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Kony 2012 And The Hunger Games: Be Mindful Of What We Teach Our Children

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Over dinner recently, I learned of my niece’s concern about her high school administrators removing the Kony 2012 posters that had been plastered all over the school. Kony 2012, a global campaign and viral video released by the nonprofit Invisible Children earlier this month, had fired her up and inspired her. My sister was thrilled to see her daughter so taken with a cause and so committed to having impact.

I suggested to my sister that perhaps the posters needed to come down so that teachers, students and families could take more time to learn about a very complicated and horrific situation. The recruitment of children into armed conflict is horrible and is taking place around the world. But at the end of the day, watching a video is not necessarily going to change anything. And learning solely through flashy, viral YouTube videos could be damaging.

A few nights later, I went to see what is now the highest-grossing American film of all time, The Hunger Games. This film tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world where children from different wards fight to the death in an annual televised event.

So what has this month taught our children? What are they learning about the African continent? What are they learning about killing, violence and children who are coerced to commit both?

In 2002, I co-wrote an illustrated book, Africa Is Not A Country, which chronicles 25 stories of children and their families in their daily lives around the African continent. I was motivated to write the book after more than a decade of speaking engagements and organizing workshops in classrooms around the United States. The questions, comments and attitudes about Africa I heard from our classrooms were troubling: “Do Africans wear clothes?” “Why are they all poor?” “What is the capital city of Africa?” “There are cities in Africa?”

We must be mindful about the knowledge and information we share with our children about far-away places. The images and stories children see and hear form their base perceptions of the world around them. The pictures and words in books, movies, games and even on maps help or hinder children in building a foundation of appreciation and respect for humanity in all its diversity. Moreover, what we teach young children about the world can inspire their future curiosity.

Children should be introduced to activism, human rights and the violations of human rights that ignite activists. In fact, participatory activism involving children has been successful. Red Hand Day, an annual event that draws attention to child soldiers issues around the world, is a good example. But if we introduce complicated situations such as the LRA as “stopping the bad Africans,” we set our children up to assume they can save Africa—or worse—that they should be the saviors of Africa.

Countries in Africa, like countries around the world, have human rights problems. Our children should learn about them. But it sells short our children’s intelligence and the good human rights work going on around the world to teach it in flashy, dubious viral movies. Why not teach what people in Uganda think about Kony 2012? Our children, and the world about which we’re trying to teach them, deserve better.

A version of his article was published originally at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance website and appears here courtesy of the author.

A children’s book writer and career educator, Margy Burns Knight has received the National Education Association’s Author-Illustrator Human & Civil Rights Award for the body of her work with Anne Sibley O’Brien (TALKING WALLS and other books) and the 2001 Children’s Africana Book Award for AFRICA IS NOT A COUNTRY. In addition to her work as an author, presenting in hundreds of classrooms around the world, Margy is also a teacher and community volunteer.

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COMMENTARY

Right-Wing Outraged Over Falsely Thinking White House Press Secretary Said National Security Council Is Using ‘TikTok’

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For decades White House press secretaries, military officers, and reporters have used the words “tick-tock” to denote an overview of a conversation, or a chronological telling of a series of events – and not the now-popular Chinese app “TikTok,” which some allege has major national security implications.

And yet, the far-right-wing website Daily Caller, a veteran Fox News host, and many others on the social media site Twitter attacked Karine Jean-Pierre Monday afternoon, after the White House Press Secretary told the press: “I know there was a tick-tock that went out to all of you from the National Security Council that was pretty detailed on how everything broke down for the past week.”

Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin mocked The Daily Caller, (which was founded by Tucker Carlson,) for getting something so basic so wrong.

READ MORE: Morning Joe Reminds Viewers of the Last Time the Koch Network ‘Stopped the Craziness’ in GOP Primaries

Longtime journalist Keith Olberman blasted several people on Twitter who assumed the worst, including veteran Fox News reporter David Asman.

He didn’t stop there.

 

 

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News

House Ethics Committee Begins Questioning Santos Staffers

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The U.S. House Committee on Ethics has begun questioning staffers for embattled Rep. George Santos, who on Friday was accused of sexual harassment and improper hiring practice by a prospective aide the New York Republican interviewed and hired.

CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona, reporting the committee’s questioning, calls it “a sign that the committee is looking into some of the allegations against Santos, though it doesn’t necessarily mean a formal investigation has been launched yet.”

“It is unclear what exactly the committee asked these staffers about, but multiple ethics complaints have been filed against Santos,” Zanona adds.

READ MORE: Watch: Democrats File Ethics Complaint Against George Santos After GOP Leadership Calls It an ‘Internal’ Matter

Most recently, a prospective staffer filed a complaint that the congressman made an unwanted sexual advance.

Two New York Democrats last month also filed an ethics complaint against Santos over his financial disclosure reporting.

 

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Jordan’s First Hearing on ‘So-Called’ Weaponization of Government Mocked Over Conspiracy Theorist Witnesses

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Its first hearing isn’t until Thursday but already Chairman Jim Jordan‘s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government is being mocked after the list of witnesses was released.

NBC News’ Garrett Haake reports testifying before the committee on Thursday will be ex-Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and former FBI special agent Nicole Parker.

Gabbard left the Democratic Party and is now an independent and a Fox News contributor. In 2019, Hillary Clinton suggested she was a Russian asset being groomed for a third-party presidential run. She sued the former Democratic presidential nominee and former U.S. Secretary of State but later dropped the defamation lawsuit.

Also, Gabbard “shared false information,” Forbes reported last year, “about U.S. involvement in Ukraine biological laboratories … giving credence to an unfounded Russian-backed conspiracy theory the U.S. has warned could serve as justification for Russia to use biological and chemical weapons against Ukraine.”

READ MORE: Santos Denies Sexually Assaulting Prospective Staffer Working in His Office – Calls Allegations ‘Comical’

Sen. Johnson, who narrowly won re-election after being among the top promoters of Donald Trump’s “Big Lie,” is a conspiracy theorist who uses his Senate seat to spread false information about COVID and a host of other crises.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza branded Johnson the “Senate’s leading conspiracy theorist” just one year ago. The Washington Post reported last May that Sen. Johnson “expressed openness” to “a fervent anti-vaccination” commentator’s “idea that maybe the coronavirus vaccines are a conduit for deliberately giving people AIDS.”

Sen. Grassley has come under fire for his racist remarks about COVID-19, dangerously false claims about the IRS, and apparent falsehoods about the January 6 insurrection and its participants.

Last year The American Independent reported Grassley told a constituent “what you said is accurate.” According to The Independent, the constituent said during a town hall: “Knowing that the FBI and Capitol Police were complicit in Jan. 6, what have you done to get the political prisoners being held in gulag conditions out on bail?”

Some were quick to mock Chairman Jordan’s choice of witnesses to testify before his subcommittee’s first hearing.

“Johnson actively pushed the WI legislature & the VP to overturn the election. Tulsi used her perch in Congress to secretly meet with Assad & whitewash his war crimes. so in a sense, they are indeed experts on weaponizing gov’t.,” mocked former Hillary Clinton foreign policy spokesperson Jesse Lehrich.

READ MORE: ‘Whatever Side Bet on Stupid Won Big’: Steve Schmidt Scorches Marco Rubio for ‘Kernels of Imbecility’ on Balloongate

Jim Manley, a top aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, described the panel as “low energy.”

NBC News Justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly pre-deflated Parker’s possible contributions, citing her as saying: “’I was never asked to participate in anything that was political,’ Nicole Parker said in one of her Fox News hits (Hannity, specifically).”

Even CNN did not hide its skepticism, beginning its reporting with this line: “The GOP-led House select subcommittee on so-called weaponization of the federal government will draw upon a prominent ex-Democrat, two of their Republican Senate colleagues, and a former FBI agent in their first public hearing to discuss how they believe the government has been weaponized against conservatives, multiple sources familiar with the plans tell CNN.”

 

 

 

 

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