Sunday, September 27, 2009

Deifying the Chief Executive

Not since "The Apotheosis of George Washington" has an American president been subjected to deification to the extent that Barack Obama has. Even FDR-worship was largely limited to rotogravure photographs hanging in the living rooms of American families and an obsequious press that pretended the president could walk unaided and that he was faithful to his wife.

One song performed by schoolchildren in praise of Barack Obama could be an anomaly. Two songs performed by schoolchildren in praise of Barack Hussein Obama may not be a trend, but it certainly is the beginning of one.

No president -- no living, terrestrial political leader -- should be the subject of songs of praise in a manner usually reserved for gods and saints. The U.S. Postal Service requires that a person be dead for at least ten years before he can be eligible to appear on a stamp. (Exceptions are made for recently deceased presidents and for cartoon characters like Homer Simpson.) The Catholic Church requires that candidates for sainthood go through a rigorous vetting process before they are beatified and subsequently canonized.

It is simply unAmerican to ascribe supernatural powers to living politicians. It's more than a bit creepy, too, when schoolchildren are required to sing hymns to the president. That is something that, before the last year or so, was limited to totalitarian dictatorships in faraway lands.

It didn't happen in New Jersey, for heaven's sake!

But now it has.

You probably have to be living under a rock if you have not yet seen or heard the youthful sycophants of B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington Township, New Jersey, chanting in praise of the occupant of the White House, followed by a hymn of praise set to the melody of "John Brown's Body" (better known for the past 145 years as "The Battle Hymn of the Republic").

Here's the video, as seen by more than three-quarters of a million viewers on YouTube:

Not surprisingly, the web site of B. Bernice Young School is inaccessible at the moment, though the Burlington Township school system's site is still live.

Fortunately, I was able to capture a screen shot of the school's homepage before it went down. The site noted that school will be closed on Monday, September 28, for "Rosh Hashanah." That's odd, since Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was celebrated on Saturday, September 19; September 28 is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Apparently the administrators of B. Bernice Young School are so entranced with the worship of an earthbound deity, the Augustus of Hyde Park, that they forget about the details (like the correct dates) of long-established holidays honoring the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Or perhaps principal Denise King simply doesn't have a current calendar close at hand. (She could do worse than to buy one of those displayed below.)

Perhaps next year B. Bernice Young School will just mark the Ninth of Thermidor as a holiday and leave aside the other religious observances.

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