As Mad as March

It’s Black History Month. Except in Florida, where Gov Ron DeSantis has canceled February. Well, not quite, but given the state of the culture wars, particularly in the state of Florida, an eleven month year doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Here’s my idea for a three-part advanced placement course. First, teach students how politicians use culture wars and punching down to rile up voters who are then distracted by fear and rage, and ultimately ignore the economic and legislative issues that actually affect their lives. Second, cover the way that these obvious tactics are treated as real news by the media, which only adds to the problem. And third, explain how this media-inflamed rabble-rousing can create enough friction that institutions ultimately cave to the pressure. NYT (Gift Article): The College Board Strips Down Its A.P. Curriculum for African American Studies. “After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies — stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives.”

+ This story is not so much about the details of the course requirements. I developed the curriculum for and taught African American literature classes at high schools in Brooklyn and Boston, and my mom created the curriculum for anti-semitism courses at several colleges, yet I still sometimes worry that my kids’ schools focus too much of their efforts on identity-related material. Those matters are fair to debate. But this isn’t about an actual educational debate any more than book banning is backed by intellectual reason. It’s about the way things work and how certain issues come to dominate our attention and divide us. It’s also part of a broader punching down model that works over and over, and has become a political arms war. Example: What do you do if your presidential campaign isn’t taking off as well as you had hoped. Answer: Trump Promises to Go After Trans People if Re-Elected.

Copied to Clipboard