In a recent newsletter, Robert Hubbell summed up the path Ron DeSantis is pursuing–the path he clearly believes will garner him the GOP’s Presidential nomination.
Amid the torrent of reporting on Ron DeSantis’s attack on critical race theory and intersectionality, the quiet part is often left unsaid. So let me say it: DeSantis’s educational agenda is code for racism and white supremacy. (Other parts of his agenda seek to erase the dignity and humanity of LGBTQ people.) DeSantis’s invocation of “Western tradition” is meant to suppress knowledge regarding the people (and contributions) of Asia, Africa, South America, Oceania, and the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. See Talking Points Memo, DeSantis Makes 2024 Ambitions Clear As He Pours Gasoline On His ‘Woke’ Education Fire.
Given DeSantis’s generalized ignorance, his call to focus on “Western tradition” is a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to the discussion of unpleasant truths about America. For example, the enslavement of Black people was a “tradition” in North America for 246 years—and the abolition of that evil practice is relatively recent (155 years ago). So, a college course that honestly addresses the Western “traditions” of North America should include an examination that the role of slavery played in the economic, social, and political development of America.
The New York Times, among other outlets, has covered DeSantis’ various attacks on “woke” instruction, noting that it is part of “An unrelenting assault on truth and freedom of expression in the form of laws that censor and suppress the viewpoints, histories and experiences of historically marginalized groups, especially Black and L.G.B.T.Q. communities.”
The Times didn’t mince words.
Under Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “Stop WOKE” law — which would limit students and teachers from learning and talking about issues related to race and gender — Florida is at the forefront of a nationwide campaign to silence Black voices and erase the full and accurate history and contemporary experiences of Black people….
The same reasons that the “Stop WOKE” law is blocked from enforcement in university settings hold for elementary and secondary schools. As a federal judge ruled in November, the law strikes “at the heart of ‘open-mindedness and critical inquiry,’” such that “the State of Florida has taken over the ‘marketplace of ideas’ to suppress disfavored viewpoints.”
The most important point made by the Times–and confirmed by DeSantis’ obvious belief about the most effective path to the Republican nomination–is that it is nakedly racist and homophobic.
It is no longer plausible to maintain that the GOP base is composed of anything other than White Christian Supremacists.
DeSantis is currently the most shameless panderer to that base, but the evidence is nation-wide–and public education is currently the favored target. After all, if children are taught that all people are human and that America hasn’t always treated “others” that way, they might grow up to be “woke.”
DeSantis is simply doing publicly what GOP officials in other states are doing somewhat more circumspectly. Examples abound.
Think the voucher movement is about giving children educational options? Think again. There’s a reason that so many of these programs lack accountability–here in Indiana, SB 305 vastly extends the availability of vouchers–but places the program under the “oversight” of the State Treasurer–not the Department of Education. It has no mechanism for assessing educational value.
In Ohio, laws presumably governing home schooling failed to shut down a Nazi home schooling curriculum.
Antifascist researchers known as the Anonymous Comrades Collective first identified the couple, who participated in a neo-Nazi podcast under the names Mr. and Mrs. Saxon, as Logan and Katja Lawrence of Upper Sandusky in Wyandot County. The group’s work was the nexus for a story about the couple in Vice News.
Their Telegram channel, started on Oct. 23, 2021, is called Dissident-Homeschool. It features suggested content that is racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic, as well as factually inaccurate. It includes cursive practice sheets with quotes from Adolf Hitler, suggested content about Confederate General Robert E. Lee and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which included an unfounded conspiracy about Jewish people. The Telegram channel offers a suggested math lesson with a story problem attributing crime to different races.
There’s no way to tell how many other “home schoolers” use that channel or similar materials. I see nothing in Indiana’s voucher proposal that would allow the state to monitor for such use–or for that matter, educational value of any kind.
Well-meaning Americans tend to look at the various movements of Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and others as outliers, a few twisted individuals who have succumbed to ignorance and hatreds that nice people largely relegate to the past.
DeSantis recognizes what those well-meaning folks don’t: ignorance and racism elected Donald Trump, and–if enough votes can be suppressed– may well lift him into the Oval Office too.