SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2022
Some of it aimed at Us: Long ago and far away, the artist still known as Bob Dylan switched sides in the ongoing, painful culture war known as "the generation gap."
Back in 1963, Dylan had issued this warning to the nation's mothers and fathers: "Your sons and your daughters are beyond your commend."
But now it was 1968, and Dylan—now married with children himself—wrote the iconic Tears of Rage, giving voice to a new attitude.
In the iconic song, a heartbroken father speaks to a "dear daughter" from a parent's point of view. At one point, that father offers this:
It was all very painless
When you went out to receive
All that false instruction
We never could believe.
And now the heart is filled with gold
As if it was a purse
But oh, what kind of love is this
Which goes from bad to worse?
In Dylan's song, a father says he has seen his "dear daughter" receiving "all that false instruction." Dylan thereby switched sides in the painful culture war which defined that particular era.
Today, our nation's discourse is ruled by torrents of false instruction. Mountains of false instruction emerge from the major tribunes of the red tribe. But is some of the current day's "false instruction" also aimed right straight at Us?
We posed that question to the analysts after watching Alex Wagner close her MSNBC "cable news" program this past Thursday night. In a brief closing segment, Wagner was back on the "so-called Stop WOKE Act" beat. At one point, she offered this:
WAGNER (10/20/22): There's a so-called Stop WOKE Act, which bans the teaching of any lesson, specifically about race and racism, that makes any student feel discomfort...
Would learning about the work of Martin Luther King violate the Stop WOKE Act if a single child felt uncomfortable during that lesson? All of that has been unclear from the start.
To some extent, it isn't exactly the "so-called" Stop WOKE Act. That's the actual, childish and churlish name given to the Florida legislation by Governor Ron DeSantis. In the governor's childish rendering, its full name goes like this:
The Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act
The snarky (semi-official) name of this bill helps define the politics of Florida's churlish governor. But what about the ministry to which our blue tribe gets exposed each night on "cable news?"
More specifically, is it true that the childishly-named Stop WOKE Act "bans the teaching of any lesson, specifically about race and racism, that makes any student feel discomfort?" Or is that more of the "false instruction" we ourselves are routinely told to believe?
What does the Florida law really say? In our experience, it's amazingly hard to find out!
In innumerable Google searches, we've never been able to find a definitive, finished version of the legislative text. For today, we'll offer you this link as the best we can do.
It's astonishing, but rather typical, that the text of this widely-discussed legislation remains a bit of a mystery. That said, our national discourse runs on partisan Storyline now, with tribal tribunes scripting our battling tribes with simplified tribal cartoons.
Our question: Is it possible that Wagner was performing some such function with her capsule account of the Florida law? Is it possible that she was offering "false instruction" tp us rubes, perhaps of the type which is "easy to believe?"
Was Wagner offering false instruction? We'll suggest the possibility that the answer may be yes:
Is it true? Is it true that the Stop WOKE Act "bans the teaching of any lesson, specifically about race and racism, that makes any student feel discomfort?"
Our tribal tribunes have told us that until the cows have come home. We find it pleasing to hear that account—but is that account the work of a faithful servant?
We've never seen a serious discussion of that question, but on balance we'd tilt toward no. Below, we highlight the part of the legislation which has apparently given rise to such pleasing claims:
The Legislature acknowledges the fundamental truth that all persons are equal before the law and have inalienable rights. Accordingly, instruction and supporting materials on the topics enumerated in this section must be consistent with the following principles of individual freedom:
(a) No person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex.
(b) No race is inherently superior to another race.
(c) No person should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex.
(d) Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are not racist but fundamental to the right to pursue happiness anD be rewarded for industry.
(e) A person, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
(f) A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
The highlighted passage doesn't say that no student should ever be permitted to "feel discomfort." It says that no student should be instructed that he or she must feel discomfort ("psychological distress") for actions committed by other people in the past.
As best we can tell, our tribunes have taken that passage and run. Which side would Dylan be on?
(Full disclosure: Other parts of the Stop WOKE Act require the teaching of the Civil Rights movement and the evils of racism. The legislation goes into substantial detail about what has to be taught.)
For the record, we'd love to see a full discussion of this important topic. We'd even like to see the definitive text of the Florida law in its final form!
(We've wasted enormous amounts of time trying to find that text.)
That said, our discourse no longer runs on such types of rocket fuel. Our discourse runs on pleasing tribal narratives offered by corporate employees and the people they may have misled.
More broadly, our current (failing) political culture swims in "false instruction."
Huge amounts of this false instruction come from people like DeSantis. How much of it comes from the highly connected corporate moguls who proselytize our own self-impressed blue tribe?