May 7 2013
Barack Obama and the Closing of the American Mind
President Obama had some important advice for college graduates in his commencement speech at Ohio State University: don’t listen to conflicting opinions. You thought becoming educated entailed exploring different ideas? Silly you.
Specifically, President Obama warned the graduating class not to listen to people who don’t believe in government taking over our lives:
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.
We have never been a people who place all our faith in government to solve our problems. We shouldn’t want to. But we don’t think the government is the source of all our problems, either. Because we understand that this democracy is ours. And as citizens, we understand that it’s not about what America can do for us, it’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self-government. And class of 2013, you have to be involved in that process.
The president did two very typical things in this speech—he advocated having a closed mind, and he misused American history to promote the idea that his view is the fulfillment of the Founding. Would our self-government really be “somehow just a sham” if we entertained ideas other than Obama's and—perish the thought!—we came to differnt conclusions from his?
In a piece on the president’s Ohio State speech, Denise McAllister of Ricochet takes note of two American leaders who had a view of government that is diametrically opposed President Obama's:
Alexander Hamilton warned, “If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.”
George Washington warned Americans to be on guard against tyranny because “government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
But don’t listen to Washington and Hamilton. The president has warned you against people like them.
But do read McAllister’s entire post.