Look What They've Done to Our Kids!


Email to Al Sullivan


 I've got nothing against a good education. The real world's hard without a chunk of pig skin to say who you are and what you can do. And the old days of working hard may never have meant what we thought.

 But when my little girl comes home from college with her nose up in the air, treating us as if we're stupid, then that's where it stops. I nearly took the back of my hand to her when she snapped at momma.

 "Where's your respect, girl?" I said as she gave me one of those distant looks.

 "Didn't you hear what momma said? She shouldn't go and call black people `niggers'."

 It was the damnest thing I'd heard from her, as if we all just started calling nigger `niggers' since she'd come back. I figured there was something wrong with her and sat her down in the den where we always talked in the past, never about things too serious, mind you. But it was here she told me when she'd stopped believing in Santa Claus, or when the Reilly boys got fresh.

 "So what's wrong with you?" I asked, aware of the same innocent brown eyes staring back as if she was still ten.

 "I don't know, daddy," she said. "It's this place-- everything is different now."

 "Nothing's changed here in the six months you've been away at school."

 "Then maybe I hadn't noticed things before. But it's all wrong here. You and your guns and your talk about taxes. You don't seem to want to help nobody but yourself."

 "I help my family," I said, feeling just a tingle of warmth. "I helped get you to that fancy school."

 "That's not what I'm talking about, daddy. It's all this flag-waving and pro-white stuff you talk about. Just sitting in front of the TV, you got something bad to say about every black and hispanic you see."

 "Girl!" I shouted. "Who's put all this stuff into your head?"

 "No one's put anything in my head, daddy," she said. "But being at school has opened my eyes some -- and there's this great history professor whose taught us a lot about how America really works, about all the lies they taught us in Grammar school and high school. Did you know that..."

 "A teacher did this to you?" I roared, like a man stabbed straight through the heart. I'd worked hard laying bricks for Rich folk's houses to pay those high tuitions, and now I heard the jingle of my own money being used against me.

 I didn't send my kid to school to learn some new version of history. What they taught her in high school was enough. She needed letters and numbers, the kind of thing which would keep her from kneeling with brick before rich folks like I had to do. I wanted her to be able to hold her head up with anybody, but not so she would look down on me!

 She rattled on about him the rest of her time home, and the whole trip back to Pennsylvania, insisting I didn't have to drive her when she could have taken a bus. Miss Independent acting more and more high brow the closer we got to school. And I felt myself more peeved with every mile, and was so tight by the time I kissed her good by that when I got to the good professor's door I nearly pounded it down with my knock.

 He looked at me the way Rich folks did, as if he was superior, dressed in fancy clothes and styled hair. Even his beard was trimmed like some communist shrink.

 I told him I didn't like the filth he was teaching my girl and how he ought to have more respect for America and people like me who paid his salary.

 But he looked at me as if I was speaking some foreign language, as if he'd already made up his mind about things and didn't care about what I said.

 "Filth?" he said finally. "I'm teaching them truth, and if it changes them, so much the better."

 At which point he started on with the mumbo-jumbo his kind use to confuse people like me, facts and figures calculated to impress my kind. I'd heard it before, things designed to turn kids against their parents, to make kids look down their noses at hard-working people like me.

 "Are you through?" I asked, and when he nodded, I hit him in the mouth.


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