• Texas Republicans have — perversely and unintentionally — accomplished something that the best high school civics teachers have struggled to do: They’ve made citizenship edgy and cool.
Since Texas lawmakers in 2021 passed a ban on lessons teaching that any one group is “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive”, a little-noticed provision of that legislation has triggered a massive fallout for civics education across the state.
Tucked into page 8 is a stipulation outlawing all assignments involving “direct communication” between students and their federal, state or local officials – short-circuiting the training young Texans receive to participate in democracy itself. …
Since 2021, 18 states have passed laws restricting teachings on race and gender. But Texas is the only one nationwide to suppress students’ interactions with elected officials in class projects, according to researchers at the free expression advocacy group Pen America.
Practically overnight, a growing movement to engage Texas students in real-world civics lessons evaporated. Teachers canceled time-honored assignments, districts reversed expansion plans with a celebrated civics education provider and a bill promoting student civics projects that received bipartisan support in 2019 was suddenly dead in the water.
These white Republicans have a Laius Complex — a neurotic fear of their own progeny based on the realization that the young will, some day, grow up to replace them. Like Laius, they’re trying to deny or to forestall their own inevitable deaths by harming their own children. How’d that work out for Laius?
The result of this bill will be that every high school student in Texas will learn that white Republican legislators fear their civic involvement. Forms of civic responsibility that may previously have seemed like dutiful drudgery are, thereby, transformed into acts of youthful rebellion akin to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Suddenly, organizing a letter-writing campaign to state legislators or speaking at a town council meeting has been made dangerous, edgy, unsettling — in a word, cool.
I mean, civic responsibility has always been cool, but in a niche, geek-cool way. This bill makes it rock-star cool. It makes it Johnny-Cash’s-mug-shot-at-Folsom cool.
State Rep. James Talorico, who sponsored a now-dead bill to promote civic engagement for high school students — the kind of thing that was utterly non-controversial just two years ago — says, the anti-civics law means “Students are now banned from advocating for something like a stop sign in front of their school.”
That’s dumb, but I also imagine students will now be far more motivated to advocate for something like a stop sign in front of their school. Even such basic democracy in action, improving life for the community in small and simple ways, has now been reframed as sticking it to The Man.
• USC historian Peter C. Mancall takes to Atlas Obscura to subtweet about where this is headed: “Was a May Day Attack by Pilgrims a Practice Run for a Massacre?”
Two hospitals that refused to provide an emergency abortion to a pregnant woman who was experiencing premature labor put her life in jeopardy and violated federal law, a first-of-its-kind investigation by the federal government has found.
The findings, revealed in documents obtained by The Associated Press, are a warning to hospitals around the country as they struggle to reconcile dozens of new state laws that ban or severely restrict abortion with a federal mandate for doctors to provide abortions when a woman’s health is at risk
The sanctity of imaginary lives always threatens the sanctity, safety, and dignity of actual lives.
• This story about a vicious, enthusiastically horrible Pennsylvania leader of “Moms for Liberty” (aka Klanned Karenhood) had me nervously looking up Monroe County to see how close it is to here: “Moms for Liberty Leader Allegedly Hijacked Dead Woman’s Facebook Page to Harass Foes.”
(It’s in the Poconos just north of Allentown. Way too close for comfort.)
• Speaking of horrible, horrible people: Carolyn Bryant Donham is finally dead.
Mark the occasion by reading this heart-breaking, luminous, defiant poem by Eve L. Ewing, “I saw Emmet Till this week at the grocery store.”
• The title for this post comes from the Man in Black himself: