Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Racism, reaction and Republicans

 "The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten."

That's a bold statement, considering that 99.2 percent of Americans have no idea who she is.  But Mike Pompeo, the answer to the question "Who could fuck up our foreign policy worse than Rex Tillerson?" has sidled toward entering the 2024 field by making it clear that he will run against public education in general and American history in particular.  He could have attacked Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Education, but Cardona is not a woman, Jewish or gay.  This is easier.

To remove all doubt about his ability to assess threats, Pompeo compared Weingarten unfavorably with Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un, and he has called Vladimir Putin "elegantly sophisticated."  (Polonium tea has so much more panache than the old NKVD bullet in the neck.)  That's quite a burden to unload on the president of the American Federation of Teachers, so he allowed Nikole Hannah-Jones, a journalist, to share it because she created The 1619 Project.  Nevertheless it's the teachers who are systematically destroying America and its "exceptionalism," which to the pompeos means never having to say your ancestors were genocidists, enslavers and free-range bigots.  The Murdoch press is already on board.

The right has been trying to destroy the federal Department of Education more or less since it was established in 1979, without success.  (In the fondly remembered 2011 "Oops" debate it was one of the two departments Rick Perry could remember wanting to abolish; Energy, his future domain, eluded him.)  According to Wikipedia it has only 4,400 employees and a budget of $68 billion, the smallest of all the Cabinet departments.  Since they have had only limited success returning to the good old days of prayer and Bible reading, the Republicans have now widened their focus to ending public schools entirely.  It's way past Trump yelling, "I love the poorly educated!" after the 2016 Nevada primary.  The schools are blamed for forcing children to want to change their gender; for making them feel discomfort about things like slavery and lynching; for letting gay teachers "groom" them by just appearing in the classroom; for failing to provide "balance" about issues like the Holocaust.  Money is siphoned off for unregulated charter and religious schools while public school buildings become dangerous and teachers have to survive on second jobs and food banks.  School board meetings have become battlegrounds, often literally, where people with crackpot notions about everything from covid to lunch menus slug it out.  Some are even parents.

Republicans know that an educated electorate is not their friend, but the confluence of education and organized labor is irresistible.  They pretend to empower parents who fear change and feel power slipping from white Protestant hands, but when they run slates of book-burners and anti-LGBTQ candidates the response of voters is less than enthusiastic.  When I was in school, there was an all but armed face-off between Black parents in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn and white, frequently Jewish teachers who were perceived as out of touch with their concerns.  (Remember the joke in Sleeper?  "We believe the war began when a man named Albert Shanker got hold of a nuclear weapon."  Nobody outside New York got it.)  Now parents of minority and trans kids have come to see teachers as their line of defense against the Abbott-DeSantis-Youngkin axis of ignorance.  Randi Weingarten is just as tough as Shanker.  She had better be.  The anti-woke, anti-elitist, antisemitic mob is already at her gate.

And let's not forget the librarians.  Most don't have their own union, being represented by AFSCME.  They face the same challenges as teachers and even more threats of violence.  Too many communities like Jamestown, Michigan and Vinton, Iowa, have chosen to dispense with them altogether because somebody doesn't like some of the books.  There have been attempts to censor the stock in bookstores, even big chains like Barnes & Noble.  Does "profit" mean nothing?  Never mind, more troops on our side.  Every election is a battle against fascism, but every day the barbarians move closer.  Eternal vigilance. 


 Fine words, Mr. Freeman.  Now tell us why you chose to take part in the World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar, where same-sex relationships are punishable by death.  The team from Iran showed more courage when they refused to sing their national anthem to show support for protesters at home.  

Let us also praise Rich Fierro, who was attending the drag show at Club Q Saturday night with his wife, their daughter and the daughter's boyfriend, Raymond Vance, who was one of the performers.  When the shooting began his Army training kicked in (three deployments in Iraq and one in Afghanistan with the field artillery).  He grabbed the gun and clubbed the shooter with it while another patron stomped him with her high heels.  Sadly Vance was one of the fatalities.  Fierro and his wife Jessica run a brewery called Atrevida Beer Co. and they sell shirts and hoodies.  What better holiday gift for your favorite senator-elect?

By the way, the police grabbed Fierro and held him for more than an hour while they figured it out.  Now he's credited with saving many lives.

One of the many places World Central Kitchen has been feeding people is Ukraine and today Chef Jose Andres got an award from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Not the Nobel Peace Prize, but he doesn't have to share it with Kissinger, either.  Chef is probably working out how to get help to the victims of today's Java earthquake.

After 38 years Dr. Anthony Fauci made his final appearance at the White House, still urging Americans to get covid vaccine boosters.  He is retiring to spend more time answering stupid questions from stupid House committees.

A nation is shocked.  Outgoing Rep. Carolyn Maloney is being investigated for improperly soliciting an invitation to the Met Gala fashion show in 2016.  Did she borrow Hunter Biden's laptop?

Today in American history:  Well, you know about 1963.  In 1909 20,000 female garment workers went on strike in New York City without much support from the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.  Two years later 146 of them would die in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  We end where we began, with organized labor.  Which side are you on?






Blogger MarkS said...

Excellent, as I always confidently look forward to. Your wit and erudition are, once again, noted and appreciated

4:22 PM  

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