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Is message the problem—or party affiliation?

The reaction to President Barack Obama’s plan to address our nation’s school children has been surprising, to say the least.

White House officials have said the speech will focus on the importance of staying in school and civic responsibility—hardly controversial topics—but the possibility the address and accompanying academic materials will carry political undertones has many parents worried. Officials at the Chilton County Board of Education, in fact, have reported receiving calls all week about the address.

Parents should have the right to decide whether their children listen to the address, and most schools agree. Some are skipping the address altogether, and others are sending home permission slips.

But it is also important to consider why the address is being opposed. Those furious at the thought of “indoctrination,” another reference to Obama’s alleged socialist leanings, are many of the same citizens that considered criticism of former president George W. Bush unpatriotic because such criticism supposedly meant a lack of respect for the office Bush held.

The office deserves respect regardless of whether its occupant toes your political line.

We agree, some of Obama’s policies stray from the capitalist ideal our country was founded upon—just as some of Bush’s anti-terrorism policies strayed from our Founding Fathers’ ideal of citizens’ right to privacy from the government.

If we don’t want the president of our country speaking to our children, so be it. However, if we only oppose the idea because the current president is the member of a particular party, then the message our children are receiving from us is that we should never listen to someone who doesn’t think the same way we do. Our Founding Fathers would not agree.