Like many of us, I greatly appreciate legislative updates from Jeff Farnan, First District Representative representing the Northwest Missouri area. His April 24 opinion piece, “Capitol Report: Saving Women’s Sports Act,” featured in the Maryville Forum not only shared information, but also provides a window into what our state leaders feel is one of the more important issues facing Missourians.
There appears to be a clear attempt for those in power to divide people. Culture-war issues like transgender bathroom bans/athletic biological “clarifications,” threats to censor books and withhold library funding, anti-CRT initiatives, etc., certainly seem to get a lot of attention and attraction, particularly in certain types of media.
Of course, it’s true that ingesting information through sound-bites and talking-points is simple and easy, which is exactly what certain types of media (and politicians) rely upon. Outrage stokes tribal elements of large groups of people, and we have a LOT of outrage in the United States (and in the great state of Missouri) right now. Social media makes it easy to fuel the fire, to be sure. A cynic would say that these culture-war issues are covering-up the real issues of import, but that’s an argument for another time.
In the spirit of encouraging folks to think (which teachers spend their professional lives doing, btw), here are some thoughts:
– LGBTQ+ human beings have existed forever. The fact that more people are no longer “closeted” does not mean that they should not enjoy the same rights as everyone else.
– Censorship coming from politicians is a scary subject. In my experience, local library directors/librarians and public-school librarians do a fantastic job determining what is appropriate for students and the general public. Every single library in existence in this country has an appropriate way of contesting content on shelves, and it doesn’t involve stoking-up hate on (insert favored social media).
– I have never met an anti-CRT person who actually knows what CRT is or where/how it is taught. Slavery and racism are part of U.S. history. Covering-up or glossing-over shameful parts of our past is not only a disservice to those who were oppressed, it creates entire generations of people ignorant to true stories of the shaping of our country and our world.
In my opinion, our society would benefit mightily from folks taking time to practice empathy and understanding. If one puts one’s self in another person’s shoes, we might have less tribalism and knee-jerk reactions based on click-bait and sound-bites. Missourians would benefit mightily from elected leaders re-evaluating what is really important to benefit everyone.
William Richardson, Maryville resident