A week after a violent mob assaulted America’s Capitol, Gov. Kristi Noem explained it all: The problem wasn’t Donald Trump spewing the lie of a “stolen election.” Or her jetting to right-wing rallies around the nation echoing his bogus complaint. Or Noem’s McCarthyist slandering of Georgia’s new senators as communists. No, the answer was simple: Instead of learning our true and complex history, kids should be taught pride in our greatest nation ever. And she would provide the curriculum.
Perhaps Noem got through school without learning that democracy requires honoring truth, that the will of the voters must be respected, that name-calling shows you can’t win an argument on its merits, that demagoguery is the tool of tyrants, and that insurrection is a deadly crime against democracy. More likely, she simply believes that self-promotion and grasping power justifies any means. And she likes our history glossy.
Amazingly, the governor who spent months promoting Trump’s lies had the nerve to attend President Biden’s inauguration! I hope she heard the words of young poet Amanda Gorman: “Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we stepped into and how we repair it.”
America is a great country, but it is not “unique,” as Noem suggests. If our democracy is brought down by demagoguery and insurrection, it will not be the first. So, if the governor is serious about educating young people to defend our democracy, here are some lessons:
• Truth matters. If we love our country, we reject cheaters and lies;
• Patriots defend democracy and respect the peoples’ votes;
• Put on a mask and do your job instead of showboating and telling teachers how to do theirs.
Our grandchildren must inherit more than pride. Let them inherit democracy, healthy air, water and land and devotion to truth.