Wednesday, November 30, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service
Op-Ed

Gov. Mini-Him, and his life on the plains

January 28, 2022

Since so many powerful prominent Republicans want to prohibit public schools from teaching children about our nation’s sad, brutal history of racism, should we prohibit public schools from teaching kids about American Indians too?

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

In a sense, it’s a good thing that Hitler’s book is still available in our country, as is “My Life on the Plains,” the memoir George Armstrong Custer wrote in the 1870s as he was preparing to run for president. Not because there is anything commendable about either book, or either man — but because both books show the immense popularity that racists can acquire among a presumably literate electorate.

I tried to read both books but couldn’t get through either one. Both begin with a cogent paragraph or two, but by the end of Page 1 it’s obvious that both men were insane.

Custer was as viciously racist, violent and unhinged about American Indians as Hitler was about Jews.

Let’s proceed cautiously now.

Both Custer and Hitler were mass murderers — and proud of it.

So should we — and by “we” I mean public schools, public libraries, Members of Congress, state legislatures and school and library boards — prohibit U.S. public schools from teaching their students about Custer, but not about Hitler?

That’s what you think if you’re Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, I guess.

Governor Ron, the “Mini-Him,” backs a law that proposes to prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort” when they teach students or train employees about discrimination in our nation’s past. The bill has passed out of the Florida state Senate Education Committee.

OK, Governor Mini-Him: 60,000 American Indians live in Florida, give or take. Most are children. Should Florida prohibit its schools from teaching them about American Indians?

Because it might make them feel bad?

Any way you look at it, Gov. Mini-Him, teaching Indian kids truthfully about U.S. history is bound to make them uncomfortable. So do you want to prohibit Indian Studies programs nationwide? Or only in Florida?

Or, Gov. Mini-Him, is it OK to teach our children about Hitler and Stalin, but not about Custer and Jefferson Davis and Jesse Helms?

The best short article on the Republican book-ban rampage is this one from The Guardian of Jan. 24, not just for its reporting, but for the 26 links it contains to other reporting on the subject.

Let me be straight here: Banning books is a giant step on the road to fascism. And sizable parts of the United States are dancing down that yellow brick road.

See the link to the Jan. 24 Guardian for names and details — I hate to give fascists ink.

In October 2021, a Texas state representative sent school districts a list of 850 books he wants to ban, asking how many they had and how much they cost. By December that year, a San Antonio school district said it was reviewing 414 titles in its libraries.

Here is a key paragraph from The Guardian article:

“In Pennsylvania, the Central York school board banned a long list of books, almost entirely titles by, or about, people of color, including books by Jacqueline Woodson, Ijeoma Oluo and Ibram X Kendi, and children’s titles about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. “Let’s just call it what it is — every author on that list is a Black voice,” one teacher told the York Dispatch.”

Dear Reader (as we used to say):

I have read the titles of all of these 1,000+ books under investigation by the Republican Komissariat and its Faux News Bureau. These prospectively banned books are overwhelmingly by and about Black people, by and about people Other Than White, and/or about sex — in all of its manifestations.

So, come on, Gov. Mini-Him, come on Republican Party: When will you prohibit us from teaching Native American history in public schools? Specifically: White people’s relations with American Indians?

There are 2 million American Indians in U.S. public schools today, Gov. Mini-Him. What do you think our public schools should teach them? Or should we be allowed to teach them at all?

(Author’s note: I lived on an Indian reservation for six years. I never heard a one of my friends object to being called an Indian.)

Subscribe to our columns

Want new op-eds sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe below!

Loading
Loading...