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​Education and Death Threats

Gadfly | November 7th, 2021

By Ed Raymond

fargogadfly@gmail.com

Walkabouts and Turnagains

This is a Critical Race Fact. When Ronald Reagan started his campaign for the presidency at Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1979, he used the phrase “Let’s make America great again.” He didn’t add the words “by making it White again,” but he made it clear to Southern White Democrats that the Republican Party wanted them to make a “turnagain.”

While driving in Alaska, we were surprised by a road called the “Turnagain,” which described the only road around a big narrow bay in the Pacific Ocean. Instead of building a bridge across the long bay, it took many miles of road to end up very close to where you turned. Therefore, you “turned again.” This was what Southern Democrats did because of race. They “transgendered” to the Republican Party.

Perhaps you remember. That Mississippi town became infamous when the Ku Klux Klan murdered three civil rights workers there and buried them in a dam.

When President Lyndon Johnson signed civil rights laws and voting acts in the middle 1960’s, he knew the Democrats would lose the South to Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”; that is, turning Democrats into Republicans to vote against Blacks.

A quote from the times: “The streets of our country are in turmoil! The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting! Communists are seeking to destroy our country! Russia is threatening us with all her might! Our republic is in danger, yes, danger within and without! WE NEED LAW AND ORDER!” Who said it: Adolf Hitler or Ronald Reagan?

We are going through similar times again. Now the Trumplicans are using culture and race to maintain White power.

The Know-It-All Trump Bunker at Flag 1100 Is Getting Filled!

When Know-It-All Scott Hennen of Flag 1100 urged anti-mask, anti-vaxx, pro-lifers and anti-Critical Race Theory parents to attack school boards, he approved the use of death threats and “we-know-where your-children-are” threats used in many school board meetings to frighten school board members.

The only way to stop these death threats is to have perpetrators hear the clang of jail cells closing. Do you actually think states with right-wing wacko militias and governors like Florida and Wyoming will jail death-threateners?

I see anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers Chris Berg and Tom Tucker have joined Scott in the Trump bunker at Flag in preaching to all the Know-Nothings in the area.

Trumplicans are experienced and skilled at creating big and medium lies. They are making a big issue out of Critical Race Theory in Virginia and across the country, when it isn’t even taught in any school! The history of Native Americans, Blacks, Hispanics, Jews and other minorities is being taught in every public school by teachers who know Critical Race Facts.

If the Fargo Forum keeps printing columns by Hennen, Grande, Hewitt, and Ross Nelson, they should make a hot deal with a Sri Lankan manufacturer of newsprint made with elephant dung. Sir Lanka has about 4,000 wild elephants that drop huge heaps of dung that is filled with intact fibers because of their unusual digestive systems. The Eco Maximus company employs many locals to collect and turn the dung into sheets of newsprint. The Forum might increase circulation by advertising it is printing Trumplican bullshit from several regular columnists on elephant dung paper.

Culture Battles: Sex, Race, Abortion, Homosexuality, Religion, and Patriotism

I had the pleasure of working with the dynamic Dr. Ken Underwood as a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent for personnel in the five years he served as Fargo superintendent in the 1960’s and 70’s. He was also a good bridge player. He left and became superintendent of the Charleston, West Virginia schools.

He suddenly was in the middle of the Kanawha County textbook controversy when the district was going to approve 325 books that would be used in the schools. The approval battle, which involved bombings, shootings, burnings of books, many arrests, and parents keeping students at home, made the national news for months.

Ken kept in touch with me because he knew I had lived for three years with Jim Crow 1, the “separate but equal” days, and lynching in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and North Carolina.

He soon learned about fundamentalist Christian Identity beliefs that God made Blacks to serve Whites, and their policies and beliefs about sex, when the wife of a Christian minister led the charge against the books. Her charge: the textbooks were “filthy, disgusting trash, unpatriotic, favored blacks, conflicted with Christian values, and are immoral.” She and fellow protesters claimed they had read all 325, and that many of them had language used by Blacks that “emphasized ghetto dialect” and taught children to “disrespect the beliefs of their parents.”

A Quick Survey of Parent Questions

I have subbed for my kindergarten teachers, taught Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” to sixth graders, taught remedial English to ninth graders, taught English literature, creative writing, journalism and grammar to high school seniors, taught Concordia education majors completing their final certification requirements, and taught NDSU graduate students administration courses required for their PHDs.

In all those years, I have never been asked about the contents or requirements for a diploma or a degree. The only questions asked revolved around athletics and coaching. I remember a hockey parent complaining that he had spent $10,000 on hockey schools for his kid but he wasn’t starting on the varsity. Hockey parents are always fun. I think it’s because there are no timeouts.

A doctor from Meritcare asked me to fire the track coach because the coach ran his speedster in relays instead of individual dashes. The parent thought his son could get an athletic scholarship if he won 100-yard dashes. I refused to fire the coach. The parent said he would sue me. I said “Please do. My ego needs a stroke.” I never heard from him again.

Maybe it’s because I was raised on a small farm with no electricity and no running water. Maybe it’s because you think more about life when you’re sitting alone in the two-holer out back at 10 PM when it’s 20 degrees below zero. It has always seemed to me that the object of education is to make a life but not a living. A living should take care of itself.

What is your answer to the question: do you work to live or live to work? To make life interesting we need art historians, cello players, poets, and dramatists. So far, I have participated in five graduations, supervised 22 graduations, and have been the main speaker at four in the area. No parent ever asked me why we required this or that course to graduate. They left that to the experts.

Surviving a Walkabout or a Graduation Means You’re Ready to Make a Life

On June 5, 1995 I published a column in the Midweek Eagle called “Graduating For Life” which described different practices of the 500 aboriginal tribes in the Australian Outback.

(This was before I got fired for satirizing and ridiculing the Vatican for selling bedsheets personally endorsed by Pope John Paul II to raise money for celebrating a jubilee. The Vatican has demonstrated for 2,000 yearsthat it knows virtually nothing about sex between sheets or anywhere else, between males and females, between males and males, between females and females, between priests and subjects, or the top 1,500 species we live with on earth that practice same sex. Some subjects I just can’t resist.)

I used information (edited for this column) about aborigines from the book “The Great Australian Outback” written by an archeologist who led an exploration of the 4,000 square mile outback.

The entire possessions of an average aborigine family weighed less than 20 pounds: two rubbing sticks for fires, two knife-edged stones, one container of dried worms for protein, one boomerang, one spear, one woomera (a spear thrower), and a few baskets and wooden bowls. The diet was simple: insects, kangaroos, worms, birds, snakes, and rabbits.

Water was a constant problem. Sometimes they followed clouds for miles hoping to catch raindrops. If they failed to find water, sometimes they would calmly dig a grave and die in it.

As the lifespan of an aborigine was not very long, 13-year-old males could join the adults if he passed the demands of his walkabout. First, he is circumcised, purified, and one of his front teeth is knocked out. A missing front tooth is a sign of beauty and bravery in most aboriginal cultures. After these rites, the graduation candidate is given a spear and a boomerang and is taken far away to a remote site. If he returns to the family after three weeks of walkabout, he joins the adults. Failure in the walkabout means death. If he doesn’t return, his parents are blamed for failing to teach him the arts of survival and are banished from the tribe for a length of time.

It was a harsh life in a harsh land. The archeologist figured it would take 20 tons of equipment per civilized man to cross 4,000 miles. He also knew that a walkabout graduate could probably survive the same trek with only a spear and boomerang.

What Different Critical Facts Did the Walkabout Graduate Need to Know?

He lived in a completely different environment, with over 500 other aboriginal tribes. But to survive in the outback, he needed biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, zoology, entomology, climate, and home economics to find, kill, process, and know what plants and bugs he could eat, and where he could find precious water.

He had to know the history of hundreds of tribes so he could travel safely through the geography of the outback. He had to know the critical facts about his friends and enemies. Theories might kill him. In that none of the 500 tribes had a written language, he had to know many dialects among the 700 tongues used by the tribes.

He had to pay particular attention to his physical condition because he had to often dash 100 yards and throw his spear accurately to kill his dinner and supper. He even had to know some psychology to get along with his family. In his struggles to survive, he still took time to illustrate his life and surroundings through art that is graphically displayed in 60 major areas in Australia, considered to be outdoor galleries and museums of aboriginal art.

In the book, as the archeologist and his expedition left the border with their 20 tons of food, supplies and equipment per man to explore and travel the outback, a solitary figure wearing only a loin cloth and carrying a spear and boomerang approached the caravan. One of the crew knew his dialect so he asked the aborigine what he was doing. The man responded: ‘I’m going with you.” And he started walking besides the vehicles in the caravan.

P.S. In the beginning of this column I used a quote and asked whether it came from Hitler or Reagan. Hitler had used it in the 1930’s to describe scenes in Germany, but Reagan repeated it almost verbatim in 1979, describing the scenes in the United States.

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