Speaking Of Indoctrination

A few days ago, I highlighted the growth of “below-the-radar” volunteer organizations working to inform citizens and get out the progressive (okay, the anti-lunacy) vote. I was encouraged to discover how many efforts of which I’d previously been unaware– were underway in Indiana and elsewhere.

But of course, what’s sauce for the goose…A post at Juanita Jean reported on a similar phenomenon--but from the Right.

Those of us who get our information from the (mostly) reliable traditional news sources have been made aware of the many semi-secret organizations working to replace secular democracy with Christian Nationalism–from groups of wealthy and ostensibly respectable businessmen to the considerably less “socially acceptable” militia members. The linked post offers yet another illustration of the well-known Republican predilection for projection– blaming others for one’s own behaviors. This is yet another example of the hypocrisy of those insisting that “libruls” and public schools are engaged in “indoctrination.”

As Half-Empty writes at Juanita Jean,

What do Sean Spicer, General Michael Flynn (ret.), Jack Posobiec, Dan Crenshaw, Mike Waltz, Dana Loesch, Dinesh D’Souza, and John Solomon all have in common?

If you guessed they were all January 6th supporters or TFG idolizers, you would be correct, but they also have one basic thing in common: they are all Kid Lit authors.

At least they are now.

All of the above and more belong to the new constellation of stars being offered by Houston-based Brave Books. Brave Books proudly offers “Pro-God, Pro-America children’s books.” They tout their books to be “faith-based children’s books teaching American values for a brighter future.”

Brave Books features such titles as “The Island of Free Ice Cream,” which instructs children “that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” and “Fame, Blame and the Raft of Shame,” which teaches children “the dangers of cancel culture.”

I kid you not.

As Half Empty notes, most parents of toddlers consider colorfully illustrated children’s books a must-have.  And such children are still in their formative years; they are not yet capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, and far too immature to consider complications or shades of gray. Toddlers and very young children are ripe for socialization/indoctrination.

Early indoctrination of children is not a new concept. Early in the Soviet Era, children of the USSR were encouraged to join Little Octobrists (октября́та) in order to become lively, active, healthy, disciplined youngsters who subordinate themselves to the collective.

At about the same time, a similar program was offered in Germany called Deutsches Jungvolk and Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) for older male children.

The difference between then and now, obviously, is that in the present case, the children’s books are offered by a private business, and the earlier indoctrination programs were government run.

Apparently, however, even that distinction blurs.

While not government entities themselves, there are three examples of government-related organizations that do participate in indoctrination. In May 2023, the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) purchased $5,193.00 of these books in order to provide gift mementos to its donors. In November 2022, the Michael Waltz Campaign (FL – 06) bought $580.00 worth of books for supporters. In May 2022, the principal campaign committee of Matt Gaetz (FL – 01) purchased $2,555.80 worth for “supporter gifts.”

As Half-Empty notes, these GOP tactics amount to a “win-win” scenario:

authors get paid for their works, donors get rewarded for donating, and young children are told about the evils of boycotts and getting free stuff (eg., ice cream, EBT, Healthcare, and Social Security).

In this scenario, when you are in a majority, you maintain the majority by early indoctrination of future voters. If you find yourself in a shrinking minority, it is even more important to indoctrinate them.

I will admit to being dubious about the long-term success of these efforts at early childhood indoctrination. On the other hand, the parents who use these books (assuming that recipients of these GOP “gifts” are parents who actually do read to their children–or read at all) are likely to pursue other childrearing practices that reinforce the book’s “lessons.” Although the likely impact of this particular effort is low, its existence reflects the pervasiveness of GOP efforts to compensate for the party’s minority status–its determination to turn back the clock to a time when White Christian males dominated a patriarchal American society.

What worries me is that these sorts of underground efforts have to be considered in context: an extensive media (Faux, etc.) reinforcing Rightwing disinformation, a voting population that is largely civically-illiterate, and the persistent racism of a considerable portion of the American public.

It’s that context that keeps me up at night…

24 Comments

  1. “I was encouraged to discover how many efforts of which I’d previously been unaware– were underway in Indiana and elsewhere.”

    Is their a source for a list of those “under the radar” posts? They do no more good than those “real Republicans” who sit idle and mute in House and Senate; cowering in fear of reprisal from Herr Trump.

  2. Insidious is the descriptor that comes to mind. This also comes to mind, from Joe Welch in the US Senate in 1954:
    “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”
    I think the maga influence on what was once one of two strong, principled political parties in this country, the party of Lincoln, the GOP, has rendered it non-functioning as such. Reagan would be astonished and appalled, and McCain would be apoplectic. Unrecognizable, unwilling to accomplish any meaningful – or simply any – legislation for their country, led by a felonious malignant narcissist, and putting our democracy at the precipice, the alarms are all on for a Democratic victory in November, or we are doomed. All of this subversive, subtle and not-so-subtle activity on the part of the extreme right in an attempt to preserve a male white Christian nationalist society in the face of an inexorably changing American demography, reflecting the results of immigration and national mores counterintuitive to the maga mindset, will be futile in the long run, but possibly disastrous in the short term. It’s called minority rule, and thanks to the Electoral College, extreme gerrymandering, and a Senate whose representation for a state of a half million population, Wyoming, is equal to the representation of a state of over 40 million, California, exactly two. The GOP currently represents approximately 150 million citizens while the Dems represent over 200 million. Minority rule. A minority out of step with today’s world. Period. VOTE!!!!

  3. As CCR said, “I see a red moon rising!”

    What’s coming is going to be extremely disturbing, these fake Christians will overplay their hand. When your entire existence is built on fabrications, alternate realities or basically a pile of lies, the foundation starts to crumble, because that particular reality becomes painful and untenable. Historically, this has happened over and over. And unfortunately, in every case it’s become extremely bloody. And in modern times, as was mentioned somewhat yesterday, The Man of lawlessness is the ultimate form of apostasy. Men who presume they will be seen as gods! Those who make grandiose statements, those who self aggrandize, those who believe the lies that they spin and the falsehoods that become their dogma. A foundation of dogma that’s built on quicksand, that through much blood and misery sinks below the surface until it’s reincarnated by the next narcissistic miscreant apostate, after enough time has passed for those who lived under that lie to either die or become too old to remember.

    History repeats, it always points the way to the future. Because those who make history are mortal, and those who forget history are also mortal. Death catches all of them. But not before they create and/or witness more death and misery.

    When you have a ship without a rudder, You can never steer it where you want it to go. That rudder is love of your neighbor, it’s respect, it’s truth, as Dr King said, The Arc of Justice! These things stand the test of time, because They are the law unto themselves. They are righteously grounded on a stable foundation. That’s why they are always under attack by the men of lawlessness, they can’t destroy what’s righteous, but they can manipulate enough to create disaster and pit society against itself. After the sons of destruction get finished, a couple of generations and it starts all over again.

    The realization though, is that it can’t continue addinfinitum, eventually, the saturation which is evident today, through social media and the 24-hour news cycle that never ends, every nook and cranny of society is infected. And the thing that acts as a restraint is gone.

    That my friends, is going to be scary! People will beg the mountains to cover them over, but there will be no helper for them. In this day and age, humanity has finally acquired the power to annihilate itself, unless! Unless? Unless there is an intervention. Humanity has proven that they cannot intervene for any length of time to instill the good.

    Prophetic? In many ways history is a prophet!

  4. The long term effects could be very real. I have a scout in my troop whose single parent mom is staunchly Catholic. I’ve heard this boy denigrate non-catholic beliefs in others. He has strongly homophobic attitudes and engages in name calling to bully others. This is 12 year old. You can tell he is repeating stuff from his mom or some else close to him. It might be reversible but it’s going to take a long time IF he ever gets out of his home schooling environment. Real life or College could be rough on this kid.

    If you pay attention to the Scout Oath and law it’s pretty left leaning, anti-discrimination, pro-religious freedom, etc… so this kid is already getting pushback on his beliefs.

  5. How about a 50–volume series, one book for each state? For example, “What Texas Doesn’t Want You to Know” from the front of the book to the middle — and if you flip the book over, reading from the back to the middle, you get “What Texas Wants You to Know”

    Hopefully, kids will grow up with a balanced view of each state, an understanding that nothing is perfect, and hopefully no particular state can complain about being singled out for such treatment.

  6. You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
    You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
    It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear—
    You’ve got to be carefully taught!

    You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a different shade—
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate—
    You’ve got to be carefully taught!

    Of course, “South Pacific” was banned in several places…I guess it wasn’t teaching the “right” things.

  7. Had a nice conversation with John Sorg yesterday. The destruction of children by right-wing ideologues is as criminal as … trying to steal elections. Maybe worse. As a former public school educator, I also saw how the kids were being used by people who had no business being parents … and, of course, the right-wing churches who are compelled to control the flock to keep the money rolling in.

    As said many times before: Everything Republicans touch dies. Now, they’re trying to destroy our children too. I’m sure there’ll be some snappy comebacks for that statement.

  8. I’m afraid the USA is long past the point where lack of knowledge of civics is a key problem. Even were you guys to correct that overnight, I am confident it would make virtually no difference at all. The best that could be said is that many people would be a little more aware of their own hypocrisies. But then, they’d push any possible feelings of cognitive dissonance deep, deep down, and go on with their usual days of wishing the worst for the “libtards” that are endangering the souls of their children and pushing offensive DEI ideas.

    The problem is the GOP and MAGA are now essentially equivalent. And that is a group that normal triggers–like knowledge, shame, guilt, logic, empathy, debate, etc.–will not work on.

    The only option is to beat them in elections, and keep beating them, until the worst of them die out. There’s no short game; it’s going to take decades.

  9. John H.
    You hit the nail on the head! The answer is we must vote them out.

  10. And, let me guess, there are have been no groups buying and donating picture books about minorities, gays, transgenders, etc. We live in the only country with a “1st Amendment” and it has the unintended consequences of identity culture/politics. I am not surprised to see this reaction from the “other side”. It is too bad that kids can’t just learn about people – period.

  11. Thanks for giving me a topic this Monday morning, Sheila!

    I clicked through several links and got to their social media pages. It’s clear this is Kirk Cameron’s Christian project to make money. He has his own TBC channel to preach God and now a children’s TV show to sell kids on Christian nationalism. He’s recruited some real characters!

    It’s clear this is a response to the left-wing “Drag Queen Hour” at the library. I never thought this was a good idea to begin with, but what do I know? I wouldn’t let my kid attend such an event, and I’m not even sure why it was conceived as a legit concept.

    The cultural wars rage on because they serve the oligarchy. They keep us divided, so we can’t come together to solve the real problems facing the US. From a global perspective, what others perceive as “Western values” they don’t want any part of.

    Why these Christian nationalists have chosen Trump as their Christian leader is beyond me. He does not epitomize a faith-based leader. The meme I saw on Facebook compared Trump’s verdict to Jesus’s. LOL. The right-wingers even sent Trump $54 million after his guilty verdict. LOL

    You can’t make this shit up if you tried. Media Matters has a good article about Brave Books.

    https://www.mediamatters.org/trinity-broadcasting-network/far-right-christian-media-figure-kirk-cameron-trying-sow-conflict

  12. Thank you Jane! I referenced that song a week, or two ago, and it is spot-on!
    I never knew that the play was banned, anywhere, but, of course, this was the America the GOPIGGIES loved and want to go back to.
    Hats off top John H.’s post!

  13. Has anyone actually verified that $54 million haul? I hope we are not just taking tfg’s word for it.

  14. Republican nationalists are going to have a hard sell in their attempt to indoctrinate both children and adults with their plans to end that awful Social Security, Obamacare, their First Amendment rights, clean air and water etc. if we educate that segment of the polity to the realities of fascism and dictatorship. This is why we cannot be “Good Germans” and sit on our hands without publicly challenging every position taken by these fascist demogogues with truth and the blessings of democracy, a system that calls for those governed to make their choice of governors, a missing feature in fascist dictatorships.

    We don’t need a “strongman” to rescue us from this chaos (which the wannabe strongman has caused in arranging the pretext for his ascension to the Oval Office); we need a strong and educated polity to vote for candidates who espouse policies that expand our democratic understanding of the common good. Government per Lincoln exists of, by, and for the people and not some wannabe narcissist dictator in search of total power.

    Our task(s)? Challenge, educate, and VOTE.

  15. thru the decades truckin, everywhere with no real route or care as long as it paid. bought me to the world today. what we lost. privacy,, free wheelin and makin money,for ourselves, truckstops that had actual sit down meals. over the last few decades this wannabe industry has desolved into some sort of god guts and guns,family(hypocritaly)and some sort of play by someones elses rules, like the billionaire who just bought out your customer base. the common thread we had before deregulation,prior 1980, is not even history, its foregotten. its now a world of cheap labor exploited by the sense were just creatians of some other world. based on the fact, the wages paid to drivers equal dollar for dollar, today,as in 1984.. dont get me started on delivering on docks, refrigerated loads and warehouse loads. the people on the otherside of bullet proof glass act as though some beggar just walked onto their back porch begging for a free sandwich.the games whereas we pay the dock to unload us,cool if were early,we sit many times past any appointed times.loosing out on the load we were schdualed tomake, with no recourse on anyones part,even your employer or contracted place of work.hense todays subject. as i reflect on todays youth, seems no one sees that truck as a career path much less a living. im sure someone in this industry wrote a horror book and passed it to their kids. dont grow up and be a trucker, you will loose your ass.that will be 5 bucks.. now get out…

  16. Be sure to check out the link Todd provided at the bottom of his comment. It is downright scary.

  17. We all are aware of how human knowledge strives to reproduce.

    Are we as aware of how human ignorance also does?

    Both are pandemic but mask and vaccine-proof, but somewhat controlled by social distancing.

    How do you distinguish between the two in social situations?

  18. Sharon Miller, no, that is what the campaign is claiming. and we know Trump is all smoke and mirrors. We will see when the official reports come out.

    This thing with the kids books, is certainly a problem. But the smarter kids, especially as they get older, will be on their smart phones looking stuff up. My 20 and 24 year old kids know so much about what’s really going on, at an age where I knew next to nothing – knew a bit, because I was born in 1950, and so three of my high school graduation “gifts” were, the assignation of MLK and Bobby Kennedy and the rioting of the police at the Chicago Democratic Convention. If I didn’t know before, after that summer I knew we had a whole lot of problems. But one way we push back is to stop ignoring the rural areas. The Democratic party ignored the rural areas, and worse than that, destroyed rural culture by pushing for larger and larger farms. Earl Butz, a native Hoosier, was appointed secretary of labor in 1972 under Nixon, and told the farmers, “get big, or get out” . We are now paying the price. Thanks to Biden we are starting to run that around. The farming methods of the past decades are now strained, both because the ground, which should be teeming with life, is dead because of chemical instead of natural farming, and this will likely push us back towards more natural methods, and the vertical integration of the food companies pinching the pocket books of farmers. Hopefully this will lead to a movement back to smaller farms. Watch “Kiss the Ground” on Netflix.

  19. It’s power and authority.
    Also, oil controls everything. These stock market gurus, executives in these oil companies, continuously connive to raise oil prices. And the higher oil goes, it drives up food, It drives up transportation, it drives up utilities, it drives up shelter and medical care.

    Why do you think the power brokers always have their hands in the oil? Why do you think they push renewable energy to the background. If they claim they are looking for new sources of energy, they’re lying. If they could stop the research into fusion and such, they would. Those that control the oil, control the world. It’s just the way it is. It’s been the way of men forever.

    Even before refined petroleum, the olive oil was worth more than gold, especially fine olive oil. The same with salt. Those who control those things had immense power. They basically slaughtered the whales for their oil, to the brink of extinction, Like I said, history is truly a profit.

  20. Sharon Miller – it’s NOT $54 million,
    it’s $70 million. The tsunami backlash
    has JUST begun!

  21. The Hitlerjugend was mandatory for ALL young people. Much to her dislike, my mother was required to take part in this organization, wear the required dresses/uniforms, attend Nazi meetings, etc.

  22. I’m not as convinced as you that the Christian Nationalists will not be successful in their indoctrination of kids. I watched a 30-minute lecture by
    Dr. Julie Ingersoll based on her book “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction”. She delves into the history of the start of what has led us to today’s Christian Nationalism, beginning nearly a century ago. As Dr. Ingersoll said, they are in it for the long game. They believe education falls under the purview of the family, and the state should play no roll. Sheila, as you have written so often, vouchers are destroying public education, which is exactly what Christian Nationalists are striving for. I am becoming convinced we have passed the point of no return.

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