"Patriotic education" is Stephen Miller's fascism + Mike Pence's fundamentalism. Some years ago, I took a course in "patriotic education" for my book THE FAMILY. I spent a season reading its textbooks & talking to its teachers. Here's what to expect... A thread.
It'd be cliché to quote Orwell were it not for the fact that fundamentalist intellectuals do so w/ such frequency. At a rally to expose the “myth” of church/state separation Orwell was quoted at me 4 times: "Those who control the past control the future." 2/
1st time I heard Orwell quoted at a patriotic education rally was from William Federer, author of America's God & Country, which then had sold 1/2 mil copies--cherry picked, distorted, & fabricated quotes for students "proving" U.S. founded as Christian nation... 3/
"Patriotic educators" teach that Jefferson's wall of separation between church & state is misunderstood. It was meant as a "one-way wall," Federer claimed, to protect church from state, not the other way around. 4/
The first pillar of American fundamentalism is Jesus; the second is history, and in the fundamentalist mind the two are converging. We heard that at the White House "History" conference, the notion we need more Christ in our schools, that our past is Christian... 5/
"Patriotic education" is a fundamentalist concept. Just as fundamentalist religion supposes that divine truths are literal & determined by (white male) authority, so fundamentalist history discards the ongoing work of knowing the past. 6/
"Patriotic education" proposes, as did the White House conference, that the Constitution is divine, "god-breathed," as some say, & thus impervious to expanding ideas of rights. That's the religion behind Clarence Thomas' constitutional "originalism." It's false. 7/
Textbooks already written for "patriotic education"--those used in Christian nationalist schooling--emphasize Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which declared “religion” necessary to “good government” & thus to be encouraged through schools. This is cherry picking. 8/
The Christian nationalists aren't wrong that Protestantism was a central part of education for much of U.S. history. It wasn't until the 1930s that public ed veered away from biblical schooling. Because the 1st amendment. Because liberty of conscience. 9/
When I began reading the Christian nationalist school curriculum over a decade ago, it was already being taught to more than 10% of U.S. kids. That number has grown, a lot. It's big enough now to make a bid for control of least some public schools. 10/
The modern Christian Right--without which there would be no Trumpism--began not in national politics but on school boards. Those elections matters. The Right knows that. Those dismissing "patriotic education" as 2020 tactic are themselves ignoring history... 11/
A popular jr. high "patriotic education" textbook begins: "“Who, knowing the facts of our history, can doubt that the U.S has been a thought in the mind of God from all eternity?” Trump, ystrdy: "the fulfillment of a thousand years of Western civilization." 12/
That's from a textbook called "The American Republic for Christian Schools," published by Bob Jones University Press, a major Christian nationalist education publisher. You may remember Bob Jones as the fundamentalist school that banned interracial dating until 2000. 13/
Emphasis at White House history confab on private property. Here's a Christian nationalist high school econ textbook: “One must never come to see... free market as an end in itself. [It] merely sets the stage for an unhindered propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” 14/
"Patriotic education" likely wldn't exist w/out a man named Rousas John Rushdoony--the most radical Christian nationalist & "biblical capitalist" you never heard of. He thought of himself first & foremost as a historian, "correcting" secular, socialist education. 15/
Rushdoony taught the modern pioneers of Christian nationalist ed to teach "providential history," such as the “Protestant Wind” with which it says God helped British defeat Spanish Armada so that the New World would not be overly settled by agents of the Vatican. 16/
Rushdoony also established as bedrock Christian nationalist history idea that secular democracy is defiance of God--that real democracy means submitting to God's will as expressed by his "chosen one," the strongmen He puts in power. Sound familiar? 17/
"History is God's working in man," the director of a popular Christian nationalist education publisher told me. In fact, he preferred to call U.S. history "heritage studies." Trump loves that word, "heritage," too. (Maybe it has something to do w/ the $413 mil he inherited?) 18/
"Heritage studies," or "patriotic education," is a cult of personality. History matters not for its progression of “fact, fact, fact,” Michael McHugh, a pioneer of modern Christian nationalist ed, told me, but for “key personalities.” It's the strongman view of the past. 19/
Trump ystrdy spoke of history as an "unstoppable chain of events"--culminating in him. This isn't a '20 campaign tactic. He's been talking "history" more & more for over a year, chipping away at Rushmore's remaining raw granite to add his name, his "key personality." 20/
Trump doesn't need to know the particulars of Christian nationalist "history" to make it point to him. He surely doesn't know John Witherspoon, the only pastor to sign the declaration, from whom Christian nationalists derive a kind of "democratic" divine right to rule. 21/
Another "key man" already established in the Christian nationalist schooling that's the basis for "patriotic education" is Trump's fave general, MacArthur--fired by Truman for almost sparking WW III. That's who "patriotic ed" wants our boys to be. 22/
If "patriotic education" wants our boys to be "violent men [who] take it by force," as a popular Christian nationalist Bible verse puts it (Matthew 11:12), what does it dream for girls? That they be *subject* to what Christian nationalists--& Stephen Miller--dub "chivalry." 23/
Another "key man" in "patriotic education" is Sgt. Alvin York, a WW I hero repurposed by Christian nationalism as the greatest Christian sniper in U.S. history. "God uses ordinary people," teaches the lesson. Reminds me of a popular Trump t-shirt I saw reporting ralies... 24/
"Patriotic education" proposes he greatest "key men"--Washington, Lincoln, &, now, Trump--as divine. Popular Christian nationalist art often depicts them attended by a ghostly Christ or angels; & texts offer "proofs" of their chosen-ness. This is also known as "fascism." 25/
During Iraq War, Christian nationalists erected 100s of billboards depicting a U.S. soldier backed by a ghostly Washington. Now it's cops, heroes in nationalist imagination of a new war, backed by angels & patriotic ghosts. 26/
As w/ Texas state legislator other day, "patriotic education" repackages defeats--the Alamo--as victories & men who renounced U.S.--Confed. generals--as American heroes. "America" in nationalist imagination *isn't* united; it's "red states," it's whatever strongmen say it is. 26/
"Patriotic education" has always meant preparing for war as a lens through which to view world, whether the Civil War then or a prospective one now. "Boys, are you ready for warfare?" asks one homeschooling video, "Putting on the Whole Armor of God." 27/
Such terms come straight outta R.J. Rushdoony. Christian nationalist apologists, "responsible" conservatives, insist Rushdoony was fringe. & yet he was in many ways father of 2 major ideas: Christian homeschooling, & "providential history"--aka modern "patriotic education." 28/
This gets wonky: Rushdoony in turn studied a turn-of-the-century Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper was complex--but 1st Rushdoony, then Watergate felon Chuck Colson, & now today's Christian nationalists--twist his thought into a proof for nationalist education. 29/
They take Kuyper's idea of "presuppositionalism"--in essence, subjectivity--as proof that neutral governance is impossible. Then they declare that subjectivity an objective "fact" to conclude that govt can only be for God or against him. Trump on Biden: "against God!" 30/
Even tho he was an anti-Catholic Christian nationalist, modern "patriotic ed" pioneer Rushdoony loved JFK's rhetoric for its framing of U.S. as a redeemer nation (JFK: "God's work must be our own.") So, too, QAnon now cherry picks JFK for prophetic proof of Trump's glory. 31/
A big part of my course in "patriotic education," like Christian nationalist education in general, was consumed by Stonewall Jackson--who got more ink in U.S. History For Christian Schools textbook than even Lee, much less Grant (forget all about Douglass). 32/
A nationalist magazine called Practical Homeschooling used to (& may still) offer instructions for Stonewall Jackson costumes in honor of his birthday. A text called Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man's Friend is--well, hell, do I need to explain how f'd up that is? 33/
What's up w/ Stonewall Jackson & Christian nationalist education? The modern version partly began w/ him, when Rushdoony discovered a forgotten bio that framed him as fighting NOT for slavery, or the South, but the supposedly Christian ideals of the founders. 34/
Within "patriotic education," Confederate generals like Stonewall Jackson aren't the traitors they objectively were, they're men who transcended partisanship in the service of Christian ideals. Christian nationalists do denounce slavery, too. Lotta cognitive dissonance. 35/
"Cognitive dissonance" is maybe a good place to pause this thread on Christian nationalist roots of Trump's "patriotic education" initiative. My 6th grader's remote classes are over; time for homeschooling. We *won't* be studying Stonewall Jackson. 37/

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh
 

Keep Current with Jeff Sharlet

Jeff Sharlet Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

PDF

Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @JeffSharlet

13 Jan
A week ago these GOP congresspeople were hiding from armed insurrectionists who declared they'd come to kill many of them. But what do they fear more? Not even Trump's tweets, which no longer exist. The ghost of his tweets.
That's not really fair of me, though. Many of these GOP congresspeople don't fear Trump. They love the fascism for which the insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. Their regret isn't the attack; it's that it was turned back.
That's neither hyperbole nor accusation. It's simply observation of words and actions. Naming many GOP congressmen as openly sympathetic to fascist insurrection is, in fact, a form of respect: we're taking their claims seriously.
Read 4 tweets
5 Jan
Woah -- Bowie's "Major Tom" as warm-up music at the Trump rally. I've reported a lot of Trump rallies, and the music is not what you'd expect -- Lionel Richie's "Hello" stands out -- but this, for a guy who has, indeed, "floating in a very peculiar way..."
Now comes a Trump rally standby, "In the Air Tonight." At a rally in Shreveport, LA, I watched a group of half a dozen teenage boys in matching "Trump Tweets Matter" t-shirts air drum the solo. Brad Parscale gave them a shout out from the stage.
Next up David Perdue by video, declaring himself "the original outsider." I think he meant the original outsourcer.
Read 37 tweets
3 Jan
A minority but significant part of the establishment has long favored Christian nationalist authoritarianism, as I wrote in The Family. This isn’t an accusation, just an observation based on their own correspondence in archives.
That doesn’t mean the threat now is nothing new. It is. Until now elite authoritarians angled for control within a somewhat democratic system. They stayed in the ring. Now they’re wading through the stands, hitting everybody and grabbing whatever they can.
Proud Boys, dangerous as they may be, are a distraction. The riot to really worry about isn’t the one they seem to be hoping for Jan 6; it’s the slo-mo riot of MAGA, chewing up the last vestiges of the establishment GOP in Congress and state legislatures.
Read 8 tweets
2 Jan
The coup that’s working is against the GOP. It’s long looked wholly Trump-owned. But *Trumpism* wants more—to purge the party of conservatives, to make it purely kleptocratic & authoritarian. Cruz & co. need this purge because unlike Trump they can’t win in a split party.
If the intro-party purge is successful — entirely possible — I think it’s just a matter of time before full blown authoritarianism wins power nationally. Regionally it will steamroll fast.
The grifting of authoritarians is a red herring. It leads liberals to mistakenly believe they care more about theft than ideology, because liberals look for ideas in an ideology which is ultimately little more than sadistic ego. Authoritarians feed it w/ both theft & control.
Read 5 tweets
29 Dec 20
Found this delusion on Parler, so, so much of which is dedicated to the fantasy of Trump as warrior/berserker/assassin/sniper who is going to murder everyone who ever made his believers feel small.
What's fascinating about these Parler memes of Trump as Time's Person of the Year--and Trump's own fantasy of himself as being congratulated by world leaders--is that they're absolutely obsessed with the respect of the traditional elites they claim to have made obsolete.
Consider that popular Parler post declaring that Trump would soon preside over executions not just of the "deep state" but also in the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL (listed in that order, which perhaps has racial meaning). These "free speech" champions want athletes killed--for speech.
Read 4 tweets
27 Dec 20
We go through waves of “normalization”—read, “delusion”—with regard to covid just as we do cases. We’re in such a normalization phase now. When we look again, it’s going to be terrifying.
A walk down my country road yesterday: looked like 1/3 of neighbors were away. Traveling. A few had multiple car guests. This in Vermont, which has been much more responsible than most of the U.S.
Such travels make my 11-yr-old mad. She’s afraid of losing school, she’s afraid of losing people. I have to tell her we don’t know why those people are traveling or how. No shaming. But what about the question of neighborliness?
Read 5 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!