Fuck you, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL.
Ok. This one is going to take some explanation, but you are educated, so bear with me.
By now everyone knows about The Guardian report on the dismal knowledge of American school children regarding the Holocaust. See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/16/holocaust-us-adults-study. But why does Vern deserve the fuck you when he voted in favor of the Never Again Education Act to promote Holocaust education? Because he is a pandering shit bag, that’s why,
My wife is Jewish, as are my children according to Jewish law and tradition. I am an atheist born and raised Roman Catholic (which is pretty much why I am an atheist). My wife’s Jewish parents live in Rep. Buchanan’s district in Florida. It is filled with wealthy non-Floridians who moved there to bask in the warm sun and beneficial tax environment, including old Vern.
Now some backstory. In addition to growing up Catholic, I have known and worked with many Christians of other denominations over the past 40 years. Like white people who claim to not be racist, Christians of all denominations hold a special hatred of Jewish people in their hearts. Growing up, all of the Catholics around me spoke derisively about Jews, from hateful jokes to overt anti-Semitism. In college, my first real exposure to non-catholic Christian denominations revealed that this anti-Semitism was not peculiar to my upbringing. This is a one paragraph oversimplification of decades of exposure to anti-Semitism, but in my case, that hatred of Jews was nearly universal among Christians – even those who claimed otherwise. “I have Jewish friends” was as common a phrase as “I have black friends.”
Over 20 years ago when George Bush was running for president, I tried to have a serious conversation with my wife’s family, not so much about Bush himself, but about the ever growing trove of Christians in the Republican Party and in the inner workings of the Bush campaign. Since then, we have seen this Christian influence explode in American politics, but my Jewish family has ignored this because a) they are wealthy and they equate that wealth with being republican; b) they live in a community with a large Jewish population that because of their wealth have been somewhat insulated from overt anti-Semitism; and c) like most people they do not see problems until they are directly affected by them.
As the Guardian article points out, Millennials and Gen-Z have the worst knowledge about the Holocaust. These are the kids who came of age in the time of Bush and the influence of Christians in national education policy. Of course they have not been taught about the Holocaust. This has been by design. It was and is no accident.
So what did Vern do to get me riled up? Well, it’s an election year and the republicans are vulnerable. One of my Jewish family members received an email from Rep. Buchanan linking the Guardian article. Buchanan then claimed it to be a travesty and pointed out that HE voted for the Never Again Education Act to promote Holocaust education, making it look like he is sooooo concerned about this issue. But look deeper.
Everyone voted yes on that bill. To vote no would have been political suicide. The real hero is Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY. She wrote the bill and made it happen. https://maloney.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/senate-unanimously-passes-maloney-holocaust-education-bill. Buchanan, who has a spotty ethics record (at best), has voted in the past to restart a failed religious (Christian) voucher program that was opposed by the ACLU because it infused curriculum with specific Christian religious content. He also voted in favor of legislation (vetoed by president Bush) that overspent what the president requested by $10.2 billion. Those extra billions would have funded a no-strings attached block grant amendment that would have eliminated oversight transparency and permitted failing religious charter schools to conceal substandard educational performance.
Vern Buchanan is a career political hack who has a verifiable record hostile to liberal education that would guarantee curriculum that includes Holocaust history. Vern Buchanan is a Baptist Christian. Vern Buchanan is PANDERING to his wealthy Jewish constituents and making it appear that he cares about Holocaust education and had something to do with the passage of the Never Against Education Act. Vern Buchanan does not care about Jews, the Holocaust, of education. He cares about getting re-elected and will do anything to make that happen, including lying to his Jewish constituents. If that’s not anti-Semitic, I don’t know what is.