Things today being what they are, a politician in this country can’t even turn some kids into political props without running into problems.
The backstory here began earlier this month, when a Coney Island principal decided not to allow a group of kindergarteners to sing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” at a “moving-up” ceremony at her school. The news coverage and backlash has focused on the fact that the Justin Bieber song “Baby” was kept on the program.
Fast forward to Monday, when Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY), who is running for Senate against incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), decided to hold a press event outside the school, featuring a group of kids singing the suppressed patriotic song.
Video of the event shot by Politicker’s Colin Campbell shows it did not go as planned. Turner and the kids sang the song, yes, but a group of adults showed up to protest and heckle, and things quickly devolved into a shouting match. At one point, the poor kids caught in the middle of all this start chanting “USA! USA!” to drown out one of the protestors.
“The kids don’t even know what they’re singing!,” one of the hecklers said, according to Politicker. “They got something you tell them to say! It’s ridiculous! It’s sad, sad, sad. Y’all are going to burn in hell! You all burn in hell! Shame on you! Shame on you!”
All in all, we have to agree with the kids in the video who, after being asked if they wanted to “do it again,” yelled: “Nooooooooo!”
Update: According to coverage of the story in The New York Times, Bieber’s “Baby” was removed from the ceremony at the same time as “God Bless The USA.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com