Friday, February 24, 2012

Indoctrination

Once again Rick Santorum has his finger on the pulse of America's problems. Problems we didn't even know we had. In an interview with Glenn Beck this week (of which I still can't locate a transcript or video) Santorum reportedly worried about whether too many students are going to college.
 “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”
 Does he mean that when college students study too much biology and physics, they start to wonder whether the Bible is meant to be taken literally? Or perhaps that when students are exposed to the writings of Karl Marx or John Stuart Mill, they start to vote Republican less reliably? Would Rick Santorum be so worried about indoctrination if college kids were required to study Christian theology? Or is it just exposure to secular ideas that concerns him?

I have to wonder how this message will resonate with voters. Do a lot of people really think that the American economy will be more competitive in the future if we start discouraging young people from pursuing higher education? Are there a lot of voters who believe their children would be better off uneducated if the alternative might lead them to question their traditional beliefs? Does Rick Santorum actually think that such voters could form a majority? If so, I have to wonder whether he himself studied enough math in school.

Millions of parents would dearly love for their children to have the opportunity to study at the finest universities they are able to attend, because they know that would open up many doors for them. It seems cruel for a presidential candidate to denigrate that opportunity, or discourage people from pursuing that dream. It seems awfully mean-spirited to criticize the president for trying to open up more educational opportunities for young people. While we might have legitimate disagreements about how to achieve that end, the goal itself should not be controversial. Rick Santorum himself obtained an MBA and a law degree from distinguished universities. (the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State) Why would he want to deny others the opportunities that were given to him?

(photo of students being indoctrinated from Beacon College website)

UPDATE (2/25): TPM has dug up from the archived website for Rick Santorum's 2006 Senate re-election campaign, the statement that Santorum "is equally committed to ensuring the every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education. Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable.”  So apparently Santorum was FOR universal access to higher education before he was against it. What has changed? You might call it the Obama touch. Everything the president supports must now be portrayed as hateful by his opponents. If Obama said tomorrow that Americans should eat more apple pie, I'm sure the Republican field would tell us that would be poisonous.

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