America’s right-wing Chicken Littles are now attacking teachers, demonizing them because they need someone for people to hate.

I’m a child of privilege. Not the privilege of money (I come from a family of small-town working people). But it was my privilege to grow up in the public schools of Denison, Texas.

There I received the rich blessings of dedicated classroom teachers, a diverse student body, playground socialization, librarians, coaches, cafeteria and custodial workers, student politics, vocational training… and a deep appreciation for the unifying value of community and the common good.

That’s why I’m flabbergasted by today’s clique of corporate profiteers, theocratic zealots and laissez-faire knuckleheads who’re lobbying furiously across the country to demonize, defund and dismantle this invaluable social benefit. If ignorance is bliss, they must be ecstatic!

Public schools do have some real problems: politicians constantly slashing education budgets, professional burnout created by understaffing and low pay, the devastating strain of a killer pandemic and a new-normal of assault-rifle murders. But the profiteers, theocrats and knuckleheads aren’t interested in those, instead focusing on what they say is the fatal flaw in public education: Teachers.

Yes, the claim is that diabolical educators are perverting innocent minds by teaching America’s actual history, showing students that the full diversity of humankind enriches our society and presenting our Earth as something to be protected, not plundered. And worse — OMIGOSH — many classroom teachers are union members! So, teachers suddenly find themselves political pawns in the GOP’s culture war. “Our schools are a cesspool of Marxist indoctrination,” squawked Sen. Marco Rubio, and former President Donald Trump squealed that schools are run by “radical left maniacs” and “pink-haired communists.”

These right-wing Chicken Littles are now attacking teachers, demonizing America’s invaluable educators because they need someone for people to hate, providing cover for their unpopular plot to privatize education. But hate can easily backfire on hatemongers — and local teachers are a whole lot more popular than conniving politicos and profiteers.

How Perverse is the Gop’s Book-Banning Crusade?

Tiptoeing around the democratic process, Indiana’s Republican legislature has become the latest of that ilk to slap its local school librarians with an idiotic book ban.

Snuck into law behind closed doors, the partisan Hoosier law requires librarians to pull books that the learned lawmakers consider “harmful to minors.” Just to juice up the ignorance and arrogance of their ban, the law criminalizes failure to comply by punishing librarians with up to two and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine! What constitutes “harmful to minors”? Indiana’s priggish politicos declare nudity, sexual references and “offensive content to community standards” to be violations.

Obviously, then, books commanding that rape victims marry their rapists, as well as celebrating daughters who seduce their father to bear his children, plus endorsement of bestiality, copulation in church, women boiling their children for food — and so God awful much more — have to be ripped from the shelves and burned! Only all of this is enshrined in the Bible, which is urged on Indiana’s youngsters in Sunday schools, conveniently placed in the nightstands of every chain hotel… and cited by pious lawmakers as their moral compass.

The so-called “Good Book” is replete with the gross and explicit sexual material that Republican book censors call “harmful.” Indeed, a feisty civil-libertarian organization named Freedom From Religion Foundation gives away book labels you can stick in Bibles, warning that “literal belief in this book may endanger your health and life” (www.ffrf.org).

The books that right-wing autocrats want to ban are not pornographic; they just explore ideas that those politicians don’t like — ideas that young people are already grappling with. And, by the way, why not require these pious lawmakers to disclose what licentious material they’ve been reading — before they dictate what we can read?

Jim Hightower
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Jim Hightower

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