The Right’s ‘Big Lie’ Strategy: When Losing, Simply Rewrite History

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/150937/the_right%27s_%27big_lie%27_strategy%3A_when_losing%2C_simply_rewrite_history/

Contemporary conservatives aim to disseminate an alternate version of reality through the media echo chamber and the schools.

By Chauncey DeVega
May 13, 2011

America, the Tea Party GOP is coming for your kids.

Mike Huckabee, Republican front runner and presumptive 2012 presidential nominee is getting into the education business. He has started a project, “Learn Our History,” where on a monthly basis–sort of like BMG or Columbia House music–Huckabee’s organization will send subscribers Time Travel Academy, an animated children’s cartoon featuring a group of intrepid time travelers who teach lessons about U.S. history “without a political bias.”

If judged by its artistic qualities, the cartoon is so poorly done as to be a pitiable joke. Its main characters are a contrived group of multicultural “tweens.” The history is predictable: Ronald Reagan is America’s savior, America is a Judeo-Christian country preordained by God to be exceptional, and flag-waving jingoistic nationalism is a virtue and never a sin. The guiding principle of this right-wing approved version of U.S. history is simple: “What we see and hear isn’t always the same as what we read in books, or see on TV. We know the truth. And that’s good enough for us.”

The takeaway here is simple. The “liberals,” a cabal that ostensibly holds sway over public schools and universities, are corrupt and anti-American. In their fantasy, conservatives have access to a quasi-secret, pure and unadulterated version of history that is only available to true believers. The Right is the proverbial keeper of the flame. They are obligated, through a gospel of sorts, to both protect and share this “correct,” self-validating (and quite inaccurate) version of American history with all who will listen — and they’re using education and the media to do it.

The Time Travel Academy is patently absurd. Huckabee’s effort at overt historical revisionism is part of a larger national trend that has been decades in the making. Here, conservatives are playing chess while the Left and progressives are playing checkers. To that end, the Right has developed a two-fold strategy.

First, they correctly understand that the educational system is one of society’s primary sites for political socialization. There you create citizens. The classroom is also where citizens are equipped with the critical frameworks needed to ask hard questions about the common good, their role in society, and the State’s obligation to the people.

Conservatives have made a series of bold strikes in politicizing the classroom in the service of their agenda.

1. David Horowitz, failed academic and incendiary polemicist, and his group, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (now called the David Horowitz Freedom Center), have been policing college classrooms for years. They have compiled a McCarthy-like enemies list of professors who are “dangerous Leftists” that “poison” and “pollute” the minds of young people by criticizing the pet policy positions of conservatives. Offenders who earn the ire of Horowitz and his organization are routinely harassed. Some have even been drummed out of their positions as college professors for being too liberal and “Leftist” for Horowitz’s taste.

2. The Koch brothers, the astroturf puppet masters of the New Right, have been funding academic programs and research centers that parrot the extreme gospel of trickle-down economics, anti-statism, and other policy positions that are favorable to the most extreme elements of the conservative agenda. Subverting the rules of academic freedom, the Koch brothers have also donated monies with the condition that faculty members support their policy positions.

3. Christian Nationalist pseudo-historians such as David Barton offer an uncritical view of American exceptionalism and the Constitution where the United States is portrayed as a theocracy beholden to Judeo-Christian beliefs. They have become darlings of the New Right and the Tea Party. A historian without credentials, he has become a mascot for popular conservatives and praised by Newt Gingrich as a preeminent scholar in his field. Barton has risen to fame on the backs of Glenn Beck and Fox News, who together pander his “righteous” and “correct” versions of American history to their audiences. As part of a cottage industry that features such factually challenged writers as Jonah Goldberg, their jackbooted and incorrect versions of history (synthesized by ideological pedants and hobbyists) have become the intellectual cornerstones of contemporary conservative thought.

4. The Arizona Ethnic Studies ban, along with the efforts to rewrite Texas school books to reflect a conservative view of U.S. history, are entry points for (re)educating children in a mold that fits the Right’s social and political agenda. In the age of Obama these state-level moves are designed to quite literally whitewash American history and to remove the successes of liberals and progressives from the classroom. In total, these assaults on education are efforts to propagandize the country’s youngest and most impressionable citizens by elevating conservative mythology to the level of historical certainty.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/150937/the_right%27s_%27big_lie%27_strategy%3A_when_losing%2C_simply_rewrite_history/

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Why Does Austerity always Target the Poor and Never the Rich?

Wait don’t tell me. I know because the rich have waged class war on the working people since ancient times.

Maybe it’s time working people started waging class war against the rich.

From Athens, the Cradle of Democracy. Working people tell the rich where to shove their austerity measures.

Protesters, police clash in Athens demonstration

From World Socialist Web Site: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/may2011/gree-m13.shtml

By Stefan Steinberg
13 May 2011

Greek workers and youth took to the streets of Athens once again on Wednesday to protest a new round of austerity measures to be introduced by the social-democratic (PASOK) government of Prime Minister George Papandreou. The demonstration was accompanied by the second general strike to be held this year and the tenth since the outbreak of the international finance crisis in 2008.

The event expressed both the overwhelming popular hostility to Papandreou’s cuts, and growing mistrust of the policies of the Greek unions and their political supporters. Controlled by PASOK, the main union federations have cynically called one-day strikes to let off steam, while they negotiated the cuts with Papandreou.

The 24-hour strike closed schools and brought public transit to a halt around the country, particularly affecting train and ferry services. Television networks and radio broadcasters took part in the walkout, and printing presses came to a standstill with journalists agreeing not to publish the country’s newspapers until Friday. Teachers, civil servants, nurses, college and university staff also struck in 14 cities across the nation.

Air traffic controllers also staged a walkout, grounding flights for four hours. At the start of Greece’s tourist season the country’s two main flight operators, Olympic and Aegean, were forced to cancel or delay nearly 50 flights.

According to the figures of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) up to 100 percent of all workers at the country’s refineries, shipyards and ships, 95 percent in ports, 90 percent in construction, 80 percent in banks, and 85 percent in public utilities and state organisations (DEKO) went on strike.

Turnout for the main demonstration in Athens called by the GSEE and the federation of civil servants’ unions ADEDY was estimated at around 20,000.

This figure is notably smaller than the attendance at previous demonstrations and indicates growing disillusionment with the unions, whose protests offer no perspective for political opposition to Papandreou. The unions used the protest Wednesday to march demonstrators through the city centre and hand a resolution to parliamentary representatives.

Since the outset of the Greek crisis, the trade unions have played an utterly cynical role. None of their one-day strikes were called on a perspective of political opposition, let alone with a perspective of bringing down the Papandreou government. Last summer the unions refused to organise any sort of solidarity action for truck drivers, whose strike represented a real threat to the Greek government.

On Wednesday, a section of youthful protesters broke off from the main march headed by the unions. They proceeded to the government offices where heads of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund were meeting with government officials to work out the next stage of the country’s austerity program.

Continue reading at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/may2011/gree-m13.shtml

From The Los Angeles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/11/world/la-fg-greece-austerity-20110512

Greek general strike protests austerity measures

The protest occurs as experts from the European Union and International Monetary Fund assess proposed new austerity steps, including a third wave of tax increases and a sell-off of state assets.

By Anthee Carassava, Los Angeles Times
May 11, 2011

Ancient Greeks coined the word “austerity.” Modern Greeks are resenting it.

Waving red flags and toting colorful placards, thousands of workers walked off the job Wednesday, pouring onto the streets of Athens and other Greek cities to challenge a new rash of proposed reforms and cost-cutting measures designed to save the cash-strapped country $33 billion through 2015.

In Athens, about 30,000 protesters marched outside the nation’s parliament building, jeering lawmakers and calling them “thieves” and “robbers.” Some youths clashed with riot police, pelting them with stones, water bottles and oranges.

Police responded by firing several rounds of tear gas and pepper spray. At least a dozen demonstrators injured during about 15 minutes of mayhem were rushed to hospitals, as tourists and bystanders scattered in panic. The acrid smell of the tear gas lingered over the capital for hours after what authorities called a “timid” demonstration overall.

The 24-hour general strike, the country’s second this year, was organized by Greece’s two biggest labor unions as senior experts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund began assessing a new austerity package, including a third wave of tax increases and a sweeping sell-off of state assets.

Continue reading at: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/11/world/la-fg-greece-austerity-20110512

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