THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2022
Our own ugly yahoos emerge: If we all can agree to be honest for once, the event was a real nothingburger.
The event involved a decision by the ten-member school board in Tennessee's McMinn County (population 53,000). As best we can tell from the transcript of the school board's meeting that fateful night, the background goes roughly like this:
The nothingburger decision in question involved the eighth-grade social studies curriculum of the McMinn County Schools. At one point in the discussion, Steve Brady, an eighth-grade teacher and an "instructional supervisor," described the curriculum to the board in the manner shown:
BRADY (1/10/22) The curriculum that we use is called EL What does that stand for?
I see some teachers here. What does that stand for? "Expeditionary Learning."
So, the whole idea is that students go on these expeditions, and they will spend two months or so on these different expeditions, and that’s their modules. In eighth grade, that is four things. We do Latin America, we learn about food, the Holocaust and Japanese internment.
Brady's discussion of the Holocaust "module" went on at some length from there.
The conversation was a bit opaque. It was being conducted by people familiar with the procedures, and with the bureaucratic language, of the McMinn County Schools.
Since no one knew that the conversation would soon be branded as one for the ages, no one was trying especially hard to explain various references for otherwise clueless outsiders. That said, Brady described an eighth-grade curriculum in which students spend several months studying the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II, then spend an additional several months studying the Holocaust.
To our ears, that almost sounds like a strikingly "progressive" eighth-grade curriculum! Concerning the focus on the Holocaust, Brady later said this:
BRADY: This module helps students begin building their background knowledge as they prepare for high school. The task that students do at the end of this module, after they spend a couple months talking about the Holocaust, studying this, the project that they do, that shows they understand what went on.
That sounds like a very good idea to us! But then, within the next few weeks, the school board's decision on this night became a full-blown national cause célèbre—and the creepy crawlers of our own blue tribe came slithering out through the floorboards.
Please understand! The McMinn school board didn't decide to eliminate the eighth-grade Holocaust "module." The board didn't decide to eliminate the "module" about the internment of Japanese-American citizens—the parents and grandparents of some of the kids with whom we were lucky enough to go to high school out in San Mateo.
Instead, the board voted to remove one single book from inclusion in the Holocaust curriculum. That one book would have to go, but the Holocaust module would stay.
The book would go; the subject matter would stay. Near the end of the board's discussion, board member Jonathan Pierce offered this account of his view as he called for a vote on the book in question:
PIERCE: I’ve got enough faith, from the Director of Schools down to the newest hire in this building, that you can take that module and rewrite it and make it do the same thing.
Our children need to know about the Holocaust. They need to understand that there are several pieces of history, Mr. Bennett, that shows depression or suppression of certain ethnicities.
It’s not acceptable today. We’ve got to accept people for who and what they are.
I’m just an old country school board member, and I think in our policy it says the decision stops with this board. Unfortunately, Mr. Parkison, we did not go through the complaint process that’s also in our Board Policies. But Rob, the wording in this book is in direct conflict of some of our policies.
Pierce was concerned with the presence of what he called "vulgar language" in the book under review.
"I apologize to everyone sitting here," he said. But he said he could not "lay that in front of a child and say, 'Read it,' or 'This is part of your reading assignment.' "
In that way, Pierce explained his objection to the particular book which was under review. But he also said that McMinn County's eighth-grade children "need to know about the Holocaust"—need to know that "we’ve got to accept people for who and what they are."
That progressive curriculum would continue. One book assignment would change.
Briefly, and in total fairness, let's be clear about one point. Lesser beings like Jonathan Pierce will never be as intellectually and morally brilliant as we in our tribe routinely are.
That simply isn't going to happen. They aren't as human as we are, and we all understand that point.
To our eye and to our ear, eighth grade kids in the McMinn County Schools are getting a rather progressive curriculum. Soon, though, the creepy crawlers would come up through the floor, offering their ugly assessments of "These People," variously described and scorned.
"These People" live in "East Bumfuck County," our own creepy crawlers now said. Our latest Otherization was underway, just as it ever was.
Our creepy crawlers were happily engaged in our latest Otherization project. It's a heavily-scripted process—a ritual our own prehuman, dimwitted tribe has long performed and adored.
These are the ways we lose elections, and with those elections the world.
Tomorrow: Praising Arkansas' Pentecostals? Was Clinton allowed to do that?