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The right-wing indoctrination machine sets its sights on kindergarteners

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Unlike the right, which loves to condemn what they call “cancel culture” while shutting everyone out who doesn’t agree with them, I don’t have any trouble with people expressing their viewpoint—no matter how wacky. If people want to learn about conservatism, or push that nonsense on their kids in the privacy of their home, they have that right, and there’s plenty of stuff out there to serve that goal.

Take TikTok’s Republican Hype House, which has over a million followers. The account’s content stream consists mostly of reposts from a handful of young Republicans who spout right-wing ideology mixed with Trump cultism and pop music. You can learn many important things, such as how masks are a liberal conspiracy, and that you should tell Democrats to vote the day after an election.

This really exists

For the much younger crowd, Eric Mataxas, a right-wing talk show host, has written several children’s books with titles like Donald Builds the Wall and Donald and the Fake News. Nothing says “hate your neighbor” like poorly drawn cartoons. If the book has too many big words for the kids (or their parents) to sound out, no problem: the author will read to you.

The point is, a quick Google search delivers all kinds of products and content to indoctrinate one’s children to right-wing beliefs. (Just please keep them away from Adventures of Snortlings Hollow.)

Yet forcing this garbage upon kids in schools is not okay. Conservatives accuse the left of indoctrination all the time, just because it’s no longer acceptable to teach the Southern Lost Cause and (completely) whitewash important elements of American history, like slavery. In reality, however, it’s the conservatives who are spending big money to push propaganda as curriculum.

There’s probably been no one who has been as effective, or harmful, as Dennis Prager. Prager is a Trump-supporting extremist and radio talk show host who, despite being in his third marriage, views himself as the arbiter of American values. He created a media company, ironically called PragerU, (short for Prager University), which puts out hundreds of five-minute videos which distort history and reality. PragerU is featured prominently on YouTube, although it has recently been permanently banned from TikTok for “multiple violations” of their community guidelines.

PragerU has been funded by two of the richest people in America, brothers Dan and Farris Wilks, who made their fortune in fracking. Coincidentally, Prager pushes videos that attack renewable energies while pushing dirty fuel, with videos entitled Why You Should Love Fossil Fuels and Fossil Fuels: The Greenest Energy.

 

PragerU’s videos are all designed to look like they came from an educational organization, with simple, smart graphics—even as they present right-wing belief as fact. For example, they “teach” in videos that there is no police brutality against Black men, climate change isn’t real, and any racism you see today is the fault of Democrats. Unfortunately, these videos rack up millions of views, in part through an aggressive marketing strategy, including hundreds of people called PragerForce, who commit to widely shared PragerU videos as they’re released.

PragerU also has a knack for picking the worst possible people to address topics. For example, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas—a convicted criminal with a history of doctoring videos—“lectures” about journalism. And James Damore—who got fired from Google after asserting women are biologically inferior to men, in explanation for their low representation both at the company and in the tech field writ large—leads the discussion about Big Tech.

These were all just stupid when Prager launched the channel in 2012, but by 2014, he’d launched “partnership programs” to put his opinionated crap into schools.

The development of our relationships with educators (in college, high school, middle school, and homeschools) is a major priority for Prager University. The strategy is to get our message to America’s students by providing ammunition to the educators who are on our side.

PASADENA, CA - JULY 30:  Dennis Prager at Politicon at Pasadena Convention Center on July 30, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Politicon)
Dennis Prager

Biased high school and middle school teachers were assigning Prager’s propaganda for credit in required history, economics, and government classes, while horrified parents complained that their children were getting school credit for watching videos like “The Left Ruins Everything.”  

However, Prager went beyond just providing videos, and set up a project called PREP, which provides “study guides” to go along with their videos. These so-called guides offer true-false questions such as “Big Tech with its control of search algorithms, its shadowbanning, and deboosting supports political correctness and the resulting limitations of freedom.”

Since middle and high school students have some ability to recognize (and resist) indoctrination, Prager has gone even younger. In April, he launched an effort to go after kindergarteners.

This material is meant to be shown in school or at home, and although the videos aren’t as overtly political as PragerU’s typical five-minute videos for adults, they are still suffused with right-wing propaganda.

For kindergarten through second grade, one of the new educational segments is a “storytime” that “celebrates American values of freedom, individuality, hard work, equality under God and more,” starring the head of outreach for PREP, Jill Simonian, and a mascot named Otto, modeled on the bulldog of the organization’s founder, Dennis Prager.

The first videos feature children’s books by conservative authors. The first one is Paloma Wants to Be Lady Freedom, by Rachel Campos-Duffy—a reality TV star turned Wisconsin congressman’s wife turned Fox News contributor. The book features an immigrant girl who gushingly admires the Capitol building. This is a little ironic since Campos-Duffy was a fierce defender of Trump’s child separation policies with Central American refugees, saying the detention centers they were put in were better than the projects where Black people grew up.

Campos-Duffy also helped promote the Big Lie on election fraud that caused rioters to vandalize the Capitol building little Paloma loves so much.

 

Youngsters can also learn about how great and popular Ronald Reagan was. Gee, did you know he was student body president and a great swimmer?

No, kid … but I do know he destroyed the middle class with trickle-down economics while he ignored the AIDS crisis.

 

I pity the child that is being forced to sit through that. The poor writing is only matched by the tremendous historical inaccuracy. There’s also an accompanying PREP Magazine, where readers can learn all about conservative heroes—like the godawful Ayn Rand. Kids who read this magazine are told Rand is a beloved author who inspired movements like the tea party. In reality, she was a horrible human being who held fascist beliefs on genetic superiority, and openly viewed children with special needs as “subnormal,” and not worthy of additional resources.  

Republican lawmakers are fine with this kind of indoctrination, which makes their criticisms of critical race theory hard to justify. Republican lawmakers in GOP-led states, such as Tennessee and Idaho, banned programs this year that challenge the very belief systems that allow systemic racism to flourish, yet allow Prager’s brand of hateful ideology into classrooms. Recently, a school district in Southlake, Texas, with a history of racial problems was stopped from implementing cultural diversity training—after a political action committee was formed to stack the school board with Trumpists. The PAC was supported by people like former NRA TV shrieker Dana Loesch, who promoted it on Tucker Carlson’s show. PragerU “helpfully” put out a video during this time entitled “What Is Critical Race Theory?“ that was—shockingly—biased against it.

Yet if a teacher in this school district wants to assign Dennis Prager’s material, no problem. And Prager knows a thing or two about race: he openly laments that he can’t use the N-word, and thinks Black people have too many names to call themselves. Unfortunately, since there is no federal policy barring political bias in the classroom, education legislation is left to the states. Furthermore, although PragerU is unapologetically right-wing, they are established as an apolitical nonprofit organization. This allows them to claim that they are an educational entity instead of a political group, which makes it harder to eject them from schoolhouses.  

PragerU YouTube video
Characters like this help the indoctrination go down

It’s imperative to put qualified, non-politically biased people on school boards to guard against political propaganda infiltrating our schools—but especially when it comes to kindergarten. These right-wing propaganda outfits need to be called out and rooted out of our schools. Conservatives may rail against brainwashing, yet they openly promote it when it comes to their own failed ideology.

Pay close attention to what your kids are being taught in school. Wealthy conservatives do a lot of disgusting things to stay in power, but going after very young children is by far one of their most disgusting and insidious ploys yet. 

It’s not easy to train people to vote against their own interests, but brainwashing kids early on is yet another tactic to ensure the extreme right’s future survival.


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News Roundup: Giuliani suspended; infrastructure deal; pro-Trump network floats mass executions

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From hoax-peddling to violent insurrection to talk of mass executions, fascism in America is now a major political force

In the news today: Trump fixer Rudy Giuliani’s license to practice law in New York is suspended after a pattern of flagrant lying about supposed election “fraud” in and outside courtrooms. The White House and a group of 10 senators announced an agreement on “bipartisan” infrastructure funding—but both the details and the supposed bipartisanship that will allow it to pass remain sketchy. A prominent conservative “news” site responsible for pushing election hoaxes that helped lead to insurrection is now speculating on a need to execute “tens of thousands” of Americans who, they falsely contend, helped unfairly deny Donald Trump an election win.

Here’s some of what you may have missed:


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‘Unforgivable and un-American’: U.S. Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick’s longtime partner calls out GOP

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In a CNN op-ed, Garza, a clinical social worker who was with Sicknick for 11 years, wrote that she couldn’t watch the Jan. 6 footage for a month after the attack, but eventually gutted it out and took a look.

But before his memorial a month later, something came over me: I wanted to see everything I could and understand what happened that day. As I watched the videos, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw officers being brutalized and beaten, and protesters defying orders to stay back from entering the Capitol. All the while, I kept thinking, “Where is the President? Why is it taking so long for the National Guard to arrive? Where is the cavalry!?”
 

As the months passed, my deep sadness turned to outright rage as I watched Republican members of Congress lie on TV and in remarks to reporters and constituents about what happened that day. Over and over they denied the monstrous acts committed by violent protesters.

Garza didn’t name those members of Congress, but they’re not hard to identify. There was Sen. Ron Johnson, who said he was never concerned about the insurrection because the rioters were “people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement”—and not scary antifa or Black Lives Matter protesters. There was Rep. Andrew Clyde, who compared the insurrectionists to tourists, even though footage from that day showed him fixin’ to drop a chimichanga or two into his Simon Bar Sinister Underoos. And there was Trump himself, who infamously said that the insurrection posed “zero threat” and that his supporters were “hugging and kissing” the Capitol police. 

Eventually, Garza joined Sicknick’s mother, Gladys, in her campaign to convince GOP senators to vote in favor of the commission. But as we all know, their heartfelt pleas were ignored. Garza writes that during her and Gladys’ outreach campaign, “some Republican senators were very pleasant and polite. Others were dismissive, and others could barely hide their disdain.”

Sounds about right. Of course, in the wake of Republicans’ nearly unanimous betrayal of democracy, Garza feels she’s being retraumatized.

By denying or downplaying the viciousness and trauma that occurred on January 6, members of Congress and the people who continue echoing their false narrative are engaging in a specific kind of psychological harm that is familiar to people who work in mental health. It’s known as “secondary wounding.” Secondary wounding, described by psychologist Aphrodite Matsakis, occurs when people “minimize or discount the magnitude of the event, its meaning to the victim, [or] its impact on the victim’s life.”

The kicker? Before the Capitol insurrection, both Garza and Sicknick—who adored blueberry pancakes and wiener dogs alike—were Trump supporters. Not anymore: “To know that some members of Congress—along with the former President, Donald Trump, who Brian and I once supported but who can only now be viewed as the mastermind of that horrible attack—are not acknowledging Brian’s heroism that day is unforgivable and un-American.”

Eventually, anyone who puts their faith in Donald Trump gets burned. Ask … well, pretty much anyone. Most people don’t suffer this much for their obtuseness, but just about everyone who hitches their wagon to his collapsing star gets a rude awakening.

It’s sad that it took the loss of a loved one for Garza to finally wake up, but if she can keep warning others, maybe the day when Trump is truly—and forever—radioactive will come sooner rather than later.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.


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In blow to California farmworkers, Supreme Court rules against union access to grower property

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“On Wednesday, the court’s conservative supermajority held that California’s law violates the Fifth Amendment, which bars the taking of private property for public use ‘without just compensation,” he wrote. “Remarkably, the majority held that the law constitutes a ‘per se taking’—not a mere regulation, but an ‘appropriation” of property that flouts the owners’ ‘right to exclude.’”

“The court’s 6–3 decision in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid is thus a crushing blow to organized labor, which often relies on workplace access to safeguard workers’ rights,” he continued. “It also undermines the broader legal framework that permits the government to impose all manner of regulations on private property, including workplace safety laws and nondiscrimination requirements. With Cedar Point, the Supreme Court has handed business owners a loaded gun to aim at every regulation they oppose.”

Per The Times, the 1975 regulation allows unions “to meet with agricultural workers at work sites in the hour before and after work and during lunch breaks for as many as 120 days a year.” The Washington Post reports the regulation had been upheld by the California Supreme Court in 1976, with the U.S. Supreme Court that same year dismissing a continued challenge to the law, Stern said. According to The Post, “provisions have gone unchallenged until now,” when California-based Cedar Point Nursery, and Fowler Packing Co. challenged.

“In my view, the majority’s conclusion threatens to make many ordinary forms of regulation unusually complex or impractical,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent, joined by justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling in Cedar Point v. ALRB makes a racist and broken farm labor system even more unequal,” United Farm Workers (UFW) said in a statement. “Farm workers are the hardest working people in America. This decision denies them the right to use their lunch breaks to freely discuss whether they want to have a union. The Supreme Court has failed to balance a farmer’s property rights with a farm worker’s human rights.”

In a tweet, Illinois Rep. Chuy García wrote that “[f]armworkers in California and across the country fought and died for their right to organize. It’s an embarrassment to our democracy that this extremist court is chipping away at that right.”

What’s next is unclear. Sterns writes California could compensate growers. “But how much would that cost? At oral arguments, Justice Amy Coney Barrett floated $50 per ‘taking’—a charge that would quickly balloon as every California agribusiness demanded payment each time a union organizer stepped on their property,” he wrote. Victoria Hassid, chair of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board, told The Post it will keep looking into “alternative avenues” to make sure farmworkers are not deprived of their rights.


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