They Once Blew Up a Classroom Over Textbooks, So, Yeah, There Will Be Violence

In 1974, in West Virginia, protesters used dynamite and Molotov cocktails against the buildings of their enemies. The protesters were upset that the Board of Education of Kanawha County voted to update the textbooks in the district's language arts classes to include more modern authors in an effort to be more inclusive and multiracial. Kanawha County is the biggest in the state, and it includes the capital, Charleston. A fundamentalist Christian member of the board, Alice Moore, discovered that some of the new books included profanity, sex, evolution, and Freud. Oh, they also contained works by Black activists like Malcom X. Moore said that she was upset that the new books would teach American history in a way "unduly favoring Blacks." Yeah, the connections to the current fuckery over curriculum in schools are that blatant. 

Moore was able to get churches and conservative groups all worked up and calls for the books to be banned became school boycotts, which became marches that included the KKK and, of course, Confederate flags, and those marches led to violence, including 15 sticks of dynamite used to blow up part of the school board building and dynamite thrown into a first grade classroom, where, fortunately, no one was present, but the room was ruined. The books were temporarily removed from schools, but, as a Village Voice article from 1974 says, "During the weeks the books were out of the schools, English teachers all over the county were scared to teach anything but grammar in case any work of literature, even Shakespeare, goaded some hotheads to bomb their buildings." Shots were fired at a school bus, homes were shot at and bombed, and more. 

And it was all over goddamn school textbooks. I mean, look, if I feel like giving any credit at all to the violent fucknuts that plague us, I can, in the most abstract way possible, understand how someone who has been gorging themselves to vomiting on lies and Christian bullshit would get it in their heads that clinics where abortions are performed are murdering people, so they need to be closed. Again, the violent fucknuts are wrong and insane, but I get it. I get bombing military recruiting centers in the Vietnam War. I don't agree, but, shit, I get that when you think you're saving lives, you might be inclined to extremism. But this shit was over books, and the crazed motherfuckers went full-bore terrorism, based in the area's churches that preached their bible is the only book anyone needed. And to prove how fucking Christian they were, "one preacher prayed fervently and publicly for the death of three school board members."

This was fear, man, fear of how the world was changing, how nonwhites were being treated with increasing equality, how women were going to work, how kids were rebelling against the nonsensical religious garbage. When the old ways die and when there are people in power who support the old ways going into the shit heap of history, the desire to halt what we might quaintly call "progress" will inspire savagery. 

Today, I don't think we're heading into a civil war. I've said before that we are too lazy a nation, and arresting people can do a helluva job in slapping down the insurrection erection to a flaccid effort. 

However, it's hard not to believe that we're going to see violence going into and as a result of November 8's midterm election. Death threats have gutted local elections offices. Armed fucknuts are showing up to oversee ballot drop boxes. And that's not getting into the nonstop stream of death threats and other threats of violence (and, with the most recent attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband by a fucknut who wanted to assassinate Pelosi, actual violence) against elected officials. You shouldn't need to have a spine of steel to sit at a goddamn table and count votes for minimum wage. You shouldn't have to worry about your life being ruined by online barbarians just for doing your job. And I haven't even gotten into all the threats and violence against school officials and teachers.

Right now, Republicans are telling MAGA cretins and other assorted shitheels and scumfucks that they are going to win back the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate. They are saying that there is no way they can legitimately lose, and, in fact, if they do lose, it must be because of Democratic fraud, cheating, and theft. Tucker Carlson, who has the laugh of someone having a great time fucking a corpse, has proclaimed as much to his millions of Nazi and Nazi-adjacent viewers. GOP candidates like Kari Lake, who you know masturbates with a Trump-shaped dildo, and Blake Masters, who you know masturbates with a Peter Thiel-shaped dildo, are refusing to say they'll accept the results of the election if they lose. 

How do you think those armed and ready assholes are gonna react if Democrats end up winning? Hell, the GOP could win both houses, but if there's an election where they think they should have won, like with Herschel Walker in Georgia, that's gonna tell the locked and loaded crowd it's go time. Christ, speaking of Georgia, I don't wanna think about how insane the state's gonna get if Stacey Abrams wins the governorship. If you tell gullible motherfuckers that those who oppose you are satanic baby murderers who steal elections so they can murder more babies, more than a few of those motherfuckers are gonna react as if that's true.

It's fucking madness that we're even living through this, that we're not just talking about it, but fully expecting it and preparing for it. 

And the point of the story I started with, about what became known as the "Textbook Wars," is not just that violence can happen over the stupidest goddamn things. No, the point is about what came after, when the violence was over and the protests ended and people went to jail for the worst acts and everyone went back to their lives and the books were allowed to be used.

Yeah, that's right. But the Board of Education gave each school the right to say whether or not they used them. And a good many of the schools did not. After a few years, in some schools, thousands of unused books were burned just to dispose of them to open up storage space. And Alice Moore got the school board to pass a new regulation that prohibited any books that "pry into home life; teach racial hatred; undermine religious, ethnic, or racial groups; encourage sedition; insult patriotism; teach that an alien form of government is acceptable; use the name of God in vain; or use offensive language."

In other words, the regressive bastards won the battle. And the war rages on.

(Some of the info in here comes from the fascinating BBC podcast Things Fell Apart, where Jon Ronson delves into the origins of some recent culture war battles. I was dismayed and angered remembering some of the stories in there.)