Mary Carney, who has led the Central Wisconsin Tea Party, is now a member of the Marshfield School Board. She is trying to use her position as a school board member to ban a book that she says “downplays American Exceptionalism” and she doesn’t want Kindergarteners learning about the problems and poverty that many children in the world actually live with every day. The book is by Kermit the Frog, of the Muppets.
Tea party views can be extremely noxious, and the belief that Americans are better than the denizens of any other country simply because we are born here. “American Exceptionalism,” is one the most insidious and bigoted pillars of their political platform. So it is no wonder that this woman, as a member of the School Board, threatened in July to not enroll her own child in the district due to revised standards — which remain aligned with state and national benchmarks — that might make them a better citizen. In particular, Carney wants a Muppets book, For Every Child A Better World, banned for being too graphic, traumatizing to children, and putting too much emphasis on Global Concerns.
According to Amazon:
The familiar character of Kermit the Frog teaches young readers about the plight of young children who lack the basic human necessities and the efforts of the United Nations to provide such essentials as housing, water, food, and medical aid.
The book, according to Carney, contains images of suffering children living in poverty and violence, including an image of a child living in a box in the rain, and she thinks it could be traumatizing to little kids. The Amazon reviews for this book seem to glow, over 85% five stars, it is called an “excellent introduction to complex humanitarian issues.” However, there is one review, that still gives three stars, saying that the book “kinda traumatized” the person, now 28; that would have made them at least 6 and a half years old when the book was published. Guess which review the compassion averse Carney used to back her claims the book should be banned? Even though there is more “traumatizing” imagery on television commercials than this book — some people are sensitive — and Carney used that review to push the issue.
Carney’s desire to ban this book shows that she really does not want anyone’s children understanding that in many places, even here in the US, children live in poverty. They live in war, and they live with hunger, fear, and homelessness – things we need to know to appreciate how lucky we are. The Tea Party and groups like it function on the principal of inborn rights, based on arbitrary things like being born in the United States, wealthy, or White, not equality. If children realized that we are all human, and all deserve the same basic things, it would mess up that feeling of entitlement. It could even inspire empathy and cooperation, not really Tea Party values.
The School Board V.P., Amber Leifheit, who heads the board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee, said that Carney was the only member with concerns about the book. Leifheit, who has read the book, is quoted as saying:
Looking at it, I do not have concerns. I believe it shows compassion for people other than yourself. I think that’s a good thing.
According to KARE 11 News, the School Board was supposed to decide whether or not to ban this book on Wednesday, though at the time of the publishing of this article the minutes were not yet available.
Feature image via Twitter