Silence On Charlottesville Encourages The Alt Right

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” ~ Elie Wiesel

The silence of so many Trump supporters is deafening. Others I hear loudly. Today I have seen repeated claims that Charlottesville was a false flag. I have seen Trump Supporters claim that the white supremacists that were there were paid to be there to make him look bad. (here is proof that they were not paid) I have read that the students, clergy, and multitude of people who counter protested were also paid to be there, that they were carrying clubs, and had guns. Of course this is false.

I watched a You Tube video that claims that Heather Heyer purposely stepped in front of the car that killed her and that the driver was being attacked. More distortions of the truth. More distractions. More conspiracy theories. To believe this shit is a choice. It is not an alternative fact, it is a damn lie.

But the last two years have been one lie right after another. When I attended the Trump Rally in Mobile, AL, and later went on the news with the white supremacist paper handed to me as we parked our car I was called a liar. That I had made it up. I was threatened. I was called a liar and a bitch and a nigger lover. People claimed I was not even there even though there was plenty of photographic evidence of me there (including my picture at the rally on al.com).

We have a group of people who are choosing to believe “alternative facts” because to acknowledge the truth would expose flaws in their ego, their moral compass, and their choices. We have tainted free speech with acts of violence and domestic terrorism. And the deflection has already started, pointing fingers at Black Lives Matters and the Women’s March. I have seen conservatives ask why this is considered racism and I cannot even justify that with an answer.

This is Trump’s America. This is the America my children are growing up in.

I can’t even anymore with the denial of white privilege. I don’t want to try and understand your views on why it is okay to shoot black people and not white people who commit the same crimes. I can’t support militarized police officers who are daily beating and killing black people in the streets for petty crimes, planting drugs on Latinos, or tazing pregnant women.

I can no longer excuse your wanton ignorance. There are no more passes. There are no more excuses.

There is only one clear choice to make. Silence is a choice and if you are silent I am going to believe that you have taken the side of the oppressors. I am going to believe that you have chosen hate over love. It is time to speak out against the hate, to take action, and to stomp out these false narratives.

For moral and ethical people there is only one side. One.

 

Right-Wing Propaganda In A Public School Classroom

On Wednesday a concerned mother posted a picture of her son’s AP Government class summer reading list from Spanish Fort High School in a closed Facebook Group I belong too. The group is made up of the silent minority here on the Gulf Coast – liberals, progressives, and secularists that don’t fit into the southern conservative culture. As I read it it seemed almost like a hoax. Fake news. Surely, in one of the most affluent and educated areas here on the Gulf Coast this type of thing was not going on right under the nose of parents and administrators? How wrong I was.

I quickly verified that the teacher who gave out the list to his students did indeed teach at Spanish Fort High School and not only that the list was up on the schools website dating back to the 2014-2015 school year (it has since been removed). Not only did I find out that this teacher taught with a right-wing slant in his classroom but that he had previously run for public office and failed – mostly due to his extremist views on the federal government and state rights issues. There is also a blog but I will get to that later.


After asking for permission to share, several of us in the Facebook Group began to publicly share the list. I sent the list to other area Progressives, the ACLU, and I also posted it to Facebook but not before I sent it to my aunt whose daughter attends school there. Within hours it was soon discovered that Gene Ponder had been using this list for years without permission and without approval from the Baldwin County School Board or the principal of the school. That his class had been allegedly taught with a far right slant with religious and racist overtones for close to a decade. Keep in mind this is a AP Government High School course that students must take in order to receive their Honors Diploma.

And there in lies part of the problem. The class is required for students on the Honors Diploma track and Gene Ponder is the only AP Government teacher at Spanish Fort High School. It puts parents and students in a bind to complain about the content of his class for fear of retribution or being singled out. This is not a liberal “snowflake” issue, this is an education issue and having a non biased public education paid for by tax payers. The thing is, even conservative, Republican parents would find issue with some of the books and websites used for Mr. Ponder’s class. Yet again, it wasn’t until this ONE parent stepped forward that this problem was revealed.


What I find amusing is that I am constantly reading about how liberalism is taught in our schools and that school text books are liberal propaganda but that is just not the case, especially here in the South. And Gene Ponder is not alone, there are dozens upon dozens of public school teachers like him. Teachers who are manipulating and brainwashing our youth against climate change and with the beliefs of those like Alex Jones. Gene Ponder wasn’t trying to get his students to critically think about the governments role he was manipulating them to think that someone like Michael Savage and Ann Coulter are the great political thinkers of our time and that Global Warming is a liberal conspiracy. He wanted his students to think of Brietbart as an unbiased news source but not only that he surreptitiously included Christian religious beliefs and propaganda into his class as well.

You may be asking why I give two shits because we are homeschoolers. Well, for one my cousin attends this school as do several friends children. Friends, who are both conservative and liberal, who would oppose this reading list and the characterization of Republicans and Democrats put forth by Coach Ponder. I am also a tax payer. My tax dollars fund public education and pay Mr. Ponder’s salary. And trust me, we pay our fair share of state and federal taxes therefor I believe I get a say.

Mr. K was once a public school teacher. He taught Computer Science, Algebra, Geometry, and middle school math. He went in for seven years and taught the classes he was assigned. He taught the students theory and facts and did so without interjecting any political or religious beliefs. The same should go for science and history teachers as well. Discussions and exercises on critical thinking are one thing – manipulation and brainwashing are another. For nearly 165 hours of instruction time Gene Ponder had these students undivided attention, for a grade, and what you see on this list and what you see from the websites he has listed for his class, this is where he derived much of the views espoused in his classroom. These students were not being encouraged to read The Federalist Papers they were being encouraged to read Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder by Michael Savage. And to add icing on the cake one of his students posted two power points that they were shown and taught in class.


First and foremost these two lists presented in Gene Ponders class is not even factual. By 2016 the GOP was the party of less educated whites and lower income whites. While less educated voters leaned towards being Democrats in the 1990s it’s just no longer a fact now and that is evident by our latest election cycle. Even by 2008, education levels were more equal on both sides of the fence. Surprisingly enough one of the biggest complaints I have heard from Michael Savage, Alex Jones, and Laura Ingram is the criticism of educated elitism from Democrats. The truth is the majority of college educated voters voted for Clinton (52% Clinton, 29% Trump) Gene Ponder and his ilk can’t have it both ways. What is true is that over the past 16 years more and more college educated individuals have moved to the Democratic Party and there are a multitude of reasons for that and one is that the Republican base and party leaders are science deniers. It appears by the two power points presented in his class that Mr. Ponder was presenting these to create divisiveness rather than to promote critical thinking as to why certain groups lean toward certain political groups or ideology. He did get something right – it is white, Christian, heterosexual men who make up the GOP base but I doubt there was a critical overview as to why that is the case. After reading some of the comments of some of his former white, male students on Facebook it became clear that their was a air of white male superiority and is that what we want taught in ANY classroom.

I imagine Mr. Ponder is tenured and will retain his position but I think it is abundantly clear that teachers who perform certain duties and teach certain courses need additional vetting. Allowing a known Tea Party political extremist to teach history is probably not a good idea.  I imagine had this been a far left extremist expounding views in the classroom there would have been a huge outcry. There is a reason for separation of church and state and why we do not allow religious proselytizing and prayers in school. The same should go for politics and political beliefs. It is one thing to tell a student that you are a member of a certain party and another to espouse the views of Ann Coulter.

While writing this blog entry Gene Ponder removed his entire blog. Things that make you go hmmmm….

We as parents and citizens need to continue to resist even at personal risk for the betterment of the whole.

5 Ways You Have Exposed Your Bigotry On Facebook

For all intense and purposes your Facebook page looks generic compared to some people on your Friend List. You tend to post happy family photographs, funny cat pictures, and the occasional status that is non-controversial and probably related to something you ate. For good measure you may post something uplifting and spiritual every now and then because you’re a nice person after all. Or you at least want people to think that.

Then people begin to unfriend you on Facebook without provocation. They even may become distant when they see you in person. Worse yet, you realize you have been BLOCKED by people you considered friends. Your favorite cousin is no longer in your Newsfeed and your invitation to your neighbors annual BBQ got lost somewhere in cyber space. You are bewildered as to why because you are not controversial in the least. Well, wonder no more because I am going to share with you five ways you have exposed to everyone that you are a closeted asshole.

  1. The Comments On Public Pages  Your social media looks like an explosion of happiness and positive energy. You’ve worked hard at keeping things as bland as possible with pictures of cute kids and animals. Everything you post is through a filter of not offending anyone. But then you go to your local News Media page on Facebook and decide to add your 2 cents to the comment section on what you feel is a cut and dry issue. Surely everyone knows that boys should not use the girls restroom at school and gender identity is a lie of the devil. You decided to post that you do not want men in the restroom with your daughter even though that “man” has double D breasts and looks better in a dress than you do. You then go to list a host of nonfactual reasons and religious bias to back up your feelings on the subject but what you don’t realize is that your comment is now being seen by all your friends in their Newsfeed. Whether is is about politics, police brutality, or a businesses refusing to serve someone based on their sexual orientation everyone now knows you are not only intolerant of others but that it is rooted in alternative facts and that you use Jesus to hide behind it.
  2. Liked Pages I continue to be surprised that people do not realize that the entire social media world can see the pages you “like”. You probably do not mind that people can see that your favorite college football team is Alabama or that you “liked” a page of a sick person in your church that needs help. What you may not realize is that they also see that you read alt-right news media and fan over Milo Yiannopolous. Your friends can see that you have liked pages that have neo-nazi roots, degrade women, the disabled, and people of other faiths. What you thought was hidden and would never mention around your friends of color or while you are working with LGBTQ individuals they can now see as plain as the hand in front of them.
  3. Comments On Your Friends’ Pages That are Public Or Friends of Friends Not all posts on Facebook have the same privacy settings. You may have your posts set to friends only or a select group of people but others may have theirs geared toward a public audience. If the post isn’t set to be open for the world to see it may be set so that friends of friends can see and read their posts. You may not have realized this when you decided to comment on your Uncle’s post about how Trayvon Martin deserved to be shot and that you agreed to be seen by the black couple that sits on the same pew as you at church. That discussion you got into about the ills of gay marriage on your girlfriend’s post you may not have wanted your gay cousin to read or the gay hairdresser that does your hair on a regular basis. Your comments calling political opponents names and making fun of them you may not have intended for your best friend to see that is different than you.
  4. “Liking” Posts On Your Friends Pages You think this is benign behavior. You don’t understand that it could be revealing the heart of who you are. You may not engage in controversial discussion and are careful about publicly liking any page that is not your favorite eatery or a movie you recently saw. You feel like you have this privacy thing on Facebook managed pretty well. Smart phone in hand scrolling through your feed you find this meme funny that references a lynching of Obama so you press the thumbs up button. You and the person who posted it are like minded individuals who “get each other” but you had no idea that your friend who is married to a black man and has biracial children saw what you did. The thing is when you like offensive memes on Facebook or those that demean others based on sexuality, race or religion they are  micro-aggressions.
  5. Groups You may not realize that the Group you just joined is visible to the public. You may believe your membership is hidden or that posts inside the group cannot be seen. Many groups these days are “Closed” but this only means that those outside the group cannot see what is posted inside. Membership is still visible to the public and your friends may be able to see what groups you are in – Public and Closed and even advertised to them in a way to garner more membership. Whether it be the local Swingers Club, the Neighborhood Watch, or the Alt-Right Homeschool Group you just joined, unless it is set to “Secret” your friends can see what groups you belong too.

So the next time you wonder why someone you were friends with, either in real life or on Facebook, unfriended you it is doubtful that it was about your political beliefs and more about showing your true character if you are guilty of any of the above.