Betsy DeVos and Ruby Bridges Are Absolutely Nothing Alike
This is Betsy DeVos, the newly-confirmed Secretary of Education chosen by President Agent Orange and Vice President Littlefinger for the position. She is a former member of the Michigan Republican Party, is a vocal proponent of private and charter schools, is incapable of explaining the difference between proficiency and growth, believes that firearms should be kept on school property for protection against the possibility of grizzly bears as if the Bear Patrol is a thing that doesn’t exist, and overall just seems way too fond of taking the yada-yada approach when it comes to discussing crucial issues faced by students in pursuit of their education, such as how to combat campus sexual assault. DeVos had recently gone to Jefferson Middle School Academy in Washington in order to meet and greet students and faculty, only to be confronted by protesters who prevented her from entering the building as they made their position on DeVos and her lack of experience for the position of Secretary of Education all too clear.
This is Ruby Bridges, who in 1960 was the first African-American child to attend and integrate an all-White school (the William Frantz Elementary School) during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. At only six years old, Miss Bridges was subjected to all sorts of discrimination and harassment, such as teachers refusing to do their jobs and teach their students as long as she was allowed to attend, parents pulling their own children out of school, and angry mobs hurling racial epithets and death threats in her direction, making it necessary for U.S. Marshals to escort Miss Bridges to school in order to keep her safe.
Earlier this week, cartoonist Glenn McCoy illustrated and published this political cartoon regarding Betsy DeVos being prevented from entering Jefferson Middle School Academy, with the word “Conservative” spray-painted on the wall next to her, alongside tomatoes hurled in her direction, the symbol for anarchy, and the signature of the National Education Association supposedly taking credit for it all…
Which was drawn to resemble Norman Rockwell’s classic painting “The Problem We All Live With,” which portrayed Ruby Bridges walking to school under the protection of Federal Marshals, with Ku Klux Klan-applied graffiti of racial epithets and tomatoes hurled in her direction visible on the wall next to her.
McCoy’s explanation for this (which was posted on the Facebook page of the Belleville News-Democrat)?
“My cartoon was about how, in this day and age, decades beyond the civil rights protests, it’s sad that people are still being denied the right to speak freely or do their jobs or enter public buildings because others disagree with who they are or how they think,” he wrote. “I’m surprised that you see ‘hate’ in this cartoon when I thought I was speaking out against hate. It’s a woman passively walking while being protected from angry protesters. Isn’t that what went down the other day when DeVos visited a school to do her job? You may disagree with her on issues but I didn’t see any hate coming from her. I did, however see hate going in the other direction which is what made me think of the Rockwell image. That was the only comparison I was drawing. The level of toxicity in today’s political climate has reached ridiculous levels.”
I don’t know whether to call this White privilege, naivete, or just plain stupidity on McCoy’s part (actually, I’ll just go with all three), but comparing the ‘struggles’ of a woman clearly unqualified for the job that has just been given to her and having that pointed out to her by those who know better, to that of a six-year-old African-American girl whose very life was placed in grave danger all because she wanted to go to school and get an education like so many other children, is just…
The people who are speaking out against Betsy DeVos and her position as Secretary of Education are doing so in an angry but peaceful manner to hammer home the point that not only is she grossly unqualified, but unqualified enough to make many parents fear for the academic futures of their children. DeVos has made it clear that her interests lie more in the education that is provided by private and charter schools, and not those in public schools, which is where many children go for schooling due to their parents and guardians not having access to millions of dollars like DeVos does. (The fact that she was willing to tweet ‘jokes’ such as these after her appointment only added insult to injury for many teachers who have no choice but to spend their own money on supplies in order to teach their students).
The people who spoke out and acted out against Ruby Bridges did so because they hated her skin color, they hated the fact that their children would be forced to learn alongside and interact with someone of her skin color, and they just simply didn’t think that she was worthy of the education that she had a right to. And if many of them had the chance, they would have ended her life and that of her family.
That was hate. What Betsy DeVos is dealing with is the same thing that President Agent Orange is dealing with and refuses to acknowledge and accept: they are being called out on their bullshit, on their highly unimpressive behavior and lack of qualifications, and on the fact that they are clearly in way over their heads, which can and will result in many a poor decision being made and many people (along with their children) having to suffer as a result.
And the less said about McCoy and others like him believing that being called a ‘conservative’ carries the same weight and vitriol as being called a ‘nigger,’ the better.