I really have to stop reading the news. It’s bad for my mental health.
Just recently, I’ve learned that Wisconsin’s Republican legislature plans to reverse April’s election of a state Supreme Court Judge–who won by eleven points–by impeaching her. (Grounds to be concocted later…)
DeSantis appointed the co-founder of Moms for Liberty to the state’s ethics commission.
Elon Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League for reporting on the steep rise of anti-Semitic content on “X.” Musk claims that it is the ADL’s reports, not his wack-a-doodle management of the platform formerly known as Twitter, that is responsible for the steep drop in companies willing to advertise on the site.
And I see that Florida–which has been waging war against “woke” (i.e. accurate) education–is being joined by Oklahoma in authorizing the use of PragerU propaganda in public school classrooms.
A rightwing media outlet promoting climate-crisis denialism and other “anti-woke” staples to young students and adults via social media has become a fundraising Goliath, raking in close to $200m from 2018 to 2022 with big checks from top conservative donors, tax records reveal.
Founded in 2009 by the conservative talkshow host Dennis Prager, the eponymous Prager University Foundation is not an accredited education organization. But via online media its PragerU Kids division has become a key tool in spreading false claims to young people with short videos aimed at undercutting widely accepted science that climate crisis disasters are accelerating due, largely, to fossil-fuel usage.
PragerU’s influence in pushing false narratives about climate change and other far-right shibboleths such as airbrushing the brutal reality of American slavery gained ground when the Florida board of education in July gave the green light to using its videos and other materials in classrooms, a move that PragerU is trying to capitalize on in Texas and other states. On Tuesday, Oklahoma’s school system also approved the use of PragerU’s materials.
On its website, PragerU claims to be the “world’s leading conservative non-profit, focused on changing minds through the creative use of digital media.”
In other words, through lying. They call it “edutainment.”
The site’s funders include the Right-wing’s “usual suspects”– oil and gas billionaire brothers Farris and Dan Wilks ($8m over the past decade), the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the National Christian Charitable Foundation and (predictably) the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation
PragerU cartoons and videos include one about Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America, which has Columbus explaining that slavery isn’t so bad.
“Slavery is as old as time, and has taken place in every corner of the world, even amongst the people I just left. Being taken as a slave is better than being killed,” the cartoon Columbus said. “I don’t see the problem.”
Other PragerU videos about the climate crisis make various false claims: they depict solar and wind power as environmentally dangerous, liken environmental activists to Nazis and claim recent record-breaking heat is just part of the natural weather cycle.
What truly drives me up the wall is the emerging “conservative” argument that the First Amendment protects such unconscionable lying.
In an extraordinary display of chutzpah, Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, and fellow Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have accused Democrats of violating the First Amendment rights of election deniers.
In a report titled “The Weaponization of CISA: How a ‘Cybersecurity’ Agency Colluded With Big Tech and ‘Disinformation’ Partners to Censor Americans,” they argue that
the First Amendment recognizes that no person or entity has a monopoly on the truth, and that the “truth” of today can quickly become the “misinformation” of tomorrow. Labeling speech “misinformation” or “disinformation” does not strip it of its First Amendment protection. As such, under the Constitution, the federal government is strictly prohibited from censoring Americans’ political speech.
These people have no shame….
These civil libertarian claims of unconstitutional suppression of speech come from the same Republican Party that is leading the charge to censor the teaching of what it calls divisive concepts about race, the same party that expelled two Democratic members of the Tennessee state legislature who loudly called for more gun control after a school shooting, the same party that threatens to impeach a liberal judge in North Carolina for speaking out about racial bias, the same party that has aided and abetted book banning in red states across the country.
The linked column focuses upon the GOP’s hypocrisy, but that hypocrisy’s effectiveness relies on Americans’ widespread ignorance about the operation of the First Amendment.
Free Speech doesn’t allow you to engage in defamation or commit fraud with impunity; it doesn’t allow science teachers to substitute creationism for evolution.
It does, however, protect the ADL from Musk’s anti-Semitic threats….