#1470 Distorting History and Banning Books is a Power Play of Exclusion (Transcript)

Air Date 2/12/2022

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[00:00:00] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast in which we shall take a look at the recent uptick in banning and removing educational subjects and books from school curricula, as well as specifically who is being harmed and who is being privileged by these decisions.

Clips today are from The David Pakman Show, The Thom Hartmann Program, At Liberty, Black History Year and Now & Then, with additional members-only clips from Now & Then, At Liberty and Black History Year.

Right Wingers Banning Books While Complaining About Cancel Culture - David Pakman Show - Air Date 2-2-22

[00:00:33] DAVID PAKMAN - HOST, DAVID PAKMAN SHOW: We have seen over the last -- four years? decade? 15 years? almost pick your timeframe -- much of the American right wing riddled with projection -- projection, where they claim the left is doing that which they are actually doing.

So one example is the right loves to say we are for free speech and the left is against free speech. And in reality, it's often the truth that the right is for free speech only in their very narrow view for as long as it's convenient to them, and then they are very quickly against it. They don't care about free speech once it's no longer convenient to them.

Social media regulation is a great example of this. As soon as the lion's share of COVID disinformation is coming from the right, they're no longer okay letting Twitter or YouTube or Facebook decide what's okay on their platform. They want to mandate that these platforms allow COVID disinformation. Now on the other side of that, they claim to be against business regulation. That's a principle. "We are against regulating businesses" -- until Twitter is banning the people they want to ban from Twitter, and all of a sudden they say "we need to regulate Twitter to force them to allow certain speech."

You guys understand this concept. The principle is abandoned as soon as it's inconvenient.

So along these lines, there's this topic of books and banning books. And they claim the left wants to ban books that are inconvenient to them. That being said, I've heard nothing about wanting to ban Bobby Kennedy Junior's anti-vaccine, anti Dr. Fauci book or whatever other book. What we want, and speaking for myself, I want to educate people so they never fall for buying these dumb books in the first place. But this is not about me.

 Because now there's a rash of right-wingers wanting to ban, and in some cases succeeding at banning, all sorts of books from all over the place, often under the guise of protecting kids. That's the explanation that they will often give.

A few examples of this: a Tennessee school board has voted unanimously to ban the Pulitzer prize-winning book Maus. This is about the Holocaust in cartoon form. Some of you emailed me about this. They want to ban it from their eighth grade curriculum. They say it has objectionable language and nudity -- cartoon nudity, of course. And there's similar campaigns underway and all sorts of other districts in more than 30 states at this point. Stateline has been investigating this, and they will often say these books are pornographic, merely because they depict an LGBTQ experience, sometimes a black character with an LGBTQ experience. Huffington Post -- HuffPost now it's called -- reports that in Texas, the Republican governor, Greg Abbott, is taking advantage of this effort to pull, quote, "pornographic or obscene books from school libraries" after Republican representative Matt Kraus circulated a list of 800 books that he believes crosses the line. And the vast majority of these books were written by women or people of color or LGBTQ writers, according to the Dallas Morning News.

So consider how many of their own supposed principles they're violating here. They are for free speech, but they've got a long list of books that they want to ban. They are for doing what's best for people, yet they're not letting education experts -- the teachers -- decide is this book a good teaching tool for my students or not? They are deciding from above, the elected officials, that is.

And the reasons that they give for banning most of these books should actually apply to the Bible. But of course the Bible is always okay. Murder in the Bible, incest, genocide, sexual content, it's all in the Bible, but the Bible is beyond reproach. That's a sacred cow. So putting all of this aside, a great way to get kids interested in a lot of these books is to ban them. I mean, I'm against the book banning on principle, of course. But I also recognize that banning these books might get kids interested in the books as well. The urge to do something you're not supposed to do can sort of end up being like an adrenaline rush. But that being said, many of these books can easily be read online. But it is again an example of -- it's really one of the major stories of conservativism. It's not even conservatism; of reactionary right thinking of the last era, of this era, which is: "Nothing is more important than our principles. Of course. Our principles are sacred" -- until the outcome of those principles is inconvenient. When it comes to speech, when it comes to censorship, when it comes to regulation, when it comes to elections, at the end of the day. And this is just the latest example.

Is Big Money Behind Book Banning Frenzy_ - Thom Hartmann Program - Air Date 2-8-22

[00:05:38] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: The first three months of this year, there've been 330 attempts. 36 states have proposed bills to restrict instruction on racism or sexism. 14 states have successfully enacted such laws. Who is behind these? In the media, it seems like it's an organic thing. Hey, some parents somewhere got upset and went to the school board and suddenly a whole bunch of other parents joined in.

No, it's not that at all. This is being driven from the top down, just like the tea party protests against Obamacare back in the day, where somebody was renting buses, somebody was organizing Facebook groups, somebody -- and the somebody had turned out was big money groups associated with right-wing billionaires. We learned later the whole tea party thing was AstroTurf. Apparently so is this. The Guardian last week was reporting that a bunch of these so-called parental rights groups have connections to right wing billionaires and donor networks. Moms for Liberty, the 70,000 member non-profit with 165 chapters around the country -- this is from a piece over at Salon.com-- is operated by Tina Descovich and Tiffany Justice, two former school board members. But according to its articles of incorporation, Moms for Liberty was originally co-founded and co-directed by Bridget Ziegler, the wife of Christian Ziegler, the vice chair of the Republican party of Florida.

The group's director of development used to work for a Republican state representative, Randy Fine, who himself was a central figure in the Republicans crusade against so-called critical race theory. Another group, Parents Defending Education, a third group, No Left Turn Education. They all operate in the same ecosystem. They're pulling down money from these right wing billionaires. Parents Defending Education, for example, is led by Nicole Kelly, whose resume is littered with connections to the Koch brothers, writes Salon.com. She was the president and -- well, it just goes through the whole list. You'd take my word for it. And so you can read the whole thing. The article is titled, "What's behind the right-wing book-ban frenzy? Big money, and a long-term plan" over at Salon.com. No Left Turns' funding is likewise a mystery. They've got 30 chapters in 23 states. These are not grassroots organizations. These are groups that are seeking to become grassroots organizations, reaching down into them.

But, Maurice Cunningham was a political science professor at UMass Boston and the author of a book called Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization says what the real goal here is to destroy the public schools. He said, "these groups are communications operations, and highly networked into the Daily Caller, Breitbart and Fox News. They have gotten educators fired and attacked online. They want to create chaos to destroy trust in public education and draw away funding." This is all about privatizing our public schools. This is a major effort to destroy our public schools, and it's being connected to Republican candidates all across the United States.

And, in other words, this is the latest moral panic that they're using. But the benefit, the secondary benefit of it is they get to kill off public education. So we go back to all white Christian academies, like, you know, we had after Brown vs Board of Education. An entire county shut down their public schools because they didn't want to integrate them. We're right back there.

Meanwhile, up in Canada, you've got this massive truck convoy. And, this is nuts. I mean, this is from The Tyee, written by David Climenhaga, he's an award-winning journalist author, post-secondary teacher and trade union communicator. And he writes, "Where are Alberta premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party now that evidence is accumulating the disruptive and threatening 'Freedom Convoy' occupation of Ottawa is being funded and supported by far-right activists in the United States? And this article goes on to say, basically, this is like these color revolutions. Like, we sort of helped sponsor a revolution in Ukraine years ago. Remember the Orange Revolution that threw out the Russian-aligned prime minister and replaced them with a Western-aligned prime minister? This is like the same thing. And, he writes, this -- GoFundMe, by the way, stopped the funding for this -- they had raised over $10 million.

This is "a campaign to dissolve Parliament less than five months after a free and fair election in which a clear majority of voters supported parties in favor of vaccine mandates. At least a third of the donors were not identified by GoFundMe... and the use of fake names and stolen identities was rampant."

According to this observer, political parties -- and this is amazing -- "allowing political parties to use the names of real people without their consent... and to have their fees paid by unidentified third parties, is a fraudulent practice that was recently legalized in Alberta" by this right-wing party that has taken over that province's government, the UCP. The Washington Post notes, quote, "a significant element from the United States has been involved in the participation, funding and organization of the self-described 'Freedom Convoy' that has jammed the streets of Canada's capital for several days."

Donald Trump has come out in support of these guys, Don Jr., Elon Musk. Tucker Carlson says there's no more fearful despot than Canada's prime minister. And what are these truckers waving around as their banners? The Confederate battle flag, Trump 2024 flags and the Gadsden flag. And then they ask, "Could this be, therefore, that Canada's anti-vaccine convoys are really what Garossino calls 'a dry run for an American uprising?'" Are truckers preparing to do this -- a small minority of right-wing truckers -- are they preparing to do the same thing in the United States?

The Movement to Erase Black History and Culture Part 1 - At Liberty - Air Date 2-3-22

[00:11:17] EMERSON SYKES: We brought this suit in Oklahoma, along with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under the law, the ACLU of Oklahoma, and pro bono counsel at Schulte, Roth and Zabel. So we decided that we wanted to file suit in Oklahoma first, in part because the Oklahoma law covers higher education as well as K-12 education, and courts have been more readily recognizing of First Amendment protections within college campuses as a special environment, where it’s especially abhorrent for the government to try to limit what people teach, learn, say, think. Also, because the Oklahoma law uses many of the "divisive concepts" that pop up in a lot of these laws. So we think that if we can get a court to strike down some of these in the Oklahoma law, it will help us fight laws with exactly the same language in other places. And I think third is the clients that we were able to bring together, the plaintiffs in our case in Oklahoma, are able to tell an incredibly compelling story about Oklahoma and the importance of inclusive education.

So we have the NAACP of Oklahoma, we have the American Indian Movement of Indian Territory, we have the professors from Oklahoma University, we have the Black Emergency Response Team, a Black student activist group on the campus of Oklahoma University, as well as representing individual teachers, public school teachers, and individual public school students. And so I think through our plaintiffs' experiences over the last four months now, where this law has been in place, is it has wrought confusion, it has had a chilling effect on what teachers are feeling brave enough to present, because the law creates a situation whereby if a teacher violates or presents one of these "divisive concepts", even in the context of saying, “this is what some people thought, even though it was wrong.” You can’t even mention these things, according to this law, and if you do, you risk your teaching license.

That threat has hung over the heads of these teachers and impacted the education of these students for the last four months, and so we’ve asked a federal judge not only to rule that the law is unconstitutional, but to block its enforcement during the course of the litigation. So our preliminary injunction motion is currently pending.

[00:13:56] SOMIL TRIVEDI - HOST, AT LIBERTY: I’m glad you mentioned that among your coalition of very impressive plaintiffs are both students, teachers, administrators. These are all of the relevant stakeholders in a school saying we don’t want this, and yet politicians from above are imposing these kind of restrictions. It’s always dicey, two lawyers talking to each other about the law, but can you explain at a high level why are these bands in Oklahoma and elsewhere a violation of the First Amendment?

[00:14:22] EMERSON SYKES: It’s a great question. So we actually have four different claims in Oklahoma. The first claim, it’s not even really a First Amendment claim, it’s a due process claim. So the first argument is that these laws are unconstitutionally vague. So we say that on plain reading, a reasonable person who is subject to the law cannot understand what is prohibited and what is permitted, and the ambiguity of the text leaves the door open to discriminatory and arbitrary enforcement by regulators. That’s the vagueness claim.

Then we have two different First Amendment claims. One is around the fact that this is a overbroad and viewpoint discriminatory regulation of academic freedom in the university context, and that impacts professors, teaching assistants, staff members, students. Many people are teachers, learners, researchers all at the same time, and they have administrative jobs as well. So there’s this idea in the law that the First Amendment protects academic freedom, particularly in higher education, because we want as few regulations inhibiting free thought in those places that we entrust with coming up with the new ideas that are going to improve our country and our world. So there is an inherent skepticism around laws that limit academic freedom.

[00:15:50] SOMIL TRIVEDI - HOST, AT LIBERTY: And this is the place where liberals, libertarians, conservatives have traditionally come together that we want as few limits on academic freedom as possible, and yet here, that doesn’t seem to be the case for some of them.

[00:16:04] EMERSON SYKES: I have been disappointed, if not especially shocked, at the relative silence from the so-called academic freedom brigade. Some of them have written a blog piece or two about how these might not be such a great idea, but we haven’t seen that coalition really come together in strong voice, saying, “This is a mistake.”

Just to finish up the list of the four claims, other two, I think, are particularly interesting as well. One is around the right to receive information, and this is a First Amendment claim on behalf of students, both in higher education and in K-12. We talk about the First Amendment protecting free speech like the right to speak, but it also protects the right of listeners and the right to receive information and the right to access information, and so the courts have recognized that students have a specific First Amendment right to receive education without undue political partisan influence, and without any reasonable relationship to a legitimate pedagogical or educational interest.

The last claim we bring is the equal protection claim, which is explicitly saying that this law was passed with racial animus and intent, and has had a racially disparate impact, because these laws, especially negatively, impact the experience of students of color, though inclusive education is good for all students. We’ve seen that this narrative around protecting white students from guilt, discomfort or anything, those words are actually in many of these statutes—guilt, anguish or discomfort—and it’s implicit if not explicit, that it’s protecting the discomfort of white students, and so we think that that is very directly at the expense of students of color.

[00:17:55] SOMIL TRIVEDI - HOST, AT LIBERTY: I think that’s an important point, because it’s not as though these laws are targeting the guilt or anguish or discomfort that Black students or other minorities might feel from the traditional teaching of U.S. history that you and I might have received when we were growing up. I felt supremely uncomfortable about a lot of the things that I learned in school, but I learned them anyway.

[00:18:16] EMERSON SYKES: Exactly. It’s discomfort for whom? And it really illustrates that you put teachers in a "damned if you do, damned if you don’t" situation, because they present a whitewashed history and they’re selling their students short and especially having a negative impact on their students of color who don’t see themselves in their curriculum. But if you do cover these issues, you risk somebody, anybody complaining and starting an investigation and find yourself out of a job. So you really are between a rock and a hard place, and that’s what we think a federal judge, even if they are not "card carrying members of the ACLU", can recognize that the legislature can’t put teachers in such an impossible situation.

Critical Race Theory and The Obstruction of Black Education with Dr. Ivory Toldson Part 1 - Black History Year - Air Date 11-29-21

[00:19:02] JAY: When it comes to creating our own reality, how can we do that when it comes to education?

[00:19:08] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: Yeah. So education is the most important thing for us, because when we know about ourselves, and know about our history-- understand our culture, and have an education that reaffirms us and who we are and our values-- then we can get to that liberation that you... you talked about.

Because, you know, liberation, of course, it starts in the mind. You can be physically free, but as long as your mind is captive, then you'll never be able to live free.

Uh, so education, when it's authentic, and it affirms who we are, then it's a key to liberation.

Just to give one example: so there's a... a white teacher who told me that she taught at a predominantly Black school, and she had a difficult time talking about slavery, because in her words, "It was such a painful period." Black children get sad when she taught about slavery.

So I asked her, I said, "Well, how, how do you teach about slavery?" And she seemed, kind of, miffed by that question, as though there was only one way to teach about it.

And I, I asked her, I said, "How do you describe prisoners of war to your students? You know, when we look at, uh, the prisoners of war that we celebrate, that... that, um, that escaped from that, and come back home. Is that something that we think they should be embarrassed by?" And, you know, she couldn't see that, that they didn't.

And so, then I went on to. Talk about, you know, how to not teach about slaves, but teach about black people during the time of slavery. Because 300,000 of us were free. And leading up to the civil war, hundreds of us were escaping slavery every single month.

And we were going to abolitionist movements; we were working with John Brown when he attacked Harper's Ferry; uh, we were setting up maroon colonies; uh, we were escaping to... to Mexico and to Canada; um, and we were radicalizing the, a movement.

Uh, so it wasn't this thing where we were just captive, and waiting for the Confederate and the Union to hash it out. We made slavery untenable.

I have two great, great, great grandfathers who were civil war veterans. They were born into slavery, and both of them escape from that reality and joined the Union Army. That's what we're not being taught about ourselves.

And so, when... when you have teachers like that, who are teaching black children, but don't know how to teach their history in a way that affirms them, invigorates them, empowers them; um, then we're going to have a lot of children who don't understand their own value.

[00:22:07] JAY: So, where does that come from? That approach to teaching Black students about both slavery and other things that directly involve Black history? Are they told to teach it a certain way, or they bringing certain biases to it? Or is it coming from elsewhere?

[00:22:24] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: Yeah, they're bringing biases, and they're also bringing a lack of knowledge. They're also bringing one perspective of history, and the... a perspective that was intentionally designed, uh, to make certain people feel good about their past.

Uh, and so, you know, when we... when we read things like, you know, "Columbus discovered America," we know that Columbus didn't discover America. Uh, we know that he was lost, and he never... never reached what we consider the mainland. Uh, and he also committed some horrible atrocities, uh, to the people in, what we know now as, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, that island.

Um, but because they wanted to create-- and when I say they, I mean, you know, the architects of the educational system-- because they wanted to create a narrative that the explorers that came from Europe to the Western Hemisphere-- because they wanted to create a narrative that they were great, and that they did not have flaws, they distorted history.

And it's interesting, in, um, some of these anti-critical race theory laws, like the one in Florida, in that law, they said that it's against the law to distort history, in that same one.

So, essentially, they made it illegal to teach about Columbus the way that we typically teach Columbus. But because they're so ignorant to the truth, they don't see the contradiction of that. They don't see that, by them saying that it's against the law to distort history, they're basically saying that you should not teach history the same way that we've been teaching them for over a century.

[00:24:12] JAY: So you touched on critical race theory. And I know that, for a lot of folks, this concept was foreign, or brand new, up until the past couple of months. So help us understand what it is, what the conversation was about, and how that connects to the example you just gave.

[00:24:29] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: Yeah. So, critical race theory was formulated around forty years ago, uh, out of... out of legal, uh, doctrine, legal scholars. And what they were endeavoring to do, is to try to understand why you can have racism embedded in systems, even when the players are not overtly racist.

So, you know, how can you have a Black judge, and Black prosecutors, Black lawyers, Black correctional officers-- uh, how... how can you diversify a system, and have people who are saying, you know, "I'm not racist," but yet, we still have Black teenagers getting jail time for things that white teenagers don't even get arrested for.

So, you have all these things as baked into the system. And so, what critical race theory aimed to do, is to explain why. And they trace the history of how certain things are structured, including the criminal justice system, and education, and how the legacy of white supremacy in the United States has... has created systems that don't function well for Black people. And that's, kind of, understated.

Critical race theory has been used to understand a lot of school districts, uh, with that same phenomenon, where you... you can diversify the teaching staff, uh, you can... you can create an environment where it's not popular, or appropriate, to be overtly racist, but you can still have outcomes that don't serve Black children well. That's how critical race theory was... was used to examine that.

Now, recently, there's been a push to create programs that we call Diversity, Equity, Inclusion; sometimes you add Belonging and Justice to it. So, over the last 20 years, these programs have become more popular. And these are programs that don't have much to do with critical race theory, but it's programs that advocate for things like: all teachers need to go through cultural diversity training; we need to examine the curriculum, look at things like disproportionality in placement in special education and suspensions, uh, placement of gifted and talented programs; so all things that, you know, seem like things that we should be doing. Again, not much to do with critical race theory.

So, recently, and especially after, uh, George Floyd, there was an acceleration of diversity initiatives, and you had school districts who hadn't really thought that much about race saying that, you know, "We need to... we need to do more. And we need to do more diversity training."

And there were people who did not like that.

And so there was a concerted effort among people who are politically-oriented to take this theory, this decades-old theory, and recast it as something that is dangerous, and in their words "Marxist." And their argument was that these Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives were operating under the guise of this thing that is threatening; uh, something that is, kind of, reverse racist, which is a very absurd notion.

But they weren't comfortable saying they didn't like diversity initiatives. That made them sound racist. So what they had to do is, find a proxy for diversity initiatives that people didn't understand well. They redefined that proxy, which is critical race theory, and said, you know, "This is what we really have in schools. It's critical race theory. It's not the diversity initiatives that you may have agreed with initially."

The Movement to Erase Black History and Culture Part 2 - At Liberty - Air Date 2-3-22

[00:28:45] SOMIL TRIVEDI - HOST, AT LIBERTY: So, now we go from curriculum restrictions to transparency to outright banning books altogether, so that’s what I want to talk about next. Reports out of Oklahoma, the state where you’re suing, have said that school districts are banning classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and A Raisin in the Sun. They’re also banning newer books like Jerry Craft’s New Kid and the young adult novel All-American Boys. What’s the significance of moving towards banning books? How is that a sign of the more serious cancer that we’re dealing with?

[00:29:21] EMERSON SYKES: It was interesting. In your intro, you said we’re banning books again. I think in many ways we’ve never stopped banning books. We’ve been banning books in prisons for quite some time, we’ve also filed some cases around that. There have been ongoing efforts, especially over the last 10 years, around banning books regarding LGBTQ folks. You might remember the controversy around Drag Queen Story Hour, but there have also been books pulled from libraries because they depict LGBTQ characters. Our ACLU attorneys have been litigating this issue for quite some time. So what’s old is new again.

Now, what we have seen is an uptick. Our colleagues at the American Librarians Association have said that in their decades of experience looking at these things, there has been an actual increase recently. And I think it really just does go back to this idea, I’ve seen the slide decks that are going around and there are 70 something slides about how you can be involved in the fight against CRT. These are all you know from a very specific playbook, and it’s under the guise of empowering parents, but the idea is the First Amendment is particularly protective of the idea of banning books.

So again, this should be an area where liberals, conservatives, moderates, everybody should be shocked that American schools and libraries are pulling books, but it’s become a part of this cultural narrative, I don’t want to use the word culture war, but this sort of ongoing debate about who we are and I think people are having trouble seeing through the political valences to some of the core free speech issues at play.

[00:31:06] SOMIL TRIVEDI - HOST, AT LIBERTY: And the hypocrisy is so transparent when you know that most of these parents read these books when they were kids and never protested before, but all of a sudden it becomes an issue. So, emerson, we have talked a lot about schools, but it’s bigger than schools. You just mentioned that you’ve done work around banning rap music in prisons. I know that artists like Jay-Z and Kelly Rowland and Killer Mike are supporting legislation to prevent prosecutors from using rap songs as evidence of alleged crime. How is the culture being erased or bastardized alongside this particular movement in schools?

[00:31:47] EMERSON SYKES: It’s an interesting point. The thing that keeps coming back to me is we talk about Black History Month and the importance of dealing with hard issues and reckoning with the reality of the brutality of our past, but as the parent of two young Black kids, it’s also really important to me that Black History Month is filled with Black joy, and culture, and music, and art, and literature, and all of those wonderful things. So as much as many of these bands on CRT are trying to avoid discussions about racism in particular, I think it also sweeps in so much of Black culture because that’s an inevitable thread. Even in the books that celebrate family and growth and exploration, that element of racism and the racial hierarchy in the United States is usually going to be there.

For me, it’s, in prisons especially, what is considered a dangerous idea... If in the schools, we’re really concerned about what’s going to make white students feel uncomfortable, in the prisons the idea of what is a threatening idea is an entirely different calculation, but it also, likewise, sweeps in a vast swath of Black culture and art that has an element of anger in it. That has an element of recognition of oppression and an impulse to fight authority. And so we’ve seen prisons given essentially carte blanche by the courts, as long as they say it’s a security related, they can do whatever they want in most circumstances.

We recently got a good win in the 9th Circuit, where the 9th Circuit in this case, where a person who’s incarcerated had requested a bunch of CDs and religious texts in Arizona. Arizona Department of Corrections, they have these totally on unconstitutional policies, and they prohibited this person from accessing Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, several other hip hop artists, as well as text by Elijah Muhammad from the Nation of Islam. So recently, the 9th Circuit actually did say, “Look, there is at least an arguable case that Arizona is applying its policy in a discriminatory way, and it’s letting in all sorts of graphic TV shows, movies, books, songs, but not allowing in explicit Hip-Hop music.

Of course, every brief that we write on this has to reference Johnny Cash and all of the country musicians who have violent imagery in their songs. So there’s that level whereby the 9th Circuit was very suspicious, basically, because they said, “is this Hip-Hop music really worse than all of these other things that you’re letting in?” and there we see that it’s important for courts to be able to tell prison systems that you can’t do whatever you want, especially when it starts to take on this really racialized component.

Critical Race Theory and The Obstruction of Black Education with Dr. Ivory Toldson Part 2 - Black History Year - Air Date 11-29-21

[00:34:54] JAY: So, earlier you mentioned that kids exposed to Black history have good outcomes, or better outcomes, in life. What does that mean? What does that look like? And why is it?

[00:35:05] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: Yeah. Some of the scholars, like Asa Hillard, the late Asa Hillard, who did a lot of research looking at children, and their experiences, and the impact of a positive education on children, uh, have found that, when... when children are taught to love themselves, and to love their culture, and their people, and taught about themselves, uh, that they'll have stronger outcomes in terms of, uh, you increase the graduation rates, you increase matriculation into college. Um, and they go on to have more positive outcomes in life.

Also the work of Carol Lee, she worked with Haki Madhubuti in Chicago, Haki Madhubuti is the one who founded Third World Press. Um, and they set up Afrocentric charter schools. Uh, and carol Lee, coming from scholarships, she was able to record the data and, and, um, and publish the information, and show strong outcomes of the students who... who went through their curriculum.

There's strong anecdotal evidence out there that when a... a student, uh... uh, has exposure to Black history, Black culture, uh, and is affirmed through education, uh, that... that there's better outcomes.

Uh, and... and even when... when we look at students in general, and their sense of belonging, they looked at this whole notion of belonging, the extent to which a student belongs in the environment, are feel... feel connected to their school.

And they found that when the student feels connected to the school, they have better outcomes. Well, we can extrapolate that to say that, um, the system, as it exists right now, is not set up for Black students to feel like they belong, because they're not learning about themselves.

Uh, so we want to increase belonging among Black students. Then we have to teach them about themselves.

And, and there's really about teaching the truth. You know, it's not about distorting it, or cherry picking. Um, Black people, and our contributions, have been omitted from history.

Uh, there's a good book called "Lies My Teacher Told Me." Uh, and they point to all of the ways in which, not just Black people, but, uh, the Indigenous population, um, uh, all of our... our... our history has been taken out, and it's been framed in such a way that we look like passive pedestrians of American history, not material to American history.

[00:37:46] JAY: Yeah. And that's not by accident, is it?

[00:37:49] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: No, it's not... not by accident.

And you know, going back to the example of Christopher Columbus... but you know, the history is replete with those kinds of examples. You know, like, if we look at an Andrew Jackson, um, you know, we are taught that we have to revere American presidents, no matter, um, what their past is, and whether or not they've done things that's harmful to us.

Um, Andrew Jackson, uh, before he became president, uh, he presided over a massacre of Black people in Florida. Uh, there was a, uh, there was a cache of weapons. I was taken over by Black people who escaped from slavery in Florida, that if you... If you Google "Negro Fort,", uh, you can see the Wikipedia page on the Negro Fort. It was presided over by, uh, someone named General, uh, Garson; uh, that's the Black man who was over that fort.

And this was when Florida was an independent Spanish colony, a fragile Spanish colony. And Andrew Jackson lead a reconnaissance mission, uh, to investigate this fort, uh, and, uh, provoke the fort, and ended up killing hundreds of people; um, Black people who were colonizing in the independent colony.

Uh, and so... but what we're taught, to revere someone who, uh, is instrumental to holding Black people back, and then we're not talking about General Garson, who was someone who looks like, uh, who was fighting in order to create the kind of liberation that we started our conversation with.

Um, so... so yeah, it's... it's, uh, it's not by accident. Uh, it is by design, uh, that certain people who have problematic past are amplified and elevated, uh, in our history. And other people who would mean more to us, uh... uh, their role is diminished or... or, uh, taken away altogether.

[00:40:01] JAY: We're still in a white supremacist system. How reasonable is it to expect these certain types of changes to be implemented, to actually benefit students, all students, in the way that, you know, the truth actually can?

[00:40:16] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: Yeah, it's not just reasonable. Uh, I would say that it's, um, as absolutely necessary for Black people to have certain expectations out of the schools.

Um, our, our children are there. And I think that public school and the public school system is very important to Black people, and that will remain important to Black people, because we need..., we need the government to pay for our education. Uh, that's, uh... uh, I think that education is a right.

Um, but we also, you know, with that, right, uh, we have a responsibility to hold people accountable for what they're... they're teaching our students. Uh, so, you know, the... the diversity initiatives that I talked about, um, you know, even if they don't lead to radical, immediate change, I think it's a long-term process, and we have to continue to push, you have to continue to evaluate, and hold people accountable for giving our children the education that they deserve.

Bans & Schools Book Panics Part 1 - Now & Then - Air Date 2-8-22

[00:41:30] HEATHER COX RICHARDSON - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: I think what we're seeing here, is, a number of things, about how banned books become the contest of change.

And one of the things, I think, that is important, that we haven't talked about with it, is, what it actually means for inclusion to ban a book. So, when you talk about, for example, the banning of Hinton Helper's book, you could really do that in the South, because there wasn't really anything to compete with it; there wasn't radio, there wasn't TV there wasn't social media.

By the time we get to Scopes, banning the teaching of evolution is really a statement about who is included and who is excluded.

And by the time you get to "To Kill a Mockingbird" in the 1960s, it's even harder, actually, to keep those ideas out of the hands of young people.

And then we look at the present, and really, in our era of social media, banning "Maus" is absolutely not going to keep it out of the hands of people who can literally read a pirated copy on the internet.

[00:42:30] JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: It's sold vast amounts, right? There were more copies available than there had ever been before.

[00:42:35] HEATHER COX RICHARDSON - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: And yet what it says, at the community level, is, these are the people that are welcome in our community, and you are not welcome to be represented in our community. Certainly with LGBTQ youth, for example.

[00:42:50] JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: And the bans say, "We, the people doing the banning, have the power to make this decision and enforce it."

These decisions about books and what people can, and can't, read, they're about inclusion and exclusion; they're about people performing these power gestures: "We will ban this."

As... as you just said, Heather, people are going to be able to get these books in any number of other ways. The ban itself is significant; is wrong-headed; is anti-democratic. But part of what's happening right now is these performative moments in which certain people are, on the one hand, claiming that they have the right and the power to decide whether the other people have access to, and then throwing this into the atmosphere as a, kind of, political calling card to bring people, who will have an emotional response to this, to their side.

So even as we, you and I, Heather, can sit here. and rail against what banning books means, and the many ways in which that's anti-democratic, part of what we're looking at here, is, people of a particular political persuasion making a power play that says they have the right to make these decisions, and in doing so, they have the right to say who is included and who is excluded among the national "we."

[00:44:11] HEATHER COX RICHARDSON - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: And I love the fact that your founding guys would have something to say about the exclusion of the 800 books that have been proposed, or even of "Maus," in terms of what that means for civil liberties and for the United States.

[00:44:28] JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: Regardless of the book... and so this... this has... that's a sweeping statement.

The vital importance of the spread and access that people have to information, so they can weigh ideas, think about ideas, decide what they think, and act accordingly, that is one of the founding elements of a functioning democracy.

And once you begin channeling off ideas, and preventing people from seeing things, or preventing people from saying things, or channeling off aspects of the past that you don't want people to think about anymore, you're no longer encouraging people to think and sort through ideas.

You're giving them limited access to ideas with the hope that they will have a particular outcome.

Bans & Schools Book Panics Part 2 - Now & Then - Air Date 2-8-22

[00:45:14] HEATHER COX RICHARDSON - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: In June of 1856, a white man from North Carolina named Hinton Rowan Helper published a book called "The Impending Crisis of the South--"

Fun fact here: one of the first primary documents I ever read in my career. I thought they were all like this! And you know, it was, kind of, disappointing after that--

Because, what he argued in this book was that human enslavement in the American South had hurt the Southern economy as a whole; that it had kept it back. So in '57, 1857, people are arguing to defend human enslavement by saying, "Hey, look where the richest people in the world," you know, "Slavery is great." And, you know, "White people who are part of this, really, elite slave owning class are the richest, the most able, the best educated people in the world. So slavery's a great thing."

He looks at the actual statistics-- and the whole book is full of charts and numbers-- and he looks at the statistics, and he says, "No, no, no, no, no human enslavement has held the South back."

So if you actually look, yeah, a few of really rich guys are doing well, but for the most people in the American South-- and he's focused exclusively on the welfare of white southerners-- they are being destroyed by human enslavement.

"So if you're trying to make the south better, you white guys, who currently are supporting enslavement. You need to turn your back on it and get rid of slavery altogether."

And this is not a pro-black-rights document at all.

[00:46:42] JOANNE FREEMAN - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: No, he's actually extremely racist. So, he's not, like, some freedom-screaming abolitionist. He is simply saying... he's encouraging white southerners to back away from slavery, and even discusses the rebellion of enslaved people as being part of what might need to happen to eliminate slavery.

I want to read just a sentence that shows what he's saying about southerners, and what is happening in the south, that's holding them back:

He says, southerners were, "Swaddled in Northern muslin at birth; instructed from Northern books in their youth; treated by Northern medicine as adults; and shrouded in Northern Cambridge at deaths; borne to the grave in a Northern carriage; entombed with a Northern spade; and memorialized with a Northern slab."

It's all the Northj. And the south is doing that to themselves.

So he wants to end slavery, and he's ready for black rebellion to be a part of that. And he's a southerner!

So, in and of itself, it would have been shocking. Add to the fact that he's a North Carolinian and that gave it even greater spread and power.

And, as we were just discussing a moment ago, initially, it's selling relatively well. But when it's becomes controversial is when it really begins to spread; when people suddenly wonder what this is, it sells in much larger and larger numbers. It becomes a part of the Republican-- Lincoln's Republican party-- a campaign document for them leading up to the election of 1860.

So it becomes a big deal because it's controversial. I should add only because it tells you so much about Helper. North Carolinians in Congress are standing up and attacking him, because he's from their state, and they feel the need to just crush him. So a number of them stand up and accuse him of a variety of things: for example, a North Carolina representative named Asa Biggs says that Helper is a "dishonest, degraded, and disgraced man, much to be regretted a native of the state, yet he is an apostate son ruined in fortunate character, and catering to a diseased appetite at the north to obtain a miserable living by slanders upon the land of his birth."

[00:49:04] HEATHER COX RICHARDSON - CO-HOST, NOW & THEN: The book itself is really interesting because of the land boom and the... the rising prices of enslaved people in the American South in the late 1850s. A number of white men are very aware that the system is not serving them, and they are starting to fall away from the Democratic Party. They're starting to think, maybe, they should turn against the very wealthy and slavers who run the Democratic Party, and who are running the American South.

And this document, which is not very interesting. I mean, the sales were slow at first, in part, because-- obviously, it's very interesting as a historian, but it's page, after page, after page, of charts from the census to show that the south is not, in fact, doing as well as most people claim for it to be-- but it is itself a really incendiary document, because if poor white guys are reading this, and starting to say, "Wait a minute, maybe we don't want to be supporting enslavement," it does have the potential to bring down the Democratic Party in the Southern states.

So, before the election of 1860, a number of Republican congressman, who are part of this new Republican Party, they sign on to this book, because it's, kind of, a no-brainer for them the idea that white men will want to embrace a system that enables them to rise. That's really what the Republicans stand for.

And when they do that, they start to sign on in '58 and '59. And then, of course, when John Brown launches his raid on Harper's Ferry, in October of 1859, the Southern Democrats try to argue that Republicans who are backing this book we're really trying to get people killed.

It's incredibly explosive.

Finally a Democratic representative in Congress, a guy named John Clark of Missouri says that, "Nobody who had endorsed Helper's book was fit to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives."

He stands up, and he says, "Did gentlemen expect that they can distribute incendiary books, give incendiary advice advise rebellion; advise non-intercourse in all the relations of life; spread such works broadcast over the country; and not be taken to task for it? I presume that the South has sufficient self-respect that it understands the effect of its institutions well enough that it has its rights and dares to maintain them."

While at the same time, the Republicans are arguing for the First Amendment; for the right of free speech.

And, uh, Benjamin Franklin Wade, who was going to become known as a radical, says, "Has it come to this in free America? That there must be a censorship of the press instituted? That a man cannot give currency to a book containing arguments that he thinks, essentially, affect the rights of whole classes of the free population of this nation? I hope not. And I believe not."

A number of states start to pass laws, forbidding the ownership of the book, or the distribution of the book. Three men were lynched for owning copies of the book.

And the newspapers start to call for burning of the book. The Raleigh Evening Standard, for example said, "We would again remind postmasters of their duties in this respect: let every copy of Helper's book, and every copy of the New York Tribune, and every document franked--" that is, signed for distribution through the post office, "by Seward, Wilson, Burlingame, John Sherman--" all people who were famous as abolitionists-- "and other abolitionists which may come to their offices, be committed to the flames."

And what's interesting about that is, not only the idea of stopping the distribution of these things and calling attention to the idea that northerners were theoretically trying to undermine the south, but that when that happens, northerners see this as an attack on their constitutional rights.

And that's perhaps a really important piece here of the concept of banning books, and of the concepts of pushing back against banning books. We have the first amendment because the founding guys believed in guaranteeing that people had access to different ideas. And when that starts to get taken away by people burning "Uncle Tom's Cabin," or abolitionist literature, or Hinton Helper's book, other Americans look and say, "Wait, that's my constitutional right, to have access to that, because that's what forms a democracy."

The Movement to Erase Black History and Culture Part 3 - At Liberty - Air Date 2-3-22

[00:53:31] SOMIL TRIVEDI - HOST, AT LIBERTY: So as I mentioned at the top, there’s another wave of bills that are allegedly about transparency, trying to make public the curriculum and school plans of teachers across the country. So this is happening in at least 12 states, maybe more. I want to bring up a slight tension and see if you can address it. In the past, groups like the ACLU have fought for transparency laws, even in schools, in Nevada and Kentucky because we, as civil libertarians think that if the government is going to take our tax dollars and operate on our behalves, then we ought to know what they’re doing. How are the current wave of transparency laws different?

[00:54:11] EMERSON SYKES: It’s a great question. Look, we at the ACLU have always been and will always be pro transparency. We think just like these other bills claim to be cracking down on CRT when in fact, that’s not what they’re doing, I think a lot of these bills that are under the umbrella of transparency are not really about transparency at all. What we’re seeing here is a situation where they’re trying to use transparency as a shield to create this witch hunt, and it’s tied to all of these other bills.

Now it’s tricky, because actually the same guy, this Rufo character, recently showed his hand, he tweeted in a thread that, “Hey, listen, guys, these bans are probably going to be found to be unconstitutional. So we need to pivot, and we’re going to own the libs because we’re going to pivot to transparency bills and then we’re going to put them in a situation where they have to be against transparency and it’s going to be hilarious.” And full disclosure, it’s working on some level. It does put us in a tricky position, but I think, as I said, we are obviously have always been and will always be pro transparency, and we think that these bills, some of them billed as transparency bills, are really actually efforts to silence and censor and create a situation where teachers are afraid to teach "controversial topics".

[00:55:38] SOMIL TRIVEDI - HOST, AT LIBERTY: So this is the political strategy that we’ve been talking about throughout this taping, that these bills are not meant to achieve their stated statutory goal, they’re meant to rile up a base into and stoke years and decades old fears about an inclusive, multiracial society that we have started building here in the United States. How do you feel about the fact that Black culture is just collateral damage in this political game? What do you feel about the First Amendment becoming collateral damage in this game?

[00:56:14] EMERSON SYKES: There’s a quote from Steve Bannon that’s been passed along to me. I don’t know if it’s directly true or not, but basically, he said, it’s great news for the conservative movement if the torch bearers for them are not QAnon and they’re not white nationalists, but they’re mothers and concerned parents at school boards. So if the culture wars are being fought by concerned white parents, that is an important thing to recognize because that’s different than the folks who are storming the Capitol.

Conservatives have really tapped in to this underlying racial anxiety, even in folks who might not have necessarily even supported Donald Trump. So that’s why I think it’s a particularly dangerous way that the mental gymnastics and the sort of rhetorical jujitsu that they have pulled where they are quoting Martin Luther King to support laws that ban the teaching of what actually happened to Martin Luther King, and the idea that talking about racism is actually the problem and that’s the actual racism. The way that this has been flipped around has made it difficult for our comms team to figure out how to talk about what’s actually going on here, but like you said, the legal piece is just one one small part of it.

Critical Race Theory and The Obstruction of Black Education with Dr. Ivory Toldson Part 3 - Black History Year - Air Date 11-29-21

[00:57:33] JAY: We can't expect the school to handle all of it, right? As a community, as a people, we have to figure out other ways to affirm ourselves, to affirm those next generations, so they are prepared to go out into the world, as we're still working to shape the world into what we want it to be.

I'd like to get some insight, now, on why HBC use were initially established, and, you know, what role they're serving today as it relates to, you know, preparing Black kids to go into the world, and address these challenges that we face.

[00:58:07] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: Yeah, so HBCU, that's a historic designation. In order to... to get that designation, uh, you have to have been founded before the Civil Rights Act of 1965, uh, and be established as a response to, um, racial segregation.

Uh, and so there's a hundred HBCUs that exist right now. About 13 of them are research institutions. Um, and the others are predominantly undergraduate of schools. Uh, and there's about 10 HBCs that are, uh, community colleges.

Uh, so there's a wide variety of them, and they continue to serve a role today by giving Black students the opportunity to be educated in an environment that affirms who they are.

Most HBCU's have, uh, Black culture embedded in their mission. And so there's plenty of non-Black people at HBC's. But everyone at an HBCU is there to learn about, learn the value of Blackness, and Black people in the United States.

Um, but they are accredited by the same accredited agencies that accredit all other institutions. And so, that's good that you get, uh, accredited education. But it, um, sometimes it doesn't serve HBCUs well, because sometimes accreditation standards, uh, doesn't necessarily coincide with the best thing for Black people.

A specific example of that is using standardized tests for admissions. You have to do that to uh, um-- are, are... there's some value to doing that, uh, to get accredited, but these standardized tests are... are, um, culturally biased.

But, you know, other than that, you know, HBCUs are definitely valued. Uh, um, I remember one person, uh, they, they were responding to someone saying that, uh, they didn't want to go to an HBCU because they wanted a university that would prepare them for real life, and being around predominantly Black people isn't real life.

And that person, their response was, you have your entire life to be a minority. This is your one chance to not be a minority.

And then another response to that was, you know, predominately white institutions don't represent real life, either. You know? Because demographics at UCLA and USC, it's certainly not the demographics of life, you know?

So in many ways, HBCs will prepare you for life better than a lot of these so-called elite, predominately white. Institutions.

[01:00:56] JAY: I've heard that before. What do you think that... that, sort of, that saying, that belief comes from? That it doesn't prepare you for real life, based on the demographics of an HBCU?

[01:01:05] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: It's the normalization of whiteness. It's our tendency to make White the standard. Um, even though, demographically, that's not... that's not the truth. Uh, you know, when you look at the demographics of California, um, white people, aren't the majority. So going over the only white institution, in the state of California, doesn't prepare you for what California really is.

But because we have these other systems, you know, whether it's the entertainment industry or the... the tech industry, um, uh, these corporations, uh, they take on those same norms of whiteness.

Uh, so what we're... what we're saying, when we say that predominately white institutions prepare you for life better, uh, they really prepare you for white supremacy better. If you want to work within those... if you want to have a competitive edge within the structures that are excluding a lot of us.

[01:02:11] JAY: You know, that makes me think of something that Dr. Amos Wilson said. Are you familiar with Dr. Wilson's work?

[01:02:17] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: Yeah.

[01:02:18] JAY: Okay. So he talks about how the purpose of education is to learn to solve the challenges that a group of people or community faces. From what you've seen, do you think we're even viewing education in a way that will get us the results we want as a people?

I know I was encouraged, you know, go to school, get a good job, do, you know, XYZ career. Within... we have a certain framework for looking at... I think across the board, we value it from my experience, but I don't know if we are viewing it in the correct framework to actually advance our community's interests. What are your thoughts on that?

[01:03:02] DR. IVORY TOLDSON: Yeah, I agree with that. Um, you know, education doesn't give us, uh, a lot of real life, real world skills as it's constructed right now. And that's something that we really need to think about.

Um, the model of education is very archaic. Um, you know, we... we take summers off, uh, because of the harvest, you know. Um, uh that's because education was started, uh, during the agricultural era, um, before the industrial revolution, Uh, so you took that time off because that's when you were growing your crops.

Uh, and just like we still have that as an aspect of education, uh, a lot of our... a lot of what we do in education is really more for a time that's passed. Um, you know, we are well beyond post industrial revolution. Um, you know, we're in this tech era, in this innovation season, we're in the information age. And so we need to think differently about what education is, and how we structure education, in a way that really gives Black children a competitive edge in life.

Summary 2-12-22

[01:04:16] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with David Pakman highlighting the disconnect between book banning and conservative principles; Thom Hartmann looked at the money trail of the big group supporting book and subject banning; At Liberty explained to the legal right of students to learn and for there to be no disparate impact from curriculum decisions on groups of students; Black History Year reframed slavery education, and discussed how history has been distorted to fit a particular narrative; At Liberty looked at the uptick in book banning and to the racial division of how media is accepted or rejected within the prison system; Black History Year explained why Black kids deserve to learn about themselves as part of a positive education; and Now & Then explained the power play at work behind every effort to ban or control what information people are allowed to access.

That's what everyone heard, but members also heard bonus clips from Now & Then explaining a fascinating case study of a banned book, explaining why slavery was harmful to white southerners. At Liberty looked at the next steps strategy for those seeking to litigate critical race theory out of existence. And Black History Year looked at the history and purpose of historically black colleges and universities. To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly into your new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at BestoftheLeft.com/support or request a financial hardship membership, because we don't make a lack of funds a barrier to hearing more information. Every request is granted. No questions asked.

 And now we'll hear from you.

A message to Nick and Quai on anger and what to do with it - Alyson from Boulder, CO

[01:06:00] VOICEDMAILER: ALYSON FROM BOULDER, CO: Hi Jay!, this is Alyson from Boulder and this is for Quai and Nick in California.

You both seem to be really hard on yourselves about your anger toward people who are behaving in harmful ways. I have a lot of experience with anger and exorcizing that anger - I am from an extremely dysfunctional family and have been bullied for my disabilities many times over the years, and I have experienced a lot of sexism and biphobia and homophobia and I have been extremely angry over these things and also over the things like privilege and racism and economic injustice etc, basically all the things that Best of the Left covers. There are a few things I’ve learned about anger that may be helpful to you.

 1. Being angry is not the same as acting angry. You can allow yourself to feel your anger without acting harmfully or thinking the person you’re angry with is less than you or evil. You have choices for what you can do with your anger.

 2. You can still be angry with a person while understanding them. For example, I understand my dad and why he is the way he is. I know he has had a hard life. But that doesn’t mean the things he did to me weren’t harmful. I can understand him and his life and still be angry with him.

 3. for many people, our anger goes away and we are ready to forgive only after the harmful behavior is gone. And we are not ready for it to go away, the behavior that is causing our anger is still happening. Allowing ourselves to feel the anger without judging ourselves or wallowing in it is a part of the forgiveness process.

We tend to judge anger very harshly because we confuse feeling it with acting on it. However, we are allowed to feel our feelings and need to in order for us to forgive and finally let go of the anger. The thing is that anger does have a purpose - it inspires us to act but we don’t have to act harmfully. We can be angry and use that to inspire change. That is what I’ve chosen to do with my anger, and doing that instead of stuffing the feeling or judging myself for it is actually helping me become less and less angry over time.

Jay! is right that it is healthier and better for us as humans to not hold on to anger and instead forgive, but not all of us are there yet and that is ok.

Thanks for the awesome show Jay!, and thanks Nick and Quai for your interesting and informative comments.

Final comments on perhaps only thinking I have let go of my anger

[01:07:55] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at 202-999-3991, or write me a message to [email protected]

Now, thanks to Alyson for that message we just heard. Alyson always has great stuff to say. Quick refresher, that message was in reply to an ongoing conversation -- I don't have the episode numbers in front of me. I'm sorry -- but every episode or two for a couple of months now, starting with Quai, there has been a discussion that I've been chiming in on about anger against those who are actively or passively through inaction making the world a worse place.

And after hearing Alyson's perspective on anger and how it's managed and how it can take different shapes and forms, I'm starting to wonder if it's not that I've lost or let go of my anger as I've claimed in the past. I'm starting to wonder if what's closer to reality is that I'm angry all the time, but I just don't really show it or feel it as much as I used to. Anger used to come to me in spikes. And now it might just be the low level hum of everyday existence. I would absolutely believe that. I wouldn't doubt it in the least. You know, I mean maybe one day my anger actually will disappear and it'll be like, when you relax your shoulders, after not even realizing that your shoulders are tense and then you say, oh goodness, I'm so relaxed, I didn't even realize. Maybe that's how my anger is. And honestly, maybe that's a more appropriate way to feel than to have actually let go of it.

Anyway, speaking of relaxing shoulders, just a quick production note that we have a real vacation coming up, not the usual kind of, oh my God, I'm burned out and we have to not put out an episode -- that happens a lot. And not a standard family holiday fare that is not as stressful as work, but can sometimes approach it. Anyway, this is a real vacation, like long-planned, "go away, can't remember the last time this sort of thing happened, and don't even have access to the internet" kind of vacation. That's the kind of vacation we're going on. So expect that for the next week as reruns are posted, and then be all the more excited that we will be returning after that.

As always, keep the comments coming in at 202-999-3991, or by emailing me to [email protected], if you'd like to see my new auto responder message that says I'm on vacation and I will not be seeing your message until I return.

As always, thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic, Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Scott for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at BestoftheLeft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player.

So coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestoftheLeft.com.


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