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Louisiana Republicans Want to Ban Colleges From Teaching About Racism

Critical race theory fearmongering is working its way into every level of education.

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A student in California demonstrates against a critical race theory ban. Republicans have advanced such measures across the country, and have targeted colleges and universities as well.

The Louisiana state Republican Party thinks that diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, programs on college campuses are too “divisive” and should be banned.

The Republican State Central Committee, or RSCC, the state GOP’s governing body, unanimously passed a resolution Saturday asking the state legislature to ban DEI offices at all Louisiana colleges and universities, both public and private.

The resolution refers to DEI offices as “bureaucracies” that “operate as divisive ideological commissariats” and are “a threat to academic freedom and academic integrity.” It calls for the state legislature to pass bills that will remove DEI departments from all higher education institutions in Louisiana.

The resolution passed the majority-white body by a voice vote “with no discernible dissent,” according to The RSCC membership, which includes multiple state senators and representatives, voted on the measure during the state party’s quarterly meeting in Baton Rouge.

The move comes amid a growing push by Republicans to ban “woke ideology” (a.k.a. freedom of thought) in schools. The GOP has spent the past few years working to transform critical race theory, or CRT, into a political boogeyman. CRT is a framework for understanding the legal underpinnings of systemic racism in U.S. society and politics; Republicans have framed an advanced academic field of study as something that’s being used in elementary schools to indoctrinate young children. Slowly but surely, the same rhetoric is being applied to education at all levels.

One of the prime offenders of late has been Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has vowed to defund all DEI programs at state universities. He also banned high schools from teaching an A.P. African American studies class, deeming it “woke indoctrination,” and pressured the College Board to gut the course syllabus.

In Texas, the state Senate approved a bill last week that would bar college and university professors from “compelling” students to adopt certain political beliefs. The bill’s sponsor insisted his measure would not censor any topics of discussion, but critics warn the legislation is too vaguely worded and could actually curb difficult, nuanced conversations about issues such as race and gender.

Montana Anti-Drag Bill Would Ban Dolly Parton and Glam Rock

What a way to make a living!

Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images
Country singer Dolly Parton

Montana Republicans are working 9 to 5 to prohibit minors from attending drag shows, but a recent amendment to an anti-drag bill could ban more than they perhaps intended.

House Bill 359 has passed both the state House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee. It still needs to be voted on by the entire Senate. If it passes, it will ban minors from attending drag performances and ban publicly funded organizations from hosting drag shows. The bill specifically targets Drag Story Hour, an event where drag queens read stories to children.

But the bill was amended Friday to change the definition of what constitutes drag. Under the changes, a drag performance is “an obscene performance that features drag queens, topless dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, or similar entertainers who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest,” meaning of a sexual nature.

A drag queen is “a male or female performer who adopts a flamboyant or parodic feminine persona with glamorous or exaggerated costumes and makeup.” The amendment removes the mention of dressing differently from “the performer’s gender assigned at birth.”

As journalist and transgender rights activist Erin Reed pointed out, this means that the bill could affect glam rock, wrestling, and performances by Dolly Parton. Queen Dolly herself has said she has exaggerated her appearance to be “flashy” and “flamboyant.”

If it becomes law, Montana’s drag ban would categorize any business that serves alcohol and hosts a drag show as a “sexually oriented business.” They could face a fine of up to $10,000 and even lose their liquor license if they repeatedly violate the law.

The measure also bans public schools or publicly funded institutions such as museums and libraries from hosting drag performances, specifically Drag Story Hour. The institution would be fined $5,000 for hosting a show, and the staff member who approved it could lose their teaching or librarian certification.

Critics of Montana’s bill have previously pointed out that the measure would affect theater productions of Mrs. Doubtfire, Rent, or several Shakespeare plays. It could even target Halloween costumes.

Montana is the latest state to advance a (vaguely worded, extreme) measure attacking drag performances, which have become a particular target for the right wing in recent years. In March, Tennessee became the first state to pass a law banning drag performances, but the measure was blocked by a judge before it could go into effect on the grounds that it was overly broad and violated free speech rights.

C-SPAN Cameras Embarrass Kristi Noem After She Says NRA Is More Than Old White Guys

Is this … woke?

Scott Olson/Getty Images

On Friday, scores of Republicans, including every 2024 hopeful, descended upon Indianapolis to chum it up with NRA members in the aftermath of two devastating mass shootings in Kentucky and Tennessee. And the results have been as appallingly wild as one could imagine.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem insisted that, contrary to the deluded media’s narratives, the NRA is much more diverse than is given credit. That, indeed, the attendees of the convention represent a mass movement of people of all stripes ready to go to battle to defend their right to own killing machines.

As to the validity of her proposition, well, take a look:

Beyond trying to score woke points about how diverse and inclusive the NRA is, Noem also glowingly discussed how her almost-2-year-old granddaughter apparently “already has a shotgun, and she already has a rifle.”

“Soon, [she’ll] need them,” Noem said about the toddler.

Noem also signed an executive order on stage, one that “blocks state agencies from contracting with large banks that discriminate against firearm-related industries.”

The performance of it all was laughable for a moment, but plainly demoralizing in sum. In the immediate wake of two horrific shootings—among over 150 that have swept the nation already this year—Republicans like Noem put on their shiniest holster belts and did their jig. All to impress one of the entities most responsible for a culture that’s so violently obsessed with guns it cannot fathom another reality.

Republicans may earn an A+ from the NRA; but on the matters of protecting children, of maintaining the sanctity of life, of guaranteeing people the assured liberty to live a healthy and safe life, they are not even on the grading scale.

NRA CEO Says Politicians Who Don’t Like Guns Should Go to Bed Afraid

Just a casual threat from the head of the NRA

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NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre

The NRA’s top executive, Wayne LaPierre, kicked off the organization’s annual convention Friday by threatening pro–gun control politicians.

The National Rifle Association convention is taking place this weekend in Indianapolis, on the anniversary of one of the deadliest mass shootings in the city’s history and on the heels of two major mass shootings in the last month.

“Gun-hating politicians should never go to bed unafraid of what this association and all of our millions of members can do to their political careers,” LaPierre told the crowd, to cheers.

LaPierre’s chilling threat shows just how much influence the gun lobby has in politics. No Republicans have challenged his remark so far. Meanwhile, every Republican running or rumored to be running for president is speaking at the convention.

Elsewhere in the country, Republicans seem fully in thrall to gun rights (meaning, unfettered access to firearms). One of the most recent mass shootings was in Nashville, when a shooter killed three children and three adults at a private Christian grade school. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee initially hedged on increasing gun control, but he pulled an about-face earlier this week after thousands of protesters marched to the state Capitol to demand new legislation. Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton indicated his party was willing to work toward “bipartisan solutions.”

But on Thursday, House Republicans shot down a “red flag” bill that would prevent future shootings like the one at the Covenant School.

Supreme Court Temporarily Pauses Abortion Pill Restrictions

The legal fight on the FDA’s approval of mifepristone continues.

Abortion rights advocates rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on April 14.

The Supreme Court on Friday temporarily paused lower court rulings that restricted access to the abortion pill mifepristone, which would have dealt a major blow to national abortion access had it gone into effect.

A Texas federal judge ruled last week that mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion, had been improperly approved by the Food and Drug Administration and should be yanked from the U.S. market. The Department of Justice appealed the decision, but the Fifth Circuit Court only partially stayed the ruling while it considers the full appeal suit. Meanwhile, dueling rulings on the pill made it tricky for the FDA to figure out what exactly it should do next.

The Supreme Court decided to stay the Texas ruling until April 19, meaning mifepristone’s status remains unchanged—for less than a week. Economist reporter Steven Mazie, who covers the Supreme Court, pointed out that this is purely an administrative stay to give the court time to consider the appeal.

Both the Department of Justice and Danco Laboratories, which manufactures mifepristone, had appealed the Fifth Circuit ruling to the Supreme Court. Both received identical responses about the administrative stay. Danco argued that the partial stay would “irreparably injure” its business because it would have to change its drug labels, recertify providers, and get approval for a supplemental new drug application, all processes that could take months.

Danco also pointed out that it could not comply with both the Fifth Circuit ruling and the dueling injunction out of Washington ordering that mifepristone access remain unchanged. The company argued that if the Supreme Court weren’t willing to completely stay the Texas ruling, then the high court should hear the entire case now and make a final decision.

A bigger issue at play, though, is that non-elected judges who do not have medical backgrounds are making decisions about medication. As Rachel Rebouché, the dean of Temple University’s law school, previously told The New Republic, “The question for appellate courts is not just about abortion but about deference to a federal agency’s expertise.”

The Texas ruling “undermined” the FDA’s authority, she said. “To take seriously that it ignored risks, risks unsupported by any credible evidence, suggests questions as to what federal courts might decide about other federal agencies’ decisions.”

Republican Says More Kids Are Suicidal Because Social Media is Pressuring Them to Be Trans

Yes, you read that right.

Vincenzo Nuzzolese/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Nebraska Republican R. Brad von Gillern says that more kids are becoming violent, performing poorly in school, and committing suicide because social media is pressuring them to become transgender.

During a hearing on Legislative Bill 574, which would ban gender-affirming care for people under 18, von Gillern argued that the bill “does nothing to promote hatred or bigotry,” but rather just protects “children from making childish decisions.”

Von Gillern went on to argue that children make decisions “based upon the worst criteria: peer pressure, lack of information, emotions, popularity, and today more than ever, social media pressure.” But instead of showing any concern for children’s decision-making or autonomy, the Nebraska Republican proceeded to blame acceptance of trans people for many of the problems facing the next generation.

The Republican cited three things he was certain about as a child: that there was a God who loved him; that his parents loved him; and that he was a boy who would someday grow up to be a man. He contrasts his own certainty with what he says is a contemporary time in which “many kids don’t have the security of knowing any of those three things.”

“Nearly all [kids] are being told that the one thing they knew about themselves the most, that they are a boy or a girl, might be a mistake,” von Gillern said. (Nearly all kids are not, in fact, being told that their gender identity is a mistake.)

He continued. “Is it any wonder that the teen suicide rate has skyrocketed? Is there any question about why kids are reacting with violence against one another? Is it shocking that school behavior and performance is declining?”

To von Gillern, the answer was simple. “When you remove all of the securities from a child, you shouldn’t be surprised when they act and react poorly,” he said.

“The opponents of 574 say that the suicide rate in kids is up because gender affirmation is being withheld from them,” von Gillern continued, giving a nod toward research that has repeatedly shown that this is indeed the case. Nevertheless, von Gillern, ever the expert on gender identity and children’s sociology, had his own conclusion. “I postulate that the suicide rate is increased because their lives have been filled with question marks rather than affirmation of who they truly are, and who they were created to be.”

The Nebraska Republican’s style of essentially denying the existence of a wide body of work on these issues (let alone denying the existence of actual trans people) is not new. In an earlier debate on the bill, von Gillern compared gender-affirming care to shock treatments, lobotomies, and forced sterilizations.

Aside from von Gillern’s outright dismissal of rigorous work concerned with children’s well-being, his comments embody a more basic deficiency. To say that practically all children are becoming not just more violent or poorly performing in school, but indeed more suicidal, because of efforts to affirm someone’s gender identity is stunning. It’s either a willful or an unintelligent display of narrow thinking.

Our youth do in fact face a troubling slate of challenges: growing up at a time when school-shooting drills are as routine as assemblies; when their libraries and books and teachers are being attacked; when, indeed, phones and social media are placing so much pressure on them. But to instead focus your energy on making the lives of already marginalized children even more difficult is a level of dishonesty that serves no child, regardless of their gender identity.

Trump’s DeSantis Pudding-Fingers Attack Ad Is So Messy

This will follow DeSantis everywhere.

Ron DeSantis
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s team has clearly identified Ron DeSantis as the biggest challenger for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and they are going after the governor hard.

The Make America Great Again, Inc., PAC released an ad Friday attacking a few of DeSantis’s policies but mainly highlighting a month-old report that the governor once ate pudding with his fingers.

“Ron DeSantis loves sticking his fingers where they don’t belong, and we’re not just talking about pudding,” the ad narrator said.

The Daily Beast reported in March that DeSantis used his fingers to eat chocolate pudding while on a plane trip in 2019.

“He would sit in meetings and eat in front of people,” a former DeSantis staffer told The Daily Beast, “always like a starving animal who has never eaten before … getting shit everywhere.”

Enshrined in DeSantis lore is an episode from four years ago: During a private plane trip from Tallahassee to Washington, D.C., in March of 2019, DeSantis enjoyed a chocolate pudding dessert—by eating it with three of his fingers, according to two sources familiar with the incident.

DeSantis has denied the story, which has big salad-comb vibes.

But Team Trump seized on the story anyway, and the ad—while deeply weird and unsettling to watch—admittedly does an excellent job of undermining DeSantis’s self-styled persona as a right-wing, “anti-woke” warrior.

The ad comes the day after members of Trump’s inner circle tore into DeSantis for going on a book tour as parts of his state struggle with record rainfall and major flooding. Fort Lauderdale, in southern Florida, got about 26 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. A meteorologist for the National Weather Service described the rainfall as a “1-in-1,000 year event, or greater.” But the mayor of Fort Lauderdale said Thursday that DeSantis had yet to contact him.

Fort Lauderdale is under water and DeSantis is campaigning in Ohio right now instead of taking care of the people suffering in his state,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.

Far-right activist and Islamophobe Laura Loomer, whom the Trump campaign is reportedly considering hiring, tweeted, “Instead of doing his job, today @GovRonDeSantis is flying to Ohio to campaign for President.”

The ad has already aired on Fox News, CNN, and Newsmax.

DeSantis has yet to formally announce that he is running for president, although he is widely expected to. Trump has previously attacked DeSantis, nicknaming him “Ron DeSanctimonious’’ and “Meatball Ron.” Now that the attacks are ramping up, it’s clear that he and his team view DeSantis as Trump’s biggest threat.

Tennessee Republicans Kill Red Flag Bill That Could Have Stopped Nashville Shooting

The move comes after thousands of protesters demanded lawmakers take action on gun control.

Seth Herald/Getty Images
Protesters gather inside the Tennessee State Capitol to call for an end to gun violence and support stronger gun laws on March 30.

On Thursday, Tennessee Republicans had their first opportunity to show Democrats, Tennesseans, and the country their willingness to work together to enact baseline gun safety reform.

And they refused to.

Democrats had filed a “red flag” bill in the wake of the Nashville shooting that could have prevented the shooting in the first place. Tennessee Republicans had shut down a similar bill two years ago. But yet again, House Republicans blocked the bill, voting it down in committee on Thursday. (Tennessee’s supermajority of Republicans means that every committee vote largely reflects their own will.)

Earlier this week, Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Lee suggested he would support reforms like a red flag law—perhaps buoyed in part by his personally losing two friends in the Nashville school shooting. But it seems even that is not enough for him to flex any political will on his fellow Republicans.

Republicans’ rejection of the opportunity came after the Nashville school shooting that left three children and three adults dead, after the ensuing protests that brought thousands of people onto the streets, and after Republicans were exposed nationwide for their deeper corruption after expelling two Black Democratic representatives (who have since been reinstated) for standing with the protesters.

“The question is who has the ball; at some point, somebody has to take ownership for this being successful,” Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro told local affiliate WKRN. “If we are not going to see leadership in the House or the Senate or the governor sort of stand up and say, ‘I am not just encouraging this as a good idea, but I am going to put my political capital on the line to get it done,’ then we are not going to see it get done.”

Republicans, for their part, just seem uninterested. It appears their energy is dwindling after being placed under new scrutiny for their brazen campaign to expel Democrats Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson after the trio interrupted House proceedings to protest inaction on gun violence, in solidarity with the thousands of Tennesseans who had been protesting right outside the Capitol building.

After Republicans successfully expelled Jones and Pearson, thousands continued protesting, while revelations of the Republicans’ corruption came to the forefront. They have wielded their supermajority to make up their own rules and kill bills at a moment’s notice on no coherent basis. While expelling Jones and Pearson for breaches of “decorum,” they have not expelled members committing far worse, severe violations, like child molestation, or a member allegedly assaulting Jones amid the protests. And now, reporting has shown that House Speaker Cameron Sexton has lied about his place of residence and taken advantage of taxpayer-funded travel allowances, in violation of the state Constitution.

“They are taking on a lot of water, and they want to get out of here as soon as possible, and it’s damage of their own making,” Democratic Representative John Ray Clemmons told WKRN.

GOP Candidates Put Guns Over Lives, Pledging to the NRA After Mass Shootings

The truth on the Republican Party is simple.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Donald Trump at the NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits in 2018

Every Republican running or rumored to be running for president is speaking to the National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, beginning on Friday. The convention is taking place on the anniversary of one of the deadliest mass shootings in the city’s history and follows two major mass shootings in the last month.

On March 27, a shooter killed three children and three adults at a private Christian grade school in Nashville, Tennessee. The shooting spurred thousands of residents to protest for days on end in support of gun safety measures and the Democratic lawmakers who were expelled for joining their protests. Two weeks later, on April 10, a shooter killed five people and left another eight injured in Louisville, Kentucky. These are just two of the more than 150 mass shootings in America this year.

Saturday, April 15 also marks two years since one of the deadliest mass shootings in state history, when a shooter killed nine people and injured another seven at a FedEx facility in the same city where the NRA is hosting its weekend convention.

Meanwhile, every Republican likely vying to lead this country is openly dishonoring the people killed, their families and friends, and every single person in America frustrated by government inaction on gun violence.

By video, the NRA convention will warmly welcome Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. Donald Trump, Mike Pence, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and Vivek Ramaswamy will all be appearing in person, alongside other shameless Republicans.

It’s not a matter of whether it’s surprising that Republicans are tripping over themselves to satisfy the NRA. Sometimes the most stirring and instructive conclusions can be found in simplicity: Every single potential presidential candidate of a major political party is bowing down to the NRA in the wake of yet another pair of devastating mass shootings.

To call it depraved would be generous. The subservience that the Republican Party has to a group that insists upon making it as easy as possible for anyone to access tools used for killing is unworldly. The phrase “dodging a bullet” is becoming less a plain colloquial metaphor, and more guiding advice for anyone trying to do anything in public in the United States.

Ron DeSantis Knows Just How Unpopular His Abortion Ban Is

In the dead of night, the Florida governor signed a bill that will take away health care for millions of people in his state.

Ron DeSantis smiles while seated and holding a mic, in conversation with someone across from him.
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Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning abortion after six weeks in the dead of night, possibly because he knew just how unpopular the move was, even among his own base.

The Florida governor signed the bill late Thursday night with little fanfare. The chilling photo of the event shows him surrounded by mostly women, some of whom brought their children.

The measure prohibits abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant. It makes exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, or to save the life of the pregnant person. However, two doctors have to agree the abortion was “necessary,” and the patient “must provide a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation proving” they were the victim of rape or incest.

The law will also lower the amount of money that the state Department of Health is required to spend on pregnancy and parental support services, which include pregnancy testing, counseling, prenatal classes, adoption education, and material aid such as diapers and formula. People in Florida can currently receive such support for up to a year after the child is born. The new law removes that element, and will allow state funds to go to anti-abortion “clinics.” Abortion rights advocates regularly point out that states with some of the toughest abortion laws often fail to set up social welfare systems to support children after they are born.

The measure also removes the clause that specifically states abortion regulations “may not impose an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s freedom to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy,” specifically stripping away people’s autonomy.

For comparison, when DeSantis signed the 15-week abortion ban into law, exactly a year ago, he hosted a huge, highly publicized event to mark the occasion.

DeSantis, who is currently on a book tour, is widely expected to announce he’s running for president. The photo of him signing the bill could haunt him for the entirety of his campaign. Republicans have long targeted abortion, but since Roe v. Wade was overturned, they have tried to stay away from the issue. Last year, when Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a federal 15-week abortion ban just before the midterms, many of his colleagues slammed the move. The bill never made it to the Senate floor.

DeSantis’s public support for a six-week ban is also more extreme than several other Republican 2024 hopefuls. Nikki Haley has changed how she speaks about abortion, adopting a waffle-y stance designed not to alienate anyone. She maintains she is “pro-life” but doesn’t “judge anyone who is pro-choice.” Tim Scott struggled to form a coherent sentence about abortion rights on Thursday but ultimately said he supports a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks and would consider a ban at 15 weeks.

DeSantis’s move could even hurt him at home. The vast majority of Floridians, 64 percent, think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a study released in February by the Public Religion Research Institute. And as shown by a recent landslide Democratic victory in Wisconsin, abortion wins elections.

For now, Florida still allows abortion up to 15 weeks, which has made it a major hub for people traveling out of their home state for the procedure. That law is currently being challenged in the state Supreme Court. The six-week ban will only take effect if the conservative-controlled court upholds the current law. If the new law goes into effect, it will have a significant negative effect across the rest of the South. Many of Florida’s neighbors imposed harsher restrictions on the procedure since Roe was overturned.

But regardless of how it plays out in the courts, DeSantis has publicly endorsed a very unpopular position. Every time an abortion-related issue has been on the ballot, the people vote in favor of protecting reproductive rights, not taking them away. Signing the six-week ban into law will haunt DeSantis for the rest of his political career.