The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an editorial that, quite rightly, condemned a Missouri Republican gubernatorial candidate, Catherine Hanaway, for stupid and insensitive, and as the Post-Dispatch argues, disingenuous remarks she recently uttered at a reactionary event called the Educational Policy Conference 26 in St. Louis. Here is part of the editorial’s complaint against her:
Ms. Hanaway, the first female speaker of the Missouri House and a former U.S. attorney, said that the so-called liberal “culture of sexual permissiveness” leads directly to the belief that “everything is OK” including, she said, child pornography. To borrow some of her words, if you “pursue the course” of her logic in the rest of her speech, Ms. Hanaway demeaned working women, single mothers, people on welfare, and gays and lesbians.
I don’t really want to focus specifically on the dumb remarks made by Hanaway at this “education” event. People who go to conferences like this one say dumb things all the time, since these conferences are mainly attended by people who talk longingly about a very conservative God and who have the obnoxious habit of calling each other “patriots.” And this particular conference apparently meant to demonstrate that God is white, since all the speakers were white and since one of the speakers was the great-great grandson of the American traitor, Jefferson Davis. His topic for the occasion: “The Constitution vs. Anarchy – How Jefferson Davis Reconciled States’ Rights, Slavery and the Constitution.” God bless his pale soul.
The point I want to make about these Christian zealots is that, despite what the Post-Dispatch later alleges about the insincerity of Ms. Hanaway, most of these folks do sincerely believe that “government schools” are turning our children into God-hating, hell-bent sinners. And the only way for the zealots to fix things is to get the federal government out of education, take over state and local institutions that control what public schools teach, and get their version of God back in the American classroom. They believe they can accomplish all this primarily via grassroots organization, by infiltrating the Republican Party and by doing things like getting their people elected to school boards, both local and state.
One speaker at the St. Louis conference was a man named Don McLeroy, who, according to the EPC Conference website, was “a member of the State Board of Education in Texas for 12 years.” As a member of that extraordinarily influential school board (text book publishers pay a lot of attention to Texas), McLeroy led “the efforts to rewrite the English, language arts, and reading standards and led the SBOE to adopt science standards” and “helped lead the board in adopting new history standards that require that students be taught the founding documents, American Exceptionalism, and the national mottos of ‘In God We Trust’ and ‘E Pluribus Unum.'” Yikes.
But his Christian jihadist credentials don’t stop there:
His work on the board also includes passing a resolution requiring accurate coverage of Islam in future textbooks.
Allah only knows what “accurate coverage of Islam” might mean. But what is clear is that these folks see themselves involved in a Holy War, a war that pits conservative, Bible-believing Christians against everyone else. These zealous souls believe an important battleground in that war is the minds of children, and they are convinced that liberals, through government initiatives like Common Core, are brainwashing those minds. And they want to replace what they see as liberal brainwashing with what is most obviously conservative brainwashing. The whole reactionary effort to reestablish control of the education system in America is an effort to control the minds of kids. And the people behind that effort are very powerful in the Republican Party, which brings us back to Catherine Hanaway and her quest to become governor of Missouri.
The Post-Dispatch editorial clearly argues that Hanaway is not a genuine right-wing zealot. She has a “lucrative law career” at “a firm with high national ratings for diversity.” She is merely “pretending” to be a Todd Akin-like nut in order “to try to pander to the sliver of Republican voters who she thinks can help her win a primary.” The editorial ends with this blast:
The Catherine Hanaway we have known throughout her political and professional career is better than that. That she thinks she has to demean herself in order to win a primary says a lot about what she thinks of Republican voters.
It says even more about her own values.
Frankly, Ms. Hanaway, you’re worse than Todd Akin.
At least he was sincere.
It may be true that Ms. Hanaway isn’t sincere. But none of us should dismiss the fact that there exists in the Republican Party more than a “sliver” of people who are sincere about a Christian jihad, who are organized and active and who can, if only for a season, turn otherwise sophisticated people like Catherine Hanaway into know-nothing yahoos like Todd Akin.