Monday, December 15, 2008

Blame The Bailout On Mister Rogers? Really?

Odd as it was for Christofer and I to find ourselves defending Mister Rogers legacy as we traveled around the Northeast shooting "Mister Rogers & Me" a few years ago, it's odder still how his values continue to be twisted and held accountable for all sorts of modern woes.

Some found his gentle spirit "creepy," and associated him with all sorts of unfounded, unsubstantiated malfeasance. Other had fallen prey to the rumors that he was a former Navy SEAL or Army sniper ("That's why he always wore long sleeves," more than one reasoned with us. "To hide his tattoos.").

A few months ago, you'll recall, the Wall Street Journal scapegoated Mister Rogers for a generation of "entitled" kids.

Well, Fox News is at it again, blaming Mister Rogers for the economic bailout.

My pal, Save Mister Rogers founder Brian Linder, has already crafted an articulate reply to the "Fair & Balanced" assertion:

The rampant greed and narcissism of the Me Generation may indeed be responsible for the current economic crisis, but to blame any part of it on Fred Rogers, even if it’s somewhat in jest, shows a gross misunderstanding of the expressions of care that this special man attempted to touch children’s lives with through his television work.

This piece seems to be a riff on a similarly misguided statement that an LSU finance professor made in a July 2007 Wall Street Journal piece, and I said the same thing then.

The idea of "Me first, I get what’s mine first" runs completely counter to every sentiment ever expressed on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Rogers’ belief that every child and grownup should have a proper sense of self-worth, the awareness that every individual is unique and special, and the love of one’s neighbor, are the very antidote to the cultural problems of entitlement, elitism, and conceit that have brought us to this unfortunate place.

I hope you’ll find the following quote from Fred Rogers to show that if we had all listened more carefully to him, then we’d surely be better off today:

“When I say, ‘It’s you I like,' I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch… and that deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive: love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” - Fred Rogers
Thanks, Brian. I couldn't have said better myself.