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You've Got to be Carefully Taught

You've Got to be Carefully Taught

3 Mins
December 5, 2011

You got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

Everyone who has seen South Pacific will remember Oscar Hammerstein II’s lyrics about the prejudice that Lieutenant Cable knows will keep him from bringing his island girl, Liat, home to his Main Line Philadelphia family. Of course, in the 1940s and 1950s, when the musical and the movie of South Pacific were produced, the prejudice in question was racial.  A similar song written for the twenty-first-century, if it were to be believable, would have to make Cable’s prejudice anti-business. Perhaps Liat could be an oil executive drilling for oil off the coast of Bali Hai.

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear

You’ve got to be taught from year to year.

It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear.

You’ve to be carefully taught.

Do I exaggerate? Consider the following December 3 post on Ira Stoll’s blog, “The Future of Capitalism.”

“‘The Muppets,’ the new movie from Disney about those lovable characters such as Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy, turns out, alas, to have a somewhat heavy-handed anti-oil industry, anti-rich-person agenda. From the plot summary at the official movie Web site: ‘On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world's biggest Muppet fan; his brother Gary, and Gary's girlfriend Amy from Smalltown, USA discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath.’

“Maybe I am taking this more seriously than I should, but really, why do these movies never seem to be about nefarious plans by evil environmentalists to turn the Muppet Theater into a wildlife refuge or windfarm, or nefarious plans by evil anti-poverty advocates to turn the Muppet Theater into ‘affordable’ housing?

“Tex Richman? Not exactly subtle. The Muppet folks could have had the Muppet Theater seized by the local government by eminent domain for the purpose of turning it over to a private developer, and have the Muppets, assisted by libertarian public interest lawyers, fight it all the way to the Supreme Court. But Brooke Shields is already making that movie .”

Chris Cooper as Tex Richman in "The Muppets."
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