The River

Sunday, July 27, 2008

On the ease of fooling adults

I keep my kids shielded from the big bad world of politics, power, and corruption, but this morning my older daughter, 8, was looking at the infamous New Yorker cover and I explained it to her and to her sister, 6. I gave them a straightforward explanation of what the idea behind it was. They both, without prompting or propagandizing, were aghast, although one did note that the New Yorker was known for silly covers.

So, in the context of our discussion of presidential politics and the "war on terror" I felt compelled to mention Sept. 11. The older one had heard of it, but the younger I don't think had. After I explained that the man in the framed picture on the New Yorker cover was Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, my youngest asked, "has he been arrested?"

And that simple, direct and logical question, and the fact that it has never been central to our politics or to our 9/11 response tells you everything you need to know about how completely the whole world has been taken in by the Big Lie, the "war on terror."

That's a tough call, with kids, but it sounds like you handled it just right. The critical thinking behind the youngest's question bodes well for her adult understanding of the world and your compassion ensures that the understanding won't crush her.
Thanks, arkady. What I worry about crushing them is the fact that their peers are being taught cruelty, conformism, pettiness and prejudice (basically through inattentive or unaware parenting) and the despair and confusion that causes them, knowing they're not like everybody else. Same as it ever was, I guess. Only, of course, it's worse than it was in our day.
Truth can be told in few words. Chalk one up for your daughter, and for you. The conformism might mislead her temporarily, but it will never take her over.
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