Archives for category: Censorship

Lloyd Lofthouse, author, former Marine, and former teacher, explains what it means to be woke. Some Republican politicians—notably Ron DeSantis— are trying to suppress “wokeness.”

Lloyd writes:

Anyone that attacks what’s known as “woke ideology” is supporting zombie thinking and belongs to a fascist cult of ignorance.

Wokeness means someone that is highly literate, well educated, well read, is a life long learner, questions claims and uses critical thinking, problem solving and rational logic to find out if there is any truth to what these fascist zombies are shouting.

Question: Are you woke?

Dr. Charles Foster Johnson is hosting a conversation with Beto O’Rourke in Lubbock, Texas, on Zoom this Thursday.

4:30-6:00 pm CDT (central time).

They will discuss the future of public education in Texas.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-conversation-about-public-education-with-beto-orourke-tickets-384095880117

The event is free.

The New York Times brings news that is not new to anyone who reads this blog. A movement is rising to revive Christian domination of public and private life, and it is a movement fueled by racists. It is specifically opposed to the separation of church and state, and it seeks to destroy public education, ban abortion, censor teaching about race and racism, as well as gender and sexuality.

This movement was behind Trump’s election and used this irreligious man as their instrument to gain power and control of the Supreme Court.

The article begins:

Three weeks before he won the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania governor, Doug Mastriano stood beside a three-foot-tall painted eagle statue and declared the power of God.

“Any free people in the house here? Did Jesus set you free?” he asked, revving up the dozens before him on a Saturday afternoon at a Gettysburg roadside hotel.

Mr. Mastriano, a state senator, retired Army colonel and prominent figure in former President Donald J. Trump’s futile efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results, was addressing a far-right conference that mixed Christian beliefs with conspiracy theories, called Patriots Arise. Instead of focusing on issues like taxes, gas prices or abortion policy, he wove a story about what he saw as the true Christian identity of the nation, and how it was time, together, for Christians to reclaim political power.

The separation of church and state was a “myth,” he said. “In November we are going to take our state back, my God will make it so.”

Mastriano, the Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, participated in the January 6 Insurrection.

Mr. Mastriano’s ascension in Pennsylvania is perhaps the most prominent example of right-wing candidates for public office who explicitly aim to promote Christian power in America. The religious right has long supported conservative causes, but this current wave seeks more: a nation that actively prioritizes their particular set of Christian beliefs and far-right views and that more openly embraces Christianity as a bedrock identity.

Many dismiss the historic American principle of the separation of church and state. They say they do not advocate a theocracy, but argue for a foundational role for their faith in government. Their rise coincides with significant backing among like-minded grass-roots supporters, especially as some voters and politicians blend their Christian faith with election fraud conspiracy theories, QAnon ideology, gun rights and lingering anger over Covid-related restrictions.

Their presence reveals a fringe pushing into the mainstream.

“The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church,” Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican representing the western part of Colorado, said recently at Cornerstone Christian Center, a church near Aspen. “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.” Congregants rose to their feet in applause.

Some states may become inhospitable for non-Christians and for Christians who don’t believe in compelling everyone else to worship their way.

The Founding Fathers most certainly believed in separating church and state. They most certainly wanted a secular, non-religious state. They were well aware of the carnage in Europe that resulted from religious wars and persecution. This new nation was meant to be free of state-sponsored religion.

Those who now seek to obliterate the separation of church and state and to impose their religion on others are rejecting the inheritance and wisdom of the Founding Fathers.

Ron DeSantis has ranted about “indoctrination” in the classroom, meaning instruction about the brutal facts of racism in American history. He promoted legislation to stop anti-racist teaching, which he calls WOKE.

Florida teachers are now subject to state-sponsored indoctrination. This is thought control.

Several South Florida high school educators are alarmed that a new state civics initiative designed to prepare students to be “virtuous citizens” is infused with a Christian and conservative ideology after a three-day training session in Broward County last week. Teachers who spoke to the Herald/Times said they don’t object to the state’s new standards for civics, but they do take issue with how the state wants them to be taught. “It was very skewed,” said Barbara Segal, a 12th-grade government teacher at Fort Lauderdale High School. “There was a very strong Christian fundamentalist way toward analyzing different quotes and different documents. That was concerning.”

The civics training, which is part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative, underscores the tension that has been building around education and how classrooms have become battlegrounds for politically-contentious issues.

In Florida, DeSantis and the Republican-led Legislature have pushed policies that limit what schools can teach about race, gender identity and certain aspects of history. Those dynamics came into full view last week, when trainers told Broward teachers the nation’s founders did not desire a strict separation of state and church, downplayed the role the colonies and later the United States had in the history of slavery in America, and pushed a judicial theory, favored by legal conservatives like DeSantis, that requires people to interpret the Constitution as the framers intended it, not as a living, evolving document, according to three educators who attended the training.

“It is disturbing, really, that through these workshops and through legislation, there is this attempt to both censor and to drive or propagandize particular points of view,” said Richard Judd, 50, a Nova High School social studies teacher with 22 years of experience who attended the state-led training session last week.

A review of more than 200 pages of the state’s presentations show the founding fathers’ intent and the “misconceptions” about their thinking were a main theme of the training. One slide underscored that the “Founders expected religion to be promoted because they believed it to be essential to civic virtue.”

Without virtue, another slide noted, citizens become “licentious” and become subject to tyranny. Another slide highlights three U.S. Supreme Court cases to show when the “Founders’ original intent began to change.”

That included the 1962 landmark case that found school-sponsored prayer violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which Judd said trainers viewed as unjust. At one point, the trainers equated it to the 1892 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. [Editor’s note: I think they mean Plessy v. Ferguson of 1896, which upheld separate-but-equal segregation by race.]

“Ending school prayer was compared to upholding segregation,” Judd said. In other words, he said, trainers called both those rulings unjust. On slavery, the state said that two-thirds of the founding fathers were slave owners but emphasized that “even those that held slaves did not defend the institution.”

This is one of the slides shown during the Florida Department of Education’s training series for civics and government teachers. DeSantis’ administration has spent nearly $6 million to train public school teachers across the state on how to teach civics as part of the governor’s initiative. The first training sessions were June 20-22, at Broward College in Davie. Teachers are in Hillsborough County are training this week. The civics training is the latest effort in a long line of education policies that aims to fight what DeSantis and conservative education reformers say are “woke ideologies” in public schools. It also provides a snapshot of how national groups, including Hillsdale College, a politically influential private Christian college in southern Michigan, are working with the DeSantis administration to reshape education in the state.

The goal is to put a greater emphasis on civics than on socially divisive issues such as race and gender identity, which DeSantis has said is an effort to reorient teaching away from “indoctrination and back towards education.” But to several educators who went through the state’s training it felt like a broader effort to impose a conservative view on historical events. “We are constantly under attack, and there is this false narrative that we’re indoctrinating children, but that is nothing compared to what the state just threw in new civic educators’ faces. That’s straight-up indoctrination,” said Segal, a 46-year-old teacher with 19 years of experience.

Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article262941378.html#storylink=cpy

What is happening to the America that we swore allegiance to every day in public school? what happened to the America that was “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”? How did we get a rogue Supreme Court that recklessly demolishes women’s rights, the separation of church and state, gun control, public safety, and efforts by government to prevent climate disasters? Who kidnapped the conservative Republican Party that believed in stability and tradition? From whence came the people who scorn the commonweal and ridicule Constitutional norms?

Former state legislator Jeanne Dietsch has an answer. Connect the dots by looking at what has happened to New Hampshire. The coup failed in Washington, D.C. on January 6, she writes. But it is moving forward in New Hampshire, with many of the same characters and all of the same goals.

If you read one post today, read this.

She writes:

During the last few weeks, US House leaders documented the nearly successful January 6 coup piece by piece, before our eyes. That personal power grab failed. Meanwhile, the steps clinching takeover of our government by radical reactionaries have nearly triumphed. A plan decades in the making. A plan nearly invisible to the ordinary public.


I can barely believe myself how this story weaves from Kansas to Concord to DC to the fields of southern Michigan over the course of six decades. It starts in Witchita. Koch Industries is the largest privately held company in the US, with over $115 billion in revenues, mostly fossil-fuel related. For many years, two of the founders’ sons, Charles and David Koch, each owned 42% of the company.


The younger, David, studied in the engineering department of MIT for 5 years, simultaneous with young John H. Sununu. Both finished their Master’s degrees in 1963.

1980: THE KOCHS SET THEIR GOALS


Seventeen years later, David Koch ran for Vice President of the US on the Libertarian ticket. The campaign was largely funded by Koch interests. The Libertarian platform of 1980, shown below, may look disturbingly familiar to those following news today.

Open her post to read the Koch Libertarian platform of 1980.

Libertarians demanded the abolition of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public schools, aid to children, the Post Office, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and more.

The infrastructure for achieving that platform was founded two years later. It was called the Federalist Society. It was a plan by a “small but influential group of law professors, lawyers, and judges.” Its goal?

To train members of their professions to believe in “originalism.” Originalists “strictly construe” the Constitution as they believed the Framers designed it way back in 1787. This matched David Koch’s 1980 platform. It would leave corporations free to do whatever profited them most without regard for social costs or regulations. Older Federalist Society members used their influence to advance their followers to higher judgeships.

SUNUNU FAMILY ROLES


Meanwhile, John Sununu became governor of New Hampshire, then Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush. In that role, John thwarted a plan for the US to join the international conference to address climate change in 1989. Actions like this, that benefitted Koch and the rest of the fossil-fuel industry, would become a hallmark of the Sununu family.


In 1993, an executive of Charles and David’s Koch Industries Michigan subsidiary, Guardian Industries, became a founding trustee of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy [JBC] in NH. Its mission was to advance many of the policies listed on David Koch’s platform of 1980. John Sununu, and later his son James, would chair the JBC board through today. Another of Sununu’s sons, Michael, would become a vocal climate denier and industry consultant. Still another, Senator John E. Sununu, would oppose the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003. But the Sununus were not coup leaders, just complicit.

BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE COUP


But let’s jump back to the Federalist Society. Its mission was succeeding. They were stacking the lower courts.?..Those justices hired young lawyers as clerks. From 1996-97, Thomas employed a Federalist Society clerk named John Eastman.


Twenty-three years later, Eastman would meet secretly with President Donald Trump. He would convince him that Vice President Pence could refuse to accept electoral college ballots on January 6. But back in 1999, Eastman became a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. “The mission of the Claremont Institute is to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life.”


Now we’re almost at the secret clubhouse of the coup. The Claremont Institute was run by a fellow regressive named Larry Arnn.(Photo below) In late 1999, Arnn was in the process of replacing the president of Hillsdale College because of a scandal that made national news. Hillsdale promotes conservative family values. Yet its leader was having an affair with his daughter-in-law. She committed suicide. Hillsdale was the central hub for Libertarian radicals so they needed a strong leader to pull them out of the mud.

Please read the rest of this fascinating post. There is one blatant error: she refers to “Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer” as Koch justices, but Breyer was a liberal justice appointed by Clinton. She must have meant the crackpot Alito.

South Carolina’s public schools, teachers, and students are in for some tough times. Republicans went to the polls and selected a rightwing ideologue as their candidate for state superintendent. Ellen Weaver does not have the master’s degree that state law requires the state chief to have. She has signed up to get a master’s in “Christian Leadership” at Bob Jones University and expects to get her degree in eight months.

Weaver has made her hostility to public schools and professional teachers clear. She (and the SC media) refer to education professionals as “the education establishment.”

Ellen Weaver, president and CEO of the Palmetto Promise Institute, handily defeated teachers advocate Kathy Maness in Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff, a development with potentially major implications for the state’s public schools…

Weaver, who does not currently meet the statutory requirements to hold officebecause she lacks an advanced degree, has cast herself as a bold reformer fighting to eradicate liberal ideologies like so-called critical race theory that she claims are seeping into public education.

“The fight to save our schools is a fight to save that American dream for the next generation,” she said at a debate last week. “If we don’t stand in the gap for our kids and against the wokeism and sexualization agendas that are coming out of Washington, we have lost our country.”

Weaver will face Democrat Lisa Ellis, a Richland 2 teacher and student activities director, in the general election. Ellis, who is best known for founding the grassroots teachers organization SC for Ed, won the Democratic primary outright earlier this month.

Weaver refers to a master’s degree as “letters behind your name.” Presumably, at a better time, when politicians weren’t putting a wrecking ball to public education, they set that qualification there to assure that the state superintendent was an experienced educator, not an ideologue who is contemptuous of the state’s most important public institution.

Sadly, South Carolina got the kind of leader that the law was supposed to bar. Teachers are upset about what happens next, as well they should be.

South Carolina needs a leader who will fight for more funding, especially for its most vulnerable children. If Weaver beats her Democratic opponent, the state will have a leader who dabbles in nonsense about race and gender instead of improving the schools.

If you are a parent, a teacher, or a concerned citizen, help elect Lisa Ellis. She’s a teacher, she has experience, she knows what students need and will fight for it.

Dana Milbank is my favorite columnist at the Washington Post. In this column, he responds to the Texas GOP platform, which proposes that the state secede from the US and become a sovereign nation. Milbank says. “Good riddance!” As a native Texan, I’m ashamed for my state, ashamed that it’s been taken over by theocrats and dumbbells.

The Lone Star State does not have the best track record as a sovereign power. The Republic of Texas survived only 10 years from independence to annexation by the United States in 1845. Texas seceded during the Civil War — and, with the rest of the Confederacy, was crushed.


But, as the saying goes: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. The Texas GOP now wants the state to vote on declaring independence.


And the United States should let Texas go! Better yet, let’s offer Texas a severance package that includes Oklahoma to sweeten secession — the Sooner the better.

Over the weekend, while many Americans were celebrating the 167th anniversary of Juneteenth (when Union Gen. Gordon Granger, in Galveston, Tex., delivered the order abolishing slavery) the Texas Republican Party voted on a platform declaring that federal laws it dislikes “should be ignored, opposed, refused, and nullified.”


The proposed platform (it’s expected to be approved when votes are tallied) adds: “Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto.” It wants the secession referendum “in the 2023 general election for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.”


Yee-haw!


Of course, protections would have to be negotiated for parts of Texas that wish to remain on Team Normal. Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and parts of South Texas would remain in the United States, and they will need guaranteed safe passage to New Orleans or Santa Fe, along with regular airlifts of sustainable produce, accurate textbooks and contraceptives.

But consider the benefits to the rest of the country: Two fewer Republican senators, two dozen fewer Republican members of the House, annual savings of $83 billion in defense funds that Texas gets. And the best reason? The Texas GOP has so little regard for the Constitution that it is calling for a “Convention of the States” to effectively rewrite it — and so little regard for the United States that it wishes to leave.


In democracy’s place, the Republican Party, which enjoys one-party rule in Texas, is effectively proposing a church state. If you liked Crusader states and Muslim caliphates, you’ll love the Confederate Theocracy of Texas.


The Texas GOP platform gives us a good idea what such a paradise for Christian nationalists would look like. Texas would officially declare that “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice.” It would redefine marriage as a “covenant only between one biological man and one biological woman,” and it would “nullify” any court rulings to the contrary. (The gay Log Cabin Republicans were banned from setting up a booth at the convention.) It would fill schools with “prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments” but ban “the teaching of sex education.” It would abolish all abortions and require students to “learn about the Humanity of the Preborn Child.”


The Texas Theocracy, which maintains that President Biden “was not legitimately elected,” would keep only traces of democracy. It wants the Voting Rights Act of 1965 “repealed,” and it would rewrite the state constitution to empower minority rule by small, rural (and White) counties. It would rescind voters’ right to elect senators and the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.

The Texas Theocracy would probably be broke; it wants to abolish the federal income tax, “Axe the Property Tax” and do away with the estate tax and various business taxes. Yet it is planning a hawkish foreign policy! The platform argues that Texas is currently “under an active invasion” and should take “any and all appropriate measures the sovereign state defines as necessary to defend” itself. It imagines attacks by a “One World Government, or The Great Reset” — an internet-born conspiracy belief — and proposes “withdrawal from the current United Nations.” The Theocracy would put the “wild” back in the West, abolishing the minimum wage, environmental and banking regulations, and “red-flag” laws or waiting periods to prevent dangerous people from buying guns.

Above all, the Confederate Theocracy of Texas would be defined by thought police. It would penalize “woke corporations” and businesses that disagree with the theocracy over abortion, race, trans rights and the “inalienable right to refuse vaccination.”

Government programs would be stripped of “education involving race.” Evolution and climate change “shall be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change.” There would be a “complete repeal of the hate crime laws.” The Texas Revolution “shall not be ‘reimagined’” in a way the theocracy finds “disrespectful.” Confederate monuments “shall be protected,” “plaques honoring the Confederate widows” restored, and lessons on “the tyrannical history of socialism” required.

In their platform, the Texas Republicans invoked “God” or the “Creator” 18 times and “sovereignty” or sovereign power 24 times. And the word “democracy”? Only once — in reference to China.

I hope you can read the comments. Readers suggest other states that should secede with Texas.

Dean Obeidallah, a regular contributor to CNN, describes the Texas GOP’s defiant rejection of democracy. In an earlier post, I pointed out that the state convention booed Senator Jon Cornyn for daring to negotiate a bipartisan gun control deal (which did not include any of President Biden’s demands). That was the mildest of their actions.

He writes:

CNN) – Disturbing video from the Texas Republican Convention this weekend shows convention-goers mocking GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw — a Navy SEAL veteran who lost his right eye to a bomb in Afghanistan — with the term “eye patch McCain.”

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson coined the derisive nickname after the Texas lawmaker dared to express support for beleaguered Ukraine following Russia’s barbaric attack on it.

But apparently even more heinous in the eyes of some attendees is that Crenshaw rejected former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen. One man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat can be seen yelling in an online video, “Dan Crenshaw is a traitor!” and “He needs to be hung for treason!”

As despicable as the behavior toward Crenshaw was, even more alarming were the actions taken by the Texas GOP and the convention’s 5,000-plus delegates.

The gathering rejected the outcome of a democratic election, supported bigotry toward the LGBTQ community and imposed far-right religious beliefs on others by seeking to have them enshrined into law. And that wasn’t half of it.

In fact, the convention showed us one thing: Texas Republicans are no longer hiding their extremism. Instead, they are openly embracing it.

Even before the opening gavel, they gave us a glimpse of the party’s extremism in the Lone Star State by banning the Log Cabin Republicans from setting up a booth at the convention.

Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi cast the deciding vote on the move to bar the group that has advocated for LGBTQ Republicans for decades. “I think it’s inappropriate given the state of our nation right now for us to play sexual identity politics,” Rinaldi told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Once it formally got underway, the convention took a number of appalling and un-American actions. First, delegates approved a measure declaring that President Joe Biden “was not legitimately elected.” In short, the Texas GOP — like Trump himself — is embracing a lie because it’s unhappy with the election results. Put more bluntly, the Texas GOP voted to reject American democracy.

Republican delegates also booed John Cornyn, the senior US senator from Texas, at the convention Friday because of the Republican lawmaker’s role leading negotiations to reach a Senate deal on a bill to stem gun violence. Those legislative efforts follow last month’s horrific shooting that claimed the lives of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

The platform approved at the convention called for repealing or nullifying gun laws already in place, such as the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prevents felons and other dangerous people from being able to purchase a gun legally. Apparently, the Texas GOP believes that even dangerous people should have a constitutionally protected right to buy a gun.

The Texas GOP platform also embraced ramping up anti-abortion rhetoric in public schools. For example, the platform states that “Texas students should learn about the Humanity of the Preborn Child, including … that life begins at fertilization.” It even seeks to force students to watch “a live ultrasound” and for high-schoolers to read an anti-abortion booklet that critics say “includes scientifically unsupported claims and shames women seeking abortion care,” according to The Texas Tribune.

It sounds like the curriculum that you might find in a theocratic government such as the Taliban — not one in the United States funded by taxpayer dollars. But the GOP in large swaths of this country is no longer hesitant to support laws to impose its religious beliefs — as we see with measures some Republicans champion that would totally ban abortion. The GOP convention’s document additionally urges officials “not to infringe on Texas school students’ and staffs’ rights to pray and engage in religious speech.”

The Texas GOP platform also does its best to demonize those in the transgender community. It describes transgender people as suffering from “a genuine and extremely rare mental health condition.” And it sees sexual reassignment surgery as a form of medical malpractice.

The platform takes aim at gay Americans as well with the statement that homosexuality is “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” Instructively, the Texas GOP platform did not include such language in 2018 and 2020.

This platform gives us a glimpse into the views of the Republican base on key issues that in turn will pressure GOP elected officials in Texas — and possibly beyond the state — to adopt similarly extreme positions or run the risk of a primary challenge from an even more extreme Republican.

What caused this move to the far right? Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston, told The Texas Tribune about the state GOP’s new extreme platform, “Donald Trump radicalized the party and accelerated the demands from the base.” He added alarmingly, “There simply aren’t limits now on what the base might ask for.”

I agree — in part. I don’t think Trump radicalized the base — rather he simply gave people permission to be who they always wanted to be.

But I agree with Rottinghaus that there are now no limits for what the GOP base might seek — be it rejecting election results it doesn’t agree with to enacting more laws based on extreme religious beliefs. And that should deeply alarm every American who wants to live in a democratic republic.

The convention also issued a call to repeal the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed the right to vote for every citizen of voting age.

The only thing the Texas GOP neglected to do was pass a resolution congratulating the shooter at Uvalde for exercising his “God-given right” to use his AR15 as he saw fit.

I am tired of rightwing politicians distorting our language to suit their bigoted ideology.

They have the nerve, for example, to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he spoke at the March on Washington in 1963 and said he hoped for the day when his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Dr. King was projecting a vision of a world without racism, when people would see each other as friends, neighbors, and fellow human beings.

But rightwing politicians twist his words to insist that we should ignore racism right now, stop teaching about it, and pretend it does not exist. They use his words to justify prohibitions on teaching about or discussing the racism in the here and now. They use his appeal for an unrealized future to blind us to a cruel present.

I propose that we make a conscientious effort to reclaim the plain meaning of words.

One of the hot-button words that has been appropriated by rightwing politicians is “woke.” They are trying to turn it into a shameful word. I looked up the definition of WOKE. It means being aware of injustice and inequality, specifically when referring to racism. I strive to be aware of injustice and inequality and racial discrimination and to do whatever I can to change things for the better. Shouldn’t we all do that?

My acronym for WOKE is “Wide Open to Knowledge and Enlightenment.”

What would you say about someone who is not WOKE? They are “asleep,” “unconscious,” “indifferent.” They are “Mind Closed, Mouth Open.”

Yes, I am WOKE. I want Dr. King’s dream someday to be true. It is not true now.

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida believes it is terrible to be woke. He demeans those he says are woke. He claims that the woke are politically correct and are intimidated by organized efforts to reduce racism in schools and the workplace. He thinks that being woke is so dreadful that it must be made illegal.

He urged the Florida legislature to pass “anti-woke” legislation in March. And they did. The so-called STOP WOKE” Act means “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act.”

This legislation is intended specifically to silence discussions and study of racism. It bans the teaching of critical race theory in schools and colleges and bans diversity training in the workplace.

Governor DeSantis doesn’t want people to be opposed to injustice and inequality. He doesn’t want them to be opposed to racism. Such awareness makes some people feel uncomfortable, he says. We should teach nothing that makes anyone uncomfortable.

Who is uncomfortable when racism is discussed? In my experience, the people who don’t want any discussion of racism are either racist or are embarrassed by their acts of racism in the past.

To protect the tender sensibilities of white people, we must avoid any discussion that makes them or their children uncomfortable. We must not take the risk that they or their children might feel uncomfortable for terrible things that happened long ago. So don’t talk about them. Don’t read books that discuss slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings, or segregation. Don’t mention the distant past or the wrongs of the present. Don’t dare to talk about discrimination against black people, or the passage of laws that impair their right to vote, or the persistence of racially segregated schools.

Not only is it wrong to be woke, in the eyes of those who prefer to stifle all recognition of racial discrimination, it is absolutely forbidden for teachers or professors to examine the causes of racism and its persistence today in our laws and policies. Making a conscientious effort to understand the causes of racism and to seek remedies is called “critical race theory” (CRT).

The attacks on critical race theory are intended to intimidate teachers and to prevent students from learning about racism, past or present.

In states that have banned the teaching of critical race theory, the legislators can’t define CRT, so they make it illegal to teach “divisive concepts” or anything that makes some students “uncomfortable.”

When a white supremacist massacred ten Black people in Buffalo, New York, teachers in anti-CRT states were not sure if they were allowed to teach about what happened. Would they lose their jobs if they taught the truth?

The states that prohibit the teaching of critical race theory are banning the teaching of honest history, for fear that someone might be uncomfortable when they learn the facts about what was done to Black people in our history. Some states have explicitly banned Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project,” because it might make some white people uncomfortable. I may be wrong, but I can’t recall a state that ever passed a law censoring a single book. This book is obviously very powerful and very frightening to those who feel the need to ban it. It cannot be refuted by the DeSantis faction so it must be banned.

The same states that want to ban honest teaching about racism are also banning books about gender identity and sexuality. The legislatures in Republican states think that the schools are filled with pedophiles. The rightwing zealots claim that teachers are “grooming” their students to become gay or transgender. They pass laws like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans teaching about gender identity and sexuality in grades K-3 (where gender identity and sexuality are not taught) and tolerate only “age-appropriate” discussion of gender identity and sexuality in other grades.

Like the STOP WOKE law, the “Don’t Say Gay” law is vague, which makes teachers fearful of teaching anything related to gender or sexuality. If schools can’t teach about gender identity, then they cannot teach about married couples of any gender. If you take them literally, you should not refer to Moms and Dads, men and women. Dare we teach young children about heterosexuality? Apparently not, if you follow the letter of the law.

The groups that are behind these attacks are familiar to us. They are Moms for Liberty, Moms for America, Parents Defending Freedom, and a bevy of other groups funded by rightwing billionaires.

Not coincidentally, these are the same groups that are fighting to pass funding for charter schools and vouchers.

What is their motive? They want to destroy not only freedom of thought but public schools.

Recently, I watched the far-right provocateur Chris Rufo give a speech at Hillsdale College. He called on his audience to act in a speech titled “Laying Siege to the Institutions.” (Please watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8Hh0GqoJcE). Rufo claims credit for making CRT a national issue. He boasts that a few years ago, CRT had virtually no public recognition. Thanks to his lies and distortions, most people have heard of it and some think it is a radical, Marxist plot to destroy America by turning race against race. Because he says so.

This is absurd.

For the past four decades, CRT was known as a law school study of the origins of systemic racism and the extent to which it is embedded in our laws and institutions. Its founder was Derrick Bell of Harvard Law School. He was a friend of mine. He was not a Marxist or a radical. He was a great American who wanted America to live up to its promises. Unlike Rufo, he didn’t believe in gag orders and bans. He believed in study, scholarship, debate and discussion.

Chris Rufo offers one solution to all the problems he sees: school choice.

To him, the public school is the most dangerous of all institutions, because it teaches equality, justice, and critical thinking. It teaches students to respect others. It teaches them to abhor racism and other forms of bigotry. It teaches students about American history without censoring the unpleasant and horrifying parts. The laws passed to ban CRT and to gag teachers have one purpose: Teach lies, not honest history.

Here is what I suggest.

Fight censorship.

Fight privatization of our public assets.

Read without fear.

Read “The 1619 Project,” which will open your minds. Read critiques of “The 1619 Project” by reputable scholars, not by rightwing ideologues.

Think about it. Discuss and debate the issues.

Say gay.

Stand up to the craven politicians who attack your freedoms.

Vote against them when you have the chance.

Fearlessly defend the freedom to read, the freedom to teach, and the freedom to learn.

Work towards the day when we treat each other with respect.

Wake up.

Christopher Hooks wrote in The Texas Monthly about the boundless hypocrisy and moral vacuousness of Texas’ elected leaders.

In the run-up to the 2022 primaries and election, they made a big show of “protecting the children.”

They obsessed about the danger of transgender children, even insisting on criminalizing parents’ efforts to get medical help for their children. They obsessed about teachers allegedly “grooming” children for lives of deviant sexual behavior. They obsessed about “obscene” books that might normalize sexual behavior they—these men of high righteousness— deplored. They obsessed about “critical race theory” and demanded the banning of books that taught children about racism, whether past or present, or anything about human sexuality.

Yes, the children of Texas would be protected from any teaching about race or sexuality.

But they would not be physically protected. They would not be protected from an 18-year-old with two AR15s.

When the bad man with a powerful weapon came into their classroom, the children were left to fend for themselves while 19 police officers stood in the hallway. The bad man killed their teachers. He killed children. Little girls called 911 and begged for help. One said 8 or 9 children were still alive. But the police remained in the hallway.

The parents in the schoolyard pleaded with the police to save their children, but the police had their instructions: keep the parents away.

Almost an hour passed before the police broke into the classroom and shot the murderer.

The Governor called a press conference , where he commended the police for their courage and bravery. He commended the men who waited in the hallway for almost an hour, while the children were dying, one after another.

Hooks writes:

Texas, a friend used to say, is hard on women and little things. That would come to mind over the years when reporting seemed to bear it out. In 2015, I watched a foster mother testify in court, via telephone from her daughter’s hospital bedside, that state cuts to the Medicaid acute therapy program were having disastrous consequences for her child’s incurable, debilitating genetic disorder. In 2021, an eleven-year-old boy in Conroe suffocated from carbon monoxide poisoning after seeing snow for the first time, as his family tried to keep their home warm after the collapse of a horribly mismanaged electrical grid. And then there were the perennial horror stories from the state’s spike-pit child welfare system—a three-year-old found dead, bleeding from the ears, after his day care repeatedly warned state agents about signs of abuse by his foster parents; a teenage girl who killed herself the moment she could despite orders that she was never to be left alone; and countless others who survive through the heavy prescription of psychotropic meds before being kicked out to the streets at the age of eighteen.

Each revelation of new misery brings a new wave of revulsion, but—I hate to say this—as you learn more about how the social safety net works in Texas, the revulsion starts to fade, and it becomes a dull undercurrent to an awareness of the world instead of something sharp that pokes through. As it fades, so comes the realization that it has faded in the same way for those in power—and that nothing gets fixed because leaders have been immunized from caring to an even greater degree. The grid remains unsteady; children in foster care still get abused. Legislators make a show of passing partial, temporary fixes and resist looking at problems head-on. The Texas Legislature, with all its self-regard and jocularity and pride in itself as an institution, turns out to be suffused with a very dull and banal kind of evil.

On Tuesday, though, something poked through. For me, it wasn’t the knowledge that there had been another school shooting. Who could be surprised by that? Every detail was familiar. A once-bullied eighteen-year-old, two AR-15s, 22 dead, and 19 injured. The thing that shocked was the pictures of the dead when they lived. They were so little! Do you remember what it was like to have a body that small? A round fired by an AR-15 at close range enters the human body at three times the speed as those fired by a handgun, disintegrating and liquefying bones and organs around it. “It’s like a grenade goes off in there,” one trauma surgeon told Wired. Parents had to submit DNA samples so their kids could be accurately identified.

This spectacular violence, it sometimes feels, has not left much of us. At his initial press conference, Governor Greg Abbott wore his traditional white disaster-response shirt and offered details of the massacre as if reading a weather report. At a press conference the next day, where the governor sat alongside Texas senator Ted Cruz and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Abbott told Texans that the disaster “could have been worse,” and the primary flash of anger shown by elected officials came when Beto O’Rourke, who appeared in the crowd, tried to talk over them.

Appearing on Newsmax TV the day of the shooting, state attorney general Ken Paxton suggested that more armed guards at schools would help, “because it’s not going to be the last time.” Can you believe that, as a response from one of the most powerful elected officials in the state to a massacre of fourth graders? “It’s not going to be the last time.” There used to be at least a perfunctory mourning period, some hugs given in front of cameras, before those in power turned to one another other and shrugged. But in truth, leaders are only handling this the way they think about the foster care system they oversee, and every other death trap run by the state. The revulsion dulls, the novelty fades, and it becomes normal.


The shooting took place on the day of the Texas primary runoff. The composition of the Legislature and the rest of state government for the next two and a half years was set that night, barring extraordinary circumstances, by the conclusion of the Republican primary, which in Texas is more influential than the general election. Paxton, who had shrugged off the Uvalde shooting on Newsmax while wearing a campaign T-shirt, won renomination and almost certainly a third term in office.

It is a grotesque and cruel irony that the Republican primary this year, and several years of political activity before it, have been dominated by an all-consuming and comically misdirected argument about the “protection” of children and by a war on public schools. There was essentially no policy contested in the GOP primary that could affect the practical and economic circumstances of all Texans. (There rarely is.) There was, however, ceaseless argument about the well-being of children, their morals, their internal lives.

The most acute panic was over transgender children. In February, Paxton’s office issued a formal opinion holding that the prescription of puberty blockers to transgender children represented “child abuse.” Shortly after, Abbott tasked the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, an overworked and underfunded agency he had overseen for close to eight years, with investigating the families of transgender children for child abuse.

The more widespread crisis concerned books. The panic was conjured by parents and elected officials in equal measure. The first target was books with “divisive” material about race. Then, elected officials began to panicabout “pornography” in schools, a category that mostly included literature featuring queer characters and sexuality. Lawmakers proposed lists of books to be banned. In November, Abbott ordered the Texas Education Agency to investigate cases of “obscene material” in public schools and prosecute those responsible “to the fullest extent of the law,” because, as he wrote, it had to be a top priority to “protect” Texas students.

Public school teachers and children’s librarians—two professions that offer a strongly beneficial service to society for little pay—became villains for parents and candidates alike. They were called “groomers” and pedophiles on social media. In a press release, Abbott called for criminal charges to be brought if librarians were found to have put “pornography” in front of children. In Granbury, southwest of Fort Worth, half a year later, one woman lodged a criminal complaint against the librarians of Hood County ISD, prompting a police investigation. At a subsequent school board meeting, she condemned the fact that a committee brought together to review troublesome books had “too many” librarians instead of “people with good moral standards.”

The deterioration spread. A record number of public school teachers, already weary from the pandemic and now faced with a sort of siege, started quitting en masse—and forfeiting their licenses, indicating they probably wouldn’t come back. “I’m tired of getting punched. It shouldn’t be like this,” ninth grade math teacher Gloria Ogboaloh told Texas Monthly. As more teachers left, the quality of life for remaining educators got worse. Then, just four months after ordering that libraries be investigated, Abbott ordered the TEA to create a task force to investigate why so many teachers were quitting.

Hooks goes on to describe politicians who are liars, braggarts, cruel, indifferent to the safety of children, callous. How long can they continue to fool people with their charade and their fake concern? They don’t care about thechildren