Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

SQUIRREL!

In the movie up, the canine character, named “Doug,” is easily distracted by furry rodents, and lets us know in the movie, stopping his conversation mid-sentence, yelling “SQUIRREL!” focusing his sole attention on the squirrel, forgetting what he was in the middle of.

In 2009, I made a conscious decision, to enter local politics as a school board candidate. I had no experience as a politician, and the only personal connection that I had with government at that point, was that as a house page for the capital of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania when I was in 7th grade for Representative Joe Zeller. My platform for school board was clear and not political. My campaign would be about “anti bullying.” Sure, there would be other responsibilities associated with the position if I would get elected, but this was what was most important to me, at least in the beginning.

I would get scolded by both members of political parties as I was an independent, stating proudly, “because I hate politics and politicians.” But if I was going to give up a major part of my personal life time, I was going to make sure that I got done what was important, and not get tied up in the politics.

Even the campaign signs would reflect this was not about politics for me. I was willing to represent everyone. After all, bullying in schools had nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. After testing the waters for approximately a year, an official campaign was kicked off. And in true political fashion, it was not soon after, the political attacks came out all of us. Again, keep in mind, I had no political history, but that did not stop innuendo and rumors from getting tossed around. In fact, one of the incumbent’s mailers, actually depicted a picture of a gun, accusing myself and my campaign mates of committing “robbery” in the form of taxes. Offensive as it was, they were proud of their effort, shocking bragging about it in televised interviews.

I expected ugliness, just one of the reasons I hate politics and politicians. But it was the morning of election day that threw me for a loop. Unbeknownst to myself or my campaign, two days prior, an individual had circulated a flyer, by himself, in the parking lot of his church, a large Catholic church, listing all of us on our school board slate, making claims that we all supported abortion.

The issue of abortion had absolutely nothing to do with the school board director position really, because a policy already existed with the school district, pretty straight forward, and I supported it. But as none of us felt abortion had anything to do with the office we were campaigning for, we never discussed it. The fact is, I do not talk about my position publicly, and for the most part, privately.

But that morning, as I began my tour visiting elections polls, the very first voter I ran into, without even saying “good morning” to me, just blurted out, “what’s your position on abortion?” And as I tried to explain that abortion had nothing to do with our campaign, that we had a platform in great detail, it soon became clear, that instead of actually dealing with issues of the district, this last minute distraction, a “squirrel” was going to end up being a serious concern as that would become where the focus would end up.

A couple of years later, we were more prepared for the “abortion” position during the election, as nothing had changed on our part or our platform. But we were better prepared to deal with this distraction.

This kind of thing happens in all realms of politics, whether local, state, or federal. It is why I hate politics. Because this crap is what keeps things from getting done. This year has a new “squirrel,” “critical race theory,” or “CRT” for short. This one is a major “boogie man,” but is actually not new. Many years ago, something similar came up, but it did not have the controversial name. But the motive was clear. One political party, the Republican party, felt it no longer wanted black history taught in schools. Why? Because they felt it reflected poorly to teach our children just how ugly our past was, and that was starting our kids off with a bad attitude.

And honestly, it is not that black history was actually being taught in our schools in great detail to begin with. Sure, there were small mentions about slavery and Lincoln freed the slaves, and Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. That was pretty much all I remember, and that was back in the 1980’s. It was not until over forty years later, that like many, I would learn about the Tulsa massacre, Juneteenth, and other dark historical events of the US in regard to black history. And that is all this is about, teaching history. But just as “affirmative action” was actually meant to help produce some racial equality, for many, it actually had the opposite effect. And those that were against it, are also likely against CRT today. And why?

We should all be upset with the senseless murders of unarmed black individuals, so many to mention. Instead, many, especially CRT supporters are quick to make excuses for the murders, putting the blames on the deceased. And because support for the victims has reached global levels. And this has made certain members of society feel uncomfortable. So the heat gets turned up to slow down and/or eliminate this support. And this is where CRT has become this year’s boogie man if running for public office. The problem is, the average voter has no idea what CRT actually is, and politicians do not either, or just simply do not care. They have found their platform to get votes.

My former running mates found out this year, this is their “abortion” issue to deal with this campaign. CRT. And what is actually being done with it? The CRT controversy has made its way all the way down from the federal level to the local level. Those hearing the cries have no idea what CRT even means, but give it their full attention because leaders tell them it is the worst fears coming true. The politicians taking advantage of this fear, are planning on riding everyone’s ignorance to either a new term or re-election.

But what if CRT was actually nothing about nothing? No, there is such as thing as critical race theory. But its literal purpose is directed toward the law, and therefore mainly taught in colleges if available at all. But certain politicians want us to believe it is happening in our schools, from grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. Politicians and spokespeople on certain networks pushing this fear want us to believe that:

  • a religion of secularism and guilt (a device meant to make whites feel quilty)
  • denial of critical thinking
  • working to change or overthrow infrastructure
  • overturn the advances of human civilization
  • teaching to hate the United States and to hate each other
  • anti-Christ indoctrinations
  • destroying society using gender, climate change and immigration
  • and even the Freudian Oedipal complex has been referenced with mixed race marriages

I have two daughters still in school, and I assure you, that none of this garbage is even being mentioned in school. I have asked them, what they do get taught as far as race goes, and I have been told “some history,” such as slavery, the Civil Rights movement, but really only as “matter of fact” or honorable mention. Nothing in great detail. There is no issue with teaching world history and the atrocities that other nations have in their past from the Holocaust to the war in Yemen just to name two.

But here, in the good ole ‘Murica, we have our own dark past with Native and black Americans just to name two races to this day, still facing hurdles, harassment, and violence. What is the big fear of teaching things such as:

  • the slave trade
  • slave holding
  • the Emancipation Proclamation
  • the Great Immigration
  • Juneteenth
  • 1919 Elaine Massacre
  • redlining
  • poll taxes
  • Jim Crow
  • segregation
  • the Little Rock Nine
  • Brown vs. Board of Education
  • the Kerner Commission
  • reconstruction
  • lynching
  • Opelousas, Louisiana
  • Colfax Massacre
  • Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921
  • Emmett Till
  • The Creole Rebellion
  • April 1712 Revolt
  • Rosa Parks
  • Greensboro Four
  • The Civil Rights Movement

And that is not even all when it comes to black history in the United States. Everyone is to be assumed they know who Martin Luther King, Jr. is, so no need to teach about him either right? But what about other races? The Trail of Tears (Native American History), violence against Italians and Irish, and of course, Asian Americans, who most recently have been targeted because of the false correlation with Covid19 just because politically the false premise was pushed by some.

We are a great country, one of the best. But we also have an ugly past, which clearly certain aspects continue today. And it has nothing to do with CRT that politicians are pushing to scare everyone, because blocking the education of our nation’s past is not enough, we simply still have people who believe in the ways of the past. And every time there is a discovery of a mass grave site, a murder of an unarmed black person, swastikas painted on a synogogue, or an Asian American is assaulted because the perp cannot differentiate between science and racism, every time, it is going to be because we did not learn from our history that these acts are wrong. Those of us who have learned, have no problem denouncing the violence against any human being, regardless of color or race. We have no problem calling it out by name, because we learned that it was wrong. Those in our personal lives also knew that it was wrong, but unfortunately, there are still those in households who still believe the year is 1950. And it is their thoughts that have been passed down to the generations pushing the boogie man of CRT.

Teachers are not teaching the horrific things that were mentioned above from the particular network. And they barely get to teach history at all and that was before all the attacks on them from politicians, and now angry parents who most do not even know why they are pissed off about it.

But the argument against CRT, is a quick and easy talking point for politicians to use for their campaigns. In the end, nothing will have changed, but people will have been foolishly scared to vote a particular way. And that is unfortunate.

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