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They Want Your Child!

Rick Perlstein:

Public schools are where young people encounter ways of being and thinking that may directly contradict those they were raised to believe; there really is no way around it. Schools are where future adults receive tools to decide which ideas and practices to embrace and which to reject for themselves. Schooling, done properly, is the opposite of conservatism. So is it any wonder it frequently drives conservatives berserk?

The panics have unfolded like clockwork, in just about every decade of the twentieth and twenty-first century. You can see it in the titles of books and pamphlets going back a hundred years: Hell and the High School (1923); They Want Your Child! (1948); Brainwashing in the High Schools: An Examination of Eleven American History Textbooks (1958); What They Are Doing to Your Children (1964); Is the Schoolhouse the Proper Place to Teach Raw Sex? (1968). Even the dry bureaucratic version propounded by Ronald Reagan’s most conservative cabinet member, Education Secretary William Bennett, sounded the same high-pitched culture alarms when it declared in a report on school performance that the United States was A Nation at Risk (1983).

Really, the only thing mysterious about this long tradition of backlash is why, every time it has happened in our own lifetimes, does it feel as though liberals are responding like it’s the very first time, with no effective playbook to draw on to fight back? They tend to respond, well, like liberals, with open minds: maybe these conservatives sort of have a point? So perhaps some good-faith negotiations are in order: maybe if we accept certain of their proposed reforms that seem sound, society and its schools will emerge even stronger, and then some of the acrid divisions will abate . . .

To understand the problem with this reasonable-seeming solution, consider a case study from more than forty years ago, with the cultural earthquake of the 1960s still visible in the rearview mirror and the Reagan presidency just over the horizon. It can help us understand how reasonable reform is never the goal of these crusades. Give them an inch, and they will take a mile. Because ultimately, what they’re after is crushing the power of their children—and all of ours—to choose their own life: to, in other words, acquire the ability to become free.

I Believe You Should Suffer

Can a believer truly be free if he can't force others to die for his beliefs?

Under the banner of religion, an employer is asserting a right to deny its workers insurance coverage for drugs that prevent HIV— an argument that just Wednesday found favor in federal court. Religiously affiliated schools posit a right to fire unmarried pregnant women. And taxpayer-funded child placement agencies turn away families seeking to foster or adopt because they are Jewish, Catholic or a same-sex couple.

Founding Father

The bulk of a letter, from Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson, 22 December 1783:

I shall be very much mortified and disappointed if you become inattentive to my wishes and particularly to the directions of that letter which I meant for your principal guide. I omitted in that to advise you on the subject of dress, which I know you are a little apt to neglect. I do not wish you to be gayly clothed at this time of life, but that what you wear should be fine of it’s kind; but above all things, and at all times let your clothes be clean, whole, and properly put on. Do not fancy you must wear them till the dirt is visible to the eye. You will be the last who will be sensible of this. Some ladies think they may under the privileges of the dishabille be loose and negligent of their dress in the morning. But be you from the moment you rise till you go to bed as cleanly and properly dressed as at the hours of dinner or tea. A lady who has been seen as a sloven or slut in the morning, will never efface the impression she then made with all the dress and pageantry she can afterwards involve herself in. Nothing is so disgusting to our sex as a want of cleanliness and delicacy in yours. I hope therefore the moment you rise from bed, your first work will be to dress yourself in such a stile as that you may be seen by any gentleman without his being able to discover a pin amiss, or any other circumstance of neatness wanting.

You got schooled, Martha.


Boston Children’s Hospital has warned employees about mounting threats and is coordinating with law enforcement after far-right activists on social media began targeting the hospital with false claims about its treatment of young transgender people.

It’s the most recent in a series of attempts to target hospitals for their work with trans youth, adding to an ongoing wave of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has hit libraries, schools and even a trans-inclusive Los Angeles spa.

The public relations office of Boston Children’s Hospital sent an email to employees with guidance on how to respond to harassment and threats earlier this week, citing an “increase of threatening and aggressive” phone calls and emails sent to the hospital commenting on treatment of transgender patients.” The email was confirmed to NBC News by a current employee.

Boston Children’s Hospital first became the target of activists in recent weeks, when well-followed social media accounts such as LibsofTikTok, which has often promoted “groomer” discourse that falsely linked LGBTQ teachers and parents to pedophilia, began to make a variety of false claims. One allegation said that the hospital offered gender-affirming hysterectomies to children under 18 years old.

Conservative influencers with millions of followers pushed similar false talking points and fanned the flames further. David J Harris, a podcaster and supplement seller, and single-issue activists including Chris Elston, who goes by “Billboard Chris” for the anti-trans statements he wears on sandwich boards, are among the right-wing social media stars who have spread the allegations online.

Last week, fact-checking organizations debunked the claims from right-wing accounts, but many of the same accounts continued to spread the false allegations this week.

But wait... it gets worse!

Long past time to start executing these ‘doctors,’” a member of a pro-Trump message board formerly known as TheDonald, wrote under a copy of a video featuring a doctor from the hospital. This message board is the same one whose members last week doxed and made violent threats against the judge who signed the search warrant that allowed the FBI to search the home of former President Donald Trump.