It’s 4:00 in the morning and I have to admit, I would much rather be sleeping than writing this column. But sometimes sleep is elusive. Too often, for me, which is not great.
Also not great? The word “great.” Conservatives have made great into a four-letter word. Most noticeably in disgraced former president Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, though MAGA wasn’t new to Trump. President Ronald Reagan also used this phrase. At the 1980 Republican convention Reagan called for “a great national crusade to make America great again.”
Spoiler alert: Reagan didn’t make America great, he made it worse. And the intertwining of white Christian conservatism and politics really took a firm hold under Reagan.
Right now the conservatives’ hate de jour is transgender people, a culture war battle Republicans are more than willing to fight. Of course, the fact that transgender people are largely without political power in this country and are a relatively tiny group when compared to the U.S. population as a whole makes them attractive targets.
I read somewhere that Republicans are at war with pronouns, which at first I found humorous because it’s wild to say something like, “We will not use their woke pronouns!” Because there are literally two pronouns in that sentence. But in truth, it’s not funny, it’s very sad. Because when we’re talking about the fight against pronouns, we’re actually talking about the fight against people.
Thankfully there’s at least two places where children won’t be subjected to “woke” education. One of those places is Florida. The other is Dissident Homeschool, a network of parents standing firm against “woke” indoctrination by homeschooling their children to… become Nazis?
Yep. The Dissident Homeschool movement uses “Nazi-approved material” to make sure that their kids become “wonderful Nazis.”
According to the Huffington Post, Dissident Homeschool teaches that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is a “grand role model for young, white men” and Martin Luther King Jr. is “the antithesis of our civilization and our people.”
I’d like to think that there’s a time in my life when the news of a Nazi homeschool movement would shock me. But that time certainly isn’t now.
And if you’re thinking, “Is this even legal?” The answer is, probably.
“A concerted, decades-long campaign by right-wing Christian groups to deregulate home schooling has afforded parents wide latitude in how they teach their kids — even if that means indoctrinating them with explicit fascism,” according to the Huffington Post.
And do you know when homeschooling surged? After the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which banned segregation.
The Post continues, “Meanwhile major right-wing figures are increasingly promoting home schooling as a way to save children from alleged ‘wokeness’ — or liberal ideas about race and gender — in public and private schools.”
Now, many parents who experienced the “joy” of homeschooling when many schools were closed due to Covid (a virus for which there was no vaccine at the time and people were dying left and right. Something important to remember when you hear a conservative claim that kids were out of school for no reason). And this made a lot of people big fans of public schools and gave teachers a bump in respect (it was short lived, alas). But homeschooling is truly the dream if you don’t want your child exposed to Black history or know that LGBTQ+ people exist.
“Without homeschooling our children,” one of the founders of Dissident wrote, “our children are left defenseless to the schools and the Gay Afro Zionist scum that run them.”
Hoo boy. But as the Huffington Post points out, “As extreme as the Dissident Homeschool channel is, the propaganda it shares targeting the American education system is just a more explicit and crass articulation of talking points made by Fox News hosts or by major figures in the Republican Party.”
Both sad and true! We live in a time when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis basically banned books in classrooms across the state in order to keep books about racial justice and LGBTQ+ people away from students so as to not “indoctrinate” them. When extreme right-wing candidates are running for school boards across the country. When teachers are being called “groomers” as if advocating for, or even just not hating, LGBTQ+ students is tantamount to child abuse.
Dissident Homeschool might not be a huge movement, but it is a dangerous one. It’s also an example of what indoctrination actually looks like.