To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Observercast

Republicans Drop Local Control Plank

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I have a good memory, always have had. Back in college I was pals with four guys from another town. I had heard their stories often enough that I was consulted as a reference as to who said which about what, and what really happened.

I remember when Democrats controlled the South. I remember moderate Republicans holding office. But I remember, too, Richard Nixon’s public embracement of a Southern Strategy which has turned the party of Abraham Lincoln into the party of George Lincoln Rockwell.

I remember brave Republican senators, led by Barry Goldwater, going to the Nixon White House to tell him it was time to leave. They did not coddle a delusional despot, help foment an attempted coup and then deny and defend an assault on the Capitol that sent them – cowards that they are – into hiding.

I remember when Republicans had party platforms that were more than, “Whatever [the would-be dictator] wants.”

Always a key plank of those platforms was a call for limited governmental intrusions into people’s lives. Small government. Few restraints.

Not anymore.

Oklahoma’s Republican-dominated government has spent much of its current session Big Brothering other political entities, from meddling in school curricula to setting budgetary restrictions on municipalities with accompanying unfunded mandates.

On the dumbing-down front, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill earlier this month to forbid the teaching of “critical race theory,” which he misconstrued as an attempt “to define and divide young Oklahomans about their race or sex.”

But the GOPQ is allergic to facts. Millwood Supt. Cecilia Robinson-Woods told KFOR-TV that the bill “was developed without the input of either educators or people of color.”

Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, told KFOR, “They cannot say that there is a superior race, so we are stopping the teaching of those things.”

Sounds like a bold antifa statement for a Republican, but it has nothing to do with the subject.

Professor Christopher Lehman, who teaches ethnic studies at Minnesota’s St. Cloud State University, explained to KFOR: “What critical race theory talks about are the policies and the law. The focus is on the discrimination itself and the hurt that discrimination caused those people.

“Critical race theory does not teach that people of different skin colors are better.”

What the new law does, according to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission is attempt “to limit teaching the racial implications of America’s history. The bill serves no purpose than to fuel the racism and denial that afflicts our communities and our nation. It is a sad day and a stain on Oklahoma.”

At the University of Oklahoma, mandatory diversity, equality and inclusion training for students will now become optional.

But the real question is who are these non-educators to determine the appropriate curriculum for a pre-school?

The bill is reminiscent of loyalty oaths from the McCarthy Era – though one of my favorite professors was hounded off campus in the 1980’s. The Republicans hope to stifle academic freedom and create a coma of conformity for those in power – themselves. Of course, with most state Republicans disloyally supporting the attempted Jan. 6 coup d’état to destroy our republic, loyalty oaths are a bit out of fashion these days.

Like Big Brother in your schools? Well, you’ll love him at city hall. Last month Gov. Stitt signed a bill that somewhat prevents any governmental entity in the state from cutting a police department budget without a vote of the people.

The first intrusion is the state taking basic budgetary rights away from duly elected local representatives. The second is forcing the expenditure of local funds to stage an election.

According to this bill, if an entity that has levied “a dedicated tax pursuant to a vote of the people for the purpose of funding public safety or any other governmental purpose shall not redirect all or a portion of the dedicated tax revenue to another purpose without a vote of the people authorizing such action.”

Touted as a measure to prevent “defunding the police,” this law only applies to a particular portion of such funding – and includes every other aspect of government receiving such funds as well.

While “defunding the police” is pretty much the stupidest, most counterproductive slogan ever devised, the ability, nay duty, of local officials to allocate their funds toward their greater needs should be inviolable.

And, of course, since our legislators are more concerned with public posturing than production, the law ignores situations where money earmarked for certain purposes is needed immediately to cover emergencies.

Weather catastrophes come to mind. “Let’s set an election a month from now to authorize transferring funds needed today.”

Remember how our goobernor groveled in support of the last president’s deadly inaction during the pandemic outbreak? Who else spent $2 million on a malaria drug?

While this nonsense was happening, the Health Departments in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties were assessing the situation and issuing advice on actions that might save Oklahoma lives.

So, we now have a bill in transit that would put state-appointed members onto those two local health boards. Last month, Sykes.com ranked Oklahoma as the second worst state in the Union for its response to COVID-19. I guess Gov. Stitt wants to gain the influence to push us to the bottom – or, I guess he’d call it No. 1 worst.

The governor likes this bill, but it has been stuck in a Senate committee after

squeaking through the House. Maybe there are some small guvmint Republicans left after all.

Probably not. This is the same bunch that demands all law officials in the state comply with requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. No local option here.

Yep, this another blowhard bill that generates publicity while doing nothing. There are no immigration sanctuary cities in the state.

Sanctuary for guns, but not for refugees. Good thing our Republicans weren’t manning the provincial border between Egypt and Palestine 2,000 years ago.

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Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.