Two recent news items, when put next to each other have disconcertingly similar targets. The first is from Newsweek on March 3rd of this year.
Russia’s Education Ministry announced that it would be holding a virtual lesson for children to explain why the war on Ukraine is necessary.
The Education Ministry, also known as the Ministry of Enlightenment, said the lesson would take place at 12:00 Moscow time on Thursday, according to a Facebook post by the ministry.
This gist of this effort is that Russia’s elite consider “educating” their children on the necessity for a war of aggression to be a major priority. This actually isn’t much of a surprise considering how badly Putin’s war has gone and the equally surprising volume of opposition to it.
A graphic example of this is in the Tweet below, showing a Russian airline pilot speaking out against the war on the plane’s PA system to resulting passenger applause. He speaks first in Russian and then English. Here is the translation of the caption, “The commander of the aircraft of the Russian airline Pobeda announced to the passengers that the war with Ukraine is a crime.“
In essence, Putin’s government is employing the same tactics as the Nazis when they established the Hitler Youth to ensure future generations were fully indoctrinated into the propaganda of the Reich.
But now we travel to our side of the world to the origin point of the second article published in the Idaho Capital Sun.
The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill Monday afternoon that critics said could lead to librarians being prosecuted for checking out materials that are deemed harmful to minors.
Following a long debate, the Idaho House voted 51-14 to pass House Bill 666.
If passed into law, the bill would remove an exemption that protects libraries, schools, museums, colleges and universities and their employees for “disseminating material that is harmful to minors.”
Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, sponsored the bill and said it is necessary to protect children from what she described as pornography and obscene material she said has been making its way into libraries where children can access it.
Of course what Republicans now describe as objectionable material can be best summarized by the list of 850 books proposed for banning by Texas lawmaker Matt Krause. The list not only includes books on the favorite republican topic, sex education, but books on human rights, the holocaust, the foundations of Democracy and more.
The comparison of these two articles, published a few days apart, shows a scary parallel that has been becoming more and more starkly apparent as the invasion of Ukraine grinds on. To spell it out, state Republican legislatures are resorting to the same authoritarian distrust of future generations as the Russian government.
But is it merely distrust or outright fear of an educated population? The truth is that children who are allowed to explore and delve into subjects of their choosing are less likely to grow up willing go to war on their fellows. The more educated a population, the less they tend to believe lies told to them by “leaders.”
The lies told by Republicans are pretty much of the same stripe as those told by Putin and his minions, “Those other people over there in Ukraine, or Mexico, or Canada, or South America, or insert whatever country or ethnic group or religion or skin color you want, they are not like us (first lie). They are your enemy (second lie). They are dangerous to you (third lie).” And the lies keep coming. Then comes the discrimination, then comes the partitioning, then come the invasion and war, then comes the camps, then…
Those in leadership positions, in whatever jurisdiction, who are so terrified of knowledge that gets rid of the divisions between people should not be allowed to hold those offices. The actions described in these two articles are 400-foot tall billboards telegraphing both Putin’s and these Republican legislators’ terror of people. And we should ask both, “How can you lead people you are afraid of?”