Education Versus Indoctrination

The title of this post could just as accurately be “racists versus non-racists.” With his recent announcement of an upcoming Executive Order requiring the nation’s schools to teach “patriotic” history, Trump has abandoned any effort to veil his message or obscure his target audience.

The federal government has no authority over school curricula, but that’s irrelevant; the point of this announcement was to reassure his base that the administration and the Republican Party will continue to support white supremacy. Calling accurate history “leftwing indoctrination” leaves no room for misunderstanding. ( Talk about “whitewashing” history!”) 

According to the Guardian, 

Speaking at a conference in Washington DC on Thursday, the president announced a new national commission to promote “patriotic education” and counter the “decades of leftwing indoctrination” to which he claims US schoolchildren have been subjected. “Our youth will be taught to love America,” he said.

Trump once again attacked the New York Times’s Pulitzer prize-winning 1619 Project; that project– which marked the 400th anniversary of the first slave ship arriving in America–was a meticulously-researched history of slavery and its aftermath. 

As Kevin Kruse tweeted: “History that exalts a nation’s strengths without ever examining its shortcomings, that prefers feeling good rather than thinking hard, that seeks simplistic celebration over full understanding–well, that’s not history, it’s propaganda.” 

As Bill Barr (aka crazy corrupt person) recently noted, history is written by the victors. That’s true, even though Barr said it. What he didn’t say–and clearly doesn’t understand–is that to the extent that history is whitewashed, airbrushed and inaccurate, it is an impediment to future progress. Just as fake science interferes with efforts to understand the world around us, fake history impedes efforts to understand the society in which we live.

But of course, this isn’t really about history curricula. This is meant to reassure his racist cult. You need only read what he said. This is from NBC:

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump accused schools of teaching students “hateful lies about this country” and said he would be taking steps to “restore patriotic education” as he continued his opposition to efforts to raise awareness about racial inequalities.

Speaking at what the White House described as a “conference on American history,” Trump said that he plans to sign an executive order soon to create a “national commission to support patriotic education” called the 1776 Commission and that he is directing funding to create a patriotic curriculum for schools.

“Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their souls,” Trump said. The White House declined to say when Trump would sign the executive order.

Trump also repeated his allegation that teaching America’s history of race was “toxic propaganda” and “a form of child abuse in the truest sense of those words.” (I’m sure David Duke agrees.)

This announcement about a proposed Executive Order came on the heels of news that the Office of Management and Budget had prohibited departments from using federal funds for diversity training, and a previous threat from Trump to cut off funding for schools that teach the 1619 Project.

As one pundit noted, “Patriotic Education” is a term and an approach most widely associated with China, North Korea and more recently Hungary, where Trump buddy Viktor Orban supports rehabilitating “cohorts of a mid-20th century leader who also happened to be a brutal Nazi conspirator.” “  

Not that long ago, when the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia removed millions of educated people from cities and moved them to the countryside under the guise of providing them with patriotic “re-education”, and then killed them and buried them in mass graves, now better known as “The Killing Fields”. 

For that matter, patriotism can’t be taught. Patriotism is a form of love, and love can be reciprocated, it can be portrayed and discussed, but it cannot be forced. Ironically, it is more likely to accompany an accurate portrayal of America’s history.( I still recall stories during the Korean War attributing North Korean success in breaking the will of captured American soldiers by showing them evidence of American behaviors inconsistent with what they’d been taught. They no longer knew what to believe.) 

It is no longer possible to avoid recognizing what’s at stake on November 3d. It is no longer possible to pretend that a vote for Trump is anything other than a vote for white nationalism– and a vote against the America we do love.


  1. Here’s another reprise of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. People who opposed or even questioned the U.S.’s presence in Vietnam were “unpatriotic.”
    “Love it or leave it” and “Go back to where you came from” sound quite a bit alike.
    Are we “great again” yet and are we “tired of winning”?

  2. Every time the Republicans meddle into the field of education it ends badly…very badly. If they had their way the public school system would be turned into a system of Christian madrassa.

  3. The orange bastard and his right-wing evil-doers become more Hitlerian every day.

    As a former educator, I am, once again, outraged by this administration’s attacks on public schools. NOBODY teaches children to not love their country. This is pure hate-mongering and pandering to the worst demographic this country has ever produced.

  4. Greetings Mrs K. I wish to extend a correct greeting to you for Rosh Hashanah but I’m not sure what it would be so just know that I’m thinking positive thoughts for us all. Irvin

  5. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn enough from the German catastrophe; So now it seems, Americans are going to have to learn first hand, as the Germans did, for their ungodly venture.

  6. Tim Seiler; don’t you wonder if “The Pentagon Papers” are part of the teaching of the history of our years in the Viet Nam war? Along with the horrible treatment of the returning veterans of that war?

    “It is no longer possible to avoid recognizing what’s at stake on November 3d. It is no longer possible to pretend that a vote for Trump is anything other than a vote for white nationalism– and a vote against the America we do love.”

    I am trying to prepare – indoctrinate – myself to the almost indisputable fact that Trump and his White Nationalism will be our reality after November 3rd for four more years and beyond. Unless a 2nd impeachment for his most recent unAmerican activities, blatantly pubic and legally sanctioned anti-Constitutional actions can accomplish what the 1st could not. Education is not limited to formal schooling; education of voters has become more necessary than that of our children who will not be educated, but indoctrinated into accepted segregation by color, religion, sexual orientation, health care and politics as all issues are now fully political issues as evidenced by the actions of the president and the adults around them.

  7. Yes, it really is worse than anyone thought. A man who knows no history is proposing that we teach his version of it. He threatens to withhold federal funds from “Anarchist cities” and from schools that teach reality. What would be the end result if major corporations in those anarchist cities and unpatriotic school districts were to put their federal tax collections into an escrow account until a new President could be elected?

  8. Let us not forget that Indiana’s former Governor and Purdue’s current President tried to ban the use of Howard Zinn’s “People’s History” in all Indiana schools. So don’t believe for a minute that draping history with the flag is an idea that started or will end with TRE45ON.

  9. Anybody remember Mitch Daniels’ disembowelment of the deceased Howard Zinn in Indiana. His body wasn’t even cold yet before Mitch demanded his writing be removed from all Indiana classrooms. He used vulgarity to describe Zinn.

    And, here we are again. Who finds the truth so offensive?

    Well, for one, liars find the truth repulsive.

    We could branch out from there, but anybody with a Twitter account can see how the GOP uses propaganda from Fox News outward. The Koch family invested in 150 universities to manipulate the truth with “credentials” behind them. Locally, the Ball family bestowed their name on professors of esteem who then write for newspapers and appear on television shows espousing free-market economics for Hoosiers and 26 other states.

    I traced systemic racism to the Ball family in East Central Indiana. Mind you; there is a university located here named Ball State. There is even a center called Middletown Studies. There are “definitive studies of racism” in East Central Indiana (all funded by the Ball family), but none of them are truthful — all propaganda.

    It took a Guardian journalist roughly six weeks to destroy the entire Middletown Studies created by the Lynds, who covered white life in Muncie, Indiana (Middletown, USA) but conveniently stepped around the inherent institutional racism manufactured by the five Ball brothers and their children.

    Methinks Barr meant to say that the Oligarchs (victors) get to write the history to their advantage (propaganda). I don’t even think the history taught in schools today is accurately portraying our history since the owners of the publishing companies are censoring textbooks. Therefore, they are wanting to bring the current propaganda more in with the often-used branding, “American Exceptionalism.”

  10. Todd; it is only because I occasionally – rarely – switch to Fox News out of curiosity to see how – IF – they are dealing with whatever dread daily chaotic issue Trump is promoting that day that I know how and why my beautiful, beloved, highly intelligent granddaughter has no idea what is going on. She married a Catholic Republican who explained to her why her anti-racism, among other beliefs, is wrong, then indoctrinated her into converting to his Catholic religion to explain why her religious beliefs are wrong. He only watches Fox News and she gets the news second-hand from him. Then they moved to the Republican enclave of Carmel so I rarely see her now. We spent 2 hours together on Saturday; she gave me a blank look when I commented on doctors finding many patients diagnosed with heart disease tested positive for Covid-19. She is a Registered Nurse working at IU North Hospital in Carmel. I mentioned the problems with the Post Office and she asked “What problems with the Post Office?” Had I not known the source of her lack of information I would have wondered about her mental status; now I worry about how long it will take her to “wake up and smell the coffee” as they say.

    This may explain why so many white women still support Trump; look into their religion for answers.

  11. This is also a dog whistle to those who strongly resisted the”Common Core” and now what their version…

  12. Todd, I remember well Daniels’ fury over Zinn’s history. I have always felt that Mitch was wrong in his view that students shouldn’t be exposed to the seamy side of American history. It used to be a dictum that true success on the individual level requires that one recognize their deficiencies and failures and correct them; this is so on a national level as well, but it doesn’t register there because there are more and more narcissistic individuals making up the aggregate who won’t look in the mirror. You pointed out to me yesterday that we have always had a might is right history that is unsavory at best, and deplorable at worst. This remains true today in spite of tremendous successes in science and engineering and the defeat of totalitarian ideologies. Wish I could be here 50 years from now to read the history written by Howard Zinns of the future on the political corruption that gave us Trumpism. Of course, such writers may well be silenced by then.

  13. Amen. We have been indoctrinating our children rather than teaching history for decades if not centuries. How did I get to be in my 60s and not learn about the Tulsa massacre, the Mankato hangings or even redlining until the last year or two? I am having to relearn history.

  14. Can you blame the Republicans, who have forever distorted our story, for not wanting to teach the truth about American history? Starting with founding fathers sleeping with slaves to the look-the-other-way response of many who had no love for slavery to the slaughter of the Indians and the incessant breaking of treaties with the tribes to the War to Sustain Slavery to the defeat of Reconstruction to the Robber barons and Jim Crow and the Gilded Age and racism against Italians, Poles, Jews, Latinos, Irish, Muslims and practically everyone who didn’t come from England and the speculation and tariffs that brought on the Depression to Vietnam and Iraq, to the unnecessary deaths of 200 thousand people to the undermining of the working class to voter disenfranchisement, there’s not a lot to brag about, truth be told. All of us grew up thinking we lived in the most exceptional country in the world because, along the historical trail, America happened to produce some great people whom we could be proud of. They even held values we considered worth aspiring to, so we too didn’t delve into the deeper historical issues. But then Germany and Russia and China and no doubt Belarus could justifiably make that claim as well. Now we find that much of what we were taught was a form of government propaganda. Because of the size of their market, Texas controls much of the content of our K-12 textbooks.

    My orientation toward my country has always been that dissent and the struggle to make things better were the highest form of patriotism. But there’s no compensating (reparations won’t heal the scars on the backs of the slaves and there’s little conversation about reparations for American Indians) for what we have done in the past 230 years, and we’ve now reached an understanding that there are many among us who have on-going plans to commit, and to celebrate, even greater atrocities and pass them off as government policy.

    When I listen to Chuck Shumer whine about how he can do nothing to stop Trump, I hear him saying “I am not going to risk doing anything to upset our current electoral edge.” How’s that going to work out for us when we have a Supreme Court dedicated to the very ideas that weaken us and make us more fascistic than we are now? Unless we stop our practice of only talking about issues and adopt an action plan, we will all soon be road kill on Trump’s march toward totalitarianism.

  15. as i talk with other blue collars,in the trucking trade,doesnt matter,its all,fake begining to see where,the average worker,is overwhelmed with daily chatter,and filling their ears with cake,to make it through the day.any type of mental thinking,reading,or having to dismiss their own ideals, or what bubba says on saturday night at the dew drop inn.. no thought about why,and who has lived or died keeping our democracy safe..but,when they can not be allowed to express their feelings or find that denying the rights of others,soon will led them into,the same pit..trump mob,has agenda, its fully implemented by his enablers,and the republican party.. mcconnel didnt just come up with the supreme court pick, he already told trump and why,who to pick. who cares,either way it will be another seat to take, away from our rights,and allow the right wing religious sects to tell us how to live..all whores,and all in the same power trip.. the working class in America could be the majority of rights, and citizenship, if the education system in America demanded it was taught..texas seen fit to remove TJeffersons name from texas education,primary history books. if that is any indication of how states such as texas sees our heritage,and democracy.. i spend the batter half of a year in texas, its a hole full of vipers that would welcome a authortarian government, because the white people who are educated there,never leave the planet of self preservation,their own…. now heres where trump likes texas..for itself,and damn anyone who disagrees.. i still have a hard time beliveing we have such a ignorant working class whos killing itself..

  16. JoAnn,
    thanks,im in the same bad dream…my daughter is in central kansas, and my grandkids are in awe when i talk with them about recent issues, they have no clue,and wouldnt know where to look for the answers..this is because of church,and local fundamentals,inlaws and such..salina ks, a place to be forgotten…

  17. i made two major moves when i was 12 from newark,n.j. to norfolk,va,and then to bakerfield ca,when i was 15 both times,i was moved up a grade due my east coast corricular was ahead of the next education system.. even when i was 12, i found the next grade level midyear in norfolk,i had worked much of what i was taught in that level prior to norfolk..same with bakersfield. i will say, that catholic school sure did beat me into a student early..

  18. Trump and his sycophants want, no, need to write their own history because the truth is so awful. They have regressed several generations back to times that have to be lied about to obscure who we have become rather than who we would have remained in the absence of progress.

    The story of these formerly sometimes united states is not one of perfection, but one of progress, continuous improvement, becoming not being. That’s just one of the bodies of knowledge totally unavailable to those who don’t believe that what applies to the country collectively also applies to each of us individually. We need to commit to getting more complete in our knowledge over our whole lifetime rather than being stuck in believing as children do instead.

    Those who attack education can’t stand the truth typically because they chose never to learn it.

  19. History is a pesky thing! When individuals attempt to erase history, you know for a fact that there is something really really bad a foot! Eugenics was not a German thing, it was a British and American thing! The Germans just fell in love with it to justify executing everyone they considered unworthy. Hating Communists was not an American McCarthyist thing, it was a German thing! Joseph Goebel’s false flag operation burning down the German Reichstag and blaming it on the Communists allowed the Nazis to round up and execute thousands of Communists. McCarthy embraced that tack, and ruined the lives of many writers and entertainers mostly Jewish. Brainwashing the youth is not a Donald Trump idea, it was a German ideal with reeducation youth camps for turning children into Nazi spies in their own homes. Children turning in their parents and neighbors all for the good of the Third Reich! Demonization of certain ethnic immigrants was not an American thing, the Nazis loved the results of demonizing the Jews even though many had been in Germany for generations! America has just embraced it! As I’ve mentioned before and comments that seemed to be above comprehension to some, what is happening now didn’t take any sort of Nostradamus foresight, all this is, just a natural progression on the path to nationalistic fascist control. When you eat erase history, when you remove it from educational books, when you remove history from history, then all history is, it’s just a lie! When they demonized the Jews in Germany, Kristallnacht was one of the results! Concentration camps and mass murder followed close behind, kind of like the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse! No one believe that there would be blood spilled in the streets, and what has happened? Soon, the idea of repatriating African-Americans into slavery is going to start gaining even more traction! Because the next logical step would be to start promoting that very Nazi ideal that was borrowed from American Manifest Destiny! Just one more thing, “Fake Press” was not an American/Donald Trump invention, it was a Nazi Adolf Hitler invention called ‘ Lugenpresse” (fake press) nor is the evangelical enthrallment of Trump, the German church was used in the exact same way by Hitler!

  20. Yes Todd, I also recall Mitch Daniels bashing Howard Zinn. Zinn wrote a real history, warts and all and tied in the hand in glove relationship between corporate America and the Police, the Army, the National Guard etc.

    History with all it’s villains and their acts or omissions can be taught. Slavery, Jim Crow and all they other methods used to repress can be taught. There are heroes in history who have stood up throughout our history.

    The Colin Kapernick saga is instructive. He took a knee because he recognized something was wrong in America. The Reich Wing was quick to vilify him every way possible. The Reactionaries do not like protests against the system- Sit Down and Shut Up.

    The Reactionaries are OK with gun toting militia wannabes trying to intimidate people.

    Sadly, Orwell’s book 1984 is no longer a novel it is reality. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

  21. Terry,

    “Unless we stop our practice of only talking about issues and adopt an action plan, we will all soon be road kill on Trump’s march toward totalitarianism.”

    Exactly, it’s called being safe. In the long run, it’s political suicide. Whoever heard of taking action on this blog? It’ll all go away at the voting machine. Maybe four years ago. But, not now.

  22. My K-12 schooling in New York City and my university degree is only fully appreciated since I became a Hoosier. I remember when I was a Star reader I would not react calmly when reading a Star opinion piece. After canceling my Star subscription I began to receive offers from the Star to subscribe to the Thursday through Sunday issues popular evidently for the grocery and housewares ads and for the coupons. I thought the Star was responsible for the dumbing down of my community.
    How will Hoosiers vote in November if at all? Will they take pride in being thinkers or will they be misled by the seeming appeal of the term “conservative” sounding apolitical?

  23. A short history lesson:

    “Preventive attack, armed resistance, and revenge were almost completely absent in Jewish exilic history. The last, and only major revolt took place in the Roman Empire at the beginning of the second century, when the Jews were still living in compact settlements in the eastern Meditteranean region and when they were still envisaging an independent Judea. During the Middle Ages the Jewish communities no longer contemplated battle. The Medieval Hebrew poets did not celebrate the martial arts. The Jews of Europe were placing themselves under the protection of constituted authority. This reliance was legal, physical, and psychological.”

    “For the diaspora Jews, acts of armed opposition had become isolated and episodic. Force was not to be a Jewish strategy again until Jewish life was reconstituted in a Jewish state. During the catastrophe of 1933-45 the instances of opposition were small and few. Above all, they were, whenever and wherever they occurred, actions of last (NEVER FIRST) resort.”

    “On the other hand, alleviation attempts were typical and instant[an]eous responses by the Jewish community. Under the heading of alleviation are included petitions, protection payments ransom arrangements, anticipatory compliance, relief, rescue, salvage, reconstruction—in short, all these activities designed to divert danger or, in the event that force has already been used, to diminish its effects. ”

    “The Destruction of the European Jews” by Raul Hilberg ( Holmes & Meier, New York, 1985)p. 19-20.

    Hilberg is at the top of the line of Jewish historians. I was fortunate, a few years after this book was published, to have had a very long conversation with him on the three paragraphs which were cited above.

    Hilberg taught political science at the University of Vermont for 36 years.


    “When I listen to Chuck Shumer whine about how he can do nothing to stop Trump, I hear him saying “I am not going to risk doing anything to upset our current electoral edge.””

    Based on the historical past, what do you expect?

  24. It’s like a WILDFIRE that can’t be contained. So far, the only remedy has been for the WILDFIRE to burn itself out “on its own accord.” Can this “end game” ever be changed? Who knows? Maybe this will be the first time.

  25. Trump is cheerleading an attempt to rewrite history to grease the skids for America’s future – facism – not that it hasn’t been greased already by publishers who preach America’s exceptionalism (with the help of by-the-book faculty and politicians in search of votes). My now deceased wife, a professor of education, was in charge of selection of books for her department at a state university and in the process was bombarded both by mail and in person by publishers who wanted her to select their books for use.

    These people are more interested in writing books for sale and profit rather than books by authors such as Zinn who write unfettered by such profit designs. For example, nearly everyone is aware of Custer’s Last Stand, but few know that he came in last in his West Point class (which may have had something to do with his Last Stand). Or that Ronald Reagan joined the old Army
    Air Corps during WW II with the understanding that he would remain in Hollywood during the war and make propaganda movies – which he did – a draft dodger in uniform. American exceptionalism? What’s exceptional about it? We’ve always had not so bright people and cowards. Take now, for instance.

  26. Amazing, is he quoting Deuteronomy 6, “all of their heart and all of their souls,”
    I imagine his patriotic education will include learning the “Ten Commandments.”
    This must stop!

  27. I remember Trump’s “patriotic historry” – I think it was fifth grade – the textbook was clear – we were great, it was obvious that the American Indians has to make room for “us” (manifest destiny and all that – White man to rule – actually never explicitly “White”) – oh, and the freed slaves were in miserable shape without “massa” to tell them what to do – Of course in my school, the book was a joke – I think the NAACP finally got it removed, but I went to what may have been Detroit’s only integrated elementary school, so I have to wonder if some kids in other schools bought into that – a sad thought.

    I also remember meeting Dr. Zhang, one of the early set of Chinese scientists allowed out after Nixon’s visit – She was a “product” of the Cultural Revolution, which meant that she was pulled out of academia and sent to a farm – her scientific knowledge was, shall we say, out of date – nice woman, smart woman – “re-education” – seen it and don’t like it

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