Stephen Maseda | Columnist, Look in the Mirror

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

In his latest screed (Feb. 15), Mr. Gary Horton starts by asserting that he is tiring of the cultural wars, and the “manipulation . . . through exaggeration of emotional cultural issues.” He then goes on to engage in an unprincipled attack on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in which he engages in what can only be described as “exaggeration of emotional cultural issues” and even demagoguery.

He makes a number of assertions about DeSantis, which he boils down to the assertion that DeSantis is demonizing anyone who is not “conservative white folk.” He supports this contention by asserting that the “Woke” are “informed, educated, and conscious of social injustice and racial inequality.” Thus, implicitly demonizing those of us he does not consider “Woke” as being uninformed, uneducated and unaware or unconcerned about what he and other Progressives (which he describes himself as) consider to be unjust and racial inequality (by which he means inequity, not inequality). Indeed he describes the “anti-woke” as being against “any education, thought or action” that disturbs the status quo. Pretty good emotional pot stirring.

To supports all this, he falsely asserts that DeSantis has “reduced or eliminated race studies,” when in fact Florida law mandates the teaching of African American history, including “slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, racial discrimination and the overcoming of these injustices,” in order to help students “develop an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism and stereotyping on individual freedoms.” However, the law also prohibits the use of such instruction to “indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.” The Florida Department of Education has determined that a portion of the pilot advanced placement course violates that proscription, as well as the law against teaching that whites are inherently racist. DeSantis did not say no to history, he did not say no to learning, he did not say no to being aware of “the other,” which are all best described as emotional tropes designed to elicit an emotional response, rather the Florida Department of Education objected to a portion of the proposed program that engages in indoctrination. 

Mr. Horton engages in demagoguery rather than an intellectually honest discussion of the proposed AP course and Florida’s objections to a portion of it. I suspect he has done so in part because he does not know what is in the course, as the College Board has insisted the content of the course is a “trade secret” and refused to publicly release the syllabus.

He then raises the “Don’t Say Gay” trope, referring to a law enacted in Florida, the actual name of which is the “Parental Rights in Education Act.” It prohibits the instruction in kindergarten through third grade of “Sexual Orientation” or “Gender Identity.” Perhaps Mr. Horton should comply with his own asserted beliefs and discuss whether he believes it is appropriate to instruct K-3 students in sexuality or current gender theory (that there are numerous genders and even people who are non-binary or gender fluid). But that would require a discussion, not cliche-laden left-wing sloganeering, which was used to stir the emotions of the “Woke,” and dismiss the parents’ concerns about what their children are being taught. 

Perhaps Mr. Horton believes it is appropriate to instruct K-3 grades in these subjects. If he does, he should say so, and provide support for that belief. Perhaps he believes parents have no role in their children’s education, or that schools can decide a child is suffering from gender dysphoria and provide them clothes to wear while at school, a name to use while at school, without parents’ knowledge or consent. If he does, he should say so, and support his beliefs, rather than mindlessly adopt an inflammatory slogan.

He then raises the Disney dispute. We should note that Disney has replaced its CEO as a result, in part, of the prior CEO’s conduct in that affair. I rather doubt it did so at the behest of DeSantis. It simply recognized it had crossed a line it should not have crossed. But Disney has not yet taken the lesson to heart, as its recent “cartoon” grossly mischaracterizerizing Abraham Lincoln demonstrates it is still engaged in pandering to left-wing politics, and it cannot be bothered with truth.

In this cartoon, which is directed at young children, Disney asserts that Lincoln was not opposed to slavery, completely ignoring his actual statements on the subject, the fact that the Republican Party was formed to oppose slavery, and that it nominated Lincoln as its first presidential candidate based on his position opposing slavery. It ignores the fact that Confederate States seceded as a result of Lincoln’s election, before he was even sworn in as president, because of his opposition to slavery; and ignores that Lincoln fully supported the adoption of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. Rather, it bases its assertion on the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Lincoln in 1863 applied only to the states in rebellion. However, it fails to point out that Lincoln did not have the authority to abolish slavery, and he based his issuance of the proclamation on his wartime powers as commander in chief. It ignores the fact that slavery had been abolished in the northern states by the early 1800s and it ignores the fact that slavery was expressly prohibited in the states created in the Northwest Territories — Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, and that California, Kansas, Iowa and Maine were also free states. At the end of the cartoon it becomes clear that it is a pitch for reparations. It is, to put it mildly, indoctrination. It is certainly not history. 

Stephen Maseda

Santa Clarita

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