Media reports claim the U.S. has never been so divided, and
its all blamed on politics. Theres much more to
our divisions than just politics, including witches and wife
There is no question that the development of the Blue
State-Red State mentality in the world of presidential
politics tries to place each of us on one side or the other,
as if we HAVE to live in opposite worlds. When the news media
buys into this hysteria, or worse, promotes it, all it does
is promote the worst in our society. It degrades America,
whether you fancy yourself as a Democrat, a Republican, an
alternative, or none of the above.
There are many ways to gauge where we are as a nation, and
yes, we have our problems. Some of these problems are getting
worse than they should, but there is also evidence we can
still go down the right path toward the greatness we believe
in as a free nation.
Let me give you two examples to show you why we must constantly
monitor the social environment around us and report to our
audiences where we are, so we can either stay the course,
or change our direction.
The first example that we are still in good shape comes in
the almost unbelievable form of one of those new, dreaded
(for many) reality shows. After four or five weeks of watching
Wife Swap I think we have learned that whats
good in America shines brightly and therefore, the show does
a good job of showing us where we are as a nation. We have
also seen that selfishness, unchecked egos, laziness, sloth,
and the rest of whats bad for America, stands out like
a sore thumb.
As difficult as this may be to swallow, we may actually have
a reality show on our hands with socially redeeming values.
I contend that Wife Swap is actually a good barometer
of how united we are as a nation as opposed to how divided
we might be. Unfortunately, except for this show, we dont
see much of this social reading in our news media reporting.
A couple of recent episodes have featured mothers who came
from very wealthy settings and whose focus was very egocentric.
They ended up switching places with women from working class,
blue collar rural families who scraped by on hard work and
lived fairly simple lives, although they worked extremely
What we have seen is that by the end of the show, the values
of the poorer, hard-working, get-up-at-four-in-the-morning
rural folks prevail. The lessons learned here are significant
for both sides. The mother with the rich background invariably
finds she has not spent enough time with her family because
she has been too focused on keeping herself svelte or dressed
in the latest styles.
The rural family, we find, usually learns that their moms
(and sometimes their kids) need to be appreciated more and
should not be taken for granted, or viewed simply as laborers.
The one thing we dont really know about these folks,
and thankfully we dont need to know, is which of the
families are Democrat or Republican. We can guess, but simply
being rural doesnt make you Democrat and being rich
is not automatically the province of Republicans.
What prevails is the value system that has been inbred into
us as Americans, regardless of our political heritage or beliefs.
And thats one of the great bright spots today in the
Let that be a lesson to all of us to stop talking division
and start reporting reality. We have allowed John Kerry and
George Bush to define who or what is a uniter
versus a divider and thats not their job.
Its the medias job to give Americans the facts
and let us all decide whether or not we can get along and
prosper as a free people.
Having said that, we must also look at how far some of us
have strayed in our country from another type of reality.
We often hear people talk about political correctness
and we generally tend to show Democrats as the feel
good types and Republicans as the hardliners.
A developing story in the increasingly liberal state of Washington
gives us a good look at political correctness
The city of Puyallup, Washington is a small, working-class
community just southeast of Tacoma; population of 33,000;
with women constituting 52 per cent of the community, and
a median age of 34 years. It has become a popular relocation
site in recent years for Californians fleeing smog, crime,
high real estate prices, and seeking a new life in the fresh-air
forests of the Northwest.
Perhaps that recent migration is part of the explanation for
another indicator of where we are as a nation. And I hope
this indicator is limited only to places like Puyallup.
The school district in this little town is claiming that Halloween
is disrespectful to Witches. Yes, you heard right, WITCHES!
And therefore, the school district is canceling its annual
Halloween celebration. Apparently the GRADE-SCHOOL tradition
of a party and parade in costume during the last half-hour
of class before Halloween night is more than the witches can
handle. No broom pun intended.
A letter sent home to parents cites three reasons for the
executive decision to ban the Halloween observance, and two
of the reasons sound reasonable. Ah, but thats the trick.
Give two reasonable reasons and then slip in the whammy for
The school superintendent who made the decision claimed three
primary reasons. First, he said Halloween parties and parades
waste valuable classroom time. Second, he says some families
can't afford costumes and the celebrations thus can create
embarrassment for children.
Okay, both of these reasons seem sensible and they initially
went over with many of the school parents. But the district's
third reason left some Puyallup parents shaking their heads.
The district education boss says Halloween celebrations and
children dressed in Halloween costumes might be offensive
to real witches.
To further clarify his point, Superintendent Tony Apostle
is quoted as saying, "Witches with pointy noses and things
like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan religion
and so we want to be respectful of that." The Wiccan,
or Pagan, eligion is said to be growing in the United States
and there are some Wiccan groups in Puyallup.
How is such an extreme position possible? The district's list
of guidelines related to holidays and celebrations is an item
that reads: "Use of derogatory stereotypes is prohibited,
such as the traditional image of a witch, which is offensive
to members of the Wiccan religion."
A Wiccan spokeswitch says her broom-riding brood "does
lots of things that are not revolving around wearing a black
outfit and stirring a cauldron." Wiccan priestess Cheryl
Sulyma-Masson says Wiccans, or Pagan Clergy, simply celebrate
In case youre wondering, this is not the first time
the district has expressed concern about offending followers
of the Wiccan religion. An internal e-mail from October 2000
warned that "the Wiccan religion is a bona fide religion
under the law, and its followers are entitled to all the protections
afforded more mainstream religions. Building administrators
should not tolerate such inappropriate stereotyping (images
such as Witches on flying brooms, stirring cauldrons, casting
spells, or with long noses and pointed hats) and instead address
them as you would hurtful stereotypes of any other minority."
Wow!! Are witches now protected just like Blacks and Mexicans?
Whos next, Klingons? Who sets the minority
How do the kids feel about the decision? Theyre upset.
They dont understand the logic behind the decision and
they view that last half hour as a time for fun, costumes,
and the other attendant benefits of being in an elementary
There is good news, however, about the howling protests that
followed the edict to ban the Halloween festivities during
the last half hour of classes. The PTA and teachers have just
been notified that they can hold parties or other Halloween
events AFTER the school day is over. Apparently the moms and
dads figured out the superintendents control of the
Halloween experience ends when the final school bell rings.
Thank goodness for that fresh dose of sanity. There IS hope
for America, even in the divided city of Puyallup
where parents united to overcome a stupid, politically-correct