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The Midgets’ Fury, Part 2: Homeschooling

Mar
22
2006

Editor’s Note: Spot-on contributor Josh Trevino was a co-founder of Redstate.org with former RedAmerica blogger Ben Domenech.

The leftist frenzy over WaPo’s Red America continues unabated into its second day. And it is, paradoxically, turning out to be a good thing. Not only are they acting the fools, paranoid and aggrieved at a blog, they are also putting their own ugly proclivities on full display. Their penchant for dumb incivility in discourse is already well-noted — there’s even a book on it — but less appreciated, from the side that claims to care most about the touchy-feely things in life, is their bottomless opposition to parents. It seems a tremendous claim to make, especially as you’ll rarely get a leftist to say it outright. “Parenting” is among the indistinct absolutes that draw universal approval. Who is against mothers? Who is against freedom? Who is against peace? But conclusions can be drawn from the concrete actions rather than the gauzy platitudes of rhetoric. We already knew that the left expends massive energies on behalf of the negation of parenthood. And now, in the spluttering chorus attacking Ben Domenech, we are reminded that they also hate parents acting as such in the fullness of their roles. They hate homeschooling.

The idea that parents might be qualified — and indeed, have a duty — to educate their children was once a commonplace, and indeed the norm. The advent of public schooling and especially its extension to rural areas sent home education into steep decline. In an era of high expectations and rigorous discipline, this was often for the best, and the results were either improvements upon or equivalent to the products of home-based education. For all this, the reemergence of homeschooling in the modern era was not at first a right-wing phenomenon spurred by parents yearning for an age of standards and classical education. It was a leftist movement born of a Rousseauiste concept of the child, and a desire to free that child from the strictures of bureaucracy and norms. The 1970s pioneer of this resurgence, John Holt, cannot be described as anything but a left-wing believer. Only later did American traditionalists — Christians, conservatives, and cultural contrarians alike — realize that this leftist educational fad could serve their own ends. Homeschoolers both left and right collaborated — and still do — on methods and defenses of homeschooling. They believed in their ideologies, true, but they also held in common a belief in parenthood. And they were determined to exercise that parenthood to its maximum extent.

Fast-forward a generation. Homeschooled individuals from the first cohort are adults and in the workforce. An accredited undergraduate college exists and caters to homeschoolers. And a homeschool alumnus writes a blog for the Washington Post. How does the ideological opposite of that blogger react?

With hate. For the very creation of their fellow-travelers: homeschooling.

In the spleen against Domenech, homeschooling is invoked as a perjorative again and again and again. Steve Gilliard describes him as a “home schooled wingnut.” Jane Hamsher declares him a “mouth breathing home schooled freak.” “Patriotboy” (who is neither) invokes homeschooling in a detestable manner. “Truth”(!) denounces Domenech as a “24-year-old, home-schooled, white male Republican blogger.” Commenters at DailyKos impute poor math skills, ignorance of history, and social ineptitude to homeschooling — none of which, mind you, are in evidence in public school graduates! Dr P.Z. Myers of the University of Minnesota at Morris, who disagrees with Domenech on unrelated issues, sniffs that he’s “not surprised to learn that he is the product of home schooling, which in its worst instances can foster an unfortunately narrow point of view, and” — the worst from a professional academic’s point of view — “usually means the kid is instructed by someone with absolutely no training in education.” Duncan Black posts an old CNN transcript on homeschooling (in which Domenech features) for general mockery, and his commenters oblige: homeschooling mothers don’t have or want “lives”; homeschooling is “insidious once you understand its effects“; homeschooling is “just plain WRONG” (this from a public school teacher); “Homeschooling is evil“; homeschooling is “an effective way for abusive parents to avoid detection“; homeschooling is the provenance of “religious nutcases“; homeschooling is meant to “keep the kids from being exposed to actual thought“; and homeschooling is a way “in Amerikkka to brainwash your helpless kids into believing all kinds of sick false bullcrap.” Max Sawicky breaks ranks and at least notes that homeschooling can be a good thing, only to be rebuffed by one of his commenters. Finally, the aptly-named “Rude Pundit” asserts that Domenech will, upon becoming a parent, “isolat[e] his children in a homeschooled hell that’ll make sure they never can communicate with the rest of humanity on a rational basis.”

Note the common thread here? It’s not Domenech — he’s pretext. It’s homeschooling. And how they hate it. If you’re a parent wedded to the antique idea that you might control your child’s upbringing, look and know who will fight you on that.

As I wrote, the left’s frenzy over WaPo’s Red America is turning out to be a good thing. But it’s a good thing only in part. It’s good that we know who they are and what they think, and it’s good to see them expose those things fully in their infantile rage. But it’s a bad thing for our country. And as they ever more effectively use the multipliers of technology and frustration, they will, ineluctably, bring on the boiling point.

Share  Posted by Josh Trevino at 1:10 PM | Permalink

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