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.