Betsy DeVos Causes Stupidity (Part II)

Meant to get to this earlier, but wanted to comment on another reaction to Betsy DeVos's confirmation as Secretary of Education :

Explanation: some of my Facebook friends are full-tilt-boogie lefties. I don't believe in defriending people over politics, so I see a lot of this.

Is it too ridiculously stupid to respond to? Hey, maybe! But let's do it anyway.

So: "fascist agenda"? Especially in relation to DeVos's confirmation? Please.

Over the years, we've linked to George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" numerous times. It griped Orwell (who, don't forget, went up against actual fascists) to see the term approach worthlessnesss:

The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’.

This appears to be pretty much the case with CREDO Action (a self-proclaimed "progressive" activist group). Their statement repeats the "fascist" smear, but (unsurprisingly) offers nothing specific to back it up.

Let's assume the motivation for the "fascist" label is what CREDO calls DeVos's "disregard for public education", which (let's further assume) is her advocacy for school choice, via vouchers, charter schools, etc.

In which case, the "fascist" charge is utterly deranged. But it's not uncommon. In his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg noted an episode of the TV show The West Wing where Mallory (Allison Smith) deemed Sam (Rob Lowe) a fascist because he dared argue in favor of school vouchers. Never mind about that, by the way, because Sam was just playing devil's advocate there, and Mallory mistook that for his actual views. Presumably, in West Wing land, had those been Sam's actual opinions, Mallory would have been entirely justified in deeming him a fascist.

Which is damned odd. By which I mean "insanely stupid". Because (as Jonah points out) "school choice is arguably the most un-fascist public policy ever conceived, after homeschooling".

(And yes, Betsy DeVos considers homeschooling to be a "perfectly valid educational option".)

The simple fact is that actual fascists were completely in favor of state schooling, and implacably hostile to educational institutions and arrangements outside the control of the government.

  • In Italy, Mussolini's 1919 Fascist platform demanded the "obligation of the state to provide and maintain schools whose character decisively and soundly shapes a national conscience, impartial in character but rigidly secular". And, of course an obligation to "fully enforce the law concerning mandatory schooling".

  • Up in Germany, the Nazis demanded "a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program" which would "enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education". (Hey, just like Bernie!) Catholic schools were closed under Nazi rule.

Why it's almost as if the CREDO dimwits didn't stop for one millisecond to ask themselves: "Isn't it likely that Fascists would disapprove of kids being educated outside state control?" Which all brings us back to Orwell again:

Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism?

Orwell deemed this attitude (ascribed to "Stuart Chase and others") an "absurdity". Guess what, George? We live in absurd times.