By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
I watched a program on YouTube by Roland Martin who was taking Dan Abrams, of News Nation, to task for misrepresenting him by taking a couple of his tweets out of context. The subject was defunding the police, which is already a hot topic that is being seized upon by Republicans as the 2022 election cycle begins in earnest, and Martin had responded to two tweets. Abrams chose to respond to Martin’s words without putting them in context, voicing dismay that Martin seemed to be supporting defunding the police.
The exchange between Martin and Abrams was spirited, but it was Martin’s take down of Abrams that grabbed my attention. The tendency of journalists – even those who call themselves “progressive” – to highlight issues in a way that riles viewers and increases viewership is a travesty of journalism. Martin made the observation that Abrams, whose news program on News Nation is not doing particularly well, intentionally misrepresented what he had said in order to increase the ratings of his network, which prides itself on being “fair.”
This gaslighting of the issue of defunding the police is going to be front and center in the upcoming elections, as candidates play on the fear held by many Whites that Democrats want to withhold funds from police departments because of police brutality, and while I cannot and do not speak for those who have raised “defund the police” as a political/campaign issue, I think I can safely say that few people want police departments to disappear, which would happen if they were completely defunded. What I feel is that there are some budget items – like military-grade weapons – that need to be defunded and those funds siphoned instead into viable community projects that will help reduce poverty and misery, both of which often result in criminal behavior.
Nobody wants to take police departments away, in other words. People want police officers, however, to serve and protect all citizens, including Black and Brown people.
What few people are talking about, however, is the fact that Republicans are in favor of defunding public education. While few people want to eliminate police departments, a huge swath of people want to eliminate public education, preferring instead for there to be private schools that are eligible to receive public funds.
This has been a flashpoint for Republicans for some time. Funding for public education has been decreasing for at least a decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a fact largely due to a right-wing distaste for public education based on a number of reasons, Jacobin Magazine reported.
It has been proven that the privatization of public education will result in Black and Brown students receiving educations that are more inferior than they are already, the National Education Association noted. Betsy DeVos, education secretary under the previous administration, was a full supporter of defunding public education, the’gander noted. These right-wing politicians want “zero funding for public education,” Johnson City Press revealed.
Those running for office will do us all a great disservice if they fall into the “defund the police” basket and say nothing about the very real move to defund public education. They need to make it the issue that it is and ask voters, “if there is no public education, what does that mean for your children?” Proponents of the voucher system want no federal intervention in saying what is taught in schools, though they want federal dollars to push their very right-wing political agenda.
Police departments will never be defunded, though some of what they fund should be reallocated.
But public schools are in real danger, and it is past time that “we the people” lift this issue out of the closet and put it front and center where it belongs.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at email@example.com.
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