This is unbelievable but oh so bad. Vote them out isn’t working.

The University of Texas at Austin has laid off dozens employees who used to work in diversity, equity and inclusion programs. The university fired about 60 people and some the offices where they worked are expected to close by May 31…. via Texas Tribune

I don’t know about you, but when government tries to legislate religion, beliefs, and stamp out diversity, equity, and inclusion in PUBLIC universities…well, it makes me very nervous.

Fascism and Higher Education

I found this read in The Atlantic (1939) quite eye-opening. The opening paragraph serves as a powerful reminder:

The early Americans were determined that education should be free from political control. Being liberals in the original and true sense of the term, they believed in the integrity of the individual as opposed to the despotism of the state.

This integrity or dignity of the individual was, of course, basic in democracy.

Among other things, it implied the right of the citizenry to think independently, to seek truth honestly, and to determine without political interference what should constitute the education of their children.

What’s really interesting in The Atlantic article is this section outlining the real purpose of schooling. I hear echoes of these words in today’s complaints about schools and teachers who aren’t allowed to teach certain subjects or broach certain topics:

We renounce international science. We renounce the international republic of learning. W e renounce research for its own sake. We teach and learn medicine, not to increase the num ber of known microbes, but to keep the German people strong and healthy. We teach and learn history, not to say how things actually happened, b u t to instruct the German people from the past. We teach and learn the sciences, not to discover abstract laws, but to sharpen the implements of the German people in their competition with other peoples.

The conclusion seems inevitable that state support of the German universities prepared the way for their immediate use by the totalitarian state, and that the universities were consequently of little value in maintaining the privileges of democracy or the rights of constitutional government. This was equally true in Italy and Russia.

Imagine if this were written for today. It’s not that hard, is it?

A Texas Version

The following is suggested by the current culture in Texas. It’s an experiment, using AI, to reflect our current state of affairs. How well do you think this experiment reflects reality in Texas today, 2024?

We renounce liberal indoctrination. We renounce the teaching of critical race theory. We renounce social agendas in the classroom.

We teach and learn history, not to make students feel guilt or shame, but to promote the positive aspects of the United States and Texas.

We teach and learn social studies, not to focus on America’s flaws, but to foster patriotism, citizenship and respect for our founding principles.

We teach and learn the sciences, not to push political ideologies, but to provide students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, while respecting the right of parents to direct the moral upbringing of their children.

The revisions aim to capture the sentiment expressed by Texas political leaders that schools should avoid “indoctrinating” students with perceived liberal viewpoints and instead focus curriculum on instilling pride in Texas and American history and values, while giving parents more say over sensitive topics.[5][17] Recent laws have sought to ban the teaching of “critical race theory” and limit how issues like racism are discussed in classrooms.[13][16] The State Board of Education is currently in the process of revising social studies standards, with some arguing for more emphasis on the positive aspects of U.S. history and “American exceptionalism."[13][17]. Note: Citations appear at the end of this post.

How Fascism Will Come

Consider Terry Ehret’s poem quoted below:

How Fascism Will Come

“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” —attributed to Sinclair Lewis

When fascism comes, it will greet us with a smile. It will get down on its knees to pray. It will praise Main Street and Wall Street. It will cheer for the home team. It will clap from the bleachers when the uninsured are left to die on the street. It will rally on the Washington Mall. It will raise monuments to its heroes and weep for them and place bouquets at their stone feet and trace with their fingers the names engraved on the granite wall and go on sending soldiers to die in the mountains of Afghanistan, in the deserts of Iraq. It will send doves to pluck out the eyes of its enemies, having no hawks to spare.

When fascism comes, it will sit down for tea with the governor of Texas. It will pee in the mosques from California to Tennessee, chanting, “Wake up America, the enemy is here.” It will sing the anthems of corporatization, privatization, demonization, monopolization. It will be interviewed, lovingly, on talk radio. It’ll have talking points and a Facebook page and a disdain for big words or hard consonants. It won’t bother to read. It will shred all its books. It will lambast the teachers and outlaw the unions.

When fascism comes, it will look good. It will have big hair, pressed suits, lapel pins. It will control all the channels. It will ride in on Swift Boats. It will sit on the Supreme Court. It will court us with fear. It will woo us with hope. When fascism comes, it will sell shares of itself on the stock market. It will get rich, then it will get obscenely rich, then it will stop paying taxes. It will leave us in the dust. It will kick our ass. It won’t have to break a sweat to fool us twice. It will be too big to fail.

When fascism comes to America, it will enter on the winds of our silence and indifference and complacency. And on that day, one hundred thousand poets will gather. In book stores and libraries, bars and cafes, in their houses and apartments, in schools and on street corners, they will gather. In Albania, Bangladesh, Botswana, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Guatemala, Hungary, Macedonia, Malawi, Qatar, crying, laughing, screaming. They will wrap the sad music of humanity in bits of word cloth and hang them, like prayers, on the tree of life. via Poetry Flash

Fighting Fascism

How do you fight fascism? It’s unthinkable to imagine that any American would need to know how in their own country or state. Some suggest the steps might be as “easy” as:

  • Identify and confront fascist movements early.
  • Build broad coalitions against fascism that cross political and social lines.
  • Engage in direct action and counter-protests to disrupt fascist organizing.
  • Promote anti-fascist education to inoculate the public against fascist ideas.
  • Address the underlying social and economic conditions that fuel fascism’s rise, like economic insecurity, social atomization and distrust in institutions.
  • Avoid appealing to the government or state to restrict fascists' free speech rights, as these tools are often turned against the left. Instead, anti-fascists should use their own free speech to counter fascist arguments and organize grassroots opposition.

I don’t know about you, but all of those approaches give me cause for concern. It’s like watching a rash grow. But imagine you can’t stop it’s growth, there’s no one else to tell you what to do, and it’s late Sunday evening, and you know Monday (and relief) is a long way off. Maybe gangrene is a better analogy.

How many of us are “fair-weather Americans?” You know, Americans until the going gets fascist?

Citations for Texas Version

Please find the citations for the assertions above. Honestly, I’m concerned at how easy it was to generate this.