One of the topics I’ve encountered in online discussions of fascism is that of pre-emptive compliance — doing what the regime requires before you’re ordered to. That’s the genius behind Ron DeStalinist’s Don’t Say Gay and Don’t Provide Sexual Harassment Training policies and similar rules elsewhere: rather than provide clear state guidelines for what’s acceptable, he opens the door for the public to sue if their snowflake fee-fees are hurt. As that makes what’s acceptable vague and subjective, schools have that much more incentive to comply before anyone demands it.
For example, presidents of Florida colleges have agreed to eliminate any course that deals with critical race theory or intersectionality. DeStalinist’s government also rejects having an AP course in African American history, despite the state Dept. of Education offering no reasons it’s unacceptable other than it “lacks educational value.” (right-wing hack Charlie Kirk is fine with that, claiming most blacks came to America by choice). Or Manatee County telling teachers not to donate unvetted books to their classroom libraries.
Similarly, “anecdotes gathered from nearly two dozen states suggest an atmosphere of creeping fear in which librarians are second-guessing themselves, removing anything likely to elicit disapproval or controversy from their book lists.”
A Florida school district banned a nature book about a gay penguin couple. Though it’s not unique to Florida: a school official in Ohio stopped a teacher reading Seuss’s The Sneetches when kids realized it was about racism. North Dakota State Senator David Clemens wants (but didn’t get his wish) to fine schools and other public bodies that address anyone by pronouns that don’t match their birth gender. In Pennsylvania, a right-wing group may have written the rules for challenging school library books.
I’d roll my eyes, but as Florida House Speaker Raul Renner’s demand for information about “woke” college activities shows, the threat to dissenters from Communist Party — er Republican doctrine is real; I don’t know I’d be any braver in the same situation. Oh, and the hate-mongering Moms for Fascism — what do you mean, that isn’t their name? — want to make the law worse. And we have Lauren Boebert who insists as a kid teachers didn’t announce their marital status — when as noted at the ink, “Miss” or “Mrs.” automatically do that.
Paul Campos suggests part of the problem is that college diversity programs are more a management strategy than a sincere commitment. More here. Given the protesting student was Muslim, I wouldn’t be surprised if conservatives sided with the teacher, but debates over depictions of Mohammed aren’t the kind of controversy they care about. The professor in question has filed suit against the university for firing her, pointing out that they approved her syllabus, including the image of Mohammed, in advance.
I doubt they’ll care about a Christian-school teacher arrested for sexually abusing a 14-year-old either. Or a Catholic school teacher who sexually assaults girls. Groomers are only bad if they’re gay. They won’t fuss too much about this predator/teacher for the same reason. They are, however, very concerned with getting gay books out of public libraries. And with the non-existent threat of schools catering to child furries. See here for more on that bullshit.
The education wars are having a destructive effect on professional historians. Which reflects, I think, a long-standing right-wing hatred of supposed elitists. And, of course, that reality has a liberal bias, demolishing the right-wing fantasy that the US was founded as a Christian nation.
Not that the war on supposed wokeness is the only issue. It doesn’t relate, for example, to the University of Florida spending $300,000 to give new president and former senator Ben Sasse a personal swimming pool. Why yes, that is rather expensive. And even before the current era, Alabama’s educational system was designed to reinforce white supremacy.
But at least some people are pushing back.