Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Repeating the Lie


If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.  - - Joseph Goebbels

We know now that it doesn’t need to be an entity as large as the State to “shield the people from the political, economic and/or political consequences of the lie.” It can be an ideologically slanted “news” channel. It can be a politically infused evangelical “church” community. It can be a local Facebook group.

Admin of the local Facebook group “Reopen Howard County” continue to make the statement that the Howard County Education Association, which they call “the Teacher’s Union” is corrupt. Do they present any evidence to support this? No. Do they define their terms? No.

They just keep repeating it. 

Merriam Webster defines corrupt as:

1a: morally degenerate and perverted : DEPRAVED

b: characterized by improper conduct (such as bribery or the selling of favors) 

corrupt judges


What part of this definition is Reopen Howard County driving at? Do they assert that Howard County teachers are depraved? Engaged in improper conduct? Putrid?

It’s hard to tell, since they haven’t ever engaged with any definition of the word corrupt in an attempt to substantiate their claims. 

They just keep repeating them.

And another thing: they keep repeating the falsehood that HCEA is not the teachers. This is ridiculous. The only reason HCEA exists is to advocate for teachers. While not every teacher will agree with every position that HCEA takes, suggesting that this alone makes HCEA purely self-serving to its own leadership and not to members is ridiculous. 

I may not agree with everything that the leadership of my political party espouses at any given moment, and yet I still consider myself aligned with and a member of that party. The same may also be said of affiliation with a religious denomination. One can still be an Episcopalian, or a Lutheran, or a Jew, or a Muslim, while having one’s own disagreements with statements and actions of church leadership. 

Back to the assertion of corruption. I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that Reopen is aiming for definition 1b: characterized by improper conduct (such as bribery or the selling of favors) corrupt judges. 

Where is the proof? There isn’t any. 

But they just keep repeating it.

Let’s dig a little deeper. What are the teachers doing that Reopen doesn’t like?

Our teachers, supported and represented by HCEA, are requesting specific safety measures to be met before returning to in-classroom teaching. Why? Because COVID-19 spreads quickly in close quarters and has proven to be virulent and deadly. It can leave survivors with long term health consequences and disability. If you survive.

It’s clear to me that this is the position of teachers because they care not only about themselves and their own families, but also their students, students’ families, members of support staff, and everyone who would come in contact with in-classroom learners. A decision to return to school buildings does not effect one group. This is another one of those situations where decisions need to be made understanding the interconnectedness of all those involved.

But let’s just simplify it for the purposes of this argument. Let’s just say teachers are reluctant to return to classrooms for in-person learning because they don’t want to die.

Show me the corruption.

The desire for self-preservation is hard-wired into human existence. There is not one thing corrupt about it.

Let’s go further. Have HCEA and the teachers they represent broken their contract? No. Have they refused to teach? No. 

They have entered into a long-term period of distance learning which has required, in many cases, a complete reinventing of how their curriculum is communicated to students. Distance learning has required more work than face-to-face teaching for teachers. So they are working more hours for the same pay. (Does anyone remember they took a pay cut this year?)

Add to that the fact that distance learning has been accompanied by the continued complaints of privileged parents who call teachers selfish, incompetent, and - - oh, yes - -  corrupt.

Does Reopen Howard County share any of this with their members? No.

They just keep repeating the lie. 

And the lie spreads to other pages, turns up in tweets, letters to the editor, or emails to the Board of Education. 

The truth is that this group wants the schools buildings open and they perceive that HCEA stands in the way. Their response has been to attempt to destroy their credibility with an argument which itself has no credible proof.

What HCEA actually provides to teachers is an ability to negotiate. This provides them with some measure of empowerment in the workplace. It gives them some choice. Reopen doesn’t want the people who they perceive as “working for them” to have that choice. They want their housekeepers, hairdressers, restaurant workers and teachers to come when they’re called.

Would that look good if they admitted that out loud? No, probably not.

So they just keep repeating the lie.


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