Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Not MY Nephew

My nephew graduated yesterday from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. He earned his bachelor’s of science degree in mechanical engineering. For my brother, it’s been three years (not counting my nephew’s year in London) up and down the New York State Thruway. During his final year, they discovered the “Megabus” which goes from Albany to New York. Many students make use of it; it’s kind of like the Night Bus for Stranded Witches and Wizards in the Harry Potter series.

The theme of the Class of 2011 commencement was “Change.” Throughout the ceremony, they charged the graduates – from PhDs to bachelors – to be “agents of change.” The commencement speakers blathered on about renewable agency, and forcing the change upon society, if necessary.

My mother and younger brother sat in the stands, while my older brother (my nephew’s father) sat with his ex-wife and her mother down in the court. I left both groups to wander about and take photos. In my travels, I learned that the college had set up jumbotrons in their air-conditioned gymnasium. I went back to my younger brother to advise him that if got too hot for Mom, to take her to the gym. I also wanted to find out where my older brother was.

Well, the people in the stands were quite annoyed at our conversation. The speaker at moment was issuing forth platitudes about change and singing the praises of Obama. Evidently, we were supposed to listen reverently. For two hours, these speakers went on like that. If my eyes rolled any more, they’d have rolled right out of their sockets.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Regina Benjamin, appointed by Barack Obama as the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. What a treat. Every paragraph of her speech began with “President Obama…” Whereupon I immediately tuned her out and returned to my official family photographer duties.

While I was up on the stand I listened to one of the speakers charge them with being “agents of change.” That really boiled my blood. No one’s going to make an “agent of change” out of MY nephew. Not if I have anything to say about it.

When my nephew was born, his mother named me as his godmother. I don’t know anything about the Catholic religion and felt I was very unsuited to be his godmother. I think his great-grandmother took on that duty, God bless her. If I’m anything, besides Aunt Belle, I’m his political godmother.

From the time he was small, and I had partial care of him, while his mother went back to work full-time, I had him listening to Rush Limbaugh. I taught him to walk and talk like a Conservative (and throw a football with a perfect spin). I loved that year when I had the care of him. His maternal grandfather played a strong role in bringing him up Conservative, as well.

Later on, I gave him my copies of the Limbaugh Letter and this past Christmas, I gave him a money-suited Obama bobble head doll. He had a little Liberal playmate when he was a toddler who was, to the consternation of me and my mother, always trying to lead him down the path of wrong. One day, I took a Superman doll and one of the monster characters he had and set him straight about right and wrong. We worship heroes, I told him, not villains, especially heroes who fight for freedom, and truth, and justice, and America.

He didn’t talk much at four (in my brother’s household, my ex sister-in-law did all the talking) and I wasn’t sure whether he got it or not. That other kid had a really bad influence on him and my nephew demonstrated behavioral problems. When he was older and old enough understand, in his teens, when his obvious how smart he was, I told him he might want to think about diversifying his friendships a bit. “You’re headed for Yale,” I told him. “Your friend is headed for jail.”

What finally set him on the path of conservatism for good was The Lord of the Rings, which I gave him for Christmas. The nobility of its heroes – Frodo, Aragorn, the faithful Sam, Gandalf, and the others and their fight for freedom – seemed to have rung a bell in his head. He devoured the books and couldn’t get enough of reading about Middle Earth.

Our families firmly rooted my nephew in sound conservativism and Dr. Benjamin’s miasmatic urgings had no more effect on him than a BB pellet on a Kevlar vest. We all trained him, really. But Aunt Belle has been given the greatest credit in guiding him politically.

Being a political godmother is tough work, especially in those precious early years when the education establishment is trying to get its socialist hooks into your kids. But if you remain firm, just when you think you’ve lost, they come around, so don’t give up.

So now he trades the hills of Troy, N.Y., for the hills of Pittsburgh, Pa. The New York State Thruway for the Pennsylvania Turnpike. A longer ride, but a shorter stay (one year).   Less time for the college to try to indoctrinate him. One more year, and he'll be completely out of danger.


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