Archives for category: Bigotry

Peter Greene describes his latest gambit. He is pressing for the adoption of his “Stop WOKE” act.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing his level best to wreck education in his state by politicizing every education policy. It’s a textbook illustration of fear-mongering and race-baiting. How low can he go without scraping his head on the ground?

Greene writes:

Florida owns the Number One spot on the Public Education Hostility Index, but Governor Ron DeSantis is not willing to rest on his laurels. You may have already heard about this, or you may have passed over the news because it’s Florida, but some bad news needs to be repeated, particularly when it comes from the state that launches so many of the bad trends in education.

DeSantis has borrowed from Texas, where a new abortion banhas come up with a clever way to circumvent rules about what a state can and cannot enforce. Now upheld by SCOTUS, the law makes every citizen a bounty hunter, with the right for “anyone to sue anyone” suspected of being in any way involved in an abortion (in a rare display to restraint, Texas exempts the woman getting the abortion from the civil liability). 

The idea of insulating the state is not new to education privatization efforts. Part of the reasoning behind education savings accounts is that it let’s the state say, “What? We didn’t give taxpayer dollars to a private religious institution. We just gave the money to a scholarship organization (and they gave it to the private religious school). Totally not a First Amendment violation.”

So here comes DeSantis with his “Stop WOKE Act” (as in “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees”– some staffer was up late working on that one). This is legislation he’ll “push for” because of course a governor doesn’t propose legislation–he just orders it up from his party in the legislature. 

The proposal comes wrapped in lots of rhetoric about the evils of “critical race theory,” which DeSantis defines broadly and bluntly: Nobody wants this crap, OK? This is an elite-driven phenomenon being driven by bureaucratic elites, elites in universities and elites in corporate America and they’re trying to shove it down the throats of the American people. You’re not doing that in the state of Florida.

Along with vague rhetoric about learning to hate America, DeSantis brought in crt panic shill Christopher Rufo for his pep rally. And of course he trotted out some highly selective Martin Luther King Jr. quotage, because, hey, he’s totally not racist.

But the highlight here is creating a “private right of action” for parents, an actual alleged civil rights violation. Anyone who thinks their kid is being taught critical race theory can sue (and this will apply to workplace training as well). Parents who win even get to collect attorney’s fees, meaning they can float these damn lawsuits essentially for free– watch for Florida’s version of Edgar Snyder--attorneys advertising “there’s no charge unless we get money for you.”

Allowing parents to file lawsuits would have the effect of making the operating definition of crt even vaguer–it’s whatever Pat and Sam’s mom thinks it is. You can say that using a bad definition that loses the lawsuit would limit this vaguery, but that misses the point–the school would still have to defend itself in court, costing money and time…

Open the link and read the rest.

Greene predicts that teachers will not feel free to teach about America’s racist past. I agree with him.

A few nights ago, I watched a PBS documentary about the life of Marian Anderson, who was hailed in her lifetime as one of the greatest singers in the world. She toured the capitals of Europe to great acclaim. Yet for most of her life, she sang to racially segregated audiences in the United States. The documentary showed that Hitler admired America’s segregationist laws and practices and saw them as a model. Today, those who remember Anderson’s name know her as the black woman whom the DAR (Daughters of the Revolution) prohibited from performing in Constitution Hall in 1939, D.C.’s premier concert hall. D.C. was rigidly segregated. Instead she sang at the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 75,000 people. Her opening number was “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

I expect that no teacher in Florida would show that documentary in class. It may be factual, but some students’ parents would complain and sue the teacher for exposing their children to CRT.

A reader who signs in as “Democracy” posted the following comment in response to Jennifer Berkshire’s article in The Nation. Berkshire argued that Terry McAuliffe lost the governor’s race in Virginia because he is a corporate Democrat who doesn’t understand or value public education and couldn’t defend it against Glenn Youngkin’s attacks.

Democracy wrote:

I’ll agree with Jennifer Berkshire that Terry McAuliffe didn’t exactly grasp the historical foundation(s) for public schools. But then, neither do MOST politicians. Nor do most voters. That’s NOT why McAuliffe lost the Virginia election. Racism was.

As I noted previously, prior to the election, the NY Times reported this: “Republicans have moved to galvanize crucial groups of voters around what the party calls ‘parental rights’ issues in public schools, a hodgepodge of conservative causes ranging from eradicating mask mandates to demanding changes to the way children are taught about racism…Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate in Virginia, stoked the resentment and fear of white voters, alarmed by efforts to teach a more critical history of racism in America…he released an ad that was a throwback to the days of banning books, highlighting objections by a white mother and her high-school-age son to ‘Beloved,’ the canonical novel about slavery by the Black Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.”

The Washington Post reported this: “Youngkin surged in the late weeks of the race by tapping into a deep well of conservative parental resentment against public school systems. He promised to ban the teaching of critical race theory, an academic approach to racial history that’s not on the Virginia K-12 curriculum….the conservative news media and Republican candidates stirred the stew of anxieties and racial resentments that animate the party’s base — thundering about equity initiatives, books with sexual content and transgender students on sports teams.”

And, again, the NY Times: “the past half-century of American political history shows that racially coded attacks are how Republicans have been winning elections for decades…Youngkin dragged race into the election, making his vow to ‘ban critical race theory’ a centerpiece of his stump speech and repeating it over the closing weekend — Race is the elephant in the room.”

The Associated Press reported this, on CRT and the the Virginia governor’s race: “The issue had weight in Virginia, too. A majority of voters there — 7 in 10 — said racism is a serious problem in U.S. society, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of Tuesday’s electorate…The divide along party lines was stark: 78% of Youngkin voters considered the focus on racism in schools to be too much.”

How does Jennifer Berkshire explain all this? She doesn’t. UVA political analyst Larry Sabato described the Youngkin Critical Race Theory strategy this way: “The operative word is not critical.And it’s not theory. It’s race. What a shock, huh? Race. That is what matters. And that’s why it’s sticks. There’s a lot of, we can call it white backlash, white resistance, whatever you want to call it. It has to do with race. And so we live in a post-factual era … It doesn’t matter that [CRT] isn’t taught in Virginia schools. It’s this generalized attitude that whites are being put upon and we’ve got to do something about it. We being white voters.”

White voters — especially low-education white voters surely did listen hard and hear well. Youngkin won 76 percent of non-college graduate whites. And Youngkin got way more of the non-college white women votes (75 percent) than McAuliffe.

Check the exit polls:

WHITE WOMEN COLLEGE GRADS
VA 2020: 58% Biden, 41% Trump
VA 2021: 62% McAuliffe, 38% Youngkin

WHITE WOMEN NON-COLLEGE
VA 2020: 56% Trump, 44% Biden
VA 2021: 75% Youngkin, 25% McAuliffe

How does Jennifer Berkshire explain all this? She doesn’t. There’s a reason that KKKers, and Neo-Nazis and white supremacists — Trump’s “very fine people” — identify with the Republican Party. And that’s because it is the party of Trump, and racism, and voter suppression, and white grievance and white nationalism. The Virginia election just mirrored who and what white Republican voters are.

Marty Levine recalls the famous saying by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. He read a new book about police killings of Black men and wonders if Dr. King was overly optimistic. Consider this to be a validation of critical race theory.

He begins:

In 1968, shortly before he was murdered, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, was still giving us hope that we would overcome. Speaking at the National Cathedral, he said we needed to keep not become despondent when things seem to be stuck because “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

I am now wondering if he was correct.

I’m reading “America on Fire”,  a recently published book looking at police and community violence written by Elizabeth Hinton, a Yale Associate Professor of History & African American Studies and Law. Spurred to write by the series of police murders of Black men and women and the protests and violence that arose in response, Professor Hinton has found a history of a national failure to learn and unwillingness to confront reality. Time after time police violence was the match that set off violent uprisings in Black communities which had been marginalized and systematically kept in poverty and neglect. Time after time she found we said we knew that we needed to invest in people and communities. And time after time, she found, that we ignored these lessons and turned our resources to defending the built-in bias, expanding our police forces, and expanding our prison systems.

Hinton’s conclusion, formed after she analyzed more than 2,200 separate community outbreaks between 1964 (Harlem, New York) and  2001 (Cincinnati, Ohio) was that the conflict is more than just a symptom of racism and poverty. “They happened when police seemed to be there for no reason, or when the police intervened in matters that could be resolved internally (disputes among friends and family). Rebellions began when the police enforced laws that would almost never be applied in white neighborhoods (laws against gathering in groups of a certain size or acting like a “suspicious person”). Likewise, they erupted when police failed to extend to residents the common courtesies afforded to whites (allowing white teenagers to drink in a park but arresting Mexican American teens for the same behavior).”

Those in power were interested in protecting their power and the status quo rather than bringing the changes they promised. They listened to the voices of the hurting communities, said pious words about their now seeing the pain of those left out of the American Dream, vowed to take on the underlying and systemic problems that had been ignored, and then did little beyond strengthening the police.

Jeff Bryant reports on a frightening phenomenon: the notorious and violent Proud Boys are targeting public schools.

He begins:

When violent insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to attempt to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election, some of the rioters were members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group prone to street brawling and pro-Western, anti-Muslim, and misogynistic rhetoric.

The insurrectionists were thwarted, but now extremist groups—including the Proud Boys—are aiming their threats and violence at a new target: public schools.

In Orange County, North Carolina, the Proud Boys and other white nationalist groups have begun showing up at high school football games and school board meetings, “protesting the district’s COVID-19 and LGBTQ+ policies.” Their intimidating language, apparel, and physical gestures prompted officials to hire extra security and pass a resolution opposing “incidents of hostile and racist behavior,” according to a report in the News and Observer.

The resolution charged that the rightwing agitators had “shouted racist and homophobic slurs at students” and included “emails from teachers and students who describe how unsafe they feel being around the Proud Boys.”

A local radio station quoted Orange County board chairwoman Hillary MacKenzie describing a recent meeting of the board where “there were two men in Proud Boys shirts and hats . . . one wore a stocking over his face . . . the other one told our board during public comment that someone should tie rocks around our necks, and we should throw ourselves in a river.”

Similar occurrences from around the country seem to indicate that the Proud Boys’ targeting of public schools is a coordinated, nationwide effort, suggesting a direct line from the group’s involvement in the January 6 insurrection to its current participation in the wave of protests at public schools and school board meetings.

As part of the Republican effort to eliminate teaching about slavery, racism, and other injustices, the state has banned “critical race theory” and requires teaching “both sides” of controversies.

In the Carroll Independent School District, teachers were told that if they teach about the Holocaust in Europe, they must teach “the other side.” Understandably, teachers were confused. Are they supposed to give equal time to the genocide of millions of men, women, and children, and those who say that the genocide never occurred? When they teach about slavery, must they give equal time to the atrocities of enslavement and to apologists who say that slavery was benign?

Teachers in a Texas city have been told that if they have a book on the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also have one that offers an “opposite” view.

A school head’s instruction to staff in Southlake, which is 26 miles northwest of Dallas, was secretly captured on an audio recording obtained by NBC News.

Gina Peddy, executive director of the Carroll Independent School District, spoke during a training session on what books teachers can keep in classroom libraries.

It came four days after the Carroll school board, in response to a parent’s complaint, voted to reprimand a teacher who had an anti-racism book in her classroom.

In the recording, Ms. Peddy told staff to “remember the concepts” of a new state law that requires teachers to present different points of view when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” topics.

Referring specifically to the Nazi genocide of six million Jews in wartime, he said: “And make sure if you have a book on the holocaust that you have one that has an opposite, that has other perspectives. “

In response, a teacher said, “How do you oppose the Holocaust?”

Mrs. Peddy told them, “Trust me. That has come up.”

Speaking later, a teacher from Carroll told NBC News: “Teachers literally fear that we will be punished for having books in our classes.

“There are no children’s books that show the ‘opposite perspective’ of the Holocaust or the ‘opposite perspective’ of slavery.

“Are we supposed to get rid of all the books on those topics?”

Another teacher hung caution tape in front of books in a classroom after the new guidelines were distributed.

In a statement issued following Ms. Peddy’s comments, Carroll’s spokeswoman Karen Fitzgerald said the district was trying to help teachers comply with the new state law and an updated version that will take effect in December.

Subsequently, the district superintendent publicly apologized.

As the Superintendent, I express my sincere apology regarding the online article and news story. During the conversations with teachers, comments made were in no way to convey the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history.

This statement does not explain how Texas teachers can teach both sides of every issue. There is no doubt that the purpose of the law is to make teachers fearful of teaching anything about racism or any other atrocities that are matters of fact.

State legislatures and even school districts are banning ”critical race theory,” typically based on misinformation about what it is and what it isn’t. The laws and bans are sweeping, and many teachers assume they are prohibiting
discussions of racism, slavery, the KKK, or anything that might make white students feel uncomfortable. Where such views become law, the accurate teaching of American and world history becomes impossible. There have been many shameful episodes in history, and students deserve to learn about them honestly, not sugar-coated.

The National Education Policy Center posted an interview with Professor Adrienne Dixson, a scholar of CRT, who explained what CRT is and what it isn’t. Here is a small part.

Q: In just a few sentences, what is critical race theory?

A: CRT is a theoretical framework that originated in legal scholarship in the late 1980s. The founding CRT scholars were dissatisfied with anti-discrimination laws and the legal scholarship that informed it because they felt it didn’t adequately address the role of race and racism and relied too heavily on incremental change. CRT was introduced to education in the 1990s to address similar dissatisfaction with research in education that scholars believed did not fully account for race and racism. Moreover, scholars felt that multicultural education had become co-opted and no longer had the potential to adequately address inequities in education writ large.

Q: There are a lot of misconceptions out there about CRT. In a few sentences, please tell us what critical race theory IS NOT.

A: It is not about training people to “be” anti-racist. It is not a static or pre-packaged cur-riculum that is sold to K-12 schools or even universities. It is not focused on making White people feel guilty. It is not Black, Asian, Latinx or Indigenous Supremacy. It is not Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.

Q: What does critical race theory add to our thinking?

A: Critical Race Theory helps us think more carefully about how our policies and practices create barriers that prevent equitable participation and success in the educational enterprise

Education Week posted a story by Stephen Sawchuk about seven local school boards that have passed resolutions to ban CRT. There is quite a lot of confusion about what it is, and districts are taking actions that have a chilling effect on discussions of racism, inclusion, and diversity, as well as honest teaching of history.

Sawchuk writes:

This year’s tumultous debates over whether American racism exists, who perpetuates it, and how it should be taught in K-12 classroom settings has saturated the nation’s thousands of school districts. 

About 26 states now have taken steps to curb various aspects of how teachers discuss with students America’s racist past and how districts fight systemic racism. Many take effect this fall, and some of them contain penalties for teachers and administrators, including the loss of their license or fines. 

But as some of the fiercest critics of race-related teaching acknowledge, the most important level of governance over what is taught, which materials are selected, and what training is provided is at the school district level

Communities are defining “critical race theory” in different ways, drawing on everything from scholarly sources, to popular bestsellers on race, to talking points from conservative pundits and critics.


Jinnie Spiegler of the Anti-Defamation League writes in Education Week about the importance of teaching anti-bias education and the history of systemic oppression.

She writes:

As of August 12, 26 states have introduced bills or taken steps to restrict or limit the teaching of racism, sexism, bias, and the contributions of specific racial or ethnic groups to U.S. history. Twelve states have enacted bans, either through legislation or other avenues. Amid the pandemic, these laws add a consequential layer of intimidation, fear, and disrespect for educators. It’s a hard time to be a teacher right now.

Critical race theory is an academic framework that seeks to understand and examine how the law and policies perpetuate racial disparities in society (e.g., health care, education, legal, criminal justice, housing, voting, etc.). We know that CRT is notwidely taught in K-12 schools, nor is CRT a curriculum or teaching methodology. However, the purpose of these laws—beyond politics and inciting energy for upcoming elections—is an attempt to restrict or prevent teachers from teaching about racism, sexism, equity, and other forms of systemic oppression.

These laws can potentially prevent teachers from reading a children’s book about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, reflecting on Black Lives Matter and what to do about police violence, understanding current day hate symbols like noose incidents and their historical context of racial terror, and much more.

Why We Need to Teach About Systemic Racism and Other Oppression

These restrictions are concerning precisely because they contradict one of the most important goals of education—to teach young people how to think critically and foster a more just and equitable society so that all people can learn, live, and thrive. To do that, students need to understand what bias and injustice are, how they manifest in society—particularly in systemic ways through our institutions—the historical roots of bias and oppression, and how those injustices have been historically and continue to be challenged and disrupted.

The laws and resolutions now being passed by states and districts will have a chilling effect on what teachers think they are allowed to teach. Given the vagueness of these laws, many students will be deprived of honest history.

The publisher of the many books written by Theodor Geisl (“Dr. Seuss”) announced that it was suspending publication of six books that contained demeaning drawings of Asian and African figures.

The books that will no longer be published are:

“And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”

“If I Ran the Zoo”

“McElligot’s Pool,”

“On Beyond Zebra!,”

“Scrambled Eggs Super!”

“The Cat’s Quizzer.”

Having written a book in 2003 called The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Children Learn, I have a long-standing interest in censorship of books, textbooks, and tests. In that book, I came down on the side of free speech and freedom of expression. I did not grapple, however, with the real dilemma presented by books that contained hateful images, even if they were not seen as such when they were first published. I was looking instead at organized efforts to cleanse publications of anything that might offend anyone, like a reference to a cowboy or a landlady or a man wearing a sombrero or an elderly person using a cane.

I wrote about campaigns to remove Huckleberry Finn from class reading lists, to revise Shakespeare to remove bawdy language, and to remove all gendered roles from books.

If I had the chance to revise The Language Police, I would express a different opinion today. I don’t think that children should be required to read books that contain images that are insulting to people based on their race, gender, ethnicity, or religion.

Dr. Seuss wrote wonderful books that did not contain objectionable images. His work will survive. I actually met Theodor Geisl (Dr. Seuss) at a dinner party at the home of Robert Bernstein, the publisher of Random House. He was not a racist or a sexist. The messages that I got from the books I read to my children were humorous, funny, anti-authoritarian, and very appealing to children. My sons learned to read because we read Dr. Seuss so often, again and again, books like “Cat in the Hat” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” Those books taught them the playfulness of language. We also read “I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew,” which had a very important lesson about not imagining that there was some ideal place out there “where they never have troubles, at least very few,” and that it is best to confront the problems you have in the here and the now. I memorized the opening lines of “Happy Birthday to You” because of its wonderful, wacky rhymes. Another favorite “Yertle the Turtle” was an implicit critique of big shots who tried to lord it over everyone else.

So I write as a mother and grandmother who admired Dr. Seuss’s works. Those that contain racist and insensitive images dishonor him. Any offensive images should be cut out.

Republicans have suddenly become big fans of Dr. Seuss, who was a liberal Democrat and a passionate anti-fascist (Antifa). They say that withdrawing his books because of racist imagery is “cancel culture.”

Donald Trump Jr. has been especially vocal about the harm of “cancel culture.” He is suddenly a fan of liberal anti-fascist Dr. Seuss. Real “cancel culture” is trying to cancel the results of a national election because you lost. Real “cancel culture” is suppressing the votes of people who are likely to vote for the other party. The worst “cancel culture” is using your power to cancel democracy.

The wounded Republicans who decry “cancel culture” are worried that the white male dominant culture in which they grew up is slipping away. Trump Sr. said he would put an end to “political correctness,” so that it would once again be fine to make jokes about women and people of color.

Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect expressed his opinion in a Seussian poem:

Kuttner on TAP
If We Ran the Zoo
A lefty named Ted used his art to fight bigots
His books and cartoons were like tolerance spigots.
He located his parables on islands and zoos
And adopted the sweet pen name of Doctor Seuss.

Some of his Sneetches had bellies with stars
They dissed other Sneetches with none upon thars.
The north-going Zax dumbly blocked the way
Of the south-going Zax so that neither could play.

So many of his stories had the same takeaway:
No one is privileged, no race should hold sway.
Our kids grew up with Ted’s tales as teachers
Absorbing the lessons along with the creatures.

Some of his stories were merely in fun
But Ted Geisel’s great cause was to put hate on the run.
His wartime cartoons in the great conflagration
Attacked every brand of discrimination.

In The Lorax Geisel was an early enviro
On gender roles, he was also a tyro.
When Mayzie the bird got weary of egg duty
Horton pitched in and hatched a beauty.

Of course good Doctor Seuss lived in a time
When stereotypes were as common as grime.
Once in a great while, one crept into his whimsy
But against his good deeds the charge of bigot is flimsy.

So swap out some pictures
But please keep the text
And watch who you cancel
For you could be next.

My hunch, having met the real Dr. Seuss, is that if he were alive today, he would change the illustrations in the offending books. And he would applaud the decision to revise them. He was born in 1905; he lived in a time when racism was commonplace and acceptable. It is not any more. And it should never be again. And Dr. Seuss would agree.

Al Franken is the former Senator from Minnesota. He wrote this retrospective on Rush Limbaugh in the New York Daily News.

Rush Limbaugh died this week. His impact on our nation’s discourse and polity will long outlive him.

Many Americans had been puzzled when President Trump bestowed upon Limbaugh our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. After all, previous honorees include Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King and the crew of Apollo 13. I, however, was not surprised. Because without Limbaugh, there is no (former) President Trump.

Rush was the first broadcaster to take full advantage of the FCC’s little-noticed 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. Since its adoption in 1949, the rule had required broadcasters to present controversial issues in a fair and balanced manner. Its repeal cleared the way for disreputable broadcasters to present manifestly dishonest and unbalanced content, and Rush, it turned out, had a real talent for just that kind of thing.

And when I say talent, I mean it. Limbaugh created right-wing talk radio, holding court three hours a day, five days a week for 32 years, attracting an audience of 20 million listeners because he was compelling, sometimes funny, always provocative, if routinely sexist, homophobic and racist.

Racist? He once asked his audience, “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”

Homophobic? In 1990, Limbaugh ran a recurring segment entitled “AIDS Update,” in which he’d mock the death of a gay man who had just recently died of AIDS, cheekily playing ironic popular songs like Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.”

Sexist? You may remember Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who testified before Congress in 2012, on an exception within the Affordable Care Act that would allow religious institutions to opt out of covering contraception. Here’s Limbaugh referring to her testimony that contraception can cost as much as $3,000: “What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke (sic), who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.”

Rush went on like that for quite a while. He had three hours to fill.

But mainly, he was a shill for the right wing of the Republican Party. Along the way, he promoted conspiracy theories: Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster murdered; global warming is a hoax; Barack Obama was born in Kenya; COVID-19 is no worse than the common cold and is being used by the media to prevent Donald Trump’s re-election. And, yes, the election was stolen.

Here’s what he told his listeners on Jan. 7: “There’s a lot of people out there calling for the end of violence…lot of conservatives, social media who say that any violence or aggression at all is unacceptable regardless of the circumstance…I am glad Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, the actual tea party guys, the men at Lexington and Concord didn’t feel that way.”

In 1995, I wrote a book, “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot And Other Observations.” The book was satirical, but its intent entirely serious. Limbaugh’s radio show had become an effective arm of the right wing of the Republican party. The previous November, Republicans had won the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, and the new Speaker, Newt Gingrich, named Limbaugh an honorary member of the class of ’95.

At the time, Limbaugh had a TV show in which he referred to “The White House dog” while the control room put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton.

The show’s producer, Roger Ailes, would go on to run Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel, whose slogan, ironically, would echo the “fair and balanced” language of the Fairness Doctrine, purporting to provide a balance to the liberal mainstream media.

Fox’s right-wing propaganda machine had built a huge, rabid audience by relentlessly attacking Democratic administrations and then functioning as virtual state TV for President Trump. Currently, the network is faced with a $2.7 billion lawsuit from election software company Smartmatic, for spreading false rumors that the company had helped Joe Biden steal the election in several states (none of which, by the way, had used Smartmatic’s software).

Right-wing radio. Right-wing TV. Then came the internet, where websites like Newsmax and Breitbart and social media platforms like Facebook have created a more opaque world where far more extreme and untethered worldviews fester and grow.

This is how you get QAnon. How not a small number of Trump supporters believe that not a small number of Democrats are blood-sucking pedophiles. It’s how you get a member of Congress who blamed Jewish lasers for starting the wildfires in California. It’s how you get Jan. 6.

The most dangerous problem facing America today is the existence of two universes of information. The second universe, a universe of disinformation, has been expanding since 1989. Rush Limbaugh was the Big Bang.

Bette Midler wrote about Limbaugh’s death on Twitter and was not as polite as Franken.

David Berliner, a distinguished scholar of American education, is writing a long essay about the dangers of public funding for religious schools. Currently numerous red states are considering proposal to expand vouchers and transfer more public funds to religious schools, typically without accountability. Their actions will overturn the historic tradition of separation of church and state. As the Pastors for Texas Children often say, that separation guarantees religious Liberty.

Berliner writes:

Public dollars for support of religious schools costs citizens billions of dollars annually, and ends up supporting some horrible things. A contemporary example of this is the criteria for entrance to the Fayetteville Christian School (FCS) in North Carolina. 

The Fayetteville Christian School is recipient, in a recent school year, of $495,966 of public money. They got this in the form of school vouchers that are used by students and their families to pay for the students religious schooling. The entrance requirements for this school, and other religious schools like it, frighten me, though they are clearly acceptable to North Carolinians. From their website, in 2020:1

“The student and at least one parent with whom the student resides must be in agreement with (our) Statement of Faith and have received Jesus Christ as their Savior. In addition, the parent and student must regularly (go to) a local church. (We) will not admit families that belong to or express faith in religions that deny the absolute Deity/Trinity of Jesus Christ as the one and only Savior and path to salvation. …. FCS will not admit families that engage in behaviors that Scripture defines as deviate and sin (illicit drug use, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality (LGBT), etc.)

Once admitted, if the student or parent/guardian with whom the student resides becomes involved in lifestyles contradictory to Biblical beliefs, we may choose to dis-enroll the student/family from the school.” 

[Retrieved February 8, 2021, from https://www.fayettevillechristian.com/copy-of-criteria-1

So, despite the receipt of public money, the Fayetteville Christian School is really notopen to the public at all! This school says, up front and clearly, that it doesn’t want and will not accept Jews, Muslims, Hindu’s, and many others. Further, although supported by public money, it will expel students for their family’s alleged “sins”. Is papa smoking pot? Expelled! Does your sibling have a homosexual relationship? Out! Has mama filed for divorce? You are gone! The admissions and dismissal policies of this school–receiving about a half million dollars of public funds per year–are scandalous. I’d not give them a penny! North Carolina legislators, and the public who elects them should all be embarrassed to ever say they are upholders of American democracy. They are not.

Dana Milbank is a regular opinion writer for the Washington Post.

He wrote about the Republicans’ anti-Semitism problem. They refuse to denounce anti-Semitism. Bigotry multiplies.

For more than five years, I begged Republicans to reject the creeping anti-Semitism Donald Trump brought to the party, noting on the eve of the 2016 election that “when a demagogue begins to identify scapegoats, the Jews are never far behind.”


But I never expected I would see in my lifetime, in the United States of America, what occurred on the floor of the House this week. One hundred ninety-nine Republican members of Congress rallied to the defense of a vile, unapologetic anti-Semite in their ranks who calls for assassination of her opponents.


This is more than a Republican problem, it’s an American problem. You don’t have to be a scholar of 20th-century Europe to know what happens when the elected leaders of a democracy condone violence as a political tool and blame the country’s ills on the Jews.


Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), who is quickly becoming the de facto face of the Republican Party, has suggested that the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, where white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us,” was actually an “inside job” to “further the agenda of the elites.”


She shared a video in which a Holocaust denier claimed that an “unholy alliance of leftists, capitalists and Zionist supremacists have schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation” with the purpose of “breeding us out of existence in our own homelands.”


She posed for campaign photos with a white-supremacist leader and then refused to renounce the man.
She approved of a claim that the Israeli intelligence service assassinated John F. Kennedy, and she speculated that wealthy Jewish interests — the Rothschilds, a target of anti-Semites since the 19th century — set forest fires in California using lasers from space.

This isn’t idle bigotry, for she “liked” a social media suggestion that “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who has committed “a crime punishable by death.” She posted on social media about hanging Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, approved of a suggestion that FBI agents be executed, and posted a photo of herself with an automatic weapon next to three Democratic members of Congress, calling herself their “worst nightmare.”


On the House floor this week, she offered no apology and no direct mention of her anti-Semitic and violent statements. Using Christ-on-the-cross imagery, she condemned those who would “crucify me in the public square for words that I said, and I regret, a few years ago.”


But she didn’t regret them. She had tweeted the night before: “We owe them no apologies. We will never back down.” She retweeted an article featuring another QAnon adherent attacking the Republican Jewish Coalition. And several Republican colleagues gave her a standing ovation Wednesday night when she delivered a private speech that Republicans said was similar to the unrepentant one she gave in public on Thursday.


House Republicans refused to sanction her for her outrages, and on Thursday, all but 11 House Republicans voted against a successful Democratic measure to remove her from House committees.
“Marjorie Taylor Greene will be remembered for breaking new ground for her wild anti-Semitism,” Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me after the vote. Greenblatt, whose group has tracked all-time high levels of anti-Jewish incidents during the Trump years, wrote three letters to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) about Greene since her nomination, and he urged McCarthy to remove her from committees. Greenblatt received no reply.

Greene’s ugly pronouncements about Muslims and Black people, and her harassment of school-shooting survivors and families of victims, are no less reprehensible. But the rallying around this unrepentant anti-Semite by Republicans is an ominous new frontier. The Republican Jewish Coalition said it is “offended and appalled by [Greene’s] comments and her actions.”


Yet on Thursday, House Republicans rushed to her defense. “We’ve all said things we regret,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.


Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) protested the proceedings by forcing a vote to adjourn. “We shouldn’t be wasting the time of this body attacking a member of this body,” he said.


Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) disowned Greene’s rhetoric, but what he really found “sad” and “unprecedented” was that Democrats weren’t giving her “due process.”


Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) informed Democrats that “today is really about one party single-handedly canceling a member of the other party because of something said before that member was even elected.”


Republicans have used similar gaslighting in their response to impeachment. Trump helped organize a rally, incited his supporters to attack the Capitol and refused to call for an end to their murderous spree as they rampaged in search of elected officials in their hopes of overturning the election. But Democrats are the ones doing something “unconstitutional” by holding an impeachment trial after he left office?


Insurrection? Sedition? Assassination? Move on, the Republicans say. These actions and threats are mere “distractions” from the real issues.

Republicans defended Greene with absurd parallels. They attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for past anti-Semitic statements — omitting the crucial distinction that Omar, after Democrats roundly condemned her words, said, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. … I unequivocally apologize.”


Greene, by contrast, remained unrepentant. On Friday, she held a celebratory news conference, again refusing to recant, or apologize for, her violent and anti-Jewish words and gestures.


Would she apologize for advocating for the execution of Pelosi?
“

I don’t have to,” she said, calling for the journalist to apologize instead.


Would she disavow her endorsement of putting “a bullet to the head” of Pelosi?


Accusing the questioner of lying, she replied: “That’s your problem and that’s how we end news conferences.” She walked away.


In retrospect, it’s clear Trump led us to this point. In his 2016 campaign, he singled out prominent Jews as part of a “global power structure” that doesn’t “have your good in mind.” He elevated white supremacists, spoke of “blood suckers,” told Jewish Republicans they wouldn’t support him “because I don’t want your money,” and shared an image of a Star of David atop a pile of cash.


As president, he spoke of the “very fine people” marching among the white supremacists in Charlottesville. Anti-Semitic violence increased significantly: pipe bombs sent to favorite Trump targets such as financier George Soros, and the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. Yet Trump continued, embracing the far-right, violent Proud Boys in a presidential debate.

As Thursday’s emotional debate drew to a close, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the House majority leader, displayed a poster taken from one of Greene’s social media posts showing her with an AR-15 next to photos of two Muslims and one Latina — Reps. Omar, Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — and Greene’s caption: “Squad’s Worse Nightmare.”


“They’re not ‘the Squad’,” Hoyer thundered. “They are people. They are our colleagues.”


He asked Republicans: “Imagine your faces on this poster. Imagine it’s a Democrat with an AR-15. Imagine what your response would be, and would you think that person ought to be held accountable?”
One hundred ninety-nine House Republicans looked at that invitation to assassination and voted to defend its author. God only knows what horrors they have unleashed.