George Floyd died after a police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing, and riots have now erupted in cities across our nation. We can blame those police officers who participated in Floyd’s murder, and we can blame those looters who have moved well beyond peaceful demonstrations. But real solutions to these problems require that we probe deeper as we try to understand why our fragile sense of community has been shattered.We are hearing a cry for help due to widespread economic and racial inequalities. The riots and disproportionate COVID-19 suffering and death to Afr...
We finally have a bill about feelings.
Set aside decisions about building infrastructure and fixing bridges or creating pre-kindergarten or considering sheltering the homeless or even preserving voting rights – things governments might do either federally or locally to deal with social problems.
This one is about the preservation of emotions.
A bill gained the approval of the Florida Senate Education Committee this week that seeks to bar public schools or workplaces from making people feel “discomfort” or “guilt” about their race during lessons or training focused on inequality.
The bill doesn’t really lay out what happens if a white Christian majority has teachings that prompt discomfort to Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Latinx, Asian Americans, LBGTQ or transgender students and parents.
It is unclear what exactly would happen if someone feels discomfort or guilt or how this bill’s effects would be measured or enforced.
As a columnist for MSNBC wrote: Senate Bill 148, “which should really be called the ‘sad white people bill.’ [would] effectively codify white fragility into law” though it never mentions individual races or backgrounds.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has endorsed the bill, which includes several provisions outlined in his Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act or Stop W.O.K.E., a purported ban on critical race theory that was introduced last month in the state legislature.
Of course, as has been pointed out repeatedly, Critical Race Theory is a college-level area of study not taught in K-12 schools. Nevertheless, the label has been adopted by conservative governors, school board members and parents who object to any teaching that suggests that racism and residual effects of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation are alive and well in these United States.
Funny, the bill doesn’t really lay out what happens if a white Christian majority has teachings that prompt discomfort to Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Latinx, Asian Americans, LBGTQ or transgender students and parents.
Reacting to Critical Race Theory
“Critical Race Theory” has become a rallying cry making the rounds in elections and politics, particularly since The New York Times published its 1619 Project last year aiming to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery.
As Education Week explains, “The events of the last decade have increased public awareness about things like housing segregation, the impacts of criminal justice policy in the 1990s, and the legacy of enslavement on Black Americans. But there is much less consensus on what the government’s role should be in righting these past wrongs. Add children and schooling into the mix and the debate becomes especially volatile.”
Like similar efforts to block the specific teaching of critical race theory, now comes the Florida legislation to alter how history is taught, seeking to tamp down suggestions that current-day white majority populations have any responsibility for whatever slavery sins forebears committed.
What’s different here is that this is a bill about feelings: “An individual, 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,” the bill states. “An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.”
Lessons about racism or sexism are allowed, but only if they meet the specific inclusions or deletions outlined in the bill – basically statements that the bill suggests will not offend anyone. School or professional instructors can use lesson plans “to address, in an age-appropriate manner, the topics of sexism, slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination,” according to the bill. But “classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the principles of this subsection or state academic standards,” it states.
The governor explains: “In Florida, we are taking a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory. We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other. The WOKE Act extends similar means “to protect Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when large corporations force their employees to endure CRT-inspired ‘training’ and indoctrination.”
The Bill and Feelings
You can read through Senate Bill 148: It promotes teaching of history and content of the Declaration of Independence, equality of all persons, inalienable rights of life, liberty and property, the Federalist papers and flag education. It includes education about the Holocaust and about slavery, adding that teaching must include that no race is superior to others or inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.
Oddly, it strikes language about mental health from the list of health topics and retains the rights of parents to exempt students from some health topics touching on sex.
This particular bill does not address library books, as in some states, but does repeat the rights of parents to raise challenges.
The governor argues that this bill would build on existing rules that are part of the Florida administrative code. They specifically state that teachings based on CRT, saying, instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective, and may not suppress or distort significant historical events. He offered a curated list of incidents nationally in which he argues the spirit of critical race theory is coloring lessons in school and workplace trainings.
A much different reading is offered by a strident MSNBC columnist Ja’han Jones who argues, “Educating people about the inhumane ways white people positioned themselves atop America’s social hierarchy is a direct threat to the racist power structure. White people are most likely to feel discomforted by these lessons. . . it’s clear that the Florida bill is designed to coddle white people, even though it doesn’t mention them specifically.
The columnist adds, “So, to clarify: Florida conservatives are prioritizing white hypersensitivity over truthful teachings. They’re apparently saying lessons about America’s racist and sexist past are acceptable only if they don’t offend white people.”
A realistic snapshot of America today would reflect lots of race problems, and substantial frustration arising from them in multiple directions.
What I hadn’t really seen was a bill directed at feelings rather than acts. If feelings are the new measure, one might imagine a wholesale remake of our laws.
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough laughed out loud at a new campaign ad for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that attacks Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The Florida Republican is selling campaign merchandise accusing the infectious disease expert of flip-flopping on his coronavirus recommendations as new evidence emerges about the deadly virus, and the "Morning Joe" host mocked the governor's re-election campaign spot hammering the same points.
"I thought his ads four years ago were the dumbest ads I've ever seen, where he's reading Donald Trump bedtime stories to his baby," Scarborough said. "I bet he's sorry he did that now, but this is just so stupid. I guess stupid people will like the ad, I don't know. Maybe P.T. Barnum was right, a sucker is born every day, but to attack a guy because, well, the realities of a virus change, as the virus changes, as the virus moves, as the virus, you know, mutates, it just -- again, the height of stupidity."
"It got him elected last time, I suppose it will get him elected again this time," he added, "but just, again, so stupid it should make your teeth hurt."
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Former President Donald Trump is bragging about his Operation Warp Speed vaccine program in a new ad that was announced on Wednesday in a fundraising email.
"My team launched a BRAND NEW ad about them: RUSSIA, IMPEACHMENT, and EVERYTHING ELSE, and I need YOUR help to keep it running. It’s only a matter of time before they try to CENSOR it," the email claimed. "The Left is scared that millions of people will see our ad and finally know the FACTS that the media has been trying to cover up: They were never after me. They were always after YOU, Robert, and I was just standing in the way."
The email was paid for by Save America JFC, a joint fundraising committee on behalf of Save America and the Make America Great Again PAC.
"President Donald Trump built America's greatest economy, stamped out ISIS" the ad's narrator says. "And created a vaccine and created a vaccine in record time, saving millions of lives."
The ad went on to complain about "politically motivated business investigations" with a picture of New York Attorney General Letitia James with Hillary Clinton.
The ad comes against the backdrop of Trump's recent comments criticizing "gutless" politicians who won't brag about receiving booster shots, a criticism widely seen as directed at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"We need to do whatever it takes to make sure EVERY PATRIOT sees our new ad. I need YOU to rush in $45 or more IMMEDIATELY to the Official Trump Ad Blitz Fund," the email read.
Trump fundraising email.Screengrab.