DeSantis and Carlson Defraud the Public Trust and NBA's Kyrie Irving Is Getting Worse
NFL Huddles Up for Racism, Springsteen's Got Soul, and More
I’m particularly passionate about this week’s selections of news articles. Although I do talk a lot about racial equality, my main focus in the past years has been education. My Skyhook Foundation was created to help inner-city kids go into the woods for a week to experience STEM education in the wild. So, when I see a deliberate effort to dumb down American children, I get riled up. One of the greatest dangers the country faces is the assault on education by conservatives who want kids to think like them, not for themselves.
Plus, Kyrie Irving goes nuts—again. The NFL is racist—again. And Bruce Springsteen is cool—again.
Education: When People in Power Deliberately Misinform the Public
Ron DeSantis and Tucker Carlson Don’t Know Much About History— Or Ethics
This news item is a bit different than my usual ones in which I summarize an article and then give My Take. In this case, I’m presenting two articles that make the same point: those who argue most to restrict education are the worst offenders when it comes to historical accuracy. Changing history is traditionally how dictators grab power.
This is not a “gotchya” story, but a rumination on just how fragile the future of our country is when those in control of educating our children prefer them to be ill-educated in order manipulate them politically and socially. DeSantis and Carlson have much to gain financially and politically from dumbing down our children. But the country has much more to lose.
Summary: Recently, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis stated, the “American revolution that caused people to question slavery.” He then added: “Nobody had questioned it before we decided as Americans that we are endowed by our creator with inalienable rights and that we are all created equal. Then that birthed abolition movements.” Four historians interviewed by Newsweek declared DeSantis’ statements to be historically inaccurate.
[KAJ: The most telling part of DeSantis’ statement is that he doesn’t include slaves as “we” or “Americans.” I’m pretty sure they questioned slavery.]
Facts: Johns Hopkins University Professor Sarah Pearsall disputed his statement: “The claim by DeSantis is completely incorrect. Plenty of people had questioned slavery before the American Revolution. Of course enslaved people had resisted the system since its inception, but there were also tracts by colonists, such as Samuel Sewell's The Selling of Joseph, published in Boston in 1700, which argued that the institution was unacceptable.
“Early abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic included Quakers; their efforts in some cases predated the outbreak of the American Revolution. Since DeSantis also states of history that 'It's gotta be accurate,' he might want to practice what he preaches.”
[KAJ: Four historians say he’s wrong and this is the guy telling teachers what they can teach. Worse, he hasn’t apologized or set the record straight. That’s not how Florida education works. If they teach something inaccurate, it stays that way.]
Summary: Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Fox commentator Tucker Carlson stated that the British rule of India was mostly “benign.” Among his many statements praising Britain’s colonialism: "When the British pulled out of India, they left behind an entire civilization, a language, a legal system, schools, churches and public buildings, all of which are still in use today. Here's the train station the English built in Bombay, for example... After 75 years of independence, has that country produced a single building as beautiful as the Bombay train station that the British colonialists built? No, sadly, it has not. Not one.” The article proceeds to present a series of facts that dispute Carlson’s claims.
[KAJ: Quick word about Carlson’s claim that India couldn’t produce any buildings as lovely as the train depot. Uh, Taj Mahal seems pretty awesome. Even though it doesn’t have tracks.]
Facts: Reacting to his claim of “benign” rule, the article states: “British policies under the premiership of Winston Churchill were a significant factor contributing to the Bengal famine of 1943, which killed up to three million people, revealed studies.
“The British were also responsible for the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, in which men, women and children were slaughtered under the supervision of General Dyer.”
[KAJ: Another quick word: Carlson seems okay with British ruling over an unwilling population (as long as the trains run on time). Guess we know which side he’d have been on during the American Revolution. Also, he makes the classic logic error of using Western standards to judge an Eastern culture and finding they fall short because their culture doesn’t mimic ours. It is the same argument the White patriarchy has made for centuries about other cultures, religions, and even women (“Women aren’t funny.” “Women can’t be philosophers.”)]
My Take: DeSantis’ comments were given as he bragged about his relentless efforts to restrict historically accurate information to schools. Sure, let’s instead teach the misinformation that DeSantis just spewed so our kids can be dumber. DeSantis went to Yale and Harvard, which makes us wonder whether he was just a really bad student, or he’s openly lying to his constituents because he holds them in such contempt that he thinks they’ll believe whatever he says.
Unfortunately, there’s some evidence to support his belief that Floridians won’t hold him accountable for anything. Here’s an excerpt from historian Heather Cox Richardson’s Substack newsletter: “As a newly elected congress member in 2013, now-governor of Florida Ron DeSantis was one of the 67 House Republicans who voted against a $9.7 billion federal flood insurance assistance package for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. Now, with Florida on the ropes [due to Hurricane Ian], DeSantis asked President Joe Biden for an emergency declaration to free up federal money and federal help even before the storm hit, and said Tuesday, ‘We all need to work together, regardless of party lines.’”
DeSantis is against the federal government helping others—unless he needs them. Remember that when he runs for president.
As for Carlson, we all know by now that he’ll say anything outrageous to try to be relevant. Buying anything from any of his show’s sponsors only enables his grift.
The purpose of education is twofold: to prepare for a profession and to learn how to shed ourselves of our biases so that we may think clearly and make logical choices rather than emotional choices based on our prejudices. This second one is meant to cleanse us of the pressures of family, society, government, peers, and friends so that we may be reborn pure and whole, ready to make choices based on values that we have chosen rather than those thrust upon us when we were too young to think for ourselves. That doesn’t mean we reject the values of family or society, just that we can choose them—or not—freely on our own. Education untethers us from the heavy baggage of tradition for its own sake and makes us less able to be manipulated by politicians. This is the kind of educated citizen this country wants and needs to thrive.
Unfortunately, the kind of education being promoted by many Republicans is based on the armadillo. When ideas that threaten the status quo are presented—no matter how true, factual, or logical—they curl up into a protective ball that can’t be penetrated by facts or logic. They want to churn out factory-fresh children who think just like them, which they do by restricting education to teach—not how to think logically—but just embrace the conservative dogma and curl up into a ball whenever that dogma is challenged.
It’s basically child abuse, because the end game isn’t to benefit the child but to benefit the adults by making mini-me’s. DeSantis and his ilk are groomers. This doesn’t hamper kids from growing up to be successful in their chosen professions or being loving parents, devoted friends, or keeping their lawns neatly mowed. It just keeps them from ever reaching their full potential as individuals. Their political and social IQ has been stunted because their brains have been bound the way they used to bind the feet of Chinese women to make them more traditionally feminine.