WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 2023
Could the demagogues sometimes be Us? "Every man [sic] a king," Huey Long famously said.
It turned out to be the impossible dream. Today, our analysts see a less pleasing picture when they observe our declining world.
"Every pundit a demagogue!" these youngsters sardonically cry. This morning, we'll give you three quick examples from our failing blue tribe's failing world.
Jamelle Bouie's quote:
Within the past week or so, we made a complimentary remark about the New York Times' Jamelle Bouie. Even as we did, we secretly knew that what we were doing was wrong.
In his new column for the Times, Bouie offers a pleasing "quotation." It comes from Florida's infamous (and childishly named) Stop WOKE Act.
Bouie provides no link to the text of the law. The "quotation" goes like this:
BOUIE (3/28/23): The official name of Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prohibiting “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity,” is the Parental Rights in Education Act. And the state’s Stop WOKE (short for Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) Act, which outlaws any school instruction that classifies individuals as “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” was framed, similarly, as a victory for the rights of parents.
Really? Does Florida's childishly-named Stop WOKE Act really "outlaw any school instruction that classifies individuals as 'inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously?”
From those of us who are mentally active, it's a bit hard to know what such a statement could even mean. It almost sounds like the act is forbidding discussions of individuals as "racist" at all.
On its face, Bouie's alleged quotation doesn't quite seem to parse. For the record, that isn't what the relevant portion of the Florida law actually seems to say.
We refer to what the law "seems to say" because, as we've noted in the past, there seems to be no clean version of the bill's text available online.
Bouie doesn't identify the source of his quotation, or link to any such source. Below, you see the best version of the bill we have been able to find.
The Washington Post recently linked to that version of the bill as the actual text. Here is the relevant portion:
From Florida's Stop WOKE Act:
The Legislature acknowledges the fundamental truth that all individuals are equal before the law and have inalienable rights. Accordingly, instruction on the topics enumerated in this section and supporting materials must be consistent with the following principles of individual freedom:
(a) No individual 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 individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex.
As it turns out, the actual text of subsection (a) isn't crazy or weird or fuzzy at all. It makes a simple declarative statement. Because no one could possibly disagree with that statement, it's our impression that people like Bouie have repeatedly chosen to avoid quoting or paraphrasing it accurately.
Your lizard brain will quickly insist that Bouie was surely doing the best he could. That may well be the case, but we'll note another part of his column in the third parr of this report.
In the meantime, we'll only say this:
We don't think we've ever seen a serious attempt to explain, for good or for ill, what the Stop WOKE Act actually says. What we've typically seen instead has been tribal Storyline, pretty much all the way down.
Where did Bouie get that quote? How did it survive fact-checking?
Nicolle Wallace and the naked statue:
To our eye and ear, Nicolle Wallace had always been a bit demagogue-adjacent. It was true when she was shilling to outlaw same-sex marriage. It remains true today now that she's servicing Us.
Also to our eye and ear, Wallace has been getting a bit frenzied in the past few weeks, presumably under the stress of her unrequited demagoguery. For example, she has taken to repeating totemic formulations like this, from the start of yesterday's Deadline: White House program:
Hi there everyone! It's 4 o'clock in New York as we have learned more, and more, and more, about the events of January 6th and the insurrection, and specifically the efforts of the twice-impeached, disgraced ex-president to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
"The twice-impeached, disgraced ex-president!" This has become a totemic incantation on Wallace's popular show. She repeats the formulation at least five separate times during yesterday's program alone. This matched the number of incantations from Monday's show.
We'll assume that Wallace is a good person, but she's long been demagogue-adjacent. To our eye and ear, she has also seemed to be getting angrier and more frustrated over the past few weeks.
According to experts, there is no foolishness that a human like this won't endure in service to Storyline. That explains yesterday's clownlike presentation about the naked statue:
WALLACE (3/28/23): It gets worse. A Florida charter school principal said last week she was forced to resign for not contacting the parents of students in a sixth-grade class—wait for this, an art class—before exposing them to what one parent equated to pornographic material.
A warning to our viewers now: If you're offended by priceless, sort of boring, works of Renaissance art, avert your eyes. [Brief pause] Michelangelo's 16th century David marble statue is now the latest target of the censorship mobs...
Are you following this? Wallace was mocking a few parents of sixth graders. The parents felt they should have been notified that the naked statue would be shown to their sixth graders. In previous years, that had been the school's policy. The policy wasn't followed this year.
First, a few basic facts:
The principal did say that she had been forced to resign because of this failure to follow policy. The chairman of the school's board said that this was merely one in a succession of incidents.
Wallace doesn't know which account is true. Inevitably, she gave viewers the account which advances Storyline. Beyond that, we've seen no one say that this incident occurred in an art class. When Storyline is in the saddle and riding humankind, such additions will occur.
Seeming to embellish several known facts, Wallace described the handful of parents who complained as part of "the censorship mobs." But dear God!
Before she (briefly) showed the naked statue to her own adult viewers, she seemed to feel the need to provide a brief warning herself! Your lizard brain is going to tell you that she was simply being ironic.
Everything is always possible, but we'll guess that wasn't the case.
According to experts, there are few things a human like Wallace won't do as she pursues her tribal warfare. In the past, she demagogued against same sex marriage. Today, she services Us.
The Ruby Bridges film:
At the tender age of 6, Ruby Bridges became a remarkable historical figure.
In 1960, accompanied by no other children, she integrated a New Orleans public school all by herself. Her frightening walk to school on her first day was portrayed in one of Norman Rockwell's greatest and most famous illustrations, "The Problem We All Live With."
Today, we're living with a different problem. First, a few basic facts:
Way back when, Disney and ABC created a full-length film about Ruby Bridges. It aired as part of the first season of the ABC program, The Wonderful World of Disney.
The film was 96 minutes long. It aired on January 18, 1998. Rightly or wrongly, it received a PG-rating from the Motion Picture Association, meaning this:
MPA Movie Rating System:
G – General Audiences
All ages admitted. Nothing that would offend parents for viewing by children.
PG – Parental Guidance Suggested
Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give "parental guidance." May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.
Correctly or otherwise, the 96-minute film didn't receive a G rating. Instead, it was rated PG, meaning it "may contain some material parents might not like for their young children."
We've never seen the film. Neither, you can feel quite sure, have the various blue tribe tribunes screeching about it today.
One such tribune is Jamelle Bouie; another is Nicolle Wallace. In yesterday's column, Bouie offered this:
BOUIE: It should be said that this movement for “parents’ rights” in Florida has empowered certain parents to remove books, films, even whole classes that threaten to expose their children to material that might make them uncomfortable. In Pinellas County, for example, a single complaint about the Disney film “Ruby Bridges”—about the 6-year-old girl who integrated an all-white New Orleans school in 1960—led to its removal from an elementary school.
There was indeed "a single complaint about the Disney film." That single complaint came from one lone parent, after the film was shown to second graders as part of Black History Month.
That said, is it true that this single complaint has "led to [the film's removal] removal from an elementary school?" That isn't what the Washington Post has reported about this utterly trivial matter. Based on what the Post reported, that statement is an embellishment—but then again, what isn't?
In his column, Bouie provides no link to any account of the incident. Meanwhile, as of 10 o'clock this morning, his own New York Times—to its credit—hasn't yet offered a news report about this transcendently trivial non-event, in which one (1) parent had the nerve to state her view to the principal of one (1) elementary school.
Quick question: Should the school be showing this film to its second graders? Is the school showing good judgment?
We don't have the slightest idea! Like you, we've never seen the film. Also, we've never worked with second graders.
(It does seem a bit odd to us to think that second graders are being shown a 96-minute film, but we could be wrong about that. Just for the record, Common Sense Media has scored the film as appropriate for kids from the age of 10 up.)
Our view? There's zero reason to assume that the school is exhibiting perfect judgment. Beyond that, there's no reason to start attacking the parent who has questioned that judgment in the way our blue tribe's hacks are now doing across the board.
Wallace also went there yesterday. You can be sure she had no idea what she was talking about. It basically pure Storyline now—Storyline all the way down.
Long ago and far away, we did show a lengthy film to a fifth-grade Baltimore class. (May 1970!)
The film was The Forbidden Village, a John Steinbeck production about the attempt to bring modern medicine to a rural Mexican village—a village where the children were dying due to a contaminated well.
You can still see the film, in entirety and for free, through this link to YouTube. As it happened, those fifth graders reacted to that film with great ardor—but we certainly wouldn't have shown it to a bunch of second graders.
(We especially remember the outraged reaction of NAME WITHHELD. Why would any group of parents simply let their children die, that good kid angrily asked.)
Fifth graders aren't kindergartners; kindergartners aren't second graders. That said, you have to be completely insane to think that this trivial incident in one Florida school should be the subject of a national discussion, especially in a world where the pseudo-discussion will be led by a pile of corporate hacks who will embellish, disappear, rearrange or ignore an array of basic facts.
"Every man [sic] a king," Long said. According to anthropologists, we live in a different world.
Increasingly, we live in a world built from preferred tribal Storyline. At this point, could it be that it isn't just Them? Could it be that the Yahoos R Us?
More and more, the game is being played that way, inconsolable scholars insist.
Still coming: Love it or leave it; McGovern's inanity; PEN America's embarrassing post