Indivisible--To Kill a Mockingbird???
The Republican crazy wing now targets a piece of classical American literature.
Some right wing Republicans just took their attack on racial equity, diversity training, and social justice to a new level of crazy. I read the Pulitzer Prize winning 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee in English class in high school in a lily-white suburb of Milwaukee. It left a profound impression, part of which was borne out for me in subsequent visits to the South. Little did I imagine that a Republican legislator, Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard), would from the floor of the Idaho legislature assail “Mockingbird” as anti-white propaganda. The legislature debated (and passed) HB 377, meant to outlaw the latest Republican hobgoblin, “critical race theory.” HB 377 is part of a wave of similar legislative nonsense sweeping Republican majority legislatures and riling the Republican base. (For more on the origin of this latest salvo in the culture wars see my April 26, 28, and 30th posts.)
The same sort of rhetoric on race is floating among some Spokane County Republican electeds—it is just not as clearly stated. (See next Wednesday’s post.)
Rep. Heather Scott’s presentation on the floor of the legislature, seen and well-discussed in this clip from KTVB Boise, is merely the nuttiest assertion focused on “critical race theory.” Nevermind that the term was first coined in 1989. Still, according to Heather, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, published in 1960, is an example of critical race theory “creeping through our schools”. Will Rep. Scott and her like next be advocating for book burning?
It was Shawn Vestal who first drew my attention to Rep. Scott’s recent legislative antics in an article published in the Spokesman on Wednesday, April 28th, entitled “Critique of ‘Mockingbird’ lifts the hood of Idaho Legislature’s educational intentions.” The writing of Shawn Vestal by itself justifies a subscription to the Spokesman. In case you missed it, I have pasted the article below. He nails it.
Keep to the high ground,
I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” as a high school student in a small, conservative farm town in southern Idaho, way back in the early 1980s.
Little did I know I was being manipulated by leftist propaganda. Little did I suspect the pernicious intent of my English teacher, the school district and school board of that small, conservative farm town was to indoctrinate me with anti-white bias.
This is something I discovered recently while trying to keep up with events in the moronic tornado of the Idaho Legislature. From undercutting pandemic safeguards to giving guns more protection than children to an absurd and sustained panic about “anti-white” teaching on racism from pre-K to Boise State, Gem State lawmakers have been setting new lows for representational malfeasance, taking votes again and again that are bad for the state and especially its children.
Still, no one could have foreseen the bizarre critique of “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Rep. Heather Scott, the Confederate-flag-flying conspiracy nut from Blanchard. She raised it last Thursday in a floor debate that concluded with a vote to block salaries and benefits for thousands of Idaho teachers until more state-sanctioned, pro-white propaganda can be mandated for curricula.
Scott said she’d been contacted by a substitute teacher in the Boise area, concerned about messages in the 1960 novel by Harper Lee. This book, Scott said, was an example of how so-called “critical race theory” has been “creeping through our schools forever.”
The substitute told her, Scott claimed, that the novel teaches that “white people are bad, Black people are innocent victims, and the students were encouraged to believe that there was an endless era of Black victimization.”
That is one very odd description of a book that has been critiqued as a “white savior” narrative, and which offers the strong, true, white hero of Atticus Finch.
Perhaps Scott and the substitute teacher haven’t read the book. Or any other.
Scott also relayed concerns that Idaho schoolchildren were learning about too many “non-white race” writers.
“And the English class, (the substitute teacher) said it is more riddled with authors, like our founding historical fiction books and the books that kind of talk about the founding of this country, she said it’s been riddled with writings from third-world experiences by authors that are completely unheard of, but they are non-white race,” Scott said. “So any non-white author is basically being given priority over the historical readings.”
Just imagine the sea of white hoods, nodding with fervent agreement in the firelight.
I was taught “To Kill A Mockingbird” by a very good teacher who did not seem to be an anti-white Marxist. She taught us other great works with race as a theme, such as Faulkner’s “Intruder in the Dust” and Shakespeare’s “Othello.” I remember she told us that her own high school teacher had discussed the latter play entirely without mentioning that Othello the Moor – referred to frequently with such terms as “black ram” – was dark-skinned.
We all thought that was so funny and dumb. It might represent the future of teaching Othello if the Idaho Legislature gets it way.
As a teenager I responded to “To Kill A Mockingbird” in relatively straightforward terms as a tragic story with clear-cut moralities about racism in America. As I grew older, I began to see my experience of the novel – and the movie – in a more complicated light: as a story that let young, white Americans like me understand racism as a vestige of another time and place, a historic injustice now put to rest. My only remaining responsibility was to understand how bad it had been, and to feel righteous about my recognition of that.
I don’t know if this is the fault of the novel so much as the way in which it has been embraced as one of our main national stories about racism – a tragedy about racism that is ultimately very comforting to white people.
It’s obvious that most members of the Idaho Legislature are just deeply unfamiliar with any classroom anywhere. It’s clear, when they become panicked about anti-white indoctrination in preschool, that they have departed the real world altogether.
Left-wing indoctrination in Idaho schools is a mirage. It’s a MacGuffin meant to drive a narrative of white, racist overreaction attempting to produce actual indoctrination and destroy academic freedom.
It’s a whitewash. Bob Ewell would be proud.