- The Washington Times - Friday, July 1, 2005

White House senior adviser Karl Rove caused a firestorm last week after observing liberals favor “therapy and understanding” to fight terrorism post-September 11, 2001.

Mr. Rove spoke the truth. But he barely scratched the surface. The left-wing Kumbaya crowd is quietly grooming a generation of pushovers in the public schools. At a time of war, when young Americans should be educated about this nation’s resilience and steely resolve, educators are indoctrinating students with saccharine-sticky lessons on “nonviolent conflict resolution” and “promoting constructive dialogues.”

Peaceniks are covering our kids from head to toe in emotional bubble wrap. They are creating a nation of namby-pambies.

The latest example of Hand-Holding 101 comes from the New York City public schools. According to Lauren Collins of the New Yorker magazine, the school system is introducing a new curriculum called “Operation Respect: Don’t Laugh at Me” into all its elementary and middle schools. The program is now used in at least 12,000 schools and camps across the country.

Ostensibly, the program helps kids deal with petty meanness and name-calling from insensitive classmates, not by instructing them in self-defense, mind you, but by inflating their self-esteem. The organization’s mission is “to transform schools, camps and organizations focused on children and youth, into more compassionate, safe and respectful environments.” Instead of “putdowns,” teachers encourage “put-ups.” The Operation Respect Web site depicts well-adjusted children holding up ego-affirming signs reading: “Ridicule Free Zone,” “No Dissing Here,” “U Matter,” and “Peace Place.”

Among the mindless training exercises teachers undergo is the “Caring Being” session. Miss Collins quotes a conflict-resolution expert in Brooklyn leading middle-school educators through the lesson: “I want you all to share a time in your career as an educator where someone did or said something that made you feel like you were not cared for or respected. … Now do the opposite.” After drawing figures encompassing their negative and positive experiences, teachers shared their finished products, “Caring Beings,” which would be used to “explore creating agreements around behaviors.” Blecchh.

Teaching students to respect one another is all well and good. But a closer look at the program’s founder and its sponsors shows that beneath all the fuzzy-wuzzy, touchy-feely jargon is a clear pacifist agenda.

“Operation Respect” was founded by radical lefty Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary — last seen in April publicly apologizing to Vietnam.

During last year’s presidential campaign, you may recall Mr. Yarrow traveled and performed with old friend and antiwar mate John Kerry, who pretended to smoke a joint while Mr. Yarrow sang the ostensible children’s ditty “Puff the Magic Dragon.” No wonder they favor “Ridicule Free Zones.”

The teaching materials for “Operation Respect” were created under the direction of Linda Lantieri, founder of something called the “Educators for Social Responsibility’s Resolving Conflict Creatively Program.” Educators for Social Responsibility promotes pedagogical material from the likes of the militant “War Resisters League” to “understand” war and peddles lessons on (hyped) anti-Muslim discrimination in America to “understand” the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Additional guidance for the lessons came from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center. The program lays the groundwork for children to take a “peace pledge” and commit to nonviolent conflict resolution to solve problems. Translation: Therapy and understanding over vigorous self-defense.

In their brilliant book “One Nation Under Therapy,” Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel diagnosed the public school’s pacifist pathology dead on: “American children badly need moral clarity. But our education establishment is too uneasy about the idea of moral judgment to meet this elementary need. Feelings of helplessness and disorientation are thoroughly, even compulsively, canvassed, elicited, discussed and promoted; by contrast, feelings of moral indignation and condemnation are deflected and downplayed. This leaves children defenseless, clueless and unprepared to meet real and grave threats to their own and the nation’s future.”

Just what we need to combat throat-slitting, suicide plane-flying Islamists: young eunuchs swaying to moldy old folk music while their “Peace Place” signs flap in the wind.

Michelle Malkin is a nationally syndicated columnist.


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