Ken Connor

In the Walt Disney classic Mary Poppins, the magical nanny informs the impetuous Jane and Michael that their father will be taking them on an outing to his place of employment – an imposing London bank – the following day. Upon hearing the news, the children begin musing about all the wonderful sights their father will show them along the way. Mary uses this opportunity to educate the children about an unfortunate characteristic of their father. "Sometimes a person we love," she says, "through no fault of his own, can't see past the end of his nose."

Mr. Banks is a well meaning man, but he is so self-absorbed that his view of the world is sadly myopic. He is incapable of putting himself in others' shoes, and he lacks true empathy with his fellow man. It takes several uncomfortable encounters with Miss Poppins to snap him out of his false reality so that he can be an attentive father to his children and a warm, loving husband to his wife.

The American people, increasingly, are suffering from the same malady that affected Mr. George Banks. We've become so self-centered that we're ignorant of the things that really matter in this life. A symptom of this pervasive myopathy is our historical ignorance. This was recently highlighted in a controversy that erupted over CBS's popular reality hit, "The Amazing Race."

Unless you are a faithful watcher of the Fox News Channel's "The Five," you probably missed co-host Bob Beckel's scathing monologue discussing an episode of "The Amazing Race" in which the contestants were dispatched to Vietnam for one of their weekly challenges. The episode featured a stop at the B-52 Memorial and at one point had competitors recite a song lauding the virtues of Ho Chi Minh's Communist regime. The show's producers didn't appear to appreciate the solemnity of the site, nor did the competitors. An article on described the episode in brief:

"On the show, the twisted metal of the downed plane is treated as any other prop, with a bright 'Amazing Race' 'Double-U-Turn' signed planted in front of it, signifying to contestants the next phase of their scavenger hunt.

The show also had contestants learn a song that was performed for them by children in front of a portrait of North Vietnam communist leader Ho Chi Minh, with subtitled lyrics that included 'Vietnam Communist Party is glorious. The light is guiding us to victory.'

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.