Don't Say Gay, STOP WOKE, Banned Books, and Anti-Trans Laws: Teaching Through the Backlash
A panel of historians talks about the situation on the ground where autocratic leaders hate free speech
Starting tomorrow, I will be on vacation for a week, after which I will be eager to get back to you with fresh material (think: a podcast with feminist journalist Katha Pollitt!) on Monday, March 20. Until then, be well, and keep your fingers crossed that spring is really coming! And please:
On February 9, 2023, I had the pleasure of sitting with historians James Grossman (American Historical Association), Anita Kurimay (Bryn Mawr College), Wesley Phelps (University of North Texas), and Jeremy Young (PEN America) to talk about attacks on higher education, and particularly the teaching of history.
In a month, things have only gotten worse. We don’t offer you answers, but we do lay out the issues for you to think about.
Leave your ideas in the comments!
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “There they go again.” Yet another secession bill has been introduced in the Texas State Legislature. “HB 3596, known as the `Texas Independence Referendum Act,’ or TEXIT, was filed by state Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, on Monday,” writes Sonia Garcia of the Houston Chronicle. “If passed, Texans would be able to vote in the next general election on the possibility of Texas becoming an independent state. Then if there is a majority vote by the people, a committee will plan the next steps in the state seceding from the Union.” (March 7, 2023)
Have you ever wondered how Ron DeSantis could be so cruel to and about queer children? Well, check out his time in the Navy JAG office. DeSantis was stationed at Guantánamo, where, it is alleged, he cheerfully watched American captives being illegally and brutally tortured. According to Jasper Craven at The Baffler, “Rather than blow the whistle,” DeSantis “honed an uncanny ability to obscure the truth. He’s still never strayed from the company line, even as evidence continues to accrue of unjustified abuse by guards and the widespread innocence of detainees. `It is a very professionally run facility,’ he claimed in 2016.” (March 2023)
Apparently, CPAC was a shabbier version of its former self this year. There were pictures of empty conference rooms and unfilled seats for prominent speakers like Donald Trump, Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Marjorie Taylor Greene. The most significant shift of all? People who are jonesing for a GOP nomination who didn’t show up. Is it handsy Matt Schlapp? Is it the money moving away from MAGA? Is it that they now hold three or four of these things yearly, and the National Harbor marquee event is no longer unique? Who knows. But the Former Guy came to spew his annual bile, and Vanity Fair’s Molly Jong-Fast says that the organization is still dangerous. “Rather than `Make America Great Again,’ the vibe, at times, was more like `Let’s Make America Hungary,’” Jong-Fast writes. “During a Saturday morning panel, one speaker, Miklós Szánthó, described Hungary as Europe’s `shining city on the hill,’ borrowing from Ronald Reagan’s famous phrase and drawing applause from the crowd.” Reagan stole the phrase from John Winthrop, but we get your point, Molly. (March 6, 2023)
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Great discussion in the AHA forum! Sharing widely.