Reviews | Right-wing thought police attack

Americans like to think of their nation as a beacon of freedom. And despite all the ways in which we have failed to live up to our self...

Americans like to think of their nation as a beacon of freedom. And despite all the ways in which we have failed to live up to our self-image, especially the vast injustices that have arisen from the original sin of slavery, freedom – not just free elections, but also the freedom of speech and thought – has long been a key part of the American idea.

Today, however, freedom is under attack, on more fronts than many people realize. Everyone knows the Big Lie, the refusal of a large majority Republicans to accept the legitimacy of a lost election. But there are many other areas in which freedom is not only under attack, but set back.

In particular, let’s talk about the attack on education, particularly but not only in Florida, which has become one of the main democratic erosion labs.

Republicans have made considerable political hay by denouncing the teaching of critical race theory; this strategy has succeeded even though most voters have no idea what this theory is and is not really taught in public schools. But the facts in this case don’t matter, because the CRT’s denunciations are basically a cover for a much larger agenda: an attempt to stop schools from teaching anything that makes right-wingers wrong. comfortable.

I use this last word wisely: there is an invoice to advance in the Florida Senate stating that an individual “should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race”. That is to say, the criterion of what can be taught is not “Is it true?” Is it supported by scientific consensus? but rather “Does this make some constituencies uncomfortable?”

Anyone who is tempted to give an innocuous interpretation to this provision – perhaps it is simply a question of not attributing collective guilt? – should read the text the invoice’s. Among other things, he cites as his two main examples of things that should not happen in schools “the denial or minimization of the Holocaust, and the teaching of critical race theory” – because suggesting that “racism is ingrained in American society” (Bill’s theory definition) is just the same denying that Hitler killed six million Jews.

What is really striking, however, is the idea that schools should be prohibited from teaching anything that causes “discomfort” to students and their parents. If you imagine that the effects of the application of this principle would be limited to the teaching of race relations, you are totally naive.

For one thing, racism is far from the only disturbing subject in American history. I’m sure some students will find the story of how we came to invade Iraq – or for that matter how we got involved in Vietnam – uneasy. Ban these topics from the curriculum!

Then there is science education. Most high schools teach the theory of evolution, but lead republican politicians are either evasive or actively deny the scientific consensus, presumably reflecting the GOP base’s unease with the concept. Once the Florida standard takes hold, how long will the teaching of evolution survive?

Geology, by the way, has the same problem. I’ve been on nature tours where the guides refuse to talk about the origins of the rock formations, saying they’ve had trouble with some religious guests.

Oh, and given the growing prominence of anti-vaccination posture as a badge of conservative allegiance, how long before basic epidemiology – perhaps even the germ theory of disease – receives the critical treatment of race theory?

And then there is economics, which is now widely taught at secondary level. (Full disclosure: Many high schools use a adapted version of the principles text of which I am a co-author.) Given the long history of political attempts to prevent teaching of Keynesian economics, what do you think the Florida standard would do to teaching in my home field?

The fact is that the smear campaign against critical race theory is almost certainly the beginning of an attempt to bring education in general under the control of right-wing thought police, with disastrous effects well into the future. beyond the specific subject of racism.

And who will enforce the rules? State-sponsored vigilantes! Last month, Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, offers a “Stop Woke Act” that would allow parents to sue school districts they believe are teaching critical race theory – and collect attorney fees, a setup modeled after bonuses under the new Texas anti-abortion law. Even the prospect of such lawsuits would have a chilling effect on education.

Did I mention that DeSantis also wants to create a special font to investigate electoral fraud? Like the attacks on critical race theory, this is obviously an attempt to use a made-up problem – voter fraud is largely non-existent – ​​as an excuse for bullying.

OK, I’m sure some people will say that I put too much emphasis on these issues. But ask yourself: was there a time in, say, the last five years when warnings about right-wing extremism turned out to be overblown and those who dismissed those warnings as “alarmist” were right? ?

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Newsrust - US Top News: Reviews | Right-wing thought police attack
Reviews | Right-wing thought police attack
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