Florida ‘Stop Woke’ legislation: ‘We will not let children learn to hate our country and each other’

“We will not allow taxpayers’ money to be spent on teaching children to hate our country and each other.” That’s what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on the “Stop WOKE Act.” The Woke ideology is on the agenda in American education. Remarkably, both supporters and opponents accuse the other side of censorship and an attack on the right to speak.

Two weeks ago, the ‘Stop Woke Act’ was passed in Florida. It stands for ‘Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees’, but with its acronym it does not refer entirely by chance to the waking movement that is occupying America. It prohibits on-the-job training or school instruction that teaches that individuals are “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, conscious or unconscious”; that people are privileged or oppressed on the basis of race, gender or national origin; or that a person “takes personal responsibility for or should feel mental illness” over past actions committed by “members of the same race, sex, or national origin.” Florida law states that such training or education constitutes discrimination.

The law change is in line with what Canadian journalist Rex Murphy and author Jordan Peterson recently said about a bill on “anti-racism in education” in the Canadian state of Ontario. The constant focus on racism can create “a climate where ethnic groups clash and mistrust grows,” the two men said of the bill.

Discomfort

There is something to be said for being careful with social pedagogy in school. Certainly when it comes to a major shift, where the traditional gender pattern is questioned, individuals must take responsibility for things their ancestors thought, said and did, and when the individual must choose ‘membership’ in certain group identities. At least in America, which highly values ​​the motto of individual freedom, many people find this reprehensible.

The Woke phenomenon wants to make people think of the exclusion of certain groups of people, rooted in colonial history or based on prejudice or abuse of power. According to ‘awake academics’, the latter are often institutionalized in the ‘system.’ That is also enough to say. In practice, however, it becomes clear that certain books, pictures and ideas are no longer discussed / prescribed because students may be hurt by them. Students want / demand a safe space where sensitive conditions that can shake the waking worldview are kept out the door. But how does one ever get shine without friction, how can someone else start looking at things when he or she is never challenged? Can anyone ever overcome their own prejudices or blockages without first going through a sometimes painful growth process?

Two sides

That discomfort seems to be a central point. Emotional discomfort that stands in the way of intellectual politics. From two sides, as stated in the NOS article on the subject: ‘Teachers also dive into self-censorship. “For how do you talk about segregation, integration or police brutality if you have to worry that it will make someone in the class uncomfortable. Teachers will avoid these subjects. “Not least under pressure from parent groups such as ‘Moms for Liberty’, reports the same media.

Who sits on the parent councils? Is it conceivable that they actually influence the curriculum based on personal preferences, which in their opinion are too black, too left-wing or, for example, ‘too gender-fluid’? Could it be that the common sense that parents invoke lacks certain sociological and pedagogical insights, but is permeated by prejudice and bias, if only because they, yes, man to be?

Cathryn M. Oakley of the Human Rights Campaign organization speaks of “a thinly veiled political effort to attack marginalized communities. It does not meet the critical needs of Florida residents, but instead promotes the discriminatory agenda of extremist lawmakers.” Author Mikki Kendall, quoted in the NOS play, shows where the influence of activist (parent) councils can lead to: a list of dangerous books that former president and communist fighter McCarthy can still draw on. “A friend called me that 850 books are on the list of banned in Texas.”
Until now, the indignation over ‘trigger warnings’ and the like when reading George Orwell’s ‘1984’ for students often seems to come ‘from the right side’. They speak scornfully of a police of thought and a ministry of truth that restricts freedom of speech and thus freedom of thought. The left is simply ‘on the move’ in education and has certainly wind in the sails of academic education, so the opposition comes mainly from the right. But the ‘left’ may have a point: When discussing a past of slavery or the shortcomings of the social system are cut off in advance, there are missed opportunities.

It is understandable that DeSantis – described by NOS as ‘far right’ – scores votes with an ‘Awake, not Wake’ campaign. It is also reasonable that there is a limit to possible radical system criticism. Good education allows students to draw their own conclusions, but should not become an ideological battlefield. It seems that – because of the negligence of teachers and school leaders? – this can no longer be prevented. Whether the two camps will now get closer to each other with the widely interpreted Stop Woke law remains to be seen.

No problem

For decades, the schools’ social commitment was hardly a problem: the school was there for mathematics and language, and for the rest ‘just treated each other normally’. If there was explicit attention to social relationships and manners, it was about tolerance for dissent, the danger of the extreme right (the most visible evil in the Netherlands after World War II) and respect for everyone’s cultural background and sexual orientation (for years). it was not in humans that there could be other forms of sexual orientation besides homosexuality).

Each country has its own accents, in the US for example Black History Month an offshoot of the specific history of African Americans. At the same time, the schools there are always much more reserved with sex education.

cultural war

Things have changed rapidly in the last few years: the social aspect is increasingly no longer logical follow of the school as a social institution, but has become central to education. And it has everything to do with woke† Café Weltschmerz has already reported on what it means before (type ‘wake’ in the search box and a dozen articles will appear). In short, it is about a (hyper) awareness of unequal power relations in society, which runs along lines with gender, sexual preference, skin color, etc. To make things even more complex, power relations can in many cases be experienced only or mainly subjectively. This makes an objective analysis difficult.

Woke originated in America, and there, more than in Europe, it has now become the core of many political debates and a divisive issue in society. Woke is at the center of what is now also considered by the NOS as a culture war and cultural struggle. The ideas have spread to the rest of the West through several activist groups and NGOs: countries such as Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands have already picked up the trend.

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