You're not supposed to actually read it
May 15, 2024 11:55 AM   Subscribe

A GOP Texas school board member campaigned against schools indoctrinating kids. Then she read the curriculum. The pervasive indoctrination she had railed against simply did not exist. Children were not being sexualized, and she could find no examples of critical race theory, an advanced academic concept that examines systemic racism. - Her fellow Republicans were not relieved to hear this news.
posted by Artw (57 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
What's absolutely horrific about this story is that it's well-known that TX school boards are the primary driver of the national public school textbook industry, and their prejudices determine the contents of school textbooks used across the country. The fact that "her fellow Republicans," i.e. backwards ignorant racist and sexist choads, are who are making these decisions says a lot about the likely future of this country.
posted by Pedantzilla at 12:06 PM on May 15 [47 favorites]


But after taking office and examining hundreds of pages of curriculum, Gore was shocked by what she found — and didn’t find.

"shocked" like Captain Renault in Casablanca, I'm sure.
posted by chavenet at 12:06 PM on May 15 [16 favorites]


Hahahahahahahahahaha as someone who watched all of the TX school board hearings on the state's textbook adoptions last year I have zero surprise that these fucking idiots have never read their own fucking curriculum. May they all suffer a million years of unabated ass shingles.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:06 PM on May 15 [98 favorites]


I happened to catch an interview with Gore on the radio this morning. Good on her for standing up. I have to say, though, that it shouldn't have come as such a shock that her colleagues would rather perpetuate the narrative than admit they they've gaslighting everyone all along.
posted by vverse23 at 12:08 PM on May 15 [19 favorites]


I mean, credit where it's due and no snark, she did a hard thing and changed her mind when the facts disagreed with her dogma.

But... Wouldn't you think she'd have been looking for that horrible SJW indoctornation BEFORE railing against it and winning office?

"I believe problem X exists, when I get elected I will actually look into the question and see if problem X exists" is a kind of weird mindset to me.

But, overall, we're looking at Republican detachment from reality not as an accident, or an example of being duped, but as a sign of in group alliegance.

Fred Clark, blogging under the name Slacktivist, had an excellent article about the same thing with regards to Proctor and Gamble. Way way way back in the old days before the internet a belief went viral among Evangelical Christians that P&G was satanic. That the CEO had gone on some daytime talk show to proclaim his allegiance to Satan, to pledge that he would be donating the profits of P&G to Satanic causes, and that there weren't enough Christians in America who cared to make a difference to his profits.

When the young Clark showed people the proof that this was not true he says he was baffled at how they seemed to be angry rather than relieved. And as older Clark recognized it was becuse they never had actually, TRULY, believed it was true but rather had been engaging in a power fantasy of themselves as bold Christians standing against Satanism and they didn't want that fantasy disrupted by mere facts.

Republicans don't REALLY believe that evil SJW CRT LGBT whatever are invading schools and teaching children to be gay or whatever. They just pretend they do because it makes them feel good.

And they greet anyone telling the truth as an annoying party pooper who is making it harder to have fun.
posted by sotonohito at 12:09 PM on May 15 [119 favorites]


Fun fact: Granbury, TX ISD is the school district where my YA novel (which no one was reading anyway, lol) was banned.
posted by Jeanne at 12:10 PM on May 15 [83 favorites]


Dude! You should get a t-shirt printed or something to celebrate that!
MY BOOK WAS SO COOL GRANBURY TX BANNED IT!
posted by sotonohito at 12:11 PM on May 15 [65 favorites]


For most of these people the fine print doesn't matter because this is what they're aiming for, culturally and racially-speaking. Everything else is a fig leaf and/or a means to an end.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:36 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


"Never let the truth get in the way of a good story"
posted by many-things at 12:40 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Republicans don't REALLY believe that evil SJW CRT LGBT whatever are invading schools and teaching children to be gay or whatever.

Isn't the whole point of the article that she did believe that, but had the courage to admit she was wrong? I have no idea what portion of people are misguided or misinformed, what portion understand but still disagree with the curriculum, and what portion don't care about the truth, but I hope a lot of them fall in the first category like her, because that's where the opportunities for change are.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:53 PM on May 15 [27 favorites]


"Never let the truth get in the way of a good story"

Or a fucking horror show.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:55 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


> MY THIS BOOK WAS SO COOL GRANBURY TX BANNED IT!

This belongs, not on a t-shirt, but prominently (in day-glo orange block letters, maybe) on the cover of the book itself. Might help it get some readers!
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 1:09 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


I do a weekly roundup of Dallas-Fort Worth news for the political blog of a friend of mine who writes in Houston. School district news of all stripes is a regular part of my reading routine, and Granbury ISD appears regularly in my roundups. It's a surburban/exurban district a ways southwest of Fort Worth, so a mix of folks who have been there a while and folks who think the big city of Fort Worth (the last Republican city in Texas, if you don't count the mayor of Dallas having switched parties) is too liberal for them.

I wish I could be surprised by any of this, from the woman running for board with a lot of astroturf support without reading the curriculum first, to her not finding any of the stuff she assumed was in there when she read it, to her former allies turning on and threatening her. The only thing that's even slightly surprising to me is that she had the honesty to read the curriculum and take what it said seriously instead of deciding teachers must be slipping the "bad stuff" in around the curriculum or that the contents of the curriculum were lies.

When I look at politics, even here in Texas, I try to assume most people are operating in good faith but with bad knowledge because they've isolated themselves inside media systems that are full of lies. They believe a bunch of stuff that's not true. (Obviously there are exceptions like Abbott/Patrick/Cruz; I'm thinking more of local folks here.) But sonohito's comments ring true as well: they envision themselves as fighting something really bad. Even if one particular thing isn't true, it's truthy enough for a lot of these folks.

I hope Gore isn't run out of town on a rail by violence directed at her and her family, which I consider a real possibility. May she and her family stay safe.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 1:14 PM on May 15 [25 favorites]


This was a plot point in the 1957 musical The Music Man. After spending the first act decrying the books in the library as obscene ("Chaucer! Rabelais! Balzac!") they finally read them ("The professor told us to read those books, and we simply adored them all. Chaucer! Rabelais! Balzac!"). Witch hunts are always the same, and are never actually about the witches.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:17 PM on May 15 [28 favorites]


Good for her for at least being honest. But to be clear, HAD she found something referring to someone having two mommies, or the existence of trans* kids, or the legacies of systemic racism, or supportive of the separation of church and state, she would not have hesitated one minute to purge it. So forgive me for not exactly applauding her heroic stand for reality and reason.
posted by liam665 at 1:17 PM on May 15 [62 favorites]


I wonder how many Republicans aren't in on the lie? Because they would be the ones who are persuadable.
posted by mumimor at 1:40 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't judge her for not reading the curriculum prior: she trusted her community. I'm pretty sure Project 2025 is terrible but I haven't read a word of it.
posted by Schmucko at 1:41 PM on May 15 [14 favorites]


One might hope she even begins to question whether she's been lied to about more than just the curriculum.
posted by Reverend John at 1:46 PM on May 15 [18 favorites]


I wonder how many Republicans aren't in on the lie? Because they would be the ones who are persuadable.

You only have to get each of them to read hundreds of pages of policy documents.
posted by star gentle uterus at 1:52 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Just wait until one of them decides to read the entire Bible...
posted by clawsoon at 2:29 PM on May 15 [17 favorites]


a belief went viral among Evangelical Christians that P&G was satanic

There was some similar nonsense about the supposed Satanic content of product barcodes. Details here (PDF).
posted by Paul Slade at 2:56 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Good on her for speaking up after having bought in to the noise.

Also, there's a whole slew of people who just want to be angry about something - doesn't matter if it makes sense.
posted by drewbage1847 at 3:00 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


> I wonder how many Republicans aren't in on the lie? Because they would be the ones who are persuadable.

Sadly, probably not. The team spirit element of political allegiance in low-information voters is very hard to dislodge. Most Republican voters realize that Trump is a disaster, but will vote for him anyway because the wrong shit they believe convinces them that any Democrat would be even worse (though just how, they would be unable to say).

It is a well-documented phenomenon, in recent decades, that D policy preferences poll very strongly across the board in America! Everyone claims to want what the Ds have on offer, politically, except that 40% of people believe so many lies about what Ds have on offer that Ds never get elected to do the job.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 3:00 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


Hearing that it was banned in Texas made me want to buy and read Jeanne's book.

The title of the book is available on Jeanne's profile.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6725896-a-love-story-starring-my-dead-best-friend is the same book afaict. I will not link to amzn nor to other, less-poisonous bookstores. I urge everyone to purchase & read the book, though I have not done so. I cannot afford to buy any books at this time. Maybe in a month or so.

Support yr librarians, tis important work.

Relatedly: DO NOT do your own reasearch, unless you are a librarian or SME or otherwise know wtf you're doing.
Sheesh.
posted by Rev. Irreverent Revenant at 3:30 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Jesus Christ, the part where the grandfather of a Republican political operative (who himself pled guilty to a DV protective order violation in 2021) brought a handgun to a school board meeting and threatened Gore. I know that local politics is often grotesquely fucked but it makes me feel ill every time.

"Possession of an unauthorized firearm at a school board meeting is a third-degree felony under state law, but because officers didn’t conclusively identify the weapon that night, and because Cliff Criswell declined to cooperate, prosecutors were unable to file charges, said Granbury police Deputy Chief Cliff Andrews. Cliff Criswell could not be reached for comment.

“Had we identified the gun at the very moment, yes, absolutely, we could have filed charges on it,” Andrews said. “We made a simple mistake.”"

cool world
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 3:32 PM on May 15 [19 favorites]


I see this with NIMBYs and local zoning all the time: People pick up what they read on Nextdoor as gospel truth, get in high dudgeon, sometimes they can be gotten to read the source documents, or look at actual comparative construction, and they occasionally go "whoah, I was misled", but more often they double-down and make up all sorts of new reasons to hate on a development.

It ain't just evangelicals.
posted by straw at 3:34 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


This was a plot point in the 1957 musical The Music Man. After spending the first act decrying the books in the library as obscene ("Chaucer! Rabelais! Balzac!") they finally read them ("The professor told us to read those books, and we simply adored them all. Chaucer! Rabelais! Balzac!").
On the thread about people playing roles, one of the more disappointing transitions in my adult life has been seeing roughly ¾ of the family who loved watching that movie, Star Trek, etc. follow the Republican Party’s decline and construct narratives where somehow the only people standing up for freedom, science, etc. are the book banners. Humans are very good at confabulating rationalizations for why what they’re doing is totally different than the straw men they’re railing against.
posted by adamsc at 3:59 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Facts don't matter, feelings do! At least in politics, that often seems to be the case...
posted by nikoniko at 4:05 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


"and because Cliff Criswell declined to cooperate, prosecutors were unable to file charges"

This One Simple Trick!
posted by clawsoon at 4:16 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Yeah, that stuck out to me too. You're suspected of illegally bringing an unauthorized firearm to a school board meeting but you can get out of it by just not cooperating with the cops and they'll just drop the case there?
posted by star gentle uterus at 4:23 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Sure, if you're White
posted by etherist at 4:27 PM on May 15 [26 favorites]


For some reason I keep thinking of the "Taliban realize city dwellers aren't evil, but are bored of office work" article from last year.
posted by credulous at 4:38 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


Never let the truth get in the way of a power grab.
posted by Pouteria at 7:00 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Conservatives never actually read the books they ban. You're naive if you think they spend any effort to make an informed decision, they just go by vibes: if it feels woke, ban it.

Possession of an unauthorized firearm at a school board meeting is a third-degree felony under state law, but because officers didn’t conclusively identify the weapon that night, and because Cliff Criswell declined to cooperate, prosecutors were unable to file charges, said Granbury police Deputy Chief Cliff Andrews.

"There's nothing we can do," is the oldest lie in the cop handbook of excuses. They just don't want to punish this guy enough, so they don't bother.
posted by AlSweigart at 7:17 PM on May 15 [20 favorites]


In Fredericksburg, the wine-and-cheese tourist destination near Austin, half the gift shops post the three large-print notices restricting guns from their properties, and the other half have secessionist T-shirts, cute little concealed carry purses, and/or a flyer advertising some christofascist book author.

Hill country is beautiful, but there is a big asterisk on the howdy.
posted by credulous at 7:51 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Clark recognized it was becuse they never had actually, TRULY, believed it was true but rather had been engaging in a power fantasy of themselves as bold Christians standing against Satanism and they didn't want that fantasy disrupted by mere facts.

I remember when I attended the local public high school after 11 years of Catholic education, my mom’s friend asked me to check if there were condom dispensers in the restrooms.

You will be shocked to learn there were not condom dispensers in the restrooms. So while that particular myth got busted, my generally disobedient behavior surely could be attributed to the pernicious effects of said public school so no beliefs were changed (except for my own — that school was fantastic and I teach there now).

Republicans do believe their bullshit. They believe it because it’s easier to cast someone else as the enemy than it is to think critically and honestly about their place in the world.

It’s why abortion is such an effective issue, as well. If all you talk about are irresponsible harlots and ThE InNoCeNt BaYBeEz, it’s a simple cut-and-dried issue. Start talking about rape and consent and medical necessity and you’re not exposing their lies. Rather, you’re threatening their conception of themselves as noble heroes on a Godly quest and we can’t have that.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:59 PM on May 15 [27 favorites]


'I never thought leopards would eat MY face,' sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People's Faces Party.
posted by pthomas745 at 5:29 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


In one of his autobiographical books, the physicist Richard Feynman recounts a time when he was invited to be on a committee selecting science textbooks in California. He came to the meeting with specific criticisms of the books' contents he wanted to discuss, but found that the other committee members hadn't even read the things, instead rating them entirely on the basis of press releases and lobbying from the publishers. In one case, a book hadn't even been printed yet, and the publisher had sent the committee members a mockup with blank pages to meet a submission deadline. Feynman was the only one who had noticed.

It must be admitted here that, like most of us, Feynman isn't always a reliable source when telling stories about his own life (and, to make matters worse, I'm not an entirely reliable source in describing those stories thirty years or so after I read them). But the really striking thing is that his anecdote makes no mention of the motivations people are describing in this thread. There was no politically-charged battle over the ideology of physics textbooks. No one on those committees was imagining themselves as a crusader for righteousness against insidious leftist propaganda. But even back then, they seem to have been shirking the actual reading of the textbooks.
posted by baf at 5:55 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]


But even back then, they seem to have been shirking the actual reading of the textbooks.

One can make an entire career out of reading boring documents and then telling other people what's in them, whether you're in IT or preaching.
posted by clawsoon at 6:09 AM on May 16 [12 favorites]


It’s why abortion is such an effective issue, as well. If all you talk about are irresponsible harlots and ThE InNoCeNt BaYBeEz, it’s a simple cut-and-dried issue. Start talking about rape and consent and medical necessity and you’re not exposing their lies. Rather, you’re threatening their conception of themselves as noble heroes on a Godly quest and we can’t have that.

Fred Clark / The Slacktivist has been all over that angle, as well.
posted by Gelatin at 6:59 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


> But even back then, they seem to have been shirking the actual reading of the textbooks.

It is a lot of work to read a textbook. Like, a single textbook is designed to be digested, piece by piece, over the course of 4 to 8 months, by a student whose only "job" is doing the same for 4-8 other similar textbooks.

A good going over it should require on the order of that much work, even by someone who already knows the subject area backwards and forwards.

Do you think we are paying people 1/10th of a professional adult's annual salary per textbook they are in charge of reviewing? Because doing a good job for a single textbook should take about that much effort. And that is for 1 pass. This is doing the problems, checking that each problem has the foundation required, checking each fact, reading and understanding each section, knowing if that section has foundation from the earlier sections, etc.

As we aren't doing that, we are instead doing something far more cursory. How cursory? Do you trust the publishers, or not? If you do trust the publishers, then you are selecting from a menu of options - so yes, reading the marketing is how you pick which textbook. If you don't trust the publishers, well, then anything short of doing the above is not really gonna work.

The other committee members where trusting the publishers.

Possibly they where informing their trust based on the reactions that schools give to the choices they make, because teachers and students have the time to actually try out the books.

He did an insane amount of work because he didn't want to trust the publishers. How long did he stay on the committee, given that they where not being paid for that work and he had other commitments?

Looping back, the same is true of people campaigning to ban books. They don't have time to read the "smut" or whatever, and trust the people who are providing the lists. If they make a mistake and accidentally ban the Bible, well, they'll get pushback and unban it. The cost of false positive is low - what harm is there in banning an extra book or dozen? - and the cost of false negative is high - a child gets corrupted.
posted by NotAYakk at 7:16 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


I don't know how to feel about these kinds of turn-coat stories.

On the one hand, you have to find a glimmer of hope that folks might stop being so willing to suck up and regurgitate vile propaganda in the pursuit of political power.

On the other hand, the post-hoc apologetics are frustrating, because they strongly indicate you should have known better in the first place.

I appreciate that it Ms. Gore probably didn't have the bandwidth to review hundreds of curricula in detail before she made it her job to. I certainly haven't.

But the reality is that these school indoctrination conspiracies are pretty extreme, and it's disappointing to know it they aren't setting off the bullshit detectors of a person who demonstrated themselves to be swayable on the basis of evidence.
posted by voiceofreason at 7:41 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


the physicist Richard Feynman

Notable sexual harasser Richard Feynman
posted by medusa at 8:51 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


The title of the book is available on Jeanne's profile.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6725896-a-love-story-starring-my-dead-best-friend is the same book afaict. I will not link to amzn nor to other, less-poisonous bookstores.


You know that Amazon owns Goodreads, right?
posted by holborne at 8:53 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Science teachers in a state should be given advance copies of proposed textbooks and the textbook should be chosen by popular vote among them. Etc.
posted by caviar2d2 at 9:12 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Oh these people hate teachers and science teachers doubly or triply so. You’d maybe get them to let the sports coach have a say.
posted by Artw at 9:19 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Indoctrinated woman discovers that the indoctrination she thought was happening wasn't happening. The next steps are to deprogram her, show her what we mean by "creeping fascism," and maybe she'll, little by little, start to rejoin reality.
posted by Chuffy at 12:47 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


When I look at politics, even here in Texas, I try to assume most people are operating in good faith but with bad knowledge because they've isolated themselves inside media systems that are full of lies. They believe a bunch of stuff that's not true.
I also find this to be true--an additional problem is that people's identities and egos are bound up in holding and maintaining an ideological position and it's difficult to pry them apart, even when presenting with "good" information.
posted by exlotuseater at 2:00 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]


exlotuseater: an additional problem is that people's identities and egos are bound up in holding and maintaining an ideological position

The social pressure is going to be huge, too. Southern Baptists and Evangelicals don't have a formal shunning process like you'd see among Jehovah's Witnesses or Old Order Mennonites, but the social dynamics tend strongly in the same direction. Many people would rather give up the truth than give up their community.
posted by clawsoon at 2:54 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Which makes it interesting seeing what the process does to this person. Like. If they stick to their guns are they going to accidentally cult deprogram themselves?
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


cult deprogram

"Deconstruction" is the word all the cool Christian kids are using now. Which sounds very weird if you first heard it from Derrida...
posted by clawsoon at 3:09 PM on May 16 [5 favorites]


Many people would rather give up the truth than give up their community.

This is why the effective deprogramming techniques focus on establishing a rapport and friendship, rather than an aggrieved and insulting fact dump. These movements prey upon victims of the loneliness epidemic, and leaving the community without a bridge to another is tantamount to suicide.
posted by pwnguin at 9:35 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


"Deconstruction" is the word all the cool Christian kids are using now

As usual with the more cultic Evangelist Christian ideas they've got the very wrong end of the stick. Instead of going back to the words of Jesus, they are whitewashing the tombs (Matt. 23:27-28) of their moribund faith by painting over what they don't like.

Some of them are waking out of the nightmare like Jon Bloom's What Does ‘Deconstruction’ Even Mean? "Sucked in by the tractor beams of the white, conservative Evangelical Death Star", but still reluctant to cut the cord.

From what I see in article above it seems a tool to enable people to refute their pastors (where they are supposedly in a community with their pastor), but also a Christianity that is so shallow that it anchors on models rather than leaned-in faith.

'Christian' Deconstructionism seems built for the false church of the Trump era.
posted by unearthed at 10:16 PM on May 18


People I hear using deconstructionism don't mean that at all. Most of them who remain Christians don't stay in the evangelical church, but instead stumble their way to new paths. The first person I think of is Rachel Held Evans who basically reinvented progressive Christianity inside her own head, then discovered that other people did that a long time ago and became an Episcopalian, so glad to discover that not only was she not alone in what she believed, as her evangelical former friends had made her believe, but that there was a rich spiritual tradition out there for her to join. Definitely the opposite of "the false church of the Trump era."
posted by hydropsyche at 3:25 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


A lot of the deconstructing that I've heard about has been in response to what Trump-worship has done to the church. There are a lot of stories that start with, "I couldn't understand how my Christian friends and family could support this obviously horrible person, and that got me asking questions about what I believe and why I believe it..."
posted by clawsoon at 2:27 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


it's interesting, because having to embrace an obvious contradiction and defend it can be a real bonding thing for an in-group and reinforce cult-y behaviour, so its probably strengthening them at the same time it is weakening them.
posted by Artw at 4:00 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


The loyalty-is-everything Trumpian turn has squeezed a lot of questioners out completely. There might have been a moment when White American Evangelicalism could've responded to the deconstruction movement with an embrace of complexity and contradiction, but that moment has passed.

Those who remain are certainly required to embrace contradictions. It's hard to claim to admire both Jesus and Trump without some. But it's not the same kind of "maybe gay and trans people would be loved by the God of the Bible" contradictions that most of the deconstructers grapple with.
posted by clawsoon at 4:26 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


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