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writing for godot

Democratic Education: Antidote To Malignant Suppression

Written by George Monroe   
Friday, 16 July 2021 09:03

During a social gathering in the home of a new friend I had met at college, I chanced to overhear his parents explaining to a small in-group why they had decided to join the John Birch Society. With a wry smile on her face his mother said firmly, “There are two kinds of people in this world, those that have and those that don’t. We intend to be among those that have, whatever it takes.” Years later I learned that they routinely met and worked secretly with other “Birchers” to discuss assignments for influencing political affairs in their community. What I witnessed during that cordial visit with my friend’s family was a rare view of one of the many organized efforts to infiltrate public affairs and push the election of candidates who would work to bring back full power and control by approved elites. It appeared to be a rational move that they believed was simply necessary for protection of their position and property.

Such groups have been at work consistently for many years in local communities all around the country, with the “others” barely aware of being edged into lower economic and social status. Like the invasive and parasitic Kudzu vine that is sometimes referred to as “the vine that ate the south,” the efforts of these single-minded white supremacists are likewise strangling the life out of the host democracy that supports them.

The political game for a minority of self-selected elites always has been to gain and keep control of potentially dissenting majorities by suppression. For hundreds of years the methods used were extremely violent and inhumane as white supremacist Europeans colonized indigenous peoples around the world. A new and anguishing to watch docuseries provides graphic evidence of the terrible things that wealth and power-seeking white supremacists did to indigenous people while exploiting their resources, including physical abuse of their bodies for forced labor. This four-part series entitled, Exterminate All the Brutes, is available on HBO and streaming plans of HULU.

It is indeed a miracle that graphic exposure of the truths that led to bloody revolutions around the world has now been released into the public consciousness. It may wind up serving as the takeoff point for a bold new strategy of education in our country that helps people at all ages to learn what democracy is and how it works.

During the terrible Trump era, numerous video-taped interviews with confused and angry people from both political parties indicated an appalling ignorance of the facts about their democracy and how it benefits them. The deceitful entertainment program that calls itself Fox News has consistently broadcast information twisted in ways that preyed on such ignorance and made it almost impossible to find out the truth.

It is not hard to understand why our public schools have been subject to curriculum purges that removed evidence of racism and suppression by white supremacists.  The brutal treatment and   killing of Native Americans while taking their land, the Tulsa Massacre and destruction of the black economic powerhouse called Black Wallstreet, the great 1929 depression engineered by the Robber Barons and Wall Street banks in New York, slavery of blacks to provide unpaid labor for profits in the South, virtual slavery of young women in the textile mills of the North, and the deadly Chicago stock yard riots of 1910, are some examples of how our lives have been affected by white supremacists seeking power and profit without accountability.  Today, such overt acts are no longer allowed. However, there are some people who still seek power and profits on the backs of others albeit their methods are more clandestine.

The white supremacist minority has always understood that if the “others” knew about their takeover aims and clearly understood the impact of letting those aims develop as planned, they would do everything they could to resist and change the game. That is why suppression has been, and still is, the chosen strategy to keep possible resisters under control.

The primary aim of all suppression is to keep low status people so busy and preoccupied with their own meager circumstances that they won’t be coming after the goods and privileges of white supremacist elites. Methods used range from deceptive trickery to physical harm but the goal is always complete control.  Some of the methods and their effects are easy to observe. Some of them ensure compliance just as surely but are embedded in everyday life routines and therefore less noticeable.  Here are some that are hidden in plain view:

Predatory venture capital purchases

Wages kept near poverty level

Privatizing public schools

Creation of food deserts

High medical expenses

Electronic election rigging

Reducing places to vote

Proprietary voting machines

Excessive voter ID requirements


Exclusive legislation

Selling government owned properties

Feeding fake news to public media

Restricting mobility

Defunding national parks

Civic education removed from public schools

Purging registered voters from eligibility lists

Limiting discretionary time

Blocking Unionization

Stopping suppression is extremely important and it must be done now. Actually doing so will be somewhat like knocking down the rigged targets at a carnival rifle range. It will take several shots under close watch to keep the skillful operator’s fast-moving hands above the table and let the innate skills of the players prevail.  After this initial phase of rescuing our democracy is done, there is an even more difficult task that must be undertaken: raising the level of civics education offered in our revitalized public schools.

The survival and improvement of our democratic government depends on participation by citizens who are well-versed in what democracy is and how it works. This needs to be learned by personal experiences at all levels of study.  It must involve learning critical thinking skills like those presented to the 1987 International Conference for Excellence in Critical Thinking and included in a listing of definitions offered by The Foundation For Critical Thinking: “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”

In addition to reading and listening and watching, which are good for basic exposure, such skills are best achieved by guided practice. This kind of active learning was being developed and included in many of our public schools and colleges after WWII. However, as wealthy white supremacists gained political power in America they began to quietly remove from textbooks any information that didn’t fit with their ideas of fascistic winner-take-all government.

That negative situation is where we are today, with our tired public education institutions on their last legs before complete elimination of the kind of learning that is the keystone of our system of democratic governing.  It is folly to expect that suppressed people without access to relevant information and critical thinking skills will somehow be able to fend off perennial attacks by white supremacists who want to control and manage them.

Two organizations have now realized that it is essential absolutely to revitalize our educational systems and develop an informed public with critical thinking skills and clear knowledge of what democracy is and how it works. The Southern Poverty Law Center is adding to its mission “a forward-looking program (Democracy In Action) that aims to teach people what a marvelous gift a democracy is and how to be an effective citizen member of one.” The Classroom Law Project in the State of Oregon is rededicating and expanding their efforts to promote the idea that “the best way to preserve democracy is to teach democracy.” The newly invigorated project members have actively helped to get legislation passed that restores civics education as a requirement for high school graduation.

Find out how you can assist these organizations, and/or others that are sure to follow. Help them to make sure that democratic education is free and widely available in our public schools. This is the true antidote to malignant suppression and the terrible inequities it brings. your social media marketing partner
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