I thought about a lot of different titles, but that’s the one I landed on. I feel like it really gets to the heart of what I’m trying to say here…
For those of you who don’t know, Bill Lee is the Governor of Tennessee, and in his “State of the State” address, he revealed that he was partnering with Hillsdale College (a small, conservative christian school in Michigan) to bring 50 charter schools to Tennessee to teach kids what he calls “informed patriotism.” “Partnering” is another way of saying “giving them millions of taxpayer dollars,” and “informed patriotism” is another way of saying “white-washing history so that white men don’t get their feelings hurt when schools are honest about all the ways we have we have historically oppressed women and people of color in this country.”
If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t know much about Hillsdale College. So I looked into it, and it is shady and creepy and white AF. Of the 23 members of their Board of Trustees, 21 are white men and 2 are white women. Turns out the Chairman of the Board is Pat Sajak (yes, that Pat Sajak), who is so white he should count as 3 white people. I tried to look up the racial demographic information for HC, but you can’t find that information anywhere. So I called the school and told them that I had a daughter who was looking at colleges (true), and she wanted to attend a school with a diverse student body (also true), and I was wondering about the racial makeup of the college (again, true). I was told that because they don’t accept government money, they “don’t have to divulge that information” (“Don’t have to divulge that information” is another way of saying “We are like a polar bear in a snowstorm”), which is clearly the case here, as you can see by this photo of Hillsdale’s football team:
You see, back when those pesky democrats started passing all those civil rights laws in the 60s, Hillsdale decided for forgo federal funding rather than comply with civil rights laws. The school even brags about “its resistance to the rebellious spirit of the 1960s” on their Board of Trustees webpage (where you can see the host of Wheel Of Fortune smiling in all his smarmy grossness).
When the Supreme Court was considering the legality of same-sex marriage, Hillsdale sent out a campus-wide email pointing out the disastrous effects marriage equality would have on “on our nation, the church, and families,” and asking for people to pray for the destruction of “evil” same-sex marriage. The school was part of the republican response to Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project, for which she won a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize. The work was an exercise in de-centering whiteness in our nation’s historical narrative, and led to much of the brouhaha over “Critical Race Theory” (“Critical Race Theory” is another way of saying “being honest about history”). Hillsdale President Larry Arnn signed a letter asking the Pulitzer committee to revoke the award, and he led donald trump’s “1776 Commission” response to NHJ’s work. Hillsdale’s “1776 Curriculum” emphasizes the “meaningful efforts Republicans made to guarantee the rights of African Americans” while pointing out that Progressivism is a “rejection of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.”
This is the school Gov. Lee wants to hand over our state’s tax dollars to so they build charter schools: A republican ideals-indoctrinating, gay-hating, history-rewriting, white-washing, theocratic curriculum to pump out little GOP voters who think that systemic racism ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. In its Mission Statement, it says “The College also considers itself a trustee of our Western philosophical and theological inheritance tracing to Athens and Jerusalem, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law” (“Western philosophical and theological inheritance” is another way of saying “white”). This is the actual last paragraph of their Mission Statement:
“The College values the merit of each unique individual, rather than succumbing to the dehumanizing, discriminatory trend of so-called “social justice” and “multicultural diversity,” which judges individuals not as individuals, but as members of a group and which pits one group against other competing groups in divisive power struggles.”
And, as I’ve written about before, when there is no such thing as systemic racism, white folks are doing better because they are just… Better (“There’s no such thing as systemic racism” is another way of saying “white supremacy”). But none of this is surprising… It’s part of a nationwide republican effort to combat CRT by banning books and outlawing school discussions about race & gender that paint white Americans in anything but the kindest light. And finding ways to get public funds into the hands of private christian schools has been a pet project of Lee’s. He is for vouchers, and now he’s wanting a private christian college to run public charter schools here in Tennessee. The ACLU is filing a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents regarding his partnership with Hillsdale.
I wrote before about how hateful his legislation was against people who are trans. I don’t like him. A long time (and a different me) ago, I went to church with Bill Lee. When his first wife died, the church was instructed not to mourn her death, because they were believing God was going to bring her back from the dead… Like, not at the end of time or whatever. Like Lazarus. Raise her from the dead (I feel like the the effort crazy charismatic churches put forth in raising someone from the dead is directly proportional to that family’s tax bracket). I can’t imagine how much something like that could screw you up. But his toxic theology is doing real world harm. And now he’s using taxpayer money to “partner” with a christian college that apparently doesn’t see the hypocrisy in preaching the evils of government intervention & flaunting the fact they don’t receive government funding, while [wait for it]… PARTNERING WITH GOVERNMENT AND TAKING GOVERNMENT FUNDS TO SET UP REPUBLICAN INDOCTRINATION CHARTER SCHOOLS. I guess it’s an “end justifies the means” situation (“ends justifies the means” is another way of saying “I’m a hypocrite who’s not buying what I’m selling”).
Perhaps one positive thing might come from all this… If Hillsdale is getting paid to run charter school, maybe they’ll have to report on how utterly, utterly white their student body is.
Thank you so much for reading. I know it’s been a long while since I’ve written… Easily the longest break I’ve even taken. I am no longer married, and I’ve been mired in the first real depression of my life. The trump years really took something out of me. Then to follow that up with the divorce, the pandemic, Covid brain fog, isolation, and deep depression, I’m not sure which direction to face… Other than the direction of my bed. Finding words seemed too difficult. Hope can also be hard to find, and these days it’s damn-near impossible. But it’s there. Somewhere. Thanks to all who have supported me through this very difficult time. If you value my writing and you’d like to support it, you can Become A Patron. Or you can leave a tip on PayPal or buy me a birthday drink (IT’S TOMORROW) on Venmo (chris-boeskool). Follow along on Twitter and on Facebook too. And if you live in Tennessee, for the love of all things good and decent, vote Bill Lee out of office.
It is good to see you writing again. Lost my wife of 58 years a year ago following 12 years of Parkinson’s. Had experienced a divorce back in 1962. Understand the feelings. Thank you for writing again. Don’t have $ right now which doesn’t help. Still believe the Lord heals and Christ saves. Again, thank you.Bob Kennel
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Very happy to see you back and writing. Thank you for all you do. J
Oh, how I’ve missed you!
We already knew Bill Lee was a terrible person. But Pat Sajak? Eww. I’ll never buy a vowel from him again.
It’s great to have you back, Chris.
Wow! This is terrible. And Pat Sajak? We have public schools and separation of church and state for a reason. The rise in Christian Nationalism and its influence is horrifying. I’m so glad you are writing again. I’ve missed your voice.
Chris, I wanted to leave you a gift on Venmo. What are the last 4 digits of your phone? Or, can you send me a QR code for your Venmo account? Or, is their a girl standing in front of a dragon as your avatar on Venmo? TIA.
“…I am no longer married, and I’ve been mired in the first real depression of my life. The trump years really took something out of me. Then to follow that up with the divorce, the pandemic, Covid brain fog, isolation, and deep depression, I’m not sure which direction to face… Other than the direction of my bed. Finding words seemed too difficult. Hope can also be hard to find, and these days it’s damn-near impossible. But it’s there. Somewhere….”
I’m re-posting (but with minor corrections) one of my posts to you, a reply to your November 14, 2016, post, “No, I Won’t Get Over It”.
“November 18, 2016 at 10:43 am
As humans, we’re not as rational as we prefer to believe we are. Even when we glibly lip-serve the cliche’, “we’re not much better than animals”, we don’t really want to admit we aren’t. We may spout ideals about compassion, equity, unselfishness, charitableness, tolerance, justice, or brotherhood, but, human survival instinct is wired such that, when it finally comes down to what’s perceived as an “it’s me-and-my-family or them”, we naturally chose me-and-my family.
Societies and individuals may have varying levels of what they perceive as threats, but, inevitably “me-and-mine” motivate.
For example, for all your (sincere and commendable) criticism of your own “white privilege”, have you given away your home, your car, all your belongings, and all your income to help those who are under-privileged and been content to live with your kids on the street?
Others may feel the “threat” to “me-mine” much more severely and react more “self-ly” — as in, “I work hard for what I have, so no damned welfare system is going to take it from me to give to some worthless, lazy bastards!”
But ultimately, you, just as they, are reacting with that instinct to protect “me-and-mine”. It’s our human wiring. And, our wiring is the root of the “evils”. For all our self-consciousness and our abilities to rationalize, choose, and, reason…our mammal instincts are stronger. Heck, we’re so majorically instinct-motivated that we often use our ability to reason for justifying our instinct-led behaviors.
Humanity is not qualitatively any better, no… but, neither are we any worse than we’ve ever been as a species. Even a cursory study of history, whether US or world, reveals that the same issues, same problems, same tensions, same disagreements, same conflicts, same lack of permanent solutions faced today have always been faced. The names, details, and technologies have changed, but the difficulties are essentially and qualitatively the same. Human history is a pendulum-swinging, rollercoastering of compassion, equality, giving, unity, fairness, injustice, divisiveness, prejudice, hate, oppression, discrimination; those behaviors and attitudes ebb and flow, but the same ol’ ocean remains, because, our human wiring remains the same.
Consequently, the forest fire will always be burning. At and among specific places, times, conditions, more widely and furiously, while other times and places smoldering, but, never and not able to be once-and-for-all extinguished.
Not as long as we’re humans with our wired survival instincts for “me-mine”.
Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep striving to temper instinctive behavior by rational choices. But, realize you can’t change humanity — you can only reduce the fire a little bit in a little place for a little time. Until we can safely and effectively literally rewire our species, the ocean of humanity driven by mammal instinct remains, so the same problems and conflicts remain.”
What I wrote then in November, 2016, hasn’t changed.
You might find the “hope” you’re searching for by focusing, not on the side of the humanity coin with the imprint, “we aren’t getting better”, but rather, on the side with the imprint, “we’re not getting worse.” Accepting humanity “as it can only be”, rather than despairing over humanity not being “what it ought to be”, might give you the direction you seek, as well as a more realistic approach to what your online activism can achieve.
***Your friendly neighborhood 66-year-old, married-42-years-with-six-kids-and-seven grandkids, rural, fellow-Tennessean, atheist***