Gail Lowe’s Peculiar Ideas about ‘Citizenship’

Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Gail Lowe has some peculiar views when it comes to teaching students about good citizenship. In her view, labor leader César Chavez and civil rights champion and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall aren’t good role models for that.

Right-wing critics want to censor discussion of Chavez and Marshall in public school social studies classrooms, claiming that they lack sufficient stature and are poor role models for students. In a new interview with the Associated Press, Lowe presses the far right’s case against the two:

Marshall and Chavez are “not particularly known for their citizenship,” Lowe said. “Figures we use to represent those character ideals (citizenship, patriotism and community involvement) and the type of persons we want your students to emulate should be politically neutral.”

Neutral about what? Racial segregation in public schools? Voting rights? The right of people to organize and campaign for better working and living conditions? The heroes of the American Revolution weren’t “neutral” about people organizing and fighting against tyranny. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t “neutral” about the inhumanity and injustice of slavery. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott weren’t “neutral” on the civil and political rights of women. Are none of them appropriate role models for “good citizenship”? Is Ms. Lowe herself “neutral” on any of these issues? Is anyone?

The Associated Press article doesn’t include any examples of “good citizens” Lowe has for inclusion in the public school social studies curriculum standards, which the state board is currently revising. So we’ll wait to find out whether those individuals would be considered “neutral” on issues like racial and voting discrimination and the rights of citizens to organize and fully participate in our government and society.

One thing should be clear now to everyone, however. Lowe’s appointment as chair of the state board is no improvement over the chairmanship of Don McLeroy. The education of Texas schoolchildren will still be held hostage by far-right ideologues with personal and political axes to grind.

14 thoughts on “Gail Lowe’s Peculiar Ideas about ‘Citizenship’

  1. I think her definition of model citizen is Robert Young in the role of Jim Anderson on “Father Knows Best.” It’s a person who lives in a small community, accepts whatever its circumstances are as true, and never complains about injustices or the excess of sodalities and government. In other words, a good little Nazi.

  2. Surely she did not mean they were not politically involved, because that would just be a ludicrous statement. I think it’s possible she meant they were not politically controversial, but either way, it’s a statement which is ridiculous coming from the SBOE chair.

  3. Before this is over, Gail Lowe and the SBOE will have offended every minority group in the country.

    Honestly, I can’t wait for Gail and the rest of the right wing nuts to open their mouths and give the state legislature all the excuse they need to disband them.

  4. I’ll say it again: my take on these objections to Chavez and Marshall is that the objectors think that these gentlemen had too much melanin in their skin. It’s just that simple.

  5. I think Gail Lowe is saying something, but she is apparently unable to articulate it. Therefore, I will try to do it for her. Here goes:

    The United States has always been a great country—the best country on Earth. Everyone in our country used to support our country. However, beginning with our own homegrown socialists and communists in the 1930s and the widespread youth rebellion of the 1960s, there have arisen certain elements within our society who are bent upon nothing else but criticizing and tearing down our country at every turn in its road. They never seem to find anything right, good, or positive to say about our great country. In their eyes, our country is always wrong and even evil. I would characterize those people who do this with the label “liberals.”

    Now, bearing that in mind, I will turn to the subject of Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall. I am not saying that these were bad men, of the wrong race, or even that the things they did were wrong. They no doubt helped a lot of people and became famous minor characters in American history as a result of their activitites. The key problem is that the liberals in this country are proud of these two men and value them so highly ONLY because their actions were controversial and are perceived (by them) as having torn our country down. Liberals place an extremely high value on REBELLION of all kinds because rebellion tears down whatever exists. The issue is not whether what exists is right or wrong. The issue is the immorality of placing such an inordinately high personal VALUE on the concept of REBELLION. As the Bible itself says, “Rebellion is enmity with God.” Liberals hold up REBELLION as a high value to be cherished and cultivated. In fact, liberalism is all about rebeling against whatever already exists. We conservatives do not believe that REBELLION is a family value, and we certainly do not believe that REBELLION should be taught to our children as a laudible value to be emulated. One of the major purposes of our public school system is to teach children how to live with their fellow students and how to show proper respect for their teachers, the principal, and our civic leaders. Teaching REBELLION and how to get loud and rowdy as a basic human value, either directly or indirectly, is just the wrong way to go and it promotes one of the highest values of liberalism.

    Therefore, I believe that lesser American historical figures who are intimately associated with the value of REBELLION, such as Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall, should not be highlighted in our social studies curriculum. To do so teaches REBELLION as a value. Instead, we should be focusing our students attention on major, widely known American historical figures such as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert E. Lee.

    TFN: For writing this, I will be expecting you to nominate me for a Pulitzer Prize.

  6. Wow, Charles. You said it better than Ms. Lowe ever could have! I’ll be honored to vote for you for Pulitzer Prize.

    Yep, I caught the irony of the negative statements about REBELLION and putting REBELLION against George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert E. Lee. Ha ha! But that’s just a sample of how ‘intelligent’ these folks sound.

    And DUH! I thought Thurgood Marshall and Cezar Chavez ARE known for their citizenship.

    I’d still like to know her definition of “citizenship,” “patriotism,” and “community involvement.” I’m sure her list of “good citizens” will be comprised of good protestant Christians and conservatives such as union-busters and segregationists.

    And what do you want to bet they’ll all be white?

  7. Gail Lowe said: Marshall and Chavez are “not particularly known for their citizenship,” Lowe said. “Figures we use to represent those character ideals (citizenship, patriotism and community involvement) and the type of persons we want your students to emulate should be politically neutral.”

    Maybe she meant politically “neuter”? This is a puzzle, isn’t it? I would like to say that someone like Lucille Ball was politically neutral, but even she was more or less a communist in the 1930s. She didn’t believe in it and joined only to humor her grandad

    Wikipedia: “In 1953, Ball was subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities because she had registered to vote in the Communist party primary election in 1936 at her socialist grandfather’s insistence (per FBI FOIA-released documents in a declassified FBI file).[39] Immediately before the filming of episode 68 (“The Girls Go Into Business”) of I Love Lucy, Desi Arnaz, instead of his usual audience warm-up, told the audience about Lucy and her grandfather. Arnaz quipped: “The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that’s not legitimate.” Then, he presented his wife and she received a standing ovation from the audience.[16]”

    Now I ask you. If even Lucy Ricardo, followed everywhere by her running dog lackey Ethel, was not entirely neutral, who in tarnation are these great “politically neutral” figures in Gail Lowe’s American history? Thomas Edison? But hey, Henry Ford disliked Jews and was very nearly a homegrown Nazi like Charles Lindbergh. Far right conservatives are always establishing disloyalty by association. Well, Ford and Edison took joint vacations every year in Fort Myer’s, Florida. So, I guess that cancels Edison out of the picture.

    Jesus appears to have been politically neutral, but he was not an American. Wonder how many irate cards and letters I will get for that statement of fact?

  8. I am wondering how Gail Lowe would view this statement:

    “The (Biblical) Law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognizes his position and accepts it with grace.”

    R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), p. 251


  9. By her own definition, Chair Lowe is not a good citizen. She is decidedly not politically neutral on the SBOE.

    Does Chair Lowe actually not connect George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee to both the concept and the execution of rebellion? I had not heard that. How odd.

  10. Ah, there’s the alcohol rub Joe. One would hope that Gail’s problem is just a singular inability to see the irony in her own worldview. Failing that, one has to take a step beyond the apparent irony and determined what is nestled there. For example, she might say, “Yes, I know that Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Lee were all leaders in rebellion, but their rebellions were right. Those of Marshall and Chavez were wrong.” Then, we would be getting into some truly interesting territory. No?

  11. This witch is a disgrace to the entire state of Texas and a detriment to the educational process. Then again, that’s pretty much the case with most evangelical Christian conservatives. Our children are lagging behind in math and science, and people like Lowe are worried about ideology. I’m sure she won’t admit it, but Lowe is a bigot who doesn’t like Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall for the simple reason they were non-White. Both men made lasting impacts on contemporary American society and their achievements and dedication to social and economic justice should not be underestimated or demeaned.

  12. Well, Walter Cronkite turned me on to Chavez when I was just a small kid. I was a regular CBS Evening News kid back in those days when they had the big strike that made lettuce hard to get. Ever since that time, I have been sensitive to the oppression of strangers in strange lands.

  13. We should not be surprised when logic and truth do not yeild a responsilble response from the fundos. In todays world, anyone who would choose to reject evolution in favor of creationism and its related distorted beliefs simply cannot be trusted with important decisions such as curriculum approval. These people use emotions to make their decisions, not facts; biases are emotional deviations from a factual base. We all have them and have to fight against using them inapropriately. The fundos give way to the biases without a struggle. They may have some very good attributes but manage to hide them well.
    In stead of just enjoying the bitching and complaining in comment sections perhaps we should be using some of this talent and effort letting the right people, including our erring govenor, knowof our disgust with the incompetency of these religious fanantics disguised as education experts.