributions. Mississippi, the poorest state in the union, gives more to charity than the richest...was it Vermont or Connecticut? And on and on.
Oh, and how about the size of contributions to both democratic and republican parties. Democrats get most of their contributions from billionaires/millionaires versus republicans getting theirs from everyday people in small sums.
As far as those expensive schools you mention in your little book, you know the bastions of liberal indoctrination that refuse diversity of opinion, that shout down conservative speakers and thought, where the majority vote democrat...are you talking about those kinds of schools? Google it Zilber, the info is out there like you should have done to begin with or else 'the other side' will have to poke fun at democrats not knowing how to research in order to back up their premise with concrete facts or making someone else do their work - due to the failure of those liberal bastions of borg that do not want to teach their drones how to think for themselves.
I am all for giving a hand up but am opposed to giving a hand out. And I want to see those 'studies' you mentioned that support the idea that people give less unless the government steps in. I have found quite the opposite. The more you give with no expectations the more the 'entitlement' mentality expands. I have met too many with that attitude and they are democrats.

8:51 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Jeremy Zilber said...

Helen,
Yes, "lie" is indeed a strong term, and not one I throw around lightly, but I'm not sure what else to call it when someone appears to be deliberately misleading her audience to help further her own cause. To repeat: you originally claimed that I insisted the elephant isn't meant to be the Republican party (when, as you now acknowledge, I actually said just the opposite), that I hinted the Mommy squirrel is gay (when I clearly did not), and that my most likely intention is to pander to women (when, in fact, I specifically said that I wanted the book to be suitable for a child with a mom AND a dad, as well as a child with just a mom). Perhaps you were simply confused about what I'd said, or what I'd meant by it, but if that's the case should you really be writing about me? Don't you want your readers to have accurate information about the topics you cover?

Incidentally, I just asked the very bright 6-year-old (nearly 7) who lives in the very same household as the author of "Why Mommy is a Democrat" to explain the meaning of the elephant. "I don't know -- it's just an elephant," she responded. No surprise there. Now, if MY child doesn't know what the elephant symbolizes, I suspect you're overestimating children's knowledge of political symbols quite a bit.

10:02 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Jeremy ZIlber said...

And let me just add that her best friend is an extremely outspoken 6-year-old Republican. They have fairly frequent political discussions, virtually always disagreeing strongly with each other, and then they go right back to playing whatever game they were playing. The book certainly has not taught her to hate Republicans.

10:11 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger XWL said...

Dr. Helen, You Ain't Wrong, about this silly book and the 'values' it represents.

As an aside, do you think conservative viewpoints get a fair shake in his undergraduate and graduate courses at Lawrence University?

(as a farther aside, given the nature of the school, probably not too many conservative students there to be offended, or to challenge the comfortable (and wrong) conclusions that everything 'progressive' is always better)

10:21 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous john stodder said...

The Democratic party is often criticized for lacking "core values," changing its spots from election to election. I have to say, Zilber has managed (at least from the pages I saw) to articulate Democrats' core values better than John Kerry managed to do.

10:40 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Mr. Zilber is actually claiming to have chats about political imagery with little children? Proving that they don't "get it" so the insulting imagery isn't offensive?

So I guess he wouldn't mind if I referred to the Democratic emblem as being a "jackass" in all my conversations with chlidren? After all, they wouldn't "get it" and wouldn't it be cute to see the children repeating what I have told them?

Sort of like this dumb book about "progressive" squirrels. Come to think of it, it all makes sense. When I was a boy, "squirrels" were people with knee jerk attitudes, changing their minds whenever the fashions changed.

10:48 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Mr. Zilber, I would call "lied" a very strong statement for what has been written here. I know that authors tend to be a bit defensive when their books are discussed -- no shame in that -- but you are making yourself appear foolish with your comments. The comment about gayness did not originate with you, but you allowed it's possibility -- from this you make the accusation that it was a lie that you hinted at gayness? Similarly, you acknowledge the symbolic intent of the elephant, but backpedal from its meaning because children might not pick up the association consciously, or right this minute? And when someone calls you out on that, they are lying?

I guess it depends on the meaning of "is." Or something.

Anyway, credit for showing up.

10:58 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger politikalpressure said...

Great piece, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

As many already know, when someone publicly attempts to instill GOP values into children, it is called 'brainwashing' (preceded by a host of negative adjectives).

1:38 AM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Incidentally, I just asked the very bright 6-year-old... Now, if MY child doesn't know what the elephant symbolizes, I suspect you're overestimating children's knowledge of political symbols quite a bit."

Wow! How arrogant is that?

3:38 AM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Smarty101 said...

Blogging is an evolutionary process. Battles have to be picked and, I believe, this battle was a bad choice.

"Commentary on popular culture and society, from a (mostly) psychological perspective"

It appears the Dr. has something (anything/everything) against Democrats (liberals) and has to stretch to justify the reasoning. I would suggest that the majority of children (including teenagers) do not know the elephant and donkey (ass) have a political meaning, much less the symbols are related to a specific political party.

7:33 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Mr. Zilber,

Is this the way you conduct research at Lawrence University? By using a sample of one to justify your conclusions? I don't see how asking one kid--and your own at that--means that other kids could not understand the implications of the Republican elephant. But isn't that really the point of your book anyway? To help kids see how bad the elephant is--after all, you yourself laughed and said that the elephant crushed the bench of a homeless man. And if you did not want kids to grasp this symbollism, why did you write a children's book? To teach tolerance? What is a child learning from your book except hypocrisy when you preach tolerance only for your own Democrats. Believe me, kids pick up on hypocrisy everyday--and please do not tell me that I do not know the psychological underpinnings of the minds of children--I have evaluated over 5000 and listened carefully to what they know. Kids are good at spotting phonies and you, sir, are a phony.

As far as whether the squirrel is gay, who cares? Certainly, as a tolerant Democrat--you should be the last person to be making an issue of this.

8:02 AM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard the interview the same way that Dr. Helen did, but unlike her I don't care to sit through it again to see if Zilber left himself some weasel-room that I didn't notice.

He doesn't seem to have the proper temperament for a writer of children's books, though. Maybe a reader of children's books.

8:50 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

As far as whether the squirrel is gay, who cares?

I agree. And does it matter whether children know that the elephant is Republican?

After all, you have a boring, saccharine, self-published kiddie book. The author couldn't persuade a publisher to market it. The world would probably have ignored this mediocrity, except for the massive free publicity that it gets from conservative (*) bloggers ridiculing it. It's an embarrassing way to get ahead, but if it works, it works.

(*) Also bloggers who are not conservative but who nonetheless hate liberals, vote Republican, and go to CPAC.

10:29 AM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Jeremy Zilber said...

Helen (and others),
I don't usually rely on a sample of one in my research, but there are times when a case study is pretty strong evidence. This, it would seem, is one of those times. Here we have a bright child growing up in an extremely partisan house. The child has probably read my book more than any other child alive. She still has no idea what the elephant means, she doesn't hate Republicans, and she hasn't questioned whether I'm a "phony." She does know more about why her mommy is a Democrat, which I happen to think is nice.

I notice that you apparently don't feel the need to cite any research at all, which I find quite interesting. Have you asked any young kids whether they know what the elephant symbolizes? You don't even have to show them my book -- just ask them if they attach any symbolic or political meaning to elephants.

As far as whether the squirrel is gay, who cares? Certainly, as a tolerant Democrat--you should be the last person to be making an issue of this.
Perhaps this is a joke, but I'll treat it as if you're serious. As you'll recall, it was one of the show's hosts who first made an issue of this, and then YOU felt the need to discuss it further. I only mentioned it as evidence that you were lying (oops -- I mean you were "confused") about what I'd actually said on the air.

11:31 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger dadvocate said...

The idea of writing a children's book to promote a political party is absolutely preposterous. Children of the age this book is aimed at are not fully able to critically analyze issues, of which I'm sure the author is aware. Thus, the book is pure propaganda aimed at brainwashing young children. Just when you think Democrats have sunk as low as they can go ....

11:49 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Jeremy Zilber: she hasn't questioned whether I'm a "phony."

I have to say, the whole thing does look a little phony. How about, "Why Mommy is a Democrat, and Daddy voted for Nader."

12:13 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats have children? Maybe they kept their fetuses in jars?

12:17 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the author of the book:

Reading your sample pages, it seems you are being absurdly coy in saying that you're not demonizing Republicans. Your web site actually refers to "swipes at the Bush administration and Republican party..."

What I find pathetic is that the liberal cause cannot persuade free thinkers of the merits of the liberal mantra. Having failed to use reason, they now resort to propoganda -- get em while they're young, and teach them that:

1. Forced wealth disribution is to be preferred.

2. They have no responsibility for themselves or their own safety.

3. One political party has a "lock" on matters of education (oh, and it happens to be the party that prefers a statist approach under the auspices of the NEA -- probably so as to more easily distribute more and more of this propoganda).

Those lessons are clear from your three sample pages.

It must be infuriating for liberals that they still lose so many converts once free thinking and reasoning gives folks a choice to consider the alternatives.

BTW, I was raised a liberal and became unabashedly conservative only after seeing how many "lies" the progressive sphere had told me over the years.

12:43 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous longtime_lurker said...

Let's ignore for a moment the dispute over the elephant, and ask the question of how the "homeless man," or vagrant, has a property in the bench? How can he possess the bench, which is public property, without denying its use to the rest of the public which paid for it (after all, a homeless man doesn't pay property taxes), and which has a right to use it?

Whoever/whatever smashed the park bench should properly be charged with destruction of public property, and the vagrant should move on.

1:06 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Smarty101 said...

"Children of the age this book is aimed at are not fully able to critically analyze issues, of which .. Thus, the book is pure propaganda aimed at brainwashing young children. Just when you think Democrats have sunk as low as they can go .... "

Yes, we must keep our children unaware of politics until they have already formed the opinions of their parents. We wouldn't want our children to be open-minded or aware of diversity in our society.

1:14 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

Whether kids are supposed to get the elephant's cultural symbolism, it's clear that the elephant clearly is not depicted as a Democrat. Thus, it's just another part of the book's theme of ad hominem demonization of anyone who isn't a socialist zealot. This sort of tactic is the lowest sort of fallacious crap. To say that Dems stand for "fairness, tolerance, peace, and concern for the well-being of others" is to imply that everyone else stands for injustice, bigotry, war and hatred, which is an idiotic assumption. Any person of reasonable intelligence understands that Republicans and Democrats both stand for fairness, tolerance, peace, and concern for the well-being of others, but they disagree on how these goals will best be achieved. Republicans (or more properly, conservatives) believe that the greatest good will be achieved with the least govt. involvement. Democrats (actually, liberals) hold to the core component of fascism - that most people are feckless fools who must have their lives controlled and guided by an enlightened elite in order to realize fairness, tolerance, peace, and concern for the well-being of others.

Zilber is thus both dishonest and contemptuous of his readers, be they adults or children. It's also interesting that he specifies Democrats for lionizing, rather than liberals. Democrats at one timeoverwhelmingly opposed the Civil Rights Act and several other modern liberal sacred cows. If Zilber really cared about promoting the values he speaks of, he'd use the label liberal rather than the name of a party. Someone can trash liberal values and still, in some quarters, run as a democrat, just as many conservatives believe Bush has betrayed them. The only reasonable conclusion is that Zilber is more interested in the power hegemony of a party rather than a set of values.

1:19 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Hodge said...

Longtime_lurker: I agree with you abso-freakin'-lutely!

Somehow, the idea of a madrassa comes to mind when I think about kids being raised in "extremely partisan" houses, whether they're bright or not and whether they consciously pick up on symbolism or not.

2:46 PM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger me said...

I would like everyone to know this is not simply a liberal phenomenon. Do you find
"Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed! (Hardcover)
by Katharine DeBrecht, Jim Hummel" equally propagandizing? Take a look at amazon.com

2:57 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding "Liberals under the Bed," I have seen this book and its the story of some kids that open a lemonade stand. The government taxes them out of business and tells them they're not allowed to have a religious picture hanging here. The book criticizes "ACTIONS" by liberal poticians which conservatives challenge. It does not, as the book we are talking about here, claim universal morality of one political party (and by extension, the absence of morality in all others).

I have some suggestions for a 2nd edition for Mr. Zilber, however:

"Democrats make sure its OK to suck the brains out and kill unborn babies before they're even born, just like Mommy did with the older brother you'll never know."

"Democrats are in favor of marginalizing your daddy, and making sure he doesn't have a role in your life other than as an ATM machine, just like Mommy does."

"Democrats make sure that everyone works half of their hours each week just to pay the taxes to give free things to people who don't want to support themselve; and Democrats make sure that there are rewards to depending on the 'system,' just like Mommy does."

"Democrats make sure the bad guys in this world will see us as weak and easy targets and they pretend that ignoring issues will make them go away, just like Mommy does."

"Democrats tell lies to little children so that they don't think for themselves, just like Mommy does."

"Democrats want you to depend on them and the 'nanny state' for your safety, well being, and security, just like Mommy does."

"Democrats make sure that everyone acts like a good 'sheep' just like Mommy does."

What do you think, sir?

3:26 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous tyree said...

Today I learned Jeremy Zilber is not a gentleman. Dr. Helen, Be assured that in the future if we ever disagree, I will approach the subject with a little more grace.

4:07 PM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger me said...

I haven't read either book, so I can't say. I was just pointing out an example of a conservative book that also seemed to be propagandizing. Here's the other side of your arguments. Maybe you could admit that BOTH are ridiculous and realize democrats aren't evil?

"Democrats make sure its OK to suck the brains out and kill unborn babies before they're even born, just like Mommy did with the older brother you'll never know."

"Republicans think women who have late term abortions are evil murderers and that the state should decide when a woman's health is threatened by pregnancy, not a doctor."

"Democrats are in favor of marginalizing your daddy, and making sure he doesn't have a role in your life other than as an ATM machine, just like Mommy does."

"Republicans think women view men as ATM machines and like having babies to make men pay child support while not having any contact with the children."

"Democrats make sure that everyone works half of their hours each week just to pay the taxes to give free things to people who don't want to support themselve; and Democrats make sure that there are rewards to depending on the 'system,' just like Mommy does."

"Republicans don't want to have Medicaid to pay for destitute elderly people to live in nursing homes, they just want them to die out on the street! They just say, "Why didn't they just save for retirement???"

"Democrats make sure the bad guys in this world will see us as weak and easy targets and they pretend that ignoring issues will make them go away, just like Mommy does."

"Republicans think torturing people and locking them up without trial will solve all our problems in the world."

"Democrats tell lies to little children so that they don't think for themselves, just like Mommy does."

"Republicans tell people that thinking for themselves is dangerous and helps the enemy -- criticizing the president is unpatriotic and even treasonous."

"Democrats want you to depend on them and the 'nanny state' for your safety, well being, and security, just like Mommy does."

"Republicans want to make sure no one gets subsidized loans for school, tax breaks for mortgage interest, or food stamps to feed poor children."

"Democrats make sure that everyone acts like a good 'sheep' just like Mommy does."

Republicans make sure that everyone acts like good patriotic sheep. Hey we agree on that one! (rolling eyes)

4:09 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dweeb:

To quote folks of my brother's generation: Right On! Very nice post. You see the "man behind the curtain."

The political power structure likes it when Democrats hate Republicans, when they demonize each other, and so on. It makes people vote "straight party ticket" (despite the pun), and that pleased the RNC and DNC.

Too bad it damages the country.

So now metrosexual pinheads like Zilber want to brainwash kids, Aldous Huxley style, to believe this fatuous nonsense that Democrats are all sweetness and light and Republicans are Dark Lords of the Sith?

I say read over those sample pages, all the while visualizing hypocritical blowhards like Clinton, Kennedy, Pelosi, and so on. I also suggest trying what an early poster wrote: end every pablum-like statement in the book with "...except for Ted Kennedy."

It helps.

Again, Dweeb, great post!

4:15 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more time: the DeBrecht book is clearly satirical in nature. Zilber's book is straight on propaganda, with no humor.

You can say that both approaches are in poor taste, but Zilber is genuinely trying to brainwash kids. Period.

4:18 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Smarty101 said...

tyree said:
Today I learned Jeremy Zilber is not a gentleman. Dr. Helen, Be assured that in the future if we ever disagree, I will approach the subject with a little more grace.

helen said:
Zilber has such ignorance of child development

Given how little you obviously know about children, what makes you think you should be giving any advice to children at all?


Grace begets grace.

4:19 PM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger dadvocate said...

smarty101 - I teach my children values over politics. When they get old enough they can judge the political parties and politicians using the values they believe in. I have no care in which political party is in power, only the policies, legislation and how closely they align with my values. I'm sure you and I don't share the same values either but that's fine.

If you think this book is in any way an open minded approach, you need to stare in the mirror for long time. I can guarantee you that my children are much more politically aware than most of the same ages.

4:48 PM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger XWL said...

All this is a tempest over a crackpot.

Prof. Zilber is a fool, and given that he recently whined about not getting enough coverage from the left, maybe by 'engaging' with enough conservatives and libertarians he's hoping to earn some Martyr points.

The left loves their martyrs, cause as Prof. Reynolds points out, they are always fighting the crushing of dissent (oh wait, that's backwards, they are nearly always the one's committing the crushing)

So now Dr. Helen can be that evil homophobe who doesn't know anything about children and poor Prof. Zilber needs the likes of DailyKos to start a campaign to increase recognition and sales of his book or else the homophobes and bad parents will have won.

5:25 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous tyree said...

Smarty 101 says...
Grace begets grace.
This may be so.
However, in the book my parents taught me from if one is wronged in word or print, we are supposed to respond politely, with a well documented reponse. If the party is unworthy of reponse, we ignore them. Screaming "liar" at someone who may be uniformed or may have made an honest mistake is a Michael Moore/Ted Kennedy kind of tactic and it is not to be used in decent company.

7:43 PM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Oh, if the liberals aren't buying this book and the conservatives are picking them up as stocking-presents for their liberal friends and relatives, that's all to the good. Then Zilber will write more books, making Democrats look even more preachy. This guy is such a great asset, he must be a Rove plant.

8:53 PM, February 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember folks, the Democrats use the word "liar" most creatively these days.

It does NOT mean intentionally misrepresenting a fact. It appears to mean disagreeing with a Democrat, from what I can see in the MSM.

10:16 PM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Speaking of Dems and the homeless, they've never been more than talk:

" [Ann] Richards [the keynote speaker at the 1988 Democratic convention] talked about the homeless, too, of course. A Democrat who didn't talk about the homeless in 1988 would have been dumber than a Republican who didn't talk about the Iran hostages in 1980. 'And there is no city in America where you cannot see homeless men...,' said Richards.

Except Atlanta. There was not a recumbent bum, importunate panhandler or cardboard pied-a-terre visible within parking distance of downtown. Walking toward the convention center on that Monday afternoon, 'American Spectator' editor and I had been approached by three scruffy guys. Were we reporters? Could we interview them? They didn't look any more boneheaded than the rest of the people we'd been interviewing.

'Notice how you haven't seen any homeless around?' said one. 'They've been locking them up. They were all run off last week. They started hassling us three or four days before the convention. We got kicked out of the bus station. Police won't even let us go back in to get our stuff out of the lockers. There's usually seventy-five to a hundred of us in the park over there, sleeping every night. We tried to sleep in there like usual, and they turned the sprinklers on at 3 A.M.'"

- P.J. O'Rourke, 'Parliament of Whores' -

You might argue "local administration", but, let's face it -- Atlanta certainly qualifies as a Dem stronghold.

11:49 AM, February 28, 2006  
Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Face it - Zilber is a Dilbert.

Don't be silly. Dilbert is an engineer. They are all GOP because they make things that work for a living.

11:53 AM, February 28, 2006  
Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> But these gimmicks do not make the real Republican decisions in Washington one whit better. If anything, as their support becomes entrenched, it lets them get away with more and worse mischief.

Greg, the problem is not the GOP, but the lack of an alternative. Being largely libertarian, I was seriously planning to vote against the GOP in 2006, because of some of their idiotic actions (particularly the lame SoSec response to Dem whining)... after all, that was one of the primary claims they made which put them in office -- fixing the damned useless program before it bankrupts the country.

...but I just can't do it. I can't reward the loons for putting HoDe in charge of the loony bin. I simply can't reward them for being such insane obstructionists. I can't reward them for the imbecilic pronouncements the leaders utter. I can't reward them for vilifying their own anytime one of them doesn't toe the line (i.e., Lieberman and Miller, for example).

...Until the Dems manage to wrest control of the party back from the Moonbat Left (or split off and make a newer, more rational party) -- I'm just going to have to keep voting GOP, much as I dislike it.

12:14 PM, February 28, 2006  
Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Now, if MY child doesn't know what the elephant symbolizes, I suspect you're overestimating children's knowledge of political symbols quite a bit.

Or maybe sheer cluelessness is an inheritable trait...

I can't speak for you, but I noticed things like parental manipulations pretty damned early on... Never in politics, but manipulation is manipulation.

12:38 PM, February 28, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

nick b: Greg, the problem is not the GOP, but the lack of an alternative.

The problem isn't just the GOP, but yes, the problem is the GOP, because the GOP runs the government. Their decisions are bad. Their explanation of what they are doing is disingenuous and wrong.

For starters, they are telling you that Social Security is bankrupting the country. But that's just not true. General spending is bankrupting the country, not Social Security. They describe some theoretical day in a decade or two when Social Security will begin to run a deficit, not go bankrupt outright but merely run a deficit, and then that's the crisis that they told you that they need to solve. But the general budget has a much larger deficit right now. There is no economic forecast that will put general spending in better shape than Social Security; no matter what happens, they won't cross places.

Don't believe me? Look at the official numbers (from the Congressional Budget office) yourself. Look at the "On Budget" and "Social Security" columns in Table 1. Which one looks worse?

So what they want to do is cut Social Security not because Social Security is in any real crisis, but because the rest of government spending is in a crisis. The crisis is caused by the spending that the GOP increased itself, in the face of its income tax cuts. The laws governing Social Security have hardly changed in decades. It is very difficult to change Social Security either up or down. So it is all well and good to be concerned about the far future of Social Security, but it is a misdirection of responsibility. It's like promising frugality by promising to reduce your mortgage payments instead of your ski trips.

Indeed, what deficit do they report these days? If Social Security were really in a crisis, they should report the on-budget deficit, which was $493.6 billion. But they didn't do that; they said that the deficit is $318.3 billion. That is the number that they are working on. Instead of fixing Social Security, they are exploiting it to fix everything else. And yes, some of them want to cut Social Security payments to exploit its receipts even more.

12:50 PM, February 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, jeez. Can we just stick to the topic without another lecture (in an area outside his own education) from Professor Kuperberg? He hates it when people claim expertise and pontificate with no background in that area, remember?

Look: every one has a right to an opinion, and even an uninformed or partisan opinion at that. But this consistent business of GK and others shifting topics...well....

If it is okay with everyone else, fine. But I find it annoying when I want to hear what people think about propagandizing children, and instead get the All Knowing Analysis of just about everything other than that topic from you know who.

I know it is another manifestion of the Archetypcal Troll, but still...

2:09 PM, February 28, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

anon 2:09 - I agree, but Greg's gonna beat his drum.

If liberals really believed in their ideas, they'd leave all indoctrination to parents - if liberal ideas are so smart, the children of liberals will be the well adjusted healthy successful leaders of the next generation, and it will all fall into place. The flipside is that if they're wrong, those same kids will be the homeless disease ridden loser whack jobs of the next generation, and conservative ideas will prevail. This, of course, assumes government stops getting between people and the consequences of their choices. Apparently they're not willing to make that bet. Come on, leftists - at most, it would take two generations for your socialist utopia to emerge if you're right.

6:52 PM, February 28, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

The leaders of every generation so far have included many liberals, because most of the leaders went to top universities whose students overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. (73% for Kerry according to the Harvard poll.) It may or may not be good leadership, but it is the leadership that the country is likely to get. After all, Bush went to Yale and Harvard; he just happened to be in the small conservative minority among his classmates.

You also don't have to believe in "socialist utopia" to be a liberal. It is enough to disbelieve the half-libertarian, half-militaristic utopia promised by the Republicans who run the federal government. There is nothing socialist or utopian about wanting a balanced budget, or opposing a costly, illogical war. But these two positions alone do make you a liberal, these days.

7:44 PM, February 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, see, this where---and I really do mean with all due respect---Dr. Kuperberg shows his usual self-contradictory nature. It is both baffling and disturbing, because I do not believe it is simply a matter of trolling, but a sign of something deeper in the gentleman.

In other posts a while back, Dr. Kuperberg repeatedly insisted that politics had absolutely nothing to do with hiring, tenure, or promotion in academia. He also inferred that having a predominantly liberal professioriate had no genuine impact on students.

So....how to explain the above post by our second favorite mathematician? I throw up my hands.

Getting back to the real point of this thread: political indoctrination occurs at many levels. It can happen at the university level, where Marcusian revolutionary and deconstructionist ideas are passed off without their basis in the works of Hegel, etc (the usual Dead White European issue---Marcuse only counts because folks like Hoffman and Davis liked him in the 60s).

So students pick up ideas without the background behind them. They unreasoningly believe, often using "authority" of someone they like as their only intellectual support.

The socialist "New Man" idea of how "proper" citizens would result from a "proper" socialist upbringing...well, that is just a dangerous shadow of the idiocy of Lysenko, whose story is also not taught in school. Yet many liberals still buy into it...which is really what Zilber is up to with his silly book.

It is possible to push ideas on children early. It is a bad idea, because those ideas are then held without reason or justification. This is where Zilber's book is dangerous in particular, because it is all warm and dishonest platitudes with no offsetting sarcasm or humor (found in the DeBrecht book).

10:46 PM, February 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey folks!

Want a chuckle? Go to tomorrow's "Day by Day" cartoon. It is about the Zilber book:

www.daybydaycartoon.com

1:14 AM, March 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

axe to grind, axe to grind-- you all have an axe to grind.

at least the liberals here (like kuperberg) refused to defend the book and agreed it was wrong-headed. you so-called conservatives/libertarians are full of nothing but justifications for the debrecht book. oh, it's got sarcasm and a sense of humor? so that makes it ok?

you're not fooling anybody. you're not one whit better than the liberals.

2:52 AM, March 01, 2006  
Blogger Eric said...

I'm not sure whether "most young kids would not know that the elephant stands for the Republican party," but at the rate elephants are being removed from zoos (and, of course, circuses), most young kids will grow up never being able to see an elephant.

Elephants are being rounded up and placed in sanctuaries where no one is allowed to see them. Children are being taught that the elephants were victims, that it was evil to use them for human "entertainment" (which includes seeing them), but that they're being taken care of now by the proper authorities.

Long term, I think this might become an increasingly sorry symbol for Republicans, but I don't know what a child might think.

8:06 AM, March 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 2:52---

Sigh. Of course sarcasm doesn't make things better. But it is better than a book that is clearly designed SOLELY to propagandize children. The other book, which you clearly have not read, starts out with all kinds of silly stuff that really does happen to businesses (like restrictions that don't make much sense). You really need to actually read the things you condemn, friend. Unless you simply want to take the word of Kos and his ilk. Or Limbaugh for that matter.

The DeBrecht book is pitched at a far older group of children, since it is about the trials and troubles of a lemonade stand in an overregulated and PC world.

This is far cry from "Mommy makes sure that everyone can go to school, just like Democrats"---while many Democratic congresscritters and Presidents mouth similar sentiments and put their kids in expensive private schools that regular people cannot afford. Heck, I would alter the page thusly:

"Mommy wants everyone to go to school, but only people like herself with money will get to go to good schools---just like Democrats"

And, sensing your screams of outrage, of course some Republicans do the same thing...and it is equally wrong.

The point here is intent. Zilber's book is clearly intended to propagadize LITTLE CHILDREN before they develop the ability to think critically.

"Fooling anyone"? I think that you are projecting in your comments, frankly.

9:17 AM, March 01, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

Greg,

I never said the current Republican administration represents a shining example of conservatism, let alone libertarianism. I've yet to hear of a libertarian who doesn't agree with you on the two issues you cited. The leadership of recent generations has been mixed (although Republicans have held the presidency more often in the last two generations) and that is to be expected. We do not have the precondition I asserted to sort things out - a government that doesn't impose itself between individuals and the consequences of their choices.

None of what I said has much to do with the two issues you brought up - it's more a question of positions on social issues. You seem to be making a significant effort to disavow a label of liberal, when I didn't call you one. My only reference to you in the preceding post was that you're going to beat your same old drum regardless of the topic, the rest of the post did not refer to you. It's not always about you.

12:10 PM, March 01, 2006  
Blogger pst314 said...

"Is this the way you conduct research at Lawrence University?"

Lawrence has some good professors, but it also has long had its share of silly liberals. Sometimes they pad out the class reading list with shallow faddish garbage, and sometimes they indulge in partisan zealotry.

2:04 PM, March 01, 2006  
Anonymous DL said...

Like lead dogs in a mushing team, these poverty pimps will growl and snarl at any competition that provides a better solution then they!

11:36 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger SmileSleep said...

I AM HAPPY NOW

3:40 AM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger mmbox said...

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