Idiocracy’s Advent

Stunning.

When asked during her confirmation hearing of January 17th as to whether she still believes in conversion therapy, Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Education Secretary, side-stepped the allegation inherent in the question by claiming all students “no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe”.

Age? Age? The question is about sexual orientation and gender identity, Betsy – and your and your family’s documented support of efforts to forcibly subvert them via methods that are considered unethical and harmful by professional medical associations.

Her support of organisations such as the Family Research Council (designated an anti-LGBT hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and the Foundation for Traditional Values, a right-wing evangelical Christian organisation that, inter alia, essentially lobbies to undermine the constitution in matters of secular public education, has prompted Trump’s spokespeople to clarify that DeVos “believes in the legal doctrine of separation of church and state”.

Clearly not even seeing fit to educate herself prior to her confirmation hearing on the basic issues that would concern her as Education Secretary, as opposed to Ben Carson, nominated as Secretary for Housing and Urban Development and who merely came across as inept, skittish, and slightly unhinged, DeVos’s record speaks to her actively undermining the office she is set to assume.

In contrast to Trump’s spokespeople’s efforts to reassure, the online magazine Politico informs us that “DeVos also described her efforts using the biblical term ‘Shephelah,’ an area where battles – including between David and Goliath – were fought in the Old Testament. ‘Our desire is to be in that Shephelah, and to confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help advance God’s Kingdom, but not to stay in our own faith territory,’ she said.” (I omit as incoherent and frankly bizarre a DeVos educational philosophy analogy involving Jews, pigs and pig bones, but it’s in the link, a few lines up.)

These comments are not recent. They were made during a 2001 recording at “The Gathering”, a meeting that Politico perhaps euphemistically refers to as “an annual conference of some of the country’s wealthiest Christians”, but who are effectively a cabal of quasi-fundamentalist Christian plutocrats. In the slightly more tabloidesque view of the Daily Beast,

The Gathering is a conference of hard-right Christian organizations and, perhaps more important [sic], funders. Most of them are not household names, at least if your household isn’t evangelical. But that’s the point: The Gathering is a hub of Christian Right organizing, and the people in attendance have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine “religious liberty” . . . fight same-sex marriage, fight evolution, and, well, you know the rest. They’re probably behind that, too.

Be that as it may, the passage of time has done little, apparently, to mitigate her regressive educational views. This is not a woman who has children’s education at heart. As she stated during her confirmation hearing, she shares “President-elect Trump’s view that it’s time to shift the debate from what the system thinks is best for kids to what moms and dads want, expect and deserve”. In other words, to hell with the expert (and secular) consensus; no, much better to empower parents and guardians to indoctrinate and to mould children into the facsimiles of their biases, irrespective of where, on the scale of acceptability, normality or (dys-)functionality, those biases might lie.

All the better to raise a generation of tractable, unthinking serfs. After all, as any self-respecting demagogue knows, the very last thing you want is an enlightened citizenry. Keep them believing in fairies and myths, feed them bread and put on shows for them.

America: 0, Idiocracy: 1

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