Next time you hear Youngkin blather on about so-called “parents’ rights,” this is what he actually means. As the brilliant Jamelle Bouie writes in this morning’s NY Times, “[parents rights] sounds unobjectionable — of course parents should have rights — which is probably why it’s become the term of choice for the conservative effort to ban books, censor school curriculums and suppress politically undesirable forms of knowledge.” HOWEVER, as Bouie explains, in reality this is what we’re actually talking about:
In his 2021 campaign for the Virginia governor’s mansion, Glenn Youngkin made “parents matter” his slogan, and he has asserted “parents’ rights” in his effort to regulate the treatment of transgender children and end “divisive concepts” such as “critical race theory” in schools. His early moves included new history standards that removed discussions of racism and downplayed the role of slavery in causing the Civil War.
And at this moment, Texas Republicans are debating a bill — backed by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — that, according to The Texas Tribune, “would severely restrict classroom lessons, school activities and teacher guidance about sexual orientation and gender identity in all public and charter schools up to 12th grade.”
The reality of the “parents’ rights” movement is that it is meant to empower a conservative and reactionary minority of parents to dictate education and curriculums to the rest of the community. It is, in essence, an institutionalization of the heckler’s veto, in which a single parent — or any individual, really — can remove hundreds of books or shut down lessons on the basis of the political discomfort they feel. “Parents’ rights,” in other words, is when some parents have the right to dominate all the others.
And, of course, the point of this movement — the point of creating this state-sanctioned heckler’s veto — is to undermine public education through a thousand little cuts, each meant to weaken public support for teachers and public schools, and to open the floodgates to policies that siphon funds and resources from public institutions and pump them into private ones…
All of which is, of course, *exactly* what Glenn Youngkin et al are trying to do in Virginia – all under the cover of the seemingly benign, or even positive, phrase “parents rights.”
Of course, this is what right wingers do, warp the language in an Orwellian fashion to mean the *exact opposite* of what the words seems to plainly state. Thus, “right to work” is their language for laws that take away rights from workers and give them to powerful/wealthy corporations. Or how they twist the phrase used by African Americans, “stay woke” – “the notion that staying ‘woke’ and alert to the deceptions of other people was a basic survival tactic” – into something insidious or even evil. Or how they use words like “freedom” and “liberty” when they actually mean taking AWAY freedom and liberty (from women, minorities, working people, etc.). Or when they claim to be in favor of “low taxes,” when what they really mean is cutting taxes on the wealthy while screwing everyone else.
It goes on and on, but the point is, when right wingers start using a buzz phrase, you can be 99.9999% (ok 100%, lol) certain that it’s not what it seems to be, and could very well be the exact OPPOSITE of what it seems to be. So…yeah, “stay woke” to that shit – and definitely don’t fall for it!