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Partisan Politics for Kids
August 4, 2007 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Move over Harry Potter! Political books for children have hit store shelves! From the right side of the political spectrum there is HELP! MOM! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!; from the left, Why Mommy Is a Democrat. "Putting political messages in children's books isn't new. More than 20 years ago, Dr. Seuss did it with The Butter Battle Book*, where the Zooks and the Yooks build competing arsenals, modeled after the nuclear arms race [animation -- 1, 2, 3]."
posted by ericb (53 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Other titles:
The Sky's Not Falling -- Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming.

HELP! MOM! The 9th Circuit Nabbed the Nativity!

HELP! MOM! Hollywood's In My Hamper!
posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on August 4, 2007


The difference is that the Butter Battle Book is mostly about foolishness and pride- and it's allegorical and about values and not about policies. Why Mommy Is a Democrat and Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under my Bed! are pure partisan idiocy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:37 AM on August 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Looks like American political discussion has finally found its natural level.
posted by Optamystic at 10:37 AM on August 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


Why Mommy is a Democrat... and Weak Justifications of why Little Timmy Should Give a Fuck

Let the poor kid decide when he's old enough to know or care. Absolutely detestable.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:45 AM on August 4, 2007


Gadzooks.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:46 AM on August 4, 2007


Wingnuts are ruining the twiddlebug party in my friend's front yard.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:47 AM on August 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


HELP! MOM! The 9th Circuit Nabbed the Nativity!

You have absolutely got to be shitting me.

"Mommy, why can't we show off our religious symbols on government property and totally show all the Jews and heathens who's boss?"

"Well, Timmy, because some very naughty people don't like God and Jesus. Those people are the enemy, Timmy. Never forget who your enemies are." **hugs**
posted by Avenger at 10:50 AM on August 4, 2007


HELP! MOM! BUDDY STOLE THE SPORTS SECTION AND IT'S FREEZING IN THIS CARDBOARD BOX!

HELP! MOM! BIRDS ARE EATING THE CORN I PLANTED IN OUR OLD SUV!

HELP! MOM! MY KIDNEY'S BEING REPOSSESSED FOR YOUR OLD 2ND MORTGAGE!

and other fun books await us in the next decade
posted by pyramid termite at 11:04 AM on August 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


"HELP! MOM! There Are Liberals Under My Bed" appears to be set in Comic Sans. 'nuff said.
posted by Luddite at 11:08 AM on August 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ugh. There was a story in the LA Times a while back about the guy who created the "Kids Ahead" imprint. A real delight, he is.
posted by maryh at 11:09 AM on August 4, 2007


pure partisan idiocy

Almost an alliterative trifecta. How about pure partisan poppycock?
posted by chlorus at 11:17 AM on August 4, 2007


Since when did the democratic party count as the "left"? Oh, right, it's a two party system where "left" means "further left than the other, extremely right-wing party."

How about we start publishing "chomsky for kids" to give kids a dose of what the world is actually like before TV and the "Education System" 's indoctrination turn them into either apathetic, shallow, partially contented drones or can-do totalitarian-minded capitalist rationalizers.
posted by PsyDev at 11:24 AM on August 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


Note the term used in the FPP: political spectrum. It does not say "far right," nor "far left." I do believe that in political discourse one assumes that the Democratic Party is on the left side of the spectrum; the Republican Party on the right.
posted by ericb at 11:28 AM on August 4, 2007


Well, personally, I'm a technocratic anarcholiberal transcendentalist. Where does that fit on the spectrum?
posted by chlorus at 11:29 AM on August 4, 2007


As a 'technocratic anarcholiberal transcendentalist' you float above it all in the haze of a psychedelic cloud -- a colorful spectrum all your own!
posted by ericb at 11:32 AM on August 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Oh come on people, you can't take these seriously. They're painfully obvious it's funny for about 10 seconds.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:32 AM on August 4, 2007


Political Spectrum. Take the Political Compass test to see where you stand!
posted by ericb at 11:35 AM on August 4, 2007


PsyDev -- are you familiar with the use of a semi-colon for a parellel construction of clauses?

"From the right side of the political spectrum there is HELP! MOM! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!; from the left (side of the political spectrum), Why Mommy Is a Democrat."
Democrat ≠ "The Left"

Democrat = "from the left side of the spectrum."
posted by ericb at 11:42 AM on August 4, 2007


My inner sneetches dance. Seuss has always been issue oriented. I have a button I like to wear which says, "Impeach Yertle."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:44 AM on August 4, 2007


I'm looking forward to reading my son "Help Daddy! There's a Technocratic Anarcholiberal Transcendentalist Under the Toolshed!"

(actually, this post is really inspiring me- it'd be sort of fun to write something like "Why Mommy is a Fascist." You know, with squirrels.)
posted by maryh at 11:44 AM on August 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


HELP! MOM! I'm being indoctrinated into your jejune, inconsistent, spoon-fed ideology!
posted by blacklite at 11:44 AM on August 4, 2007 [7 favorites]


At least the focus of the Why Mommy is a Democrat is modeling good (leftist) behavior. All of the right-wing books are obsessed with demonizing the other side -- although in the case of Nativity, the "other side" is the U.S. Constitution.

Even at the level of children's book, the Right can't sustain a narrative without an enemy. Weird. You would think children would be clamoring for books about the virtues of privatizing government, disenfranchising minorities, and launching preemptive wars. Kids love that stuff.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 12:05 PM on August 4, 2007 [13 favorites]


As a former children's librarian, these books make me weep. I'm going to write a book called "Mommy Votes Mostly Democrat But Calls Herself An Independent Because Democrats Write Shitty Books About Liberal Squirrels."
posted by Biblio at 12:12 PM on August 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


Forthcoming titles include:

Why The Lorax Hates America, How the Liberal Media Lies About Yertle and The Little Golden Book of Islamofascism.
posted by Bromius at 12:17 PM on August 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Almost an alliterative trifecta. How about pure partisan poppycock?

pure partisan poop
posted by Snyder at 12:19 PM on August 4, 2007


in political discourse one assumes that the Democratic Party is on the left side of the spectrum; the Republican Party on the right.

Again, my point is simply to illustrate that this is somewhat flawed since both parties are extremely loyal to the upper class, hence neither of them, I think, are really deserving of the title "left". In fact, if you analyze their views on issues vis a vis the general populations', whether it be on economic policy or foreign policy or whatever, they are often vastly different.

So, our conception of "the left" is therefore skewed; I would say there is no "the left" in America, and that the center-right party called democrats might be better referred to as "a sorry excuse for the left".

As for arguments that there is "a political spectrum" and the democrats are on the left of this, I again say, on what are you basing the spectrum? If you take the narrow spectrum of the two party system, yes, they are on the left of that, but as far as the general populations' concerns, values, etc. are concerned, they are definitely not left, not even clcose.
posted by PsyDev at 12:37 PM on August 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


It takes a special kind of stupid to buy books like this. A kind of stupid that could be exploited to entertaining ends.

Where someone so inclined they could put together an invective filled 'child's book' that perfectly caters to the kind of idiot that would buy it. Said writer could then simply take all the proceeds of the book and donate them to the very party that they are saying terrible things about.

Because kids are frequently smart enough to see through the bullshit that adults can't, and would simply ignore it.
posted by quin at 12:41 PM on August 4, 2007


You know, somehow I can't imagine kids wanting to hear this stuff, when it comes time to go to sleep no child is going to calmer to be read "HELP! MOM! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!". It'll be stuff that is forced down their throat, which during the teenage years will just add to the cynicism and rejection of it. I seriously doubt these books are going to create little fascists, and perhaps encourage the opposite. These things are put out to pande to the idiotic makeup of current American partisanship. I'd be surprised if the publishers really care about what they are publishing, just as long as the hot and bothered parents spend their money on it.

There are no "Goodnight Moon"s here, no Beatrix Potter, none of this will last beyond 5 years and they will end up in the bottom of landfills, on ebay and in burn barrels in the post American apocalypse as we huddle around reading "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel".
posted by edgeways at 1:03 PM on August 4, 2007


I can't imagine kids wanting to hear this stuff...I'd be surprised if the publishers really care about what they are publishing, just as long as the hot and bothered parents spend their money on it.

Probably right.

From the L.A. Times article (which maryh mentions above):
"The book, 'Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!,' came out two years ago. Jackson said it sold nearly 30,000 copies, which in the publishing world made it a bona fide hit. That success reinforced Jackson's view that the nation's bookshelves had tilted way too far left and that a correction was in order.

...Jackson's small independent start-up, World Ahead Publishing, staked its first claim on that market with the tale of the rapacious liberals and the lemonade stand, marketed under the imprint Kids Ahead.

Two other (far less successful) cartoon books followed, taking on Hollywood and 'activist' judges."
posted by ericb at 1:28 PM on August 4, 2007


All those books are are bowdlerized editions of the latest Coulter or Hannity books with replacement cartoon covers, right? I can't really imagine right wing screeds getting more childish.
posted by polytropos at 1:41 PM on August 4, 2007


Didn't Metafilter already do all of these books separately?
posted by klangklangston at 1:41 PM on August 4, 2007


This sickens me, to have read about the first books I would truly rip from my childrens' hands and burn. I can't think of many more perverse things to do to a child.
posted by holycola at 1:43 PM on August 4, 2007


This sickens me, to have read about the first books I would truly rip from my childrens' hands and burn. I can't think of many more perverse things to do to a child.

You give these books far to much credit. They're fucking insipid.
posted by Snyder at 1:47 PM on August 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


EricB: "in political discourse one assumes that the Democratic Party is on the left side of the spectrum; the Republican Party on the right."

Speak for yourself. In my reality, one assumes the spectrum is grey, and none too inviting.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:09 PM on August 4, 2007


George Bush and the Weapons of Mass Destruction, Scooter Libby and the Grand Trial.
posted by Xere at 2:19 PM on August 4, 2007


ericb: You know, somehow I can't imagine kids wanting to hear this stuff, when it comes time to go to sleep no child is going to calmer to be read "HELP! MOM! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!". It'll be stuff that is forced down their throat, which during the teenage years will just add to the cynicism and rejection of it

Amen to that. My frighteningly conservative high school produced more teen pregnancies, dope fiends, pagans, left-wingers, transendentalists, gay seperatists, militant vegans, battle-Buddhists, chicken liberators and generally left freaks and weirdoes than all three state schools in the same area combined.

For that these need to be promoted, encouraged, and taken to saturation point, so that when the time comes for the kids these are targeted at to start voting, they'll automatically recognise that the logic used by conservative wingnuts is best left in kindergarden.
posted by Jilder at 3:30 PM on August 4, 2007


Didn't Metafilter already do all of these books separately?

Yeah, but that was before CNN did a piece on them this morning.

Old story + CNN/Fox News/NPR report ÷ view by metafilter member = great front page post.
posted by item at 3:40 PM on August 4, 2007


We live in stupid times.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:48 PM on August 4, 2007


item, those links look like a framing device for the Butter Battle animation (altho' that's getting the least amount of comment.)
posted by maryh at 3:52 PM on August 4, 2007


The Seuss book was also mentioned in the CNN report. I'll admit that I missed the animation links when I first read the post (I don't always click on the 1,2,3's... and I did so well with the little STAR reading comprehension packets in first grade).
posted by item at 4:04 PM on August 4, 2007


item -- by way of reading comprehension, you'll see that this post was indeed inspired by the CNN segment (as linked to in the first hyperlink).
posted by ericb at 5:21 PM on August 4, 2007


item -- and your point is?
posted by ericb at 5:22 PM on August 4, 2007


item, those links look like a framing device for the Butter Battle animation

Not a "framing device." You do notice that the reference to such is in quotations, so as to honor attribution to the original CNN segment's transcript.
posted by ericb at 5:26 PM on August 4, 2007


At least the focus of the Why Mommy is a Democrat is modeling good (leftist) behavior. All of the right-wing books are obsessed with demonizing the other side -- although in the case of Nativity, the "other side" is the U.S. Constitution.

Really? From the article it sounded like the book was portraying them as an extreme version of the nanny state. Namely that democrats are 'just like mommy' and they take care of everything and make everything all right. I disagree that this would be good leftist behavior though admittedly it would sound a whole lot better to a child than the scare tactic books from the right.
posted by kigpig at 5:27 PM on August 4, 2007


While I definitely know that MeFi has done "Why Mommy is a Democrat" (because one of my all time favorite comments - "Democrats take Daddy's money and go shopping, just like Mommy does" - spawned from that thread), this is still saved by posting the Butter Battle cartoon.

I mentioned that the other day to someone as we were talking about the Lorax and I'm glad that I can watch it again.
posted by champthom at 6:37 PM on August 4, 2007


"We live in stupid times."

Sounds like a great meme for t-shirts and bumper stickers. T'would be fitting.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:51 PM on August 4, 2007


At the age of three, I started my kids with Marx for Beginners, and by the time they were five they would all happily provide you with a commentary on the epistimological break in Charlie's work, between his his reliance on the anthropological humanism of Feuerbach and the Hegelian dialectic, and his creation of the science of Historical Materialism as is realized in Capital Vol. 1.

Sadly, by the age of nine, they had all become class traitors and were working for Demos, or as political consultants to New Labour cabinet members.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:42 PM on August 4, 2007


Kigpig, your comment got me thinking. After looking at the sample pages that were linked in the original Mommy/Democrat FPP, I kept wondering if the book's author was trying to illustrate George Lakoff's theory/political strategy (dems as motherly nurturers, republicans as authoritarian fathers). If that's what he was doing, he comes across as painfully heavy-handed and twee. There's also this alternate story going on in the background where the thoughtless Republicans are doing the opposite of the kind hearted squirrels, a la Goofus and Gallant. It wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't that explicit partisan aspect to it.
Oh, who am I kidding. It looks like a thouroughly ghastly book. At least those Repub titles try for some humor, crass as it may be.
posted by maryh at 9:48 PM on August 4, 2007


You know, somehow I can't imagine kids wanting to hear this stuff, when it comes time to go to sleep no child is going to calmer to be read "HELP! MOM! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!"

I think it's safe to say that these books exist for one reason, and for one reason alone: so that family members who are at odds politically (and incapable of having a rational conversation about same or sidestepping the issue at family gatherings) can piss each other off; lefty lesbian Louise is having a baby, and righty Reginald (who is upset about her having a child out of wedlock, being a lesbian, and being a "Bush Basher") sends one of the Help! Mom! books as a baby shower "gift." Or vice versa.

Also: Help! Mom! People are trying to indoctrinate me into their partisian belief system, which is distracting me from learning the important things like how to say please and thank you, get potty trained, and understand that the world does not revolve around me!
posted by davejay at 10:23 PM on August 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


wrt maryh's link: Well, damn, I wanna read the story about the polar bear wearing a suit in a limo.

"But that's ridiculous!" said Skimo the polar bear, hooking his thumbs into his waistcoat. "Ice is just frozen water, and we're not running out of water any time soon."

"Of course not!" said little Polly. "Why, Mrs Tomkins at school says the oceans are two thirds of the surface of the Earth. And they're just full of water"

"Besides," said Skimo, stepping into his magical Gasoline Limousine. "We all know the real reason behind polar ice caps melting."

"We do?" asked little Polly.

"Sure we do," said Skimo. "Whales with blowtorches. They just want our real estate."

"Bastards," said little Polly. "I do hope the Japanese find a way of stopping them."

"Of course they will," said Skimo. "Fiendishly clever, those Japanese."



-excerpted from "Skimo the Sensible Polar Bear launches into action by addressing a number of environmental concerns"
posted by Sparx at 1:05 AM on August 5, 2007


The Lorax
posted by Poolio at 4:40 AM on August 5, 2007


I remember picking up the "Why Mommy is a Democrat" book at a bookstore a few weeks ago, disgusted. On the back there's a blurb about the author, who lives with his wife, his two children, and his dog, all of which are Democrats.
posted by mammary16 at 1:16 PM on August 5, 2007


One of my cats is a Republican; the other a Democrat. Shit, fur often flies an hour or so after the evening kibble.
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on August 5, 2007


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