Florida’s History Revisited

On “Alex Wagner Tonight,” a Florida teacher voiced concern over the state’s new public school civics curriculum.  It seems Governor DeSantis and cohorts would gloss over the stigma of slavery and impose Christian precepts into what students are taught about the state’s history.

The slavery piece puzzles me.  Do Conservative lawmakers reason that, by somehow sanitizing slavery since the Declaration of Independence and prejudice, bigotry, and lynchings since Emancipation, young Floridians may be made amenable to a conservative political climate which effectively rejects that, “all (people) are created equal?”

Regarding the Christian piece, in an interview with Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers’ Union, The Washington Post’s Lori Rozsa writes, “Union members who attended (training) were being told to present to students ‘only one side of history,’”  “It was basically, this way or no way, like there’s only one side to American history,” Fusco said.  “Then they kind of slipped in a Christian values piece, ignoring the fact that this country is made up of so many different cultures and religions.”

As I understand, the rationale behind DeSantis and colleagues’ interjecting Christian precepts into the public-school curriculum falls back on “Originalism.”  Accord to Wikipedia:
“In the context of United States law, originalism is a concept regarding the interpretation of the Constitution that all statements in the constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding “at the time it was adopted.”

Apparently, the folks rewriting Florida’s civics curriculum believe, “at the time (the constitution) was adopted“ our Founding Fathers intended that governance of The United States of America reflect Christian precepts.  

Being ignorant regarding “originalism” and the Constitution’s framers’ thinking, I Googled.  A History channel piece, “Freedom of Religion,” explains the Founding Fathers’ reasoning regarding religion in the First Amendment:  

“In 1785, Virginia statesman (and future president) James Madison argued against state support of Christian religious instruction.  Madison would go on to draft the First Amendment, a part of the Bill of Rights that would include constitutional protection for certain individual liberties including freedom of religion  .  .  .  “!  (my emphasis)

Hence: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof  .  .  .”

Apart from flying in the face of the First Amendment, the implications and complications inherent in imposing any religious doctrine into public-school curricula would cross a rabbi’s eyes.  From Huguenots, Puritans, Calvinists, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, Methodists, Moravians, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Quakers, Mormonism, Agnostics, and Atheists, to Jews, Sikhs, Islamics, Hindus, and Buddhists the dilemma is, whose religion is taught on the taxpayers’ dime?

In a country committed to liberty, equality, and freedom, the First Amendment must never be abrogated for religious preference.  Potential impact of such an abrogation calls to mind the wit and wisdom of Winston Churchill, “History will treat me kindly, for I shall write it.”

Mean People

Republican Representative Matthew Gaetz’s rant at a July 23 Turning Point USA Student Action Summit got me thinking about mean people.

Gaetz called pro-abortion rallies, “Just disgusting.  But why is it that the women least likely of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?  Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb!  These people are odious on the inside and out!” Gaetz’s glib diatribe ignores and insults attractive pro-abortion women and delivers a slap-in-the-face to, “5 foot 2 inch 350 pounds,” less physically fortunate on either side of the issue.

A decade back, sentiments such as Gaetz’s were anathema in civil discourse and virtually unheard of from a member of Congress.  Then, candidate Donald Trump mocked a handicapped journalist, and urged MAGA supporters to take dissenters out on stretchers, vowing to pay their legal bills!  Slander and lies became Trump’s trademark. The kid gloves were off. 

Rush Limbaugh seems to have pioneered “trash talk” on the airwaves.  Today, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Alex Jones, and Fox personalities take sadistic satisfaction in publicly lying about and insulting any with whom they disagree.  On January 6, 2021, their rage acted out in terrifying, graphic form. 

The touchstone of Mean Ultra-Right-Wing rhetoric is an assumption that some humans are superior and others inferior.  Throughout human history, from the Stone Age to the Space Age, this paradigm predominates.  More recently, class conflict and revolutionary nationalism were cornerstones of Benito Mousseline’s Fascist regime.  Adolf Hitler proclaimed the superiority of a fair-skinned, blond, blue-eyed, Aryan race.  Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, physically handicapped, and others who did not look or behave according to this model were “subhuman.” 

Today, under the banner of a “Christian Nationalism” terrifyingly reminiscent of Italian Fascism and German Nazism, some challenge America’s Democracy!  The very Mean People who stridently defend the Second Amendment are intent on jettisoning the First!