Today I learned that my town made The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro’s reactionary online rag, because teachers signed a pledge the Zinn Education Project wrote to give educators an opportunity to express their opposition to laws attempting to stifle the teaching of anything to do with the country’s sordid history regarding race, under the guise of stifling only the teaching of critical race theory, which the people writing these bills don’t understand or care to understand, because it’s not the point.
This summer, The Daily Wire did humanity the service of breaking down the signers of this pledge by state and by town so that its readers could look up their town and, if they were lucky, storm their school board meetings armed, like Johnny Iselin with his 57 card-carrying communists, with Names. They proudly published this list–taken from the carefully hidden Zinn website–as if it were an exposé.
The truth is that legislators and attorneys general in states like mine (blessed with the estimable AG Eric Schmitt, who never met a frivolous, career-boosting lawsuit he didn’t like, whether it was about curriculum, public health measures, or insurrection) and helper-hacks like Shapiro know what they’re doing. They are using fear to run things and to run for things. They know what their base is afraid of, and they’re afraid too. They are afraid that there are more of us than them, and more all the time–more people who believe that the truth will set us free, or at least will set the children who are taught it free, more people who understand that it’s not weakness but strength to admit the truth of the past, more people who recognize that things need to change, and, most frightening to these people, more and more people of color. And just like the men in power 150 years ago, a hundred years ago, even fifty years ago, they don’t want to lose that power. So they try to make their constituents afraid of their own children’s teachers.
I’m proud of those teachers. Put them on a list if you want to, Daily Wire. I’m on that list too, even though I teach in a university, not a high school, because I wanted to express my opposition to these efforts to bully our teachers out of teaching the truth. I’m not the target of the people who scream at school board meetings, but I damn well stand with them, and you should too.