Book Review: Growing Up Red, Outing America From the Inside
Growing Up Red, Outing America From the Inside
Tim Schilke ©2005
“Some will say that this is a politically motivated book. I firmly disagree.”
The author of this remarkable book will find himself in disagreement with everyone he discusses this with, certainly, and this reviewer is no exception. Cogent rationalizations immediately follow the statement above, but the fact irrevocably remains that this book is nothing short of an implacable political act of defiance.
Defiance to a Mother, Father, town and seeming total upbringing to vote Republican and give Bush another term. Defiance to a nauseating, truth-killing journalism environment that allows the most blatant falsehoods to become core beliefs of the Republican constituency. Defiance to the incredulously blinkered minds of most of his associates, shouting the truth of what was really at stake in election 2004 before the event and phenomena fades.
Hasty work is a common observation in this book—the subject matter could have easily been researched for 24 months, yet Schilke got it to press only 180 days later. The compromises made for such haste was a worthy choice, considering the notoriously short memory of the American electorate.
The only place this haste failed the reader was a declaration that “This logic has no basis in logic.” Hopefully some English wizards can give us a precise explanation of the definition problems here, but what’s really missing is an exploration of epistemology and basic logic rules.
It’s unfortunate because Schilke uses logic so masterfully in this careful, well-organized, well-written case for why voting for Bush was and is an utter betrayal to Christian, middle class American values. The war in Iraq presented many stark moral and democratic choices before the American voter and anyone who voted for Bush utterly failed in their duty as an American, that case is made very well by Growing Up Red.
Schilke makes a adequate observation that American education, particularly in History and Civics, is horrifyingly inadequate and is greatly to blame for the election of Bush. This is basely true, but a few more observations are in order.
The first is that this American electorate is easily the most educated in American history. There has never been a golden time of shining American education prominence; only forty years ago there were hardly any women or blacks at any of the nation’s prominent law schools. 100 years ago it was considered a real mark of distinction to have graduated from high school. Only 20 years ago the declaration that every child should go to college would have been met with howls of laughter.
The phenomena of electorate abuse that Bush represents is perhaps not so breathtaking in its scope because the American electorate is so unable to critically think, but because there has never been such a blatantly felonious President and Administration before who were willing to exploit it. Perhaps.
Are Bush and Cheney “revolutionary powers” that Krugman describes that will take down the democracy, or are they the garden variety American thugs who showed up for the McCarthy hearings and the Japanese internment, just to name a few abuses, that we will beat back like we always have before?
The answer to that question would give better clarification about the inadequacies of American education. Also, in defense of history teachers (my Father was one), there are two great problems in instructing history well:
The first is that teaching history and its symbiotic political lessons is forbidden. How does one explain to a classroom of thirty enraged conservative parents that the union history of the 1930’s one just taught--where our great middle class ancestors fought and died to stop the abuses of horrible capitalist pigs--was a great true event? It’s not going to happen.
The second is that only the best-educated, most mature minds of the young can truly comprehend the human issues that are represented in political instruction. 12 year olds truly don’t get right to organize rules until they enter the labor market themselves. It’s hard to ask adolescents to take their rights seriously when in fact we deny them rights routinely.
Regrettably obligatory critiquing now happily aside, I’d like to affirm my high admiration for this work and the sincere voice of the author.
Many of us have faced and walked extremely difficult internal roads since the election of Bush, anguished hours of worry about what kind of country will be left for our children and fellow citizens. Schilke did that and got instantly to very hard work, producing a book in total defiance and contradiction to everything he was brought up to believe in and behave for. For this he could possibly lose great parts of his family, his job, and certainly any chance of a peaceful existence for 12 months.
Base accomplishment aside, this is an act of bravery that should not go unnoticed. It also creates an ache for a soul so distressed, and great admiration and gratitude that at least one among us could state his case for our country so well. As sure as you see the pixels of this text, Mr. Schilke, know that this book will never be forgotten, and that you have made great contributions to our Democracy.