I can see how it happened every step of the way. There are breadcrumbs all over the place.
Go back with me nearly four decades, when the Right created a plan to change what we teach our kids. In the 1980s, the Rev. Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition encouraged social conservatives to run for education boards around the country as a way to influence school curricula. Many were successful, and immediately began pushing to revise curricula and textbooks to reflect conservative Christian values.
They stopped teaching civics and how government works in grades 9–12, as part of school cutbacks —saving money to sow misunderstanding and misinformation.
People got out of their white robes and infiltrated politics at the local and state levels. Racist policies were carefully planned and implemented. As they got more sophisticated, they used class AND race to separate people into categories: low-income folks from unions, straight women from lesbians, Americans from immigrants (the ultimate irony), and all from their own best interests.
Add into the mix gerrymandering, voter restrictions and suppression. Think of the attacks on women like Anita Hill (and now, Christine Blasey Ford), on gender issues and equal rights, the singular focus on defeating Roe v. Wade and the singular success in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment. If you think identity politics is something new, you are wrong—this mess was built on the Right ruling by identity politics, on dividing us from each other and spreading mistrust.
In the 1970s, I was trying to get an apartment in North Carolina and to do that, I had to establish that I was creditworthy. Landlords advertised that they would only rent to single men or married couples. As a single woman, I was under suspicion. I was making more than my male colleagues at work, but I couldn’t get a credit card. I had to ask my boss to call the apartment owner to vouch for me. I was astounded, I was embarrassed, I was upset. But let’s be clear-eyed about where we have come from and where we are going, and what we need to stop. Spirit in Action has been dedicated to bringing people together and countering the politics of division, which are at the root of all the “isms” we can think of.
Yes, there may be a mess today. But this is no time to give up. It is time to sweep up the breadcrumbs.
Peace, Power and Love