I can’t really blame the pandemic for the fact that my desk occasionally looks like an archeological dig. That is a pre-existing condition.
But on those (very) rare occasions when I try to clean it up, I often stumble upon a bit of memorabilia that I had forgotten about. As it happens, I was shifting some piles yesterday when I found this fund raising appeal I’d gotten in the mail last fall from one of the tributaries of Panic/Outrage Inc.
The letter is from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a group with close to ties to the former Trump Administration and other prominent right wing culture warriors.
As I read it again, it sounded all so familiar, filled with ALL CAPS warnings, bold-faced horribles, and underlined alarms. It’s really a classic of the genre.
It is also a reminder that before the panic about critical race theory, came the panic about Sharia Law and Islam in the Schools.
The playbook is the same and the language is almost identical — just substitute CRT for every reference to Islam.
Over at the Daily Beast, Wajahat Ali notes the parallels at some length.
Over a decade ago, I remember seeing a similar movie called “The Sharia Threat” as a non-existent problem was transformed into a national “crisis” within a few months.
That bogeyman was used to rally voters, mobilize support for anti-Sharia bans across the nation—a useless solution in search of a mythical problem —and fuel hateful conspiracy theories against innocent Muslim American communities.
Conservatives are now relying on the same strategy to attack CRT as an insidious, unpatriotic movement that seeks to attack white people and “dismantle the United States.”
It’s easy to forget that just a few years ago, state legislatures rushed to pass laws banning Sharia over fears that America faced threat from “creeping sharia.” As National Review reported at the time:
In May 7 , the Kansas House voted unanimously in favor of a bill barring judges and government agencies from basing decisions on sharia or other “foreign” legal systems. Four days later, the Senate voted 33 to 3 in favor of the measure, which was then carried through the capitol building, past John Steuart Curry’s famous painting of John Brown, to the office of Governor Sam Brownback, who signed it into law.
The panic over Sharia was accompanied by warnings and litigation about the growing Islamicization of the schools. In one case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a high school student who objected to a history course that taught about Islam.
The student, Caleigh Wood, claimed that her school was endorsing Islam over Christianity and that school exercises compelled her to profess a belief in Islam by having her complete fill-in-the-blank assignment that included the sentence: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
But back to my letter from David Horowitz, which warned of a full-frontal attack on local schools.
“Dear concerned a patriot,” he wrote, “The radical left has ripped God out of our schools… While adding pro-Islamic lessons and I need to hear back from you right away.” (Underlined in original.)
Over the past few years we've seen a massive increase in pro-Islamic lessons…
… Along with an all-out assault on God and our Judeo-Christian values.
What followed was a string of anecdotal horrors. In Florida, the letter said, “students had to design and create Muslim prayer rugs."
Countless schools around the country force children to learn and recite the five pillars of Islam…
Do you think what's happening in classrooms around the country is good for America?
We must force the politicians, media, and unelected education bureaucrats to listen to us…
The radical left plan to rip God out of our schools was just the beginning…
Now that they've been successful at removing God, they've moved on to the next phase of their scheme – to replace God with pro-Islamic lessons about Allah.
And this, all in bold face: “We cannot allow the radical left to brainwash our children with pro-Islamic, anti-Christian messages."
Apparently deeming this to be insufficiently alarming, Horwitz's letter warns, “even more disturbing is that some of these pro-Islamic lessons are paid for with your tax dollars!”
So, what do you think – should your tax dollars pay for this pro-Islamic liberal indoctrination?
In one school they even recited the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic ending with, “one nation under Allah"!!
It's disgusting. It's awful. And it must stop!
Like Horowitz, Christopher Rufo often describes critical race theory in apocalyptic terms, claiming that, among other things, it “prescribes a revolutionary program that would overturn the principles of the Declaration and destroy the remaining structure of the Constitution.”
He also warns about attacks on God, who is apparently quite vulnerable.
Ethnic studies curricula, he claims, are actually seeking “the displacement of the Christian god, which is said to be an extension of white supremacist oppression, and the restoration of the indigenous gods to their rightful place in the social justice cosmology.”
Like the previous panic over Islam in the schools, the current fight centers on CRT in K-12 schools. As Pew reported:
Legislators in at least 15 states have introduced measures this session that would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory or related concepts in all publicly funded schools, sometimes including penalties such as dismissal of teachers or defunding of school districts, despite no evidence that it is being taught in any public school.
Indeed, one of the sites tracking critical theory admits that its database “does not yet cover primary or secondary schools,” because outside of higher education its use is “significantly more difficult to track.”
But data isn’t the point here. Outrage is.
In his letter to me, Horowitz asks recipients to fill out a survey on “Islam in our schools”. His goal, he says, was to collect 2,025,900 (sic) completed surveys.
The survey I received was headlined “Islam in Thiensville Schools.” Actually, the local district is Mequon-Thiensville, and I can confidently declare that the system, (where my children went to school) has not, in fact, been Islamicized.
But that wasn’t the story Horowitz was selling.
The survey asks:
Should our schools teach children only pro-Islamic lessons?
Should our schools teach anti-Christian messages to children? Should your tax dollars pay for Pro Islamic lessons?
Should students be punished for mentioning God in schools? Do you agree that we must stop the war against God and our Judeo-Christian values?
And finally: “will you join the David Horwitz Freedom Center to fight back and support our efforts to save children from the radical left brainwashing?”
This was followed by an urgent plea to send cash — $23, $35, $50… $1,000, or … Other.
Because that was the point all along, wasn’t it?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering choosing a House Republican as one of her eight appointees for the Democrat-led investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, according to an aide in her office.
Though Pelosi hasn’t signaled which member she would pick, tapping a GOP lawmaker could dramatically influence a House insurrection probe that Republican leaders have dismissed as an overtly partisan bid to undercut former President Donald Trump.
Newspaper lede of the day:
Noted local criminal Mark McCloskey played host to a barbecue/political rally on Sunday afternoon, drawing tens of admirers to the sweltering parking lot of a closed outlet mall in St. Louis County to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the time he pulled a gun on a crowd of people who otherwise would never have noticed or cared he existed.
1. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the High Church of Grievance
Which brings us to Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s choice. Unlike Jones, she can run on any story she wants and win. She could run on her family name, or policy positions in-line with a majority of Arkansas voters, or even just by framing her association with Trump as a positive credential: as relevant high-level experience, or as playing for the team that most voters in her state root for.
Yet even with that buffet of options available, Sarah Huckabee Sanders still chose grievance. She still chose fear-mongering. She still chose to stoke outgroup hatred.
The lesson from Arkansas is that while the Democratic party still can be many things, the Republican party is only one.
2. Keep an Eye on Team Trump’s Legal Woes
Three separate developments in the last few days suggest that, after years of flouting laws and trampling norms, Team Trump may finally be held to account for some of its misdeeds. This is important not only as a matter of justice but also because without some measure of accountability, the precedent set by the Trump presidency will destroy the republic itself.
3. How Biden Can Flip the Script on Immigration
Ali Noorani, with some tough love in today’s Bulwark:
In 2015, Democrats, and many moderate Republicans, underestimated the power of an anti-immigrant message to convince the American public that immigration was out of control.
And today—at least so far—they are making the same mistake.
The trap Democrats have fallen into is seeing immigration solely as an issue for the two parties’ bases. They believe that only hard-core nationalists on the right care about immigration. And on the left, in both message and policy, they speak to a choir of progressives and liberals.
The Democratic base is primarily concerned with undoing the hundreds of changes to immigration policy orchestrated by Trump and Stephen Miller. And progressives eventually want to see a massive reduction in immigration enforcement. These two desires make many of them reluctant to place any emphasis on the idea of security.
This strategy would be fine if the United States was a progressive utopia.
It is not.