Author`s name David R. Hoffman

The sacrifice of education for political expediency

One of my favorite sayings is the late anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko's observation that, "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

In several Pravda.Ru articles I have written over the years, I discussed the fundamental tactics used to create a fascist state, and how, even in allegedly "enlightened” and "educated” nations like America, these tactics are highly effective.

They include "scapegoating,” which targets people of different races, religions, and/or ethnicities and simplistically blames them for a nation's complex problems; the "Great Lie Theory,” which contends that people will compliantly accept great lies told by their political leaders, because they instinctively reject the notion that someone in a position of power would lie to them so blatantly; and the transformation of these great lies into slogans that are incessantly repeated until they create a hysteria that leads to a fanaticism that compels once rational people to do irrational things.

Once this fanaticism stage has been reached, there is rarely any turning back until a great deal of damage has already been done. After all, it is impossible to argue rationally with irrational people, because they are either so ossified in their beliefs that no facts or truths will change them, or they become invested in these beliefs so deeply that they become part of their personhood, and thus they are terrified of hearing, seeing, or reading anything that could potentially make them change their minds.

As I've also written, one of the biggest obstacles to the building of a fascist nation is education — not education comprised of dry memorization of facts, dates, and events, but one that inspires creative and analytical thought, imagination, and, perhaps most importantly, questions.

America has been on the brink of fascism at various times throughout its history. A century ago, a hysteria was generated due to the belief that African Americans, who fought for freedom overseas during World War One, would demand such freedom at home. The result was the brutal murders of hundreds of African Americans by enraged mobs during what became known as "Red Summer.”

During the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy and others of his ilk, to increase their power and gain votes, artificially manufactured the "Red Scare,” with communism being the bogeyman of choice. Groups like the "National Council for American Education” were created under the pretense of "ferreting out” alleged Marxists in schools and universities, which included any teachers who taught concepts this Council disagreed with. This had a devastating impact on education, as teachers and administrators became terrified of discussing any subject that could get them labeled as "subversives” and blacklisted.

What makes America's current foray into fascism even more disconcerting than its historical counterparts is it combines elements of both "Reds”: A right-wing media and politically driven fanaticism, artificially and mendaciously manufactured, and directed against those who seek to raise awareness of the lingering effects of America's sordid legacy of racism.

Today the bogeyman is an evolving and malleable concept known as Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Goaded on by these right-wing media and politicians, parents across the land are clamoring, in some cases violently, for the teaching of CRT to be banned from public schools and even universities, and laws have been passed in several states to enact this ban.

Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of the CRT debate is that many of the individuals clamoring for the government to ban the teaching of an academic theory are the same ones who were angrily shouting about governmental intrusions upon their "freedom” by requiring them to wear masks, and/or encouraging them to get vaccinations during a dangerous pandemic.

In other words, these people are now allegedly so concerned about the welfare of children that they are seeking to prohibit any classroom lessons that they claim make students feel "divided” and "unequal,” yet they had, and have, no compunction about potentially transmitting a dangerous disease to them.

Although these bans against CRT are in their infancy, already the Pandora's box they are destined to open is becoming clear. For example, at a local school board meeting where assurances were given to parents that CRT was not being taught, concerns were still expressed about the potential of other courses containing elements of CRT.

Think about the ramifications of this! Under such a scenario, teaching division could technically be eliminated from mathematics, because, in the eyes of critics, CRT also teaches division.

While this may be an extreme example, it nonetheless establishes the point. If every school board and every teacher must scrutinize, scrap, or alter every course simply because a parent might believe it contains a whiff of CRT, the result will be the most rudimentary, mechanical, and stagnant teaching of subjects that were once designed to stimulate discussions and the analysis of ideas. And given the previously mentioned malleability of CRT, this scrutiny would be a never-ending process.

All this is happening even though the true motives and hypocrisy of those seeking to ban CRT are becoming conspicuously evident.

For example, a few weeks ago Indiana Senator Mike Braun issued a statement in support of a teacher who had been suspended for bringing a "Right-to-Life” speaker into the classroom without first advising the school administration. The administration's position was that, in an era when school shootings have become disturbingly routine, safety concerns dictate that they must be made aware of the identity of strangers roaming their hallways. In addition, there were potential liability issues if this speaker was injured on school property.

Yet Braun conveniently ignored these concerns and issued a statement proclaiming, "The classroom should be a place that holds a diversity of thought and students should be given all possible resources to make their own informed decisions. Teachers must not be unfairly targeted because of politics, and I am calling for this teacher's immediate reinstatement."

Yet who just signed onto a resolution condemning the teaching of CRT? You guessed it: Mike Braun. Obviously, but not surprisingly, he is more than willing to sacrifice "diversity of thought,” the "resources” to make "informed decisions,” and the targeting of teachers "because of their politics” when they are contrary to his beliefs, and for the sake of political expediency.

But Braun is not the only hypocrite instigating and then seeking to exploit the fanaticism against CRT. Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon recently revealed that this crusade is nothing more than a crass, demagogic, and self-serving campaign designed to invoke a McCarthy-era style of hysteria that, provided Republicans continue to demonize CRT, may potentially gain them up to fifty seats in the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections.

It is despicable that there are people in America willing to destroy something so sacrosanct as the intellectual lives of future generations for short-term political gain. And despite all the pretensions by Democratic politicians like Joe Manchin about bipartisanship and appealing to the greater good, history has taught us one somber lesson:

You cannot save the souls of people who do not have one.

As I have stated in previous Pravda. Ru articles, it is my belief that history repeats because it is little more than a pendulum constantly swinging between overreaction and regret. Unfortunately, America may have reached the point where this pendulum is so broken that regret is no longer an option to adequately undo the harm spawned by its modern-day fascists.

It is also my belief that humanity's greatest gift is the ability people are given to process a diversity of information that allows them to think for themselves, and its greatest curse is how easily people are willing to surrender this ability to others who, through disinformation and shameless duplicity, exploit this capitulation for ratings, profits, self-serving aggrandizement, and/or political gain.

In other words, Stephen Biko was right.