Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Steve Bannon has a long history of promoting the homeschooling movement. Back in 2010 — seven years before he became White House chief strategist in the Trump Administration — Bannon and his ally David N. Bossie pushed homeschooling in their documentary Fire from the Heartland. And journalist/author Heath Brown, in an article published by the Daily Beast, outlines some ways in which Bannon is using homeschooling moms to promote his MAGA agenda during the Biden era.
Bannon, on his "War Room" podcast, recently urged parents to sign a pledge to homeschool their children as a way of protesting against mask mandates in public schools. The COVID-19 pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 4.6 million people worldwide — including over 662,000 people in the United States. But the far-right Bannon, like many other allies of former President Donald Trump, has been pushing the idea that Americans need to worry about masks, vaccines and expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci more than COVID-19.On "War Room," Bannon recently declared, "The firestorm that you're about to see is the American mothers. When you've got to go back to school and Fauci's been talking about vaccinating the kids and using the school, going back to school as a forcing function between the mask and the CRT (critical race theory)."
Critical Race Theory is a type of academic study that can be found in some colleges and universities. CRT, which argues that racism of the past continues to affect institutions in the present, isn't even being taught in grammar schools, middle schools or high schools. But that has stopped MAGA Republicans from relentless fear-mongering over CRT, as they are always in search of new ways to terrify White voters.Brown, author of the 2021 book Homeschooling the Right: How Conservative Education Activism Erodes the State, explains, "It's not the first time that Donald Trump's former chief strategist has put together women, race, and education. It was an undercurrent of his 2010 Citizens United movie, Fire from the Heartland, which featured conservative leaders like Phyllis Schlafly, Michele Bachmann and Dana Loesch, who'd each been vocal advocates for homeschooling as a socially conservative respite from all that was supposedly wrong with public education. And now, it's key to Bannon's 2022 congressional electoral strategy."
In his article, Brown digs into the history of the homeschooling movement, noting that far-right Republicans were railing against what they saw as a liberal agenda in public schools back in the 1970s. One of those Republicans was Bob Dornan, who spent many years in the House of Representatives back when Orange County, California was a hotbed of conservatism. Heath's article includes video of Dornan speaking at a 1970s event in Sacramento before he became a congressman:Dornan is now 88, and Heath cites him as an example of someone who has viewed schools as a culture war battleground. Now, according to Brown, Bannon is pushing that type of message.
"For Bannon, it would seem, schools are battlegrounds of belonging and ownership," Brown observes. "Forbidding schools from teaching about racism is a way to defend the neighborhood, whether it is in Charleston or Richmond."