Tennessee Department of Education Updates Critical Race Theory Guidelines

Gov. Bill Lee at Neely’s Bend Middle School, May 2021

It’s fascinating the ways our culture tells on itself, even if you can often only recognize the confessions in retrospect. I was getting ready to write something on Gov. Bill Lee’s bizarre and shameful relationship with Larry Arnn and Hillsdale College. Then I learned that The Music Man, a play about an affable con artist who promises to teach children but really intends to skip town with the community’s money, and The Rainmaker, a movie about an affable con artist who promises to make it rain (you might have guessed that by the title) but really intends to skip town with people's money, came out right around the same time.

Say what you want about rock ’n' roll and desegregation and the Red Scare — is there anything more telling about the state of white America in the 1950s than stories in which people are being conned, many of them knowing they’re being conned, with people warning them that they’re being conned, but they come to like the con artist and everything ends up being OK? What a fantasy, that you can transform a criminal who is criming against you into a good guy if you just like him a lot. That you can make a person you know is bad and doing you wrong into a useful member of society just by being nice enough.

We’ve all seen and laughed at that joke — "'I never thought leopards would eat MY face,' sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party." But when you start to look at how many stories we tell ourselves about how we’re different and we will charm the metaphorical leopards into doing right by us while letting us feel superior to other folks who were not as charming as us and therefore couldn’t change the metaphorical leopard’s metaphorical spots, it’s pretty clear that this is a substantial weak spot in America’s collective psychology.

Which brings us to Gov. Lee, who sat there like a slab of semi-sentient Spam while Larry Arnn, who Lee wants to put in charge of kids’ schooling in our state, insulted teachers. Phil Williams over at NewsChannel 5 has a big long story on it with lots of juicy quotes. With Lee sitting next to him, Arnn said, ”The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.” Arnn received his B.A. from Arkansas State University. Just saying.

Lee is so clearly being conned by Arnn that it’s embarrassing to watch. You don’t need trained teachers to teach? Any old asshole can do it? Teachers are from the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges? Teachers in this state? Who went to college in this state? Lee’s just drinking it all in like he’s in on the ground floor of a revolution and not the mark in this con. It’s embarrassing.

Williams also reports: “Lee repeatedly described a friendship that has developed from their first meeting two years ago and deep conversations about how to educate children. Arnn, in turn, hinted that his Republican friend might have what it takes to be president someday.”

Oh boy. Listen. The rest of y’all can leave. I need to have an emergency serious talk with our governor, who apparently has no one around him who will speak plainly to him.

Bill, you are never going to be president, because you are a cuck.

I hate that word. I hate that it has entered my vocabulary. I reject the idea that a man’s worth lies in his ability to keep his partner from running around on him. I reject the idea that heterosexual relationships are at heart adversarial and that a man must defend his relationship with violence. But it’s an insult that carries real weight on the right.

And Bill, since I’m trying to reach you where you are, I’m going to use language you understand.

When you let some dumbass — from Arkansas, no less — come into our state and insult Tennessee teachers (the majority of whom are women) right in front of you, and you just smile and take it? You don’t even defend them? You look weak. You let another man come in and deride Tennessee women.

It’s the same reason Ted Cruz is never going to be president — he stood there and let Trump insult his wife. Like you just sat there letting Arnn insult your teachers.

What’s worse is that you’re playing up how much Arnn is your friend. This jerk, who insults the public school teachers you ultimately oversee? Who insults the colleges you’re responsible for? Every chance he gets, he makes you look weak and ineffectual, and you lap it up because he says “someday” you might have what it takes to be president? This con isn’t even as sophisticated as talking River City into 76 trombones. This is a pickup artist negging you — telling you all the ways you're worthless because you aren’t going along with him — and you running after him being all Let me just show you how wrong you are because I’m going to go along with you with twice as much enthusiasm as warranted.

WTF, dude? Where is your self-respect?

A man who will sit next to you and insult the institutions you’re the head of and insult the people of the state who elected you governor is not your friend. He’s making a fool of you, and you’re sitting there smiling while he does it.

I’m embarrassed that you either don’t get this, or do get this, but think that somehow you can turn this con artist into a useful member of the Tennessee community by just liking him hard enough.

You’re being conned, and Tennessee’s school children will pay the price.

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