The more that comes out on Michele Bachmann, the more of a total loon she looks to be. Mother Jones found a 2002 video that she made about the dangers of education reform that offers this basic argument:
Education reform efforts —-> national curriculum control —-> Nazism, totalitarianism, communism and another Holocaust.
And the video is called Guinea Pig Kids II. Seriously. Wasn’t that a bad 80s movie starring Corey Haim?
As Bachmann and Chapman explained, a little-known federal program called Goals 2000, initiated under the Clinton administration but consistent with a similar plan supported by President George H.W. Bush, was paving the way for a national curriculum. The new curriculum, the two speakers maintained, moved the state away from established truths like the supposedly Christian founding documents, and replaced them with secular documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that allowed the state to craft its own set of values. Guinea Pig Kids was designed to explain “Minnesota’s new centrally-planned education, workforce & economic system and how citizens are trying to reverse it.” Over the course of the film’s two hours, Bachmann and Chapman did just that…
She fretted that even mathematics were somehow being manipulated by the state. “How would you like it if you went into Herberger’s this weekend,” she said, alluding to a local department store. “[You] bought a blouse—gave a $50 bill for a $30 blouse. And the student said, well, here’s $5. And you said, ‘Hey, I deserve 15 more. What’s the deal’ And they said, ‘Well, that’s my mathematical worldview!’ You’d be knocking on the door of the manager so fast it would make your head spin!”
“This is where on paper these ideas sound sooo avant garde, so sophisticated,” she said, waving her hands in the air and widening her eyes. “But take these ideas down into the real world, where I live, where you live it, and it doesn’t pan out and it doesn’t make sense.” The state’s message, she claimed, was simple: “There is no truth.”
For Bachmann, education standards were the proverbial slippery slope. They were being designed by underhanded globalist bureaucrats who yearned to guide the United States toward a repressive society in which humans were just another resource to be used by the state. “Forget gobbledygook; think reality,” Bachmann said at one point in her presentation. “What has history shown us about planned state economies in the last 100 years? Think fascism, think communism, think socialism, think um, the state-planned economies—totalitarianism! Think Cuba! Do you want Cuba’s economy? Or do you want the United States of America’s economy? Which one was planned, which one was free? Which one was private initiative?” …
Through a program called School to Work, businesses would work with schools to figure out which skills they would need for the new economy. In the two activists’ dystopian scenario, central planners would be able to prioritize certain fields (sustainable development, for instance) and bring up a new generation of workers whose loyalties were to the state. Work replaced knowledge as the central goal of education.
At one point Chapman quoted Hitler: “When an opponent declares I will not come over to your side, I calmly say: ‘Your child belongs to us already.’” And he framed the educational debate as an existential crisis. America, he insisted, had become the most powerful force for good in the history of the world on account of its moral foundation. Now education standards were putting all that at risk.
“Have we evolved beyond the capability of repeating the atrocities of the past? I don’t think so,” Chapman said. “In Nazi Germany the utilitarian worldview led to Auschwitz,” he continued. “And as the victims passed under the shadow of Hitler’s Final Solution, they were tauntingly reminded one last time that they have outlived their usefulness. The iron gates carried the message ‘arbeit macht frei’: Work makes you free.”
At this point in the film, an image of the concentration camp flashed on the screen, the Nazi slogan splashed across it in large red letters. “In America the truth makes us free,” said Chapman, pounding his fist on the lectern. “And it’s time we had the truth from the state about what this freedom is, or we’re gonna lose our freedom in the next generation. Mark my words.”
If there is one constant element of the hard right in America, it’s that their paranoia simply knows no bounds. There’s a long tradition of this kind of crazy conspiracy stuff on the right, with groups like the John Birch Society claiming that Eisenhower was a communist infiltrator, that the Chinese were on the verge of invading the United States, that fluoride in the water was going to destroy us all, and so forth. That none of those dystopic fantasies ever actually come true seems not to phase them in the least. They just move on to the next bizarre conspiracy.
Today their leader is Glenn Beck, who lives for this kind of thing. And just like in the old days when I was coaching debate, when every argument had to end in nuclear war, on Planet Wingnuttia every argument has to end with Nazism and communism. For Beck, everything leads to Hitler — even compassion, for crying out loud. These people are seriously whacked.