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When Generalizations Attack

Posted on March 6 2010 2:49 am
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.
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We’ve all felt like Charlie Brown in this classic exchange, after an innocent and completely unintentional offense at one time or another:

Peppermint Patty: Chuck can I stay at your house my father is going out of town on business?

Charlie Brown: Why don’t you just stay with your mother?

Peppermint Patty: My mother’s dead Chuck

Charlie Brown: I’m going to go home and paint my tongue black

When I saw this reply by the Birkels to Suzanne Venker’s post about kids sleeping with their parents as an example of permissive and “politically correct” parenting, it reminded me of something that happened with one of my best friends.

It should be no surprise to anyone that I would have opinionated friends.  One couple we hung out with a lot tended to have strong opinions on a variety of child-related medical issues. (No surprise, they had their kids at home with a midwife.)  One night, something triggered the topic of C-sections, and they went on about a 10 minute rant on how there were too many cesareans performed, that it was defensive medicine,  and the like.

All the while, my wife’s lips got tighter and her eyes turned the color of those on the demon sheep in Carly Fiorentino’s silly political ad.

Finally, with a very even voice that could cut glass, she said, “I had two C-sections.”

The other couple’s faces fell, and –perhaps for the first time– they were momentarily speechless; before the inevitable and horrified we-didn’t-mean-you’s started, and the “I’m sure yours were necessary,” and the like.  I would have had two customers if I sold black paint that night.

Suzanne was set off by a Good Morning America segment in which George Stephanopoulos said he and his wife had hired a “sleep therapist” because they couldn’t control their kids at night.

“Ellie and I are now waving the white flag in our battle to get our kids our of our bed at night, but we know this is not a unique struggle. So how do you get your kids to sleep in their own rooms?”

“You are definitely not alone,” says ABC contributor Cameron Mathison. “Vanessa and I love our kids more than anything else in the whole world, just like you, but our kids, 3 and 6, were sleeping in our bed every single night.”

The Birkels are, of course, right that there is nothing PC, per se, about whether babies or kids sleep with their parents; but Suzanne’s main point of contention is correct.  Not only do the Stephanopoulos kids seem to be in charge of the house, the parents aren’t even trying to take control back, but instead have called in a third party to solve the problem for them because they are afraid of being meanies.

This isn’t far afield from teachers and principals who won’t lay down the law, but instead engage in “conflict resolution,” –which spawns Baby Boomer Presidents who don’t think the way to deal with tyrants is to exert force, but to sit and talk it over… and over… and over…

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