Army bringing farmers to townArkansas State Archives
CAPTURED: Soldiers from Camp Pike lead black men into Elaine in 1919. Dare state government talk of this. 

News from Oklahoma about a community college’s cancellation of a long-running class on racial issues.

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Reason: A new Oklahoma law that bans the teaching of divisive racial concepts.

In other words, it’s a Son of Trent Garner Law.

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Melissa Smith, whose course was canceled, isn’t happy with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

When Stitt signed the bill, he said, “We can and should teach the history without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring he or she feel guilt or shame based on their race or sex. I refused to tolerate otherwise.”

Smith said she doesn’t teach that one race is superior over another, but her classes and students do talk about racism and privilege.

“To learn that there are actual disparities between the races in terms of education, housing and income,” she said.

This is cookie-cutter material from the Republican Party. Oklahoma’s law bears more than a passing resemblance to Garner’s bill banning the teaching of divisive concepts by state agencies (though ultimately schools and colleges were excepted

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Here’s the Oklahoma law.)

Note that Garner’s bill defines “divisive concepts” as:

(A) One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;

(B) The state of Arkansas or the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist;

(C) An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;

(D) An individual should be discriminated against or  receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;

(E) An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex;

(F) An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members ofthe same race or sex;

(G) Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex;

(H) Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another ]race; or

(I) The term “divisive concept” includes any other form of race or sex stereotyping or any other form of race or sex scapegoating.

Now here’s the Oklahoma definition of banned concepts:

a. one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,

b. an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,

c. an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex,

d. members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex,

e. an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex,

f. an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex,

g. any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex, or

h. meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.

 

Great minds think alike, I guess.

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The simple truth: racism is knitted up in the fabric of the U.S., Arkansas and Oklahoma history. Republicans don’t want it mentioned

Why? Racial resentment and class-based incitement are the mother’s milk of current Republican politics.

The truth is that, even to this day, the U.S. has a rich and unpleasant history of racial discrimination, both de facto and de jure. The Elaine Massacre and the Tulsa Massacre come to mind as teaching moments. So does George Floyd.

Someday, an Arkansan will be prevented from talking about these truths thanks to Trent Garner’s law. It is the worst sort of cancel culture, an erasure of history that Trent Garner doesn’t want to talk about.

Governor Hutchinson allowed this bill to become law, though he didn’t sign it. He at least said it addressed a problem that didn’t exist. We could dream that a governor with the gumption to veto a useless law might encourage some gumption among Republican legislative sheep. That he didn’t tells us a lot about how the Republican majority feels about race.