Tuesday, January 10, 2023

It starts with education ...

Chris Rufo is one of six new appointees to the New College of Florida’s board of trustees.
Credit...Ian Allen for The New York Times

Nevermind this guy doesn't live in Florida, rather, he's a political appointee of DeSantis, the new and improved version of Trump bent on becoming a defacto dictator if elected president, something readily seen in his push to redifine how education, in Florida, is to be taught.

To whit ...

New College of Florida has a reputation for being the most progressive public college in the state. X González — a survivor of the Parkland school shooting who, as Emma González, became a prominent gun control activist — recently wrote of their alma mater, “In the queer space of New College, changing your pronouns, name or presentation is a nonevent.” In The Princeton Review’s ranking of the best public colleges and universities for “making an impact” — measured by things like student engagement, community service and sustainability efforts — New College comes in third.

Naturally, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida wants to demolish it, at least as it currently exists. On Friday, he announced six new appointments to New College’s 13-member board of trustees, including Chris Rufo, who orchestrated the right’s attack on critical race theory, and Matthew Spalding, a professor and dean at Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan with close ties to Donald Trump. (A seventh member will soon be appointed by Florida’s Board of Governors, which is full of DeSantis allies.)

The new majority’s plan, Rufo told me just after his appointment was announced, is to transform New College into a public version of Hillsdale. “We want to provide an alternative for conservative families in the state of Florida to say there is a public university that reflects your values,” he said.

When reading this, Orwell's Politics and the English Language essay comes to mind as language, in this case, is being used to persuade the public into believing everything will be fine once"we repair what's wrong with, in this case, New College, an institution located in Sarasota"

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

Orwell lives ...

Rufo often talks about the “long march through the institutions,” a phrase coined by the German socialist Rudi Dutschke in 1967 but frequently attributed to the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci. Thwarted in their hope of imminent revolution, the new left of Dutschke’s generation sought instead to bore into political and cultural institutions, working within the system to change the basic assumptions of Western society. Rufo’s trying, he said, to “steal the strategies and the principles of the Gramscian left, and then to organize a kind of counterrevolutionary response to the long march through the institutions.”

This grandiose project has several parts. Rufo has been unparalleled in fanning public education culture wars, whipping up anger first against critical race theory and then against teaching on L.G.B.T.Q. issues. This year, he is turning his attention to diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and, with his colleagues at the Manhattan Institute, will soon unveil model legislation to abolish such programs at state schools. In New College, he sees a chance to create a new type of educational institution to replace those he’s trying to destroy. When we spoke, he compared his plans to Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

The values of the people who are already at New College are of little concern to Rufo, who, like several other new trustees, doesn’t live in Florida. Speaking of current New College students who chose it precisely for its progressive culture, Rufo said: “We’re happy to work with them to make New College a great place to continue their education. Or we’d be happy to work with them to help them find something that suits them better.”

Seems Rufo has read Edwin Bernays as the language he uses parrots exactly what Bernay talks about regarding the art of persuasion in his seminal work Propaganda.

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.

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