Terry Glavin doesn’t approve of forced ingestion of bromides from Mr Rogers in the wake of horrible events like the Boston bombings.

The Iranians have a word for it. It’s “hambestagi.” It roughly translates as “solidarity.” It is a condition of humankind that is always present and quite ordinarily blossoms in crisis. It was everywhere in evidence Monday in Boston and well beyond.

Solidarity is a good thing. I’m very big on solidarity. The more solidarity the better, especially international solidarity.

In place of actual acts of journalism related to Monday’s barbarism, was it  really necessary for the Globe and Mail, Time Magazine, Slate and the Washington  Post to gang up on everybody with pieties out of the cardigan-wearing  Presbyterian host of a 1960s-era television babysitting service titled Mister  Rogers’ Neighbourhood?

Seriously. The Globe headline: “How to talk to kids (and especially adults)  about the Boston Marathon bombings: Try Mr. Rogers.” Time: “In the Wake of the  Boston Marathon Attacks, Mr. Rogers Quote Spreads Hope Across the Internet.” Slate: “The History of Mister Rogers’ Powerful Message.” The Washington Post: “Mr. Rogers gives hope while social media becomes virtual house of prayer for  Boston.”

No, it wasn’t necessary, but it was probably inevitable. They weren’t going to cite Arendt or Zimbardo, were they.


  1. says

    Ophelia, could you please provide the link for your other readers, or allow me to post the link to the one opinion piece.


    I tend to agree with his opinion on this matter, but this is how I feel at this moment. I guess that the message depends on the frame of mind at particular moment, e. g., Stages of grief or how the tragedy affected you personally.

    Concerning Zimbardo, since I’m not a regular commenter, are you saying that you disagree with his assesment of human behaviour. Assuming, of course, we are talking about the same Zimbardo (Prison Experiment). Danke!

  2. says

    I asked about Zimbardo, because it could be insider knowledge among your regular readers and commenters and I tend to agree with some ideas in his book, The Lucifer Effect.

  3. Dave Ricks says

    On this page, I can watch the original video of Fred Rodgers talking to children about the 1968 assassination of RFK.

    Do any of us have a problem with the original 1968 video? Because I can watch the video as a humanist, and I don’t see anything particularly “cardigan-wearing Presbyterian” or Christian or Abrahamic. As far as I know, the video is Hindu.

  4. sailor1031 says

    We, as a society, have a serious media problem if the words most apposite to this crime are those of Mister Rogers. Surely the media can cull other sources for wisdom in time of adversity/ Fred Flintstone perhaps? Winston Churchill, who had things to say about adversity from time to time? Surely there is some gem of samadhi from Homer Simpson, no? Or Marge? Or “Bonanza”, or many of the other inspirational TV shows of yesteryear? The lack of imagination, not to say of professionalism, manifested by media members is unfortunately quite staggering and bodes ill for the future of a free society.

  5. peterh says

    Mr. Rogers’ “60’s-ers babysitting” lasted from 1967 – 2001; that’s longer than an average generation. Rather than from Rogers, would Glavin have preferred “bromides” (real and hateful) from the Westboro Baptist Cretins™?

  6. eidolon says

    I have to agree with Dave @4. I think what many have missed here is that Fred Rogers served his clients – children – extremely well. As for the value of his words of wisdom, some of us have no problem talking about death and dying and mass shootings and bombings with young children. For others, it is not so easy. The fact that Mr. Rogers was not hip does not devalue his insights as to how to approach such topics. They were and still are useful guides for possible approaches.

    Even at the time, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was recognized as a special program. Not as entertaining as the Simpsons or Bonanza, but then it was aimed at a different audience.

  7. says

    Is that supposed to be a complaint about Mr. Rogers, or about the news media? Because the former — as trite as he may be — happens to be right (see also the post linked here). And recycling Mr. Rogers’ bromide is hardly the worst sin the media regularly commits in the wake of Big Events like this one — I’d put the wall-to-wall fact-free speculation, reporting of unsubstantiated rumours, and voyeuristic interviews with everyone within half a mile of the Event (or even: people from $YourHomeTown who now just happen to live in Boston) much higher up my list of peeves. Moreover, Mr. Rogers is far from the worst thing ever to be so recycled: after 911, someone dug up a truly stupid column Gordon Sinclair once wrote and managed to make it go what passed for viral at the time (this being in the Dark Ages before Twitter and Facebook).

    Methinks Glavin is being a bit of a grump.

  8. says

    Well, maybe, but media sentimentalism-churning can be very exasperating, even when it is fairly harmless. Or to put it another way, I like a nice grump now and then.

  9. freemage says

    I avoided the media coverage, especially secondary coverage like this. I did see the Mr. Rogers reference on several forums I hit, though–where it seemed appropriate, as most of those places are amiable places where friends were seeking to support one another and bolster spirits. (There was another, more aggressive photo-meme going around with much the same theme, with an added moral of, “Remember, if the good didn’t outnumber the evil, we would’ve extinguished ourselves a long time ago.” I liked that one, too.) As a major media thing, I’d… leave it to whoever you have doing family advice pieces, honestly.

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