Would any sensible parent encourage their kids to learn about sex on the streets from other kids? Certainly not. Why then would they allow their kids to learn most of their politics from street “activists”? This is the question Filipino parents need to ask themselves and the school authorities to whom they have entrusted their children’s education. This is specially relevant today in light of a recent Senate hearing in which parents who claim they lost kids to communist front organisations operating with impunity in university and high school campuses aired their grievances.
Schools have a responsibility to ensure students learn in a safe environment — and this includes making sure that learning is achieved via safe channels. While students should be encouraged to apply what they learned in the classrooms to the personal choices they make in the outside world, their teachers should focus on giving them the tools to make these decisions. One of the most important of such tools is emotional maturity. Activist advocacies, after all, are all about emotion. The most popular manifestation of such activism is, of course, street protest rallies. By its very nature, protest rallies are appeals to emotion. They use bright colour, catchphrases and inflammatory slogans, and loud spectacle to attract attention and engage people’s curiosity. That’s not too different from what the marketing and advertising industry does — or even the so-called meme culture and clickbaiting these very same “activists” associate with the so-called regime of “disinformation” they keep screeching about.
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Education should therefore focus on equipping young people with strong intellectual tools to enable them to sift through the din of emotional appeals from marketers, advertisers, and, yes, disruptive noisy “activists” that all want a piece of their brain space. An emotionally mature individual is able to step back from the noise and evaluate the different ideas being pitched at her using facts and apply logic to stitch these together. Without the skills needed to do this well, these kids will be no better than cattle being herded into a slaughterhouse.
What sets the operations of communist front organisations from other run-of-the-mill passive influencing activities of marketers and advertisers is that they actively recruit. In that regard, communist front organisations can be categorised along with university fraternities, fundamentalist religious cults, and even criminal gangs in that they involve getting the people they hook in to make long-term — even lifetime — commitments to loyalty and obedience to an established leadership hierarchy. Whereas marketers and advertisers merely induce loyalty to products and brands, the latter sorts of organisations seek to enforce loyalty.
Thus, communist front organisations should be subject to regulation and some degree of reduced tolerance applied to their operations within institutions of learning. Allowing these organisations to operate among kids is like allowing sex offenders to roam freely and undetected within schools. It just does not make any sense to be giving free rein to organisations like the League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan free rein to recruit people who are vulnerable to dishonest persuasion tactics.
The manner with which teachers and academics conduct themselves amongst students should also be put under close scrutiny. Just as “grooming” kids with the intent of luring them into sexual acts is now a criminal offense, using one’s power and position in a classroom to radicalise kids and make them ripe for recruitment into communist front organisations should be regarded as an offensive practice. Kids look up to their teachers — sometimes even more than they do their parents. As such, teachers are in a strong position of power to exert a disproportionate degree of influence over their students. This is why teachers having sexual relations with students are an especially nefarious crime — because in that instance and in the earlier, they are seen to be taking advantage of both their influence and the vulnerability of a student to achieve an end not necessarily in line with the best interests of the other.
For all activists’ screeching about “disinformation” on the Net, they fail to call out the power and access to an audience their own leaders use dishonestly in the campuses of the Philippines’ learning institutions and on the streets during their protest rallies. They presume to mount initiatives to police online forums and media outlets while glossing over the reality that they themselves engage in the very same practices. Who then polices the self-appointed police? Did it not occur to many that even the most sacred ideologies of the snowflake community — “press freedom”, “human rights”, communism, and gender equality — are, like all else, also ideas that are, themselves, subject to scrutiny and challenge?
Filipino parents need to put their foot down and put a stop to the selective way their learning institutions regulate the kind of information that various school organisations propagate in their campuses. Key here is a simple tenet of modern education: that kids should be taught how to think and not always what to think. Sadly, most communist front organisations operating in university and high school campuses engage in the latter — telling an entire generation of young Filipinos what they can and can’t think.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.