Emails obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request show Daniels requested that historian and anti-war activist Howard Zinn's writings be banned from classrooms and asked for a "cleanup" of college courses. In another exchange, the Republican talks about cutting funding for a program run by a local university professor who was one of his sharpest critics.
The emails are here and here. In case you’re blissfully unaware of Indiana politics, “Tony Bennett” was Daniels’ education henchman, and such an egregious turd he lost his bid for reelection in a Republican year in Indiana.
Now, at the risk of shocking some readers, I’m not completely surprised to learn that Mitch Daniels was a petty tyrant, an intellectual lightweight, a Bill of Rights hypocrite, nor a vindictive runt. I’m sure he comes off a little worse simply because the A.P. was not able to obtain his detailed supplemental list of the errors “on every page” of A People’s History.
I would just like to take a moment this AM to point out a couple things. First, Daniels refers to Zinn “finally” passing away; apart from the standard display of Daniels’ class and wit, it suggests that his familiarity with Zinn had begun less than a week earlier, with Roger Kimball’s piece in the National Review. Daniels even appropriates Kimball’s “textbook of choice in high schools and colleges across the country” line, a classic example of how anti-fluoridationist hyperbole becomes established fact the moment it reaches a pair of ears.
(I will admit, under the circumstances, that I frankly admire Daniels’ ability to get through the thing in just six days, while taking notes, seeing how occupied he was at the time with paying for someone else’s coal gasification plant, half-completing I-69, and finding reasons to avoid testifying in the FSSA suits and countersuits.)
The salient point, though, is Daniels’ reaction when a series of emails detailing efforts to get the recently discovered and deceased Zinn out of the education curriculum at state universities: he insisted he was talking about K-12 only.
Anybody ever read a standard K-12 history book in this country? Dear God, they’ve been watered-down Chamber of Commerce pamphlets since Mitch Daniels was knee high to…I mean, since he was a lad. The introduction of Howard Zinn to Indiana classrooms (Daniels’ hench-emailers found nary a copy) would improve the teaching of history no matter what you think of what he says. Hell, Howard Stern would improve our secondary History curriculum.
This isn’t about free speech, or Daniels’ Randian dedication to it, though that’s plenty enough for starters. It’s about the Nixonian dishonesty at the heart of education “reform”. It’s about the wingnut echo chamber where even “reasonable” Republicans reside. It’s about the fact that you can somehow get an Ivy League education and not understand the concept of research.
On a personal note, once the quarter-stick-of-dynamite Freedom fireworks Daniels let into the state stopped blowing up last night, it got so quiet I thought I heard the Purdue faculty laughing its collective asses off. And the prolonged celebration of the Fourth reminded me that Howard Zinn "finally" died as a veteran of WWII. When it comes time to piss on Mitch Daniels' grave that, fortunately, won't be an issue.