I don’t respect the office of the presidency. I don’t think a title makes a person worthy of respect. I have no problem mocking the president or his misguided educational reforms – just as I did with Bush (though it was admittedly easier with a president who used such creative grammatical structures).
However, if I met with him face-to-face, I wouldn’t wag my finger at him. And for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t do that to our misguided governor, either. I believe that tone matters. I believe that anger can be expressed without dehumanizing people, using loaded language or creating straw man enemies that you set on fire Burning-Man-style in an ideological desert.
I would ask him questions. I would listen to his well-rehearsed answers and ask him more questions. I would present facts. I would share stories. I would, if possible, build a relationship. Because ultimately no one has any reason to believe me until they have learned to trust me. For what it’s worth, I would do the same with the governor. I’d even break bread with her and see if she really does eat scorpions for breakfast.
I don’t believe that being a radical means screaming until your red in the face or using pejorative, dehumanizing language to provoke someone into an argument. Even the most radical of truth can be spoken in nuance, through a dialogue that involves real questions and real listening.
If you want me to see the dark side of education, talk to me without calling me a prison warden, a slave driver, a thief or a child abuser. If you want me to consider a more corporate style of reform, talk to me without using loaded language to describe the population that I teach. If you want to engage with me, don’t point your finger at me.
It never works.