Our New Hampshire state house apparently lurches to the marching orders of a national far-right disinformation agenda. HB 544 “defines and prohibits the dissemination of certain divisive concepts related to sex and race in state contracts, grants, and training programs.” The bill was introduced to prevent discussion that racism, inherent in slavery and a continuing part of our American story, is often reflected in laws on voting, housing and other matters, and remains prevalent and often unrecognized.
Although it might be dismissed as the hot button cultural distraction of the week, it coerces educators to avoid essential topics. This nonsense certainly has no place now in a budget bill, and when it is signed by our governor, remember it as counterfeit.
The amended bill has been altered to be so fuzzy that it is meaningless, but its intent is to intimidate honest discussion on injustices around race and gender, camouflaged in terms such as “race and sex scapegoating.” HB 544 essentially instructs teachers to “don’t look there” and assumes that discussion of racism or sexism somehow blames an individual or student in the power majority, rather than raises their consciousness. It re-frames and perverts a necessary exploration of racism as “racial superiority.”
The binding currency of a nation is shared narrative, the shared ideals of who we are, who our heroes have been, how we honor our distinguishing history and promote our common aspirations. Like tangible paper money, the design and faces we put on that narrative must change somewhat with the epoch we live in, but the currency can be identified as true. Our shared narrative must change when we acknowledge injustices, incorporate the vitality of a new wave of immigrants, recognize bogus conspiracy theories or gain scientific knowledge. Such advances may be “divisive” when first recognized, but our strength lies in incorporating truth into our narratives.
Leaders of the Republican Party might be wishing to distract from their dissemination of another, more dangerous counterfeit. Their failed, mendacious ex-president has propagated the lie that his victory was “stolen,” so Republican officials stay complicit in that lie in an attempt to maintain cohesion around their discredited leader.
The prosecution of John Scopes for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1925 did not alter its scientific verity. The Civil Rights era of the ‘60s launched consciousness raising of institutionalized racism among white Americans. Now 60 years later, smart phone videos, infant mortality and life expectancy demonstrate how racism remains an ongoing part of the daily life of Black Americans. It must be acknowledged and addressed.
It is fact that every state, many led by Republicans, has certified the 2020 election. It is fact that every challenge in our nation’s courts has been tossed out for lack of evidence of fraud or reason to doubt the vote. The TV conspiracists claiming altered voting machines have recanted and the media silos that provided such artists air time have retracted this nonsense. Clumsy, dubious efforts of non-elected partisan “cyber ninjas” are imported to alter an Arizona vote already confirmed three times. Under the relentless direction of the losing candidate, demonstrable lies of a “stolen election” are disseminated by irresponsible congressional Republicans for political gain.
- American ideals and facts are being ‘hacked’.
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