Friday, August 11, 2017

Prager "University": Rightwing lies for American children

Prager "University": How Billionaires Proselytize Rightwing Ignorance to Children 

The dichotomy of thought it requires for a non-autocrat to identify as a “conservative" is truly mind-bending.  You must hate your own government, except for the ability to oppress your "enemies" or control someone else's body.  You must love capitalism, but be willing to fight for government handouts for the 1%.  You must demand unconditional patriotism, yet turn a blind eye to attacks on democratic institutions and voting rights. 

Of course, all of this goes away with rational, logical thought. As soon as a person is able to apply critical thinking, conservatism unravels. The plutocracy, which benefits from the army of ignorant masses, knows this very well. This is why they fight to undermine education at every turn: they smear those who seek higher education as “liberal elites", and they attack science, math, and even facts themselves as biased. Teachers are held in utter disdain, and in recent years, they have moved from undermining from undermining public education to outright calling for its complete elimination.  

In it’s place is a replacement for critical thinking:  indoctrination.  This is the goal of the plutocracy-- to collapse our remaining structures that promote critical thought with schools that teach a point of view beneficial to the plutocracy.  Think of how successful they have been in the realm of journalism: what started as their own 24-hour news network has morphed into an entire industry that has completely removed the principle of neutral reporting. Today’s conservative is wholly unable to identify bias in reporting, and recently has devolved into being unable to distinguish real from “alternative” facts. 

Now, enter Prager University:

Starting in 2011, [Dennis] Prager founded Prager University, an online resource that produces short videos on Prager’s favorite extremist tropes. While the program claims it is directed toward all students, including those at college, many of the videos are clearly aimed at middle school and high school children, including those attending public schools. The website is not accredited as an academic institution, nor does it offer certifications or diplomas. Instead, courses are offered for free in the form of five-minute animated video lectures.

If you have a Facebook account and at least one conservative friend, then you’ve seen one of their videos.  They claim 100 million people a year watch them annually, and that's not hard for me to believe.  They are slickly produced, and very brief.   The first question I had when I saw one was to ask who paid to make it.  (Again, I apply logical thought.)  If you guessed members of the American plutocracy, you would be correct. 

In fact, PragerU has been generously funded by two of the richest people in America, brothers Dan and Farris Wilks, who made their fortune in fracking.  (Coincidentally, there are plenty of videos that attack climate change and renewable energies while pushing dirty fuel with eye-rolling titles like Why You Should Love Fossil Fuels and Fossil Fuels: The Greenest Energy.)

Dennis Prager, the man who named this “university" after himself, is a LGBTQ-bashing, Muslim-fearing, corporate apologist who happily pushes this plutocratic propaganda.  These video rants that make up Prager “university" run the full gamut of the rightwing agenda. Titles include:  Who Are the Racists: Conservatives or Liberals?;  The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians; Feminism vs. Truth; War on Boys; How the Minimum Wage Hurts Young People, Why I Left the Left, and on and on and on.   

Pretty much any crazy opinion he has—there's a video for it.  Three years ago, he went on a tirade exclaiming the issue of rape on college campuses a “big lie”. Last April, there was a video for that.

Heck, there’s even one that justifies his lusty ogling of other women. Seriously.

These videos remind me of a relative’s unhinged rants on Facebook, except with slick graphics.  But at least my family member has enough sense to not adopt the moniker of “university" to pretend there’s some sort of academic credential with his all-capped diatribe.  For Prager "University", this is the aspect I find most disturbing.  From their website:

What's the PragerU Educators Program?

It's a network that includes thousands of professors and teachers who show PragerU videos to their students and/or use our curriculum as a teaching supplement in the classroom. Members of this community get free access to our video courses, study guides and other valuable resources that can enhance their teaching.

Thier 2014 annual report said a major priority for PragerU was in developing relationships with educators “in college, high school, middle school and homeschools”.  The top of their Educators Program page shows a testimonial from a public school teacher that forces this drivel on his students.  One educator testimonial said he requires his 12-year old to watch one video a day. I could not find a list of schools, but Rewire identified 14 public schools in their story on Prager two years ago.

That’s a frightening thought.  I shudder to think that an educator at a school that I pay with my tax dollars is requiring a student to watch PragerU video featuring Adam Corolla—who’s big claim to fame was a sidekick on a 90s MTV sitcom “The Man Show”—host a video that is literally entitled “Who NOT To Vote For”.    (Their target audience isn’t mentally developed enough for subtle propaganda).  

The rightwing is having somewhat of a love-affair with Russia these days.  They love the authoritarian leadership, the ability to squash dissent, Putin’s wealthy ruling kleptocracy, and their non-functioning government services. 

It should be no surprise, then, that they would envy their propaganda tactics.  Russia has come a long way from their forced re-education camps at a gulag, but the core principle of indoctrination remains the same. 

If conservatives want to believe their incoherent fallacies, they are free to do that.  They are free to speak their mind.  What they are not free to do is indoctrinate my children to that garbage.   Indocrtination isn’t education—it’s the opposite. Unfortunately, if the ones behind Prager “university" have their way, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

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