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Reviews | Democrats, you can no longer ignore the culture wars

Nearly 60 years ago, historian Richard Hofstadter described what he saw as the true goal of McCarthyism. “The real function of the Great Inquisition of the 1950s was not something so simply rational as exposing spies or preventing espionage,” he wrote“or even to denounce the real communists, but to evacuate resentments and frustrations, to punish, to satisfy enmities whose roots were found elsewhere than in the communist question itself”.

Similarly, in a much more recent book, “The second red alert and the dismantling of the New Deal lefthistorian Landon RY Storrs shows how conservatives used pledges of loyalty to purge the federal bureaucracy of government officials “who hoped to advance economic and political democracy by empowering subordinate groups and setting limits on the pursuit of private benefit”.

The federal government’s left-leaning New Dealers, she explains, “believed that racial and gender inequality served employers by creating groups of lower-status workers who needed or deserved less, thereby applying downward pressure on all labor standards, including those of whites. Men. They saw their mission as sweeping away beliefs and practices based on obsolete conditions but championed by those whose interests they continued to serve.

The Red Scare is, from this perspective, less a sudden outburst of reactionary hysteria than a political project aimed directly at dismantling the New Deal order and ousting those who helped to establish it, both inside and outside the federal government.

Without drawing a direct analogy between yesterday and today, I think it is useful to have this perspective in mind as the Conservatives pursue a new witch hunt against those they perceive to be enemies of American society, using the power of the state at their disposal. provision. The crusade against “critical race theory” and the slanderous campaign against LGBTQ educators and education is as much about undermining core public goods (and stigmatizing those who support them) as it is about generating enthusiasm for the upcoming midterm elections.

To be clear, it’s no secret. Christopher Rufo, a right-wing provocateur who helped spark both panic against “critical race theory” and against LGBTQ educators in schools, has openly said he hopes to destroy public education in the United States. United. “We are currently preparing a strategy for the headquarters of the institutions”, he said last november in an interview with my colleague Michelle Goldberg. In a recent speechdelivered to a conservative Hillsdale College audience, Rufo said that “to get universal school choice, you really have to operate from a premise of universal distrust of the public school.”

It’s not subtle.

Republican lawmakers are also open about why they caused the panic: to dismantle public education for political and ideological reasons. Last yearMichigan Republicans backed a bill that would cut school funding if educators teach ‘critical race theory’, ‘un-American’ ideas about race in the US or New York Times material 1619 Project.

Earlier this month, Ohio Republicans introduced a bill prohibiting any public, community, or private school (that accepts vouchers) in the state from teaching, using, or providing “any curriculum or educational materials about sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten to third grade. As a practical matter, schools should probably remove any books or materials dealing with LGBTQ issues. Teachers and school officials who violate the law, which mirrors a controversial Florida law that its opponents call “Don’t Say Gay,” would be punished with an official reprimand, “suspension or revocation of license” according to the ” seriousness of the offence.” School districts themselves could lose their funding.

And speaking of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed an invoice this week to make it more difficult, in some cases, for public university professors to obtain or maintain tenure, following other bills to restrict the teaching of ‘critical race theory’ and, as mentioned, to keep all recognition of LGBTQ gender identity out of the classroom. “We have to make sure that professors are held accountable and make sure they’re not permanent forever without having any way to hold them accountable or evaluate what they’re doing,” DeSantis said during a press conference. Florida House President Chris Sprows touted the legislation as a way to prevent the “indoctrination” of students.

With a few exceptions (notably a Michigan state legislator who loudly criticized and condemned one of her fellow Republicans for accusing her of trying to “groom” and “sexualize” kindergarteners), the Democratic Party has been remarkably quiet as those panics metastasized, even as the ne of them – the attack on racial history teaching in the United States – helped hand over the Virginia governor’s mansion to the Republicans.

The theory seems to be that the Democrats can only lose if they engage in this culture war, and that they will be on safer ground if they can keep their promises in Washington and pursue their political achievements without getting involved in the republicans.

Democrats have notably do not delivered on many of their promises. Much of President Biden’s agenda is stuck in Congress, and the White House has been reluctant to the point of being coy about using executive orders to achieve its goals. But even if this were not the case, this posture towards the culture war would be a mistake. These are not just individual attacks on teachers and schools; they not only stigmatize vulnerable children and their communities; they are the basis of an assault on the very idea of ​​public education, part of the long war against public goods and collective responsibility waged by conservatives in the name of hierarchy and capital.

These are not distractions to be ignored, these are battles to be won. The culture war is here, whether the Democrats like it or not. The only alternative to fighting it is to lose it.

Reviews | Democrats, you can no longer ignore the culture wars

Source link Reviews | Democrats, you can no longer ignore the culture wars

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