This letter appeared, with some cosmetic edits, in the University of Tennessee’s student newspaper, The Daily Beacon, on September 17.
Sam Smith’s friday column, “Criticism of Obama’s speech outrageous,” was nothing if not educational. While reading it, I learned that I am “either a hateful individual or a nincompoop.” I learned that I am “involved in the madness and mistruths,” that my behavior should be called into question, that I should refrain from expressing myself, so that the country can move forward. I learned that I am perhaps an adherent to “the worst sentiments among us like covert prejudice and ignorance.” I learned that I do not accept the fact of Obama’s presidency. I learned that all opponents of the White House’s unconstitutional plans for healthcare and energy are small-minded and petty. I learned that I am a global citizen, although I do not recall accepting the rule of a global government. These revelations say nothing about me, but they speak volumes of the columnist’s attitude toward those who disagree with him.
At the risk of being outrageous, I will criticize Obama’s speech to the nation’s schoolchildren. I take no issue with the speech’s content. It spoke of hard work and self-reliance. It could have been written by a staunch conservative. The speech, however, was not given in good faith; it was disingenuous. It was pure demagoguery. If Thomas Paine was correct in writing that “infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what [one] does not believe,” then Obama’s speech epitomized infidelity. He preached hard work and personal responsibility, but his policies encourage laziness and collective responsibility. If Obama had spoken in good faith, his message to America’s youth would have been: “I hope you work hard for your country, but if you do not, don’t worry. It is not your fault and it should not be your responsibility. I will force your hardworking, responsible neighbors to give you food, cash, cars, homes and healthcare.”
Junior in Political Science