April 20, 2006

The epitomy of "limousine liberal"

I didn't know what to do, really, after reading this by Nina Burleigh. I guess I knew I was in for a "treat" when I saw the headliner: "I cringed as my young son recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But who was I to question his innocent trust in a nation I long ago lost faith in?"

"Cringed." 'Ya ready? Here we go:

Our family first arrived in Narrowsburg in 2000, as city people hunting for a cheap house. For barely $50,000 we were able to buy the "weekend house" we thought would complete our metropolitan existence.

After all, how many average folk get to buy a "weekend house," eh?

But soon after we closed on the home, we moved to Paris, spurred by the serendipitous arrival of a book contract.

Place in the city, a weekend house and moving to Paris on top of all that!

When our European idyll ended after two years, and with tenants still subletting our city apartment, we moved into the Narrowsburg house. After growing accustomed to the French social system -- with its cheap medicine, generous welfare, short workweek and plentiful child care -- life back in depressed upstate New York felt especially harsh.

Can it get any more silly -- and she's not even halfway through her article!! How in the friggin' world does someone like Burleigh "grow accustomed" to cheap medicine and generous welfare -- as if that would REALLY be a concern for her? A writer's workweek is already short (they can essentially set their own hours and work from wherever), and child care? You really think that was ever a problem for Burleigh?

In the fall of 2004, we enrolled our son in kindergarten at the Narrowsburg School. The school's reputation among our friends, other "second-home owners," was not good. "Do they even have a curriculum?" sniffed one New York City professor who kept a weekend home nearby. Clearly, Narrowsburg School was not a traditional first step on the path to Harvard.

Well, la de dah! You can picture Nina writing this sipping a cup of tea with her pinkie in the air ...

Our son would be one of just 12 little white children in a sunny kindergarten class taught by an enthusiastic woman with eighteen years' experience teaching five-year-olds.

Notice the word "white." Like all good limousine libs, at some point you have to acknowledge your racial guilt.

Still, for the first few months, we felt uneasy. Eighty of Narrowsburg's 319 adults are military veterans and at least 10 recent school graduates are serving in Iraq or on other bases overseas right now.

My GOD! 25% of the adults are ... military verterans?? Run for the hills! They make me ... uneasy!!

The school's defining philosophy was traditional and conservative, starting with a sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline, leavened with a rafter-shaking reverence for country and flag.

Hyperbole alert: "rafter-shaking." And God forbid -- sit-down-in-your-seat discipline? We can't have respectful children being raised in our public schools, can we?

But it wasn't until our boy came home with an invitation in his backpack to attend a "released time" Bible class that my husband and I panicked. We called the ACLU and learned this was an entirely legal way for evangelicals to proselytize to children during school hours.

Here's probably the most legitimate "concern" in the whole article. Of course, however, Burleigh overdoes it with words like "panicked." (What, did she suddenly become short of breath with chest pains? Massive migraine?) Most parents who had a concern would merely call the school if they had any questions/concerns and that'd be the end of it.

What was against the law was sending the flier home in a kid's backpack, implying school support. After our inquiry, the ACLU formally called the principal to complain. She apologized and promised never to allow it again. While we were never identified as the people who dropped the dime to the ACLU, there was clearly no one else in the school community who would have done so -- and the principal never looked at us quite as warmly again.

And how was the perception that "there was clearly no one else in the school community who would have done so" manifested, Nina? Such a perception just doesn't suddenly come about, you know. Notice that Burleigh says she (or her husband) didn't contact the school themselves about the offending flyer. They immediately went to the ACLU. And they do not expect even a slight bit of resentment by taking such a drastic first step over ... a flyer??

Shortly afterward, another parent casually told me that she wanted to bring her daughter's religious cartoon videos in to share with the class, but couldn't because "some people" might object. When we later learned that the cheery kindergarten teacher belonged to one of the most conservative evangelical churches in the community ...

Good Lord! Now we're approaching fascist territory! Religious cartoons for ... child's share time? A kindergarten teacher who's ... an evangelical Christian? Where's the goose-steppers?

Instead, to counteract any God-and-country indoctrination he received in school, we began our own informal in-home instruction about Bush, Iraq and Washington over the evening news.

"School" thy name is "irony." Indoctrination in a public school by ... conservatives! Instruction about ... patriotism! ARRRGGHH! As for the "informal in-home instruction," stand by.

Politically, Narrowsburg is red dot in a blue state.

And Burleigh will have none of THAT, rassin' frassin' dangnabbit ...!!

Hand over heart, my son belted out the Pledge with gusto every morning and memorized and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." I never stopped resisting the urge to sit down in silent protest during the Pledge.

Hey, that would be your right. And your son's. Amazing, for a country with such defects, eh?

Listening to their little voices, I felt guilty for being a non-believer ..."

Non-believer of ... what? The American Dream? Not to sound cliché with a similar-sounding "Love it or Leave it" quip, but what makes you remain here? Especially when there's "idyllic" France right across the pond -- home of cheap medicine, generous welfare, short work weeks, etc.?? Or do you believe in that Dream -- when it suits you? Like the ability to make a lot of money writing columns and books, and to make enough money to have a domicile in one of the most expensive places in the US and a "weekend" home and love to Europe for an idyllic two-year "break"? (/Vomiting.)

That November, at the school's annual Veterans Day program, the children performed the trucker anthem "God Bless the USA" ... about a dozen local veterans -- ancient men who had served in World War II, and men on the cusp of old age who had served in Korea and Vietnam -- settled into folding chairs arranged beneath the flag. When the students were finished singing, the principal asked the veterans to stand and identify themselves. Watching from the audience, I wondered if anyone would speak of the disaster unfolding in Iraq ... no one did. The men rose and stated name, rank and theater. Finally, a burly, gray-bearded Vietnam veteran rose and said what no one else dared. After identifying himself, he choked out, "Kids, I just hope to God none of you ever have to experience what we went through." Then he sat down, leaving a small pocket of shocked silence. No one applauded his effort at honesty. On the contrary, the hot gym air thickened with a tension that implicitly ostracized the man, and by extension -- because we agreed with him -- me and my husband.

What a conceit! Why does this apply only to the Vietnam veteran? Granted, it's the war we lost (but won the battles ... no thanks to the politicos), but what about the Korean "tie"? That aside, again -- what makes such a comment unique to the 'Nam vet? Does Burleigh think a veteran of Normandy couldn't offer the very same advice? Or a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge? Or Iwo Jima? Pusan?

In simple language, I told my son that our president had started a war with a country called Iraq. I said that we were bombing cities and destroying buildings. And I explained that families just like ours now had no money or food because their parents didn't have offices to go to anymore or bosses to pay them. "America did this?" my son asked, incredulous. "Yes, America," I answered.

Recall what I said by "indoctrination" above. Simply, did Burleigh offer ANY context at all in her "simple language" explanation? ANY??

Now it has been almost a year since my son scampered down the steps of Narrowsburg Central Rural School for the last time. We've since returned to the city, driven back to urban life more by adult boredom than our children's lack of educational opportunities.

Translation: We've had enough of the rednecks and miss our Gucci neo-Marxist buddies immensely.

Our son is enrolled in a well-rated K-5 public school on Manhattan's Upper West Side; not surprisingly, the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer part of his morning routine. Come to think of it, and I could be wrong, I've never seen a flag on the premises.

Which, I'm sure, kept Burleigh's blood pressure nice and low, and she could put away the Valium bottle.

My husband and I realized, though, that Narrowsburg did more than mold our boy into a patriot. He can, it turns out -- despite the warnings of other city parents -- read at a level twice that of his new peers.

Oh HO! What was that about that "sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline" again?

Since we returned to the city, he has learned how to ride a bike, long for an Xbox, practiced a few new swear words and, somehow, learned the meaning of "sexy." He has pretty much stopped favoring red, white and blue.

Isn't that "terrific"? Swear words, "sexy," not favoring red, white and blue ...

That shouldn't be surprising in the least considering the whole of this article. After all, Burleigh is the woman who once said she "would be happy to give [Bill Clinton] a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs."

Posted by Hube at April 20, 2006 11:12 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

This lady is a hater and partly crazy to boot. Let me quote from her article..."we began our own informal in-home instruction about Bush, Iraq and Washington over the evening news". She was instructing a 5-year old kid to attempt to counteract the patriotism he was learning in school!!!! She is nuts. Go back to France.

Posted by: AJ Lynch at April 20, 2006 11:34 AM

I knew I was in for a laugh when she reffered to Narrowsburg as "upstate" since the town is barely an hour's drive from NYC. A red dot in a blue state? Hardly. Go back to that electoral map of 2004, and you'll see what New York is - a red state, apart from urban monstrosities like NYC and Albany, and the "upstaters" are sick of being pushed around and having all their tax money sucked into the blue dots. And no, Hillary and Chucky aren't popular with them, despite what you read in the New York Times.

Posted by: G Rex at April 20, 2006 12:06 PM

The BJ comment is awesome. The rest...severely lackluster and annoying.

Posted by: Mike M. at April 20, 2006 05:04 PM

Mike: somehow I knew you were gonna say something like that ... ! ;-)

Posted by: Hube at April 20, 2006 05:55 PM

This post was too annoying for me to read....call me lazy, lame or whatever.

Posted by: Nancy Willing at April 21, 2006 11:13 AM

But now I'll have to scan through for the bj part thanks to Mike DWA.

Posted by: Nancy Willing at April 21, 2006 11:14 AM

I too admit that I didn't read the whole thing. Clearly the lady is rather unpleasant. But the term "limousine liberal" is a pet peeve of mine.

Clearly there are such people. But there are even more "limousine conservatives." Republicans are still richer across the spectrum, make up a higher percentage of the upper class, have more political sway, etc. The clever and concerted attempt over the last 15 years to to shift the meaning of "elite" from the right to the left is laughable. But it's also met with some success, thanks to Limbaugh & Co.

Posted by: dan` at April 21, 2006 12:09 PM

But there are even more "limousine conservatives."

But that's just it, dan -- "limousine conservatives" aren't espousing the greatness of "idyllic" France, generous welfare, cheap meds, child care ... when they clearly do not need nor make use of such; indeed, limousine libs implicitly mock such concepts (and people) that actually need such. Burleigh is the personification of it.

Limousine cons know their monetary circumstances and, frankly, enjoy it without guilt!

Posted by: Hube at April 21, 2006 02:44 PM

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