Sunday, December 04, 2005
Paul Street -- whose latest book, published earlier this year, is Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (Routledge, 2005) -- has a first-rate take on what Sesame Street is teaching your kids -- "Antonio Gramsci on Sesame Street" -- just out on Z-Net. A recent broadcast taught kids that any societal attempt to have a more equitable distribution of wealth is a bad thing. A research vice president for the Chicago Urban League and a regular Z-Net contributor, Street (right) describes the broadcast: "The morning's lesson was on the just and inviolable nature of socioeconomic inequity and the sanctity of private property and possessive individualism. At the point I clicked on the program, two very concerned and mature adults --- a black man and a black woman, both in their 40s it appeared --- were listening with raised eyebrows to a blue puppet animal ('Cookie Monster' perhaps) who had just designated himself 'Cookie-Hood.' 'Cookie-Hood' (left) was a play on Robin Hood.
"'Cookie Hood' had just come to the alarming (for him) realization that 'some people have lots more cookies than they need' while 'other people have no cookies at all.' That's a prescient observation in the industrialized world's most unequal and wealth-top-heavy society, where the top 1 percent owns at least 40 percent of total wealth and more than 1 million black children are growing up at less than half the federal government's notoriously low and inadequate poverty level.
"The solution, 'Cookie-Hood' announced, is to take the surplus cookies away from the wealthy few and give them away to the poor, cookie-less many. Imagine! 'Hooray!' the other puppet animals shouted.
"The two adults were not pleased. 'That,' the father figure sternly intoned, 'is stealing.' And 'stealing is wrong,' he elaborated, 'because it means taking something that doesn't belong to you.' No room, of course, in the SS script for why the cookie-less exist in the first place: because of societal dispossession, repression, and, well, theft. No room for moral outrage at the fact that masses of cookie-less are born into a world they never made where billions go hungry and ill-housed while a wealthy minority lives surrounded by extravegant opulence. No sense of justice in the demand of equal cookies for all.
"'Cookie-Hood' felt sad and ashamed. He thought he'd been doing something good and just, but really he'd been doing something wrong. He'd been stealing cookies that didn't belong to him! Bad cookie puppet!!..." You can read all of Paul Street's tartly observant piece by clicking here. If this is the kind of rebarbative pollution Sesame Street is pumping into your kids' little heads, you'll want to exercise your v-chip prerogatives and keep your kids from watching this sort of crap -- permanently!