Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Should Sesame Street Lead The Campaign Against Xenophobia?

Given that America’s leading conservative pundits are placing the blame on ethnic minorities as the leading cause of America’s current problems, should Sesame Street lead the campaign against xenophobia?

By: Ringo Bones

As Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk had recently grown rich by placing the blame squarely on ethnic minorities as the leading cause of America’s current problems – i.e. the runaway deficit spending of the Obama Administration’s “socialist policies”. Is it already high time for Sesame Street – like it had always been – to lead the fight yet again against xenophobia?

I am now starting to wonder if history is now repeating itself, when American conservatives think that the problem of runaway deficit spending can be solved in one fell swoop by adopting xenophobic policies. Like what Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh did in the few years before America got involved in World War II. And it even created an impression to the not-so-historically-savvy that then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been flirting with “isolationist policies”. Does xenophobia ever foster peace?

Ever since the show aired 40 or so years ago, Sesame Street has always had that special way of educating the impressionable minds of kids. So special that if anyone – like what Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh did before, or what Richard Butler, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh did later – tries to indoctrinate xenophobia to our kid’s impressionable minds will have to work harder at it. Those basic Spanish lessons that Sesame Street shoehorned into their shows are not only good for learning Latin, they also allowed the Latino and Hispanic community to be seamlessly integrated into the larger American community. Given that my generation that grew up during the 1970s has more or less has a working knowledge of the Spanish language.

Should Sesame Street spearhead the fight against xenophobia especially now that the conservative White Anglo-Saxon Americans are confusing the xenophobic outlook of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as patriotism? Given that it is more and more likely that American kids today are more and more likely to meet ethnic groups face to face that their grandparents and parents only read about in National Geographic, Sesame Street wold be doing these kids a big favor. Like it did to my generation. Cultural diversity doesn't cost a single cent, unlike current conservative pundits rhetoric that America cannot afford cultural diversity in times of recession.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

40 Years of Sesame Street: Still a Lot to Teach?

After first airing back in November 1969, does the world’s most beloved children’s educational show Sesame Street still has something left to teach to the world’s children?

By: Ringo Bones

Back in November 2009, the world’s most beloved children’s educational show – the Children’s Television Workshop’s Sesame Street – celebrated its 40 years on the air by having the current US First Lady – Michelle Obama – as the special guest. But after continuously teaching the world’s children during the past 40 years, everyone – including the show’s first generation fans – are now probably thinking if Sesame Street still has any wisdom left to teach the world’s children?

Ever since the show’s inception, Sesame Street’s raison d’être has always been teaching the kids as low as 5 years of age to acquire the wisdom to handle “complicated” issues at their own reading and learning level. From the passing of Sesame Street’s beloved storekeeper Mr. Hooper back in 1982, where it was the first time that a children’s educational show on network TV tackled the subject of death of a close associate, to the topic of détente when Big Bird goes to the People’s Republic of China during the time when Ronald Reagan ruled the free world. Sesame Street even tackled the “thorny” topic about military deployment of US Armed Forces to Afghanistan and Iraq during the turbulent days of the Bush Administration – especially those whose kids are Sesame Street fans.

Does Sesame Street still has some of its timeless wisdom to dispense in the supposedly more enlightened Obama Administration-era America? Fortunately, Sesame Street still has a lot to do when it comes to the understanding of other ethnic groups that had became naturalized American citizens like it did 40 years ago. Especially now when someone like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and their ilk - who mimic the pre World War II Nazi Ideology of Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh – are gaining more popular support, especially when the catchphrase “Can we even afford cultural dive5rsity in times of recession” is now used in contemporary American society to belittle ethnic groups who had recently been naturalized into American citizens. Even Oscar the Grouch had grown sick of watching the “POX News Network”.