Dear Michelle Obama,
My name is Peter. I am eight years old. I love studying the history of the USA. I have enjoyed learning about the great choices the USA has made … And then their [sic] was your husband’s election. I think you should rethink your idea that takes us to one ketchup packet per meal. I feel that it is taking away our patritism [sic] toward America. I also think you should stop doing nothing and go send some troops to the Middle East. I also think your husband needs to work on his speeches. He also disipionted millons [sic] of Americans by not bombing Syria. If you do not know every day thousands of peoples [sic] homes are destroyed by the ISIS in the Middle East. You should also get the UN to send troops to Ukrain [sic]. Also may I ask you, is the White House comftable [sic]?
Thank you for your time and consideration
A concerned 8 year old citizen,
Okay, let’s start with a few notes for Peter, because he’s probably not going to get them elsewhere. Young man, when you are directing correspondence to the First Lady of the United States or anyone else you are not on a first-name basis with, try a “Mrs.” in your salutation, or use her title. Secondly, please consider that it is impossible to both be ‘doing nothing’ as you suggest, while simultaneously being the world’s most ruthless ketchup czar. (Apparently Peter also attends a private school, so ketchup rationing is probably not a serious concern for him, to say nothing of the chances it will snuff out the burgeoning flame of patriotism in his soul.) Thirdly, the First Lady does not hold power over either the military or the United Nations. Please ask your teacher to explain the division of powers in the American government during your next civics class. And lastly, asking wistfully for the deaths of people in the Middle East via American bombings because otherwise people will be disappointed is a horrifying thing for someone of your age to write. That is not on remotely the same scale, nor does it belong in the same letter, let alone the same paragraph, as a demand for more condiments.
But of course, this letter isn’t really Peter’s fault. At eight years old, we were all regurgitating the particular stew of politics and vitriol our parents fed us; I know I’m not proud of my elementary-and-middle-school understanding of politics. It’s his parents who have taught him that his own sense of patriotism is directly dependent on ketchup availability and the body count racked up in the Middle East; it’s them who have raised him to talk glowingly about the great decisions of American history as if the first bad choice we made as a country was to elect President Obama. (So much for slavery, the Trail of Tears, Jim Crow, lynchings, and, I don’t know, the craploads of people we’ve already killed with bombings in the Middle East.) It’s also them who sent it to the media so they could show off how well they’ve sold this bill of political goods to their kid, and so that they can complain about how mean liberals are when they point out all the flaws in Peter’s arguments.
By all means, we should teach our kids to dissent and we should teach them that they don’t always have to toe the line with authority. But let’s not teach them that what goes on their hamburger at lunch is the fulcrum on which the country’s future is going to crumble, and let’s teach them that maybe, just maybe, at eight years old they aren’t the be-all, end-all experts on foreign policy. (You can read the Facebook comments on TheBlaze‘s coverage of this story for some thoughts from people who really do make Peter look like a political mastermind, though.) Sorry, Peter, but you have a lot to learn still–and your parents, and the rest of the conservative blogosphere, aren’t doing you any favors by telling you that you’ve got it all figured out already.
(Feature image: bogonet / Getty)