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PragerU Wants Your Kindergartener
Kids never asked for this.
"PragerU," the rightwing culture war factory started by former radio talk show host and moral scold Dennis Prager, has done a bang-up job of feeding misinformation on history and politics to Donald Trump's favorite demographic, the poorly educated. Through five-minute history distortion videos that claim Democrats Did The KKK And History Ended in 1964 or There Was No Southern Strategy , PragerU has already done a great job of spreading a lot of hooey online. If somebody who's terribly wrong about something insists they've "done [their] own research," that almost certainly means they've watched a lot of PragerU videos online.
As the American Prospect reports, PragerU's tendentious videos have been making their way to high school classes, especially as easy-to-find filler during the pandemic. It made national headlines last fall when an Ohio parent complained that her daughter's history teacher had been assigning the videos in class, but American Prospect's Amelia Pollard notes that high school students regularly complain on social media about teachers using PragerU videos as if they were reliable educational materials. Of the several high schoolers Pollard interviewed, all said they recognized the political slant of the videos being pushed by their teachers, but none of the kids were "comfortable confronting their teachers or school administrators" about the vids, because why piss off the rightwinger who could give you a bad grade?
See, the wingnuts are right! Teachers are pushing a political agenda, and students with different views are afraid to say anything about it.
And now, PragerU has started cranking out materials directly aimed at elementary and high school students as well, including videos for kindergarteners. Pollard notes that while the videos aimed at younger viewers "aren't as overtly political as PragerU's typical five-minute videos for adults, they are still suffused with right-wing propaganda." Here's a fun video for teens on how to respect the American flag; its instructions on how to properly fold the flag into a triangle explains it's a two-person job, so you need to make sure the person helping you isn't a communist.
It's even reasonably funny, sorta-kinda, with a dumb-guy narrator explaining things you shouldn't do with flags, as two guys demonstrate with a fake flag. Like don't carry it flat, or use a flag to hold things "like Care Bears."
No, there's no explanation of why one of the guys demonstrating what not to do is also holding a handgun prop. Maybe they originally made a joke about false flag mass shootings and edited it out?
The video ends with the teen host cheerfully suggesting, "Now that you know how to handle your flag, go do something patriotic, like converting your communist friends. And buying them a flag." If this happens in North Carolina, presumably teachers will have to show pro-communist videos too?
The video and other materials targeted at kids are the fruit of PragerU's newest hustle, a project called "PragerU Resources for Educators and Parents" or PREP. Now any kid can be in PREP school, or at the very least they can elicit funny looks from people who think they're takingPre-Exposure Prophylaxis meds to prevent getting HIV. PragerU should maybe have checked out other meanings of the abbreviation, we think.
The PREP program is aimed at countering "left-wing indoctrination" in public schools, by "teaching our youth about America's blessings and limitless opportunities," and downplaying anything else in American history or politics as the aforesaid leftwing indoctrination. The stuff for younger viewers probably doesn't warn them to hector their communist classmates, but it still pushes what a great place America is, says Pollard:
For kindergarten through second grade, one of the new educational segments is a "storytime" that "c elebrates American values of freedom, individuality, hard work, equality under God and more ," starring the head of outreach for PREP, Jill Simonian, and a mascot named Otto, modeled on the bulldog of the organization's founder, Dennis Prager.
Also, yes, there really is someone in a bulldog costume, so wouldn't be fantastic if PragerU inadvertently inspired some kids to become Furries?
For the very youngest younglings, PragerU's PREP is putting together a series of arts-n-crafts videos it's calling "Craftory," a portmanteau of "crafting" and "history." Pollard notes the only one available so far is pretty light on history; instead, it shows kids and parents how to make a seriously ass-ugly Military Appreciation Wreath, an amalgam of camo fabric, burlap (burlap is very patriotic!), and flag-themed ribbons that can be displayed for patriotic holidays.
The so-called "history lesson" turns out to be a primer on the U.S. military and its various branches. As the first video released in the series, the wreath lesson puts PragerU's priorities front and center. In the video, Simonian clarifies that while she is using red-white-and-blue swatches, the fabric did not actually come from a flag. "Never, ever, ever," she exhorts, "cut up an American flag to make anything."
We decided not to blow $25 for a membership in PREP, because why give Dennis Prager et al. any more money? But we may have to come back to the section for third-to-fifth graders soon, since it's promising a very important educational "magazine" about Ayn Rand, to follow up on its initial offerings on Abigail Adams and Margaret Thatcher. Under "Fascinating Facts" in that one, we learn that Thatcher "became known as 'Thatcher, the milk snatcher' for ending a government-sponsored free milk program during her tenure as Education Minister." Apparently that's a really awesome thing, just like how she "stood up" to miners' unions and made everyone in Britain free and prosperous. It must be true, since adults wrote it!
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