The day after NATO Host Committee co-chairperson Madeleine Albright belabored South Side high school students on her favorite topic – the ineffable virtues of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its need to encompass the world so as to share its benefits with populations not yet bombed and occupied – two other members of the committee visited a sixth-grade classroom at the Walt Disney Magnet School on the North Lakefront to deliver the same message.
The two summit propagandists interrogated the primary school students, who had been given their homework in advance, with questions like “When was NATO started?” and “Why was it started?” in an instruction in dogma that resembles catechism classes in parochial schools.
In answer to the second query, one well-prepared youngster responded, “To prevent World War III!”
One is free to substitute another verb for “prevent.”
Other questions included, “Who were we worried about in 1949?” with the inevitable “The Soviet Union!” as the required answer. Matters haven’t changed much in essence since the Cold War bunker mentality of 1949 held sway over the minds of terrified schoolchildren.
The Chicago Tribune account of the event, written by the perpetually uncomprehending Mary Schmich, has the tone of schoolchildren being coached to celebrate the hosting of the 2016 Olympics (which Chicago bid for and lost) or the Chicago Cubs’ pennant prospects. Nice and “bubbly,” with a We Are the World schmaltziness incongruous with the deadly nature of the organization which is being paid obeisance.
During the earlier Albright session with a select (elect) group of students from an elite secondary school, the sort of pupils deemed potential successors to the likes of the former secretary of state and in the future able in their own right to order bomb and missile attacks on defenseless peoples, students were grilled on the benefits accruing to Chicago in hosting the military bloc’s summit, and one enterprising student earned herself a gold star by stating “It’s like being able to see history in front of your eyes.”
NATO and the Department of State Albright headed during NATO’s first war in 1999 have deployed brigades of officials to similarly indoctrinate students across the city of 3 million. The Host Committee, the State Department, the White House, the Rahm Emanuel administration and NATO Headquarters in Brussels have also prepared a number of public relations initiatives to promote the military alliance as a benign organization the hosting of which is an honor to the city and an opportunity to showcase the “world-class” qualities of the same.
Chicago Public Schools is fully collaborating with the NATO Host Committee in using classrooms and school hours to conduct a one-sided pro-NATO information campaign, as though academic standards and achievement in Chicago are so outstanding as to permit time for the inculcation of “North Atlantic values.”
Its website invites its almost half million students to “Win an iPod and start your career as a video director” by entering a contest to produce videos to “welcome leaders from more than 50 countries to Chicago for the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Diplomatic Summit this May.”
There are no better issues, no higher values to promote than the world’s and history’s largest military bloc which only five and a half months ago completed its first war in Africa and is in the twelfth calendar year of a war in Asia. It is reprehensible – is criminal – enough to recruit men and women in their late teens and early twenties to kill and die abroad under the NATO banner, but to conduct this sort of children’s crusade is truly unconscionable.
It isn’t specified whether the iPod comes replete with the NATO logo. As the indoctrination process proceeds further down the grade levels to pre-school, perhaps scale-model toy cruise and Hellfire missiles and cluster bomb three-dimensional puzzles can be handed out to the children.
The NATO Host Committee also plans a video link-up with students in Chicago and counterparts in Afghanistan in which the two groups will share musical performances.
In a sane and just world Chicago students would be invited to visit bomb shelters where Serbian, Afghan and Libyan children huddled in terror in the cold and dark while NATO bombs and missiles rained down from the sky and the cemeteries where their opposite numbers’ battered bodies are buried.
The more valiant Chicago pupils could volunteer to spend their summer vacation clearing cluster bomb fragments in past NATO war zones.
That sort of practical education would contribute to learning the most important lesson: That war is an utter abomination and an organization that exist solely for that purpose has no right to exist.