PIERRE, S.D. â€“ Governor Kristi Noem is now accepting applications for the Governorâ€™s Office fall 2022 internship program.
Student interns will work with staff on various projects depending on interests and strengths. Additional duties include aiding the governorâ€™s general counsel, constituent services, and communications team; conducting policy research; preparing policy briefings; and staffing events. Internships provide students with first-hand knowledge of the state government and the functions of a governorâ€™s office.
College students who would like to be considered for an internship should submit a resume, cover letter, and letter of recommendation to email@example.com. Applications for fall interns should be submitted by Aug. 31, 2022.
GAB Refers Allegations to Noem Appointee, Mark Vargo
August 22, 2022- By Breeauna Sagdal
As previously reported by The Dakota Leader, Governor Kristi Noem pushed hard for the impeachment of former Attorney General, Jason Ravnsborg. Following the tragic and fatal collision with Highmore resident, Joseph Boever, Gov. Noem urged the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. Prior to that tragic incident however, Ravnsborg had opened investigations into Gov. Noem for alleged "misuse of public funds," and "nepotism."
Ravnsborg had also launched an investigation into Noem's wealthiest donor Denny Sanford, after child pornography was allegedly found on his home computer, according to information provided by The Centers For Missing and Exploited Children. The case was dropped against Sanford, shortly after the impeachment of Ravnsborg.
Now, Stephan Groves of the Associated Press shares the South Dakota GAB (Government Accountability Board) has found sufficient information that Gov. Kristi Noem may have â€œengaged in misconduct, when she intervened in her daughterâ€™s application for a real estate appraiser license, and it referred a separate complaint over her state airplane use to the state's attorney general for investigation."
The three retired judges who comprise the Government Accountability Board, determined that the case was partially closed and partially dismissed. The board voted unanimously to invoke procedures allowing for a contested case hearing that gives Noem a chance to publicly defend herself against allegations related to her daughter's appraisal license.
The board dismissed allegations claiming Noem misused state funds for personal use. In 2019, Noem upgraded the state's plane, and was later accused of jet-setting on taxpayer dollars to attend political events, and campaign for the re-election of former President, Donald Trump. Though South Dakota law bars state-owned airplanes from being used for anything other than state business, Noem says she was acting as a state ambassador, and has denied allegations of misuse or wrong-doing.
The Dakota Leader's Editor Breeauna Sagdal, was sent a private text message from someone close to the situation, directly after Vargo was appointed by Noem. "How much do you want to bet that the investigation is referred to Vargo, and everything gets quietly swept under the rug? There's a reason he was appointed, and top brass cleaned out," the text reads.
Many within South Dakota's political sphere, report believing that Ravnsborg was impeached prior to being able to investigate Noem, and her long-time donor Denny Sanford, citing concerns over Noem's actions during the course of the investigation.
The House launched an investigation at the behest of Gov. Noem, to determine if Ravnsborg had acted in a manner that warranted impeachment per South Dakota law. During that time however, Gov. Kristi Noem was issued cease and desist orders for interference. Gov. Noem and her administration continued to publicly release sensitive and inaccurate information during the course of an on-going investigation. Noem's actions were considered erratic and unethical according to her colleagues, who allege she was also involved with a state-wide billboard campaign questioning the motives of political opponents.
Additionally, false information was leaked to the press during the investigation. Initially, it was reported that Ravnsborg had been distracted while driving, but in February of 2021, Michael Moore of Beadle County shared that both of Ravnsborg's phones were locked at least one minute and 15 seconds leading up to the crash, meaning he was not in fact on his phone as initially reported by the press. National media also falsely reported that Ravnsborg had been drinking when he hit Boever, and then fled the scene of the crime. These allegations were all proven incorrect after the 911 audio was released to the public, but the source of that information was never revealed.
Although the House Committee on Investigation found Ravnsborg not-guilty of charges warranting impeachment, the fully assembly voted 36-31 to impeach. Ravnsborg was later impeached after a short two-day trial in the Senate, led by prosecutor Mark Vargo. Ultimately, Ravnsborg was impeached for the two misdemeanor charges he had plead "no-contest" to, and not for violating the terms of his office, per state law.
Mark Vargo has been asked if he will recuse himself from investigating Gov. Noem, due to the conflicts of interest. Vargo said in a statement to the AP: â€œBased on the fact that this just happened, no decision has been made.â€
Conversely, the board, while saying they have found sufficient information that Noem "may have engaged in misconduct," has stated that â€œappropriate actionâ€ could be taken against Noem for her role in her daughter's appraiser licensure. The board however, has not specified what, if any action that might be.
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Pierre, S.D. (Aug 1, 2022) â€“ Just weeks before the 2022 general election begins, the South Dakota Freedom Caucus called on the Governor and fellow legislators to join them in taking immediate action in light of election integrity findings the caucus says they have recently become aware of.
The caucus has not disclosed the specific details regarding their findings, but stated that some of the issues are time sensitive and affect the oversight of the election process.
â€œIn light of the information we have recently become aware of, we are seeking the strong leadership of our Governor and our fellow legislators to take immediate action to preserve the integrity of our process prior to the upcoming elections,â€ said Freedom Caucus Chairman Aaron Aylward.
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The caucus stated they will be looking to Governor Noem for her leadership and her administration, as she has been a vocal proponent of election integrity measures and earlier this year signed SB 122 into law, banning the private funding of our public election process.
That law came after dozens of South Dakota counties received nearly $400,000 since 2020, in what some are calling â€œZuck Bucks,â€ which was funding from the Center for Technology and Civic Life owned by Mark Zuckerberg and have been publicly scrutinized by officials as having undue influence over the election process.
â€œBut those werenâ€™t the only issues that were seen in this last primary election,â€ said Freedom Caucus Vice Chairman Representative Tony Randolph, making reference to the wrong ballots issued by Minnehaha poll workers during the primary election this year.
The Freedom Caucus stated that they will be speaking with the Governor and Acting Attorney General Mark Vargo in the next following days to seek immediate action due to the time sensitive nature of the issue. The caucus said that they will provide further details of their findings at that time.
The Department of Education released the proposed content standards for social studies for review and public comment. The following statement is the South Dakota Education Associationâ€™s (SDEA) response to the draft standards and can be attributed to SDEA Executive Director, Ryan Rolfs.
â€œEducators are committed to teaching students a full history, including the good and bad while helping them develop the critical thinking skills that enable them to be productive citizens who are committed to the great promise of our Country; that all men are created equal.
SDEA is working with our members to review the proposed standards to determine whether we believe they meet the necessary rigor to give students the education they deserve. One that challenges them to meet their fullest potential while having the freedom to learn in an environment that allows them to ask the questions that lead to higher-level thinking.
From its initial review, SDEA is concerned about the age appropriateness of the standards as presented. The lower-grade standards call for a level of memorization that is not cognitively appropriate for our stateâ€™s early learners, and the upper-grade standards fail to challenge studentsâ€™ critical thinking skills through standards that encourage analysis and evaluation of the world around them. SDEA will be submitting comments to the Board of Education Standards in the coming days, and we encourage educators and parents to review the proposed standards and let their voices be heard as well.â€
A large group of individuals across the state of South Dakota have filed Freedom Of Information Act requests in an effort to obtain video surveillance from absentee ballot drop-box sites, during the 2020 federal election. As previously reported, federal law requires election materials to be kept on file for 22 months before they can be legally destroyed. Within the next two weeks, that deadline will approach. Concerned citizens are now fighting against the clock, and their elected County Auditors, to obtain these records before time runs out.
Various County Auditors have now used taxpayer dollars to hire legal representation from South Dakota's top legal firms. Ben Kyte, Minnehaha County Auditor, retained the legal counsel of Lisa Marso, President of the South Dakota Bar Association. Kyte, who respectfully requested the Office of Hearing Examiners to deny public records requests pertaining to the drop boxes, is now spending large sums of taxpayer dollars on legal counsel from Marso's law-firm.
Now, the recently launched South Dakota Freedom Caucus has picked up the torch. Chairman of the South Dakota Freedom Caucus, Representative Aaron Aylward (R-Sioux Falls) is calling upon colleagues, and Governor Kristi Noem to address the time-sensitive issue.
â€œIn light of the information we have recently become aware of, we are seeking the strong leadership of our Governor and our fellow legislators to take immediate action to preserve the integrity of our process prior to the upcoming elections,â€ Aylward stated in a recent press release.
The Freedom Caucus says that they will be speaking with the Governor and Acting Attorney General, Mark Vargo, in the coming days. Although the Freedom Caucus has not disclosed the exact nature of the information they have, they say that they intend to "seek immediate action due to the time sensitive nature of the issue." The Caucus says, however, that they will be providing details of that information at a later time.
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--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor and Health Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader
CDC announced that the institutes have done an external/self-study and proposed a makeover â€œto restore public trust.â€ Dr. Walensky said that she â€œplans to remake the culture to help the agency move faster when it responds to a public health crisis." She also wants to make it easier for other parts of the government to work with the CDC, and wants to "simplify and streamline the website to get rid of overlapping and contradictory public health guidance.â€
The CDCâ€™s announcement covers everything except the fundamental problem, to which the director and the external reviewer are blind: industry subservience and epidemiologic incompetence.
CDC has published numbers of fatally flawed study reports over the last two years in MMWR, its captive journal. No amounts of â€œmoving fasterâ€ will fix this problem. It took the CDC two years to figure out that the vaccines are not an effective public health tool for reducing infection spread, something that I and numerous colleagues have been saying for more than a year.
The CDC has still not recognized that for Covid, masks are useless, distancing is useless, and that general population testing is virtually useless for managing the population pandemic.
That the CDC has reviewed itself and only found trivialities and not the systematic problems that caused it to produce repeatedly failing policies, shows that this review exercise was only window dressing. It was not a serious review.
The CDC needs a completely different independent external review to understand how it-as a public health agency with MD and PhD epidemiologists-could get so much science wrong for so long. The current makeover plans are ludicrous, will fool no one, and will not restore any of the large amount of public trust that has been lost by its poor performance over the last 2.5 years.
--Dr Harvey Risch. Dr Risch is a Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health.
The City Council on August 16, 2022 Discussed a Conditional Use Permit that May Allow Deuces Casino to have 40 Video Lottery Terminals at One Location.
Back on July 6, 2022, the Sioux Falls Planning Commission approved of a plan to allow for Deuces Casino to locate a video lottery establishment at the corner of 69th Street, and Cliff Avenue. At the most recent City Council Meeting, held on August 16, 2022, it was made public that the casino intends to place four separate video lottery establishments at 6010 S. Cliff Avenue, which would account for 40 video lottery terminals total.
A brief look at Conditional Use Permit #16569-2022 shows that Deuces Casino is planning to extend upon a former permit, in establishing a large strip mall of casinos on the corner of 69th and Cliff Avenue.
According to state Law, only 10 video lottery terminals are allowed to be placed at any one location. In an effort to bypass these restrictions the owner of Deuces Casino is requesting side-by-side establishments. A plan that some on the City Council say, might create a precedent for the city to allow again in the future.
"We must slow this process down in order to discuss this matter further, if we proceed with this concept, it's going to be very difficult to scale back in the future due to the precedent we will have set", according to Greg Neitzert, of the Northwest District.
City Council-member Pat Starr, made a motion to defer the matter to a later date, sharing his own concerns regarding the proposal.
"At some point, this is way outside the boundaries of what the South Dakota Legislature had intended for when it adopted, and allowed for these types of establishments, the concept of only placing one video lottery location in one area." he went to say, "North Sioux City has set the precedent that they allow for up to 7 establishments in one building, what will stop us going forward, allowing the same?"
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Even under the conditional use permit, any establishment offering gambling, or lotto services must be at least be 500 feet from public schools, churches, or any sensitive use areas.
Councilors cited concerns regarding the number of employees that would be available, floor planning, and what types of internal policies the business owner(s) would potentially utilize in order to ensure the public that safety, and the community will be protected. In addition to concerns over public safety, the issue of city ordinance enforcement was addressed, as it is possible that only one employee might be left in charge of all four establishments at a time. For now, the Council has tabled the issue, but is expected to address again soon. Pubic comments can be submitted via the city website.
South Dakota Furs held a potluck in Falls Park on August 14th, and hosts monthly events for furries located throughout the Midwest. The furries who attended were well aware of the stigma surrounding their hobby, but still love to gather with each other to bond over their shared interest in anthropomorphic art.
In recent months, there have been claims by some concerned parents that school children are identifying as and acting like animals, and that schools have responded by putting litter boxes in school bathrooms. Although that rumor has been debunked, an air of mistrust still surrounds the furry fandom.
Furries describe their own subculture in very simple terms: a celebration of anthropomorphic art in various forms, such as visual art, costumes, performance art, and interactive virtual reality spaces. As an art subject, anthropomorphism dates back at least 35,000 years to the Lion-human of Hohlstein-Stadel, an ivory carving with the body of a human and the head of a lion. Anthropomorphic characters have been a literary subject for thousands of years, from Classical mythology to the short stories of Beatrix Potter, before gaining popularity in cartoons and video games. Many furries cite cartoons such as Disneyâ€™s â€œRobin Hoodâ€ or â€œZootopiaâ€ as the catalyst for their interest in anthropomorphic art, and have surprisingly wholesome ways that they view their hobby.
â€œKids can enjoy the furry fandom. Itâ€™s just an enjoyment of anthropomorphism,â€ says David, who is one of the event organizers for South Dakota Fur. â€œI like to draw anthropomorphic characters because they have more variation than human characters. I can be more creative.â€
Miggs, who traveled from Edgerton, MN for South Dakota Furâ€™s August gathering, believes that â€œThe litter box rumor is related to transphobia.â€ Miggs runs an online business designing and building custom fursuits that start at $4,000 each, and is familiar with the cultural backlash against furries. â€œItâ€™s easier to hate someone with a weird hobby than to hate trans people,â€ she explained, noting that the furries are adjacent to the LGBTQ+ community, and that events like the potluck in Falls Park are a welcoming place for self-expression.
Most of Miggsâ€™ fursuits take about two months to construct and are one-of-a-kind creations, although most of the requests are for wolves or other canines. Some of her custom built furry masks feature bendable ears, magnetic antlers, LED eyes, or squeaky noses. Each costume is built individually based on sketches of what the client wants the front, back, and side to look like. Her most time-intensive request yet has been a porcupine costume that took five months to construct. Some of the costumes require a special cooling vest and can reach 107 degrees inside, so many of the wearers take frequent breaks at events.
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Although Miggs loves running her own business and is happy to be so successful at age 20, she feels that the stigma around being a furry can be hurtful at times. â€œThe rumors about the litter boxes started with twelve and thirteen-year-old boys on Tik Tok saying that we think weâ€™re really animals. We do not actually believe that. We all work normal jobs.â€ When not in costume, she says, some furries are IT specialists, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and even members of the military. â€œTwo furries have been to space,â€ Miggs explained to illustrate how highly educated many of them are. â€œThe inventor of the Moderna vaccine is a a furryâ€ Miggs said. [Editorial Note- according to an Input magazine article, published 6/2/21, Dr Chise helped to develop mRNA technology and always wanted to be a Disney Character]
Shiloh, 22, who lives in Sioux Falls, says that the â€œafter darkâ€ aspect of furry culture has been exaggerated, and that not all furries partake in those activities. Online content creators are careful to tag certain pieces as â€œ18+â€ and block minors from seeing them, and furry conventions are strict about carding and checking the ages of participants for their â€œafter darkâ€ activities.
Shiloh sees that â€œthereâ€™s a confirmation bias,â€ to what people believe about the furry fandom because â€œdressing in animal costumes seems surreal in conceptâ€, and people are sometimes disturbed by that disruption of the status-quo. For some people, the unmoving eyes on the masks create an uncanny valley effectâ€“ kigu masks and mascot suits can have a similar effect, although they are intended to look cheerful and cute. Playing peek-a-boo while in costume can almost create the effect of the eyes blinking, but many people still find the uncanny valley effect of kigurumi masks and furry costumes unnerving.
All masks, whether a full animal head built over a bucket foundation or a simple piece of cloth, disrupt the ability of the person interacting with the wearer to fully grasp their emotions, expressions, and intentions. The inability to tell if thereâ€™s a threat behind the mask or not can cause people to intuitively assume that there is a threat.
For people wearing them, however, masks can be liberating. â€œI turn into a completely different person and feel more comfortable being silly,â€ Shiloh says, describing how fursuits can pull people who feel insecure and socially awkward out of their shells and help them grow more comfortable and expressive over time.
Jacob, 25, of Sioux Falls, also feels that costumes and masks can be socially liberating. â€œIâ€™ve gotten compliments on my dancing, and I didnâ€™t even know I could dance!â€
He also credits the furry fandom with introducing him to his partner, because they initially met online. â€œI found Deviantart and met a lady who had a dragon drawing tutorial on there, and then found a community through that. Relationships can grow in virtual reality spaces because VR can close geographical gaps.â€
Online experiences such as Furality grew in popularity during the covid-related closing of conventions as an alternative to in-person events, and the virtual worlds for furries became more immersive and convincing during that time. Even with in-person furry events resuming, Fureality is still a popular option because the graphics can close the gap between fantasy and reality in a way that the costumes cannot, such as making the eyes on the characters move. To be as inclusive as possible, the furry community helps people who are interested in participating in Fureality gain access to virtual reality spaces so that they can feel a sense of belonging even if they arenâ€™t located near other furries or donâ€™t have the financial means to travel to conventions.
â€œThe furry fandom spreads positivity and acceptance. I didnâ€™t have that growing up,â€ says Chibby, 19, who traveled from St Paul, MN and stayed with friends to attend the furry gathering in Falls Park.
â€œAt first I was skeptical because of the rumors,â€ Jacob says. â€œBut theyâ€™re wholesome, inclusive, and connected. Never once have I felt excluded or hated, and I have great memories of furry conventions. Hatred stems from not understanding, and not wanting to understand.â€
Editorial Note: The term Furry refers to an individual who knows they are human, but likes to dress-up as an animal, similar to cosplay. An Otherkin refers to an individual who actually identifies as non-human, believing they are an animal, or another mythical creature trapped in the wrong body.
"Based on findings from canvassing and independent analysis by WE THE PEOPLE of South Dakota, it is
imperative that before the November 8, 2022 general election the Secretary of State and the County Auditors
update the voter rolls by removing voters that are deceased, have moved to another location, or have been
inactive for two general elections."
November 3, 2020 Election Certified on November 10, 2020
SD Secretary of State website shows the following-
4/2/2021 â€“ 427.529 Ballots cast in the state
4/2/2021 â€“ 422,609 Total ballots cast by County
9/22/2021 â€“ 428,501 Ballots Cast in the State
12/29/2021 â€“ 427,074 Ballots cast in the state
During the 2020 election
25,272 Registered Voters from Mail Forwarding Companies and 11,089 votes on November 3, 2020
Inflated voter rolls the first day of absentee voting 09/18/2020
4,379 votes not connected to a voter in 2020
Voter Registration Ended for the November 3, 2020 election on 10/19/2020 (15 days before the election) per
South Dakota Codified Law 12-4-5.
The Voter rolls dated 9/22/2021 show the following;
o 163 voters registered to vote AFTER 11/3/2020
o 552 voters registered on 11/3/2020 of which 49 voted
o 260 voters registered between 10/20/2020 and 11/3/2020
o 11 voters voted twice
o 256 voters over 120 years old
Voter rolls dated 12/29/2021 compared to voter rolls dated 9/22/2021
- 146 new voters voting on 11/3/2020, not previously recorded
- 601 voter records removed
- 36 new voters registered between 9/22/2021 and 12/21/2021, that voted in the November 3, 2020
- 18 blank records that voted November 3, 2020
Voter Registration â€“ SDCL 12-1-4 states, "For the purposes of this title (Title 12), the term, residence, means
the place in which a person has fixed his or her habitation and to which the person, whenever absent, intends
to return."... However,
10,388 votes recorded from 5 Mail Forwarding Companies
1,113 voters had (non-military) out of country addresses such as Poland, South Korea,
Thailand, France, Ireland, etc.
1,893 votes recorded from campgrounds, hotels, motels
328 votes from invalid addresses, no street address listed
150 votes from Police stations, non-profits, governments buildings and Walmart.
Door to door canvassing took place in Minnehaha, Lincoln and Pennington counties on February 5, 2022 and
March 15, 2022.
361 houses reached
160 of those residents answered the door
96% voter roll discrepancies February 5th
92% voter roll discrepancies March 15th
4 homes were vacant
Absentee Ballots â€“ SDCL 12-19-7 states: the voter shall either mail the ballot, deliver it in person or have it
delivered to the person in charge of the election. In the November 3, 2020 election, South Dakota
implemented the use of Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes.
38 counties used ballot drop boxes for collecting ballots during the 11/3/2020 election
29 counties monitored the drop boxes with video footage.
Drop box video is election material
Federal law Â§20701 states election materials must be kept 22 months.
No Counties in South Dakota kept the video footage.
Itâ€™s been more than seventy-five years since the Nazis were defeated and Auschwitz was liberated. Seventy-five years is a long timeâ€”so long, in fact, that while many still learn of the horrors of the Holocaust, far fewer understand how the murder of the Jews happened. How were millions of people systematically exterminated in an advanced Western nationâ€”a constitutional republic? How did such respectable and intelligent citizens become complicit in the murder of their countrymen? These are the questions Milton Mayer sought to answer in his book They Thought They Were Free.
In 1952, Mayer moved his family to a small German town to live among ten ordinary men, hoping to understand not only how the Nazis came to power but how ordinary Germansâ€”ordinary peopleâ€”became unwitting participants in one of historyâ€™s greatest genocides. The men Mayer lived among came from all walks of life: a tailor, a cabinetmaker, a bill-collector, a salesman, a student, a teacher, a bank clerk, a baker, a soldier, and a police officer.
Significantly, Mayer did not simply conduct formal interviews in order to â€œstudyâ€ these men; rather, Mayer had dinner in these menâ€™s homes, befriended their families, and lived as one of them for nearly a year. His own children went to the same school as their children. And by the end of his time in Germany, Mayer could genuinely call them friends. They Thought They Were Free is Mayerâ€™s account of their stories, and the title of the book is his thesis. Mayer explains:
â€œOnly one of my ten Nazi friends saw Nazism as weâ€”you and Iâ€”saw it in any respect. This was Hildebrandt, the teacher. And even he then believed, and still believes, in part of its program and practice, â€˜the democratic part.â€™ The other nine, decent, hard-working, ordinarily intelligent and honest men, did not know before 1933 that Nazism was evil. They did not know between 1933 and 1945 that it was evil. And they do not know it now. None of them ever knew, or now knows, Nazism as we knew and know it; and they lived under it, served it, and, indeed, made itâ€ (47).
Until reading this book, I thought of what happened in Germany with a bit of arrogance. How could they not know Nazism was evil? And how could they see what was happening and not speak out? Cowards. All of them. But as I read Mayerâ€™s book, I felt a knot in my stomach, a growing fear that what happened in Germany was not a result of some defect in the German people of this era.
The men and women of Germany in the 1930s and 40s were not unlike Americans in the 2010s and 20sâ€”or the people of any nation at any time throughout history. They are human, just as we are human. And as humans, we have a great tendency to harshly judge the evils of other societies but fail to recognize our own moral failuresâ€”failures that have been on full display the past two years during the covid panic.
Mayerâ€™s book is frighteningly prescient; reading his words is like staring into our own souls. The following paragraphs will show just how similar the worldâ€™s response to covid has been to the German response to the â€œthreatâ€ of the Jews. If we can truly understand the parallels between our response to covid and the situation in Hitlerâ€™s Germany, if we can see what lies at the end of â€œtwo weeks to flatten the curve,â€ perhaps we can prevent the greatest atrocities from being fully realized in our own day. But to stop our bent toward tyranny, we must first be willing to grapple with the darkest parts of our nature, including our tendency to dehumanize others and to treat our neighbors as enemies.
â€œOrdinary peopleâ€”and ordinary Germansâ€”cannot be expected to tolerate activities which outrage the ordinary sense of ordinary decency unless the victims are, in advance, successfully stigmatized as enemies of the people, of the nation, the race, the religion. Or, if they are not enemies (that comes later), they must be an element within the community somehow extrinsic to the common bond, a decompositive ferment (be it only by the way they part their hair or tie their necktie) in the uniformity which is everywhere the condition of common quiet. The Germansâ€™ innocuous acceptance and practice of social anti-Semitism before Hitlerism had undermined the resistance of their ordinary decency to the stigmatization and persecution to comeâ€ (55).
Others have explained the link between totalitarian impulses and â€œinstitutionalized dehumanizationâ€ and have discussed the â€œotheringâ€ of unvaccinated persons in nations across the world. Mayer shows that such dehumanization does not necessarily begin with prejudice:
â€œNational Socialism was anti-Semitism. Apart from anti-Semitism, its character was that of a thousand tyrannies before it, with modern conveniences. Traditional anti-Semitism . . . played an important role in softening the Germans as a whole to Nazi doctrine, but it was separation, not prejudice as such, that made Nazism possible, the mere separation of Jews and non-Jewsâ€ (116-117).
Even if many Germans did not harbor anti-Semitic prejudices (at least not initially), the forced separation of Jews and non-Jews created a devastating rift in German society, tearing the social fabric and paving the way for tyranny. In our day, the separation of the masked and unmasked, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, has divided populations around the world like nothing weâ€™ve experienced in our lifetimes. And the global scale of this separation has perhaps not happened in recorded history.
How has this separation been made possible? The immense power of propaganda, and particularly propaganda in the digital age. We think we understand how propaganda affects us, but we often donâ€™t realize the truly insidious effects on how we view others until it is too late. Mayerâ€™s friends explained this in great depth. On one occasion, Mayer asked the former bank clerk about one of his Jewish friends. â€œDid your memory of the peddler make you anti-Semitic?â€ â€œNoâ€”not until I heard anti-Semitic propaganda. Jews were supposed to do terrible things that the peddler had never done. . . . The propaganda didnâ€™t make me think of him as I knew him but of him as a Jewâ€ (124; emphasis added).
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Is there anything we can do to mitigate the dehumanizing effects of propaganda? Mayer describes the power of Nazi propaganda as so intense that all of his friends were affected by itâ€”changed by itâ€”including the teacher who was more aware of such tactics. Nearly seven years after the war, his friends still could not be persuaded that they had been deceived:
â€œNobody has proved to my friends that the Nazis were wrong about the Jews. Nobody can. The truth or falsity of what the Nazis said, and of what my extremist friends believed, was immaterial, marvelously so. There simply was no way to reach it, no way, at least, that employed the procedures of logic and evidenceâ€ (142).
Mayerâ€™s conclusion is depressing. If we cannot persuade others with logic and evidence, how can we persuade them? How many of us have shared indisputable data that the vaccines carry risks? How many of us have shown videos where public health officials openly admit that the vaccines do not stop transmission and that cloth masks donâ€™t work (and are in fact little more than â€œfacial decorationsâ€)? Yet the evidence does not persuade those who have been captured by propaganda; indeed, it cannot persuade them. This is because the very nature of propaganda does not appeal to logic or reason; it does not appeal to evidence. Propaganda appeals to our emotions, and in a world where many people are led by emotions, propaganda becomes deeply rooted in the hearts of those who consume it.
So what are we to do? Mayer relays a frustrating reality. But understanding how propaganda worked in Nazi Germany and how it works today is essential if we are to have any chance of persuading those who have been shaped by it. Moreover, understanding why many people tend to be led by emotions and to outsource or suspend their critical thinking is perhaps even more essential to forestalling greater tragedies. We cannot expect others to escape the tyranny of propaganda if they do not have time to think or are motivated not to think.
Our Own Lives
Even without the dehumanization of those who were a â€œthreatâ€ to the community, most Germans were too focused on their own lives to consider the plight of their neighbors:
â€œMen think first of the lives they lead and the things they see; and not, among the things they see, of the extraordinary sights, but of the sights which meet them in their daily rounds. The lives of my nine friendsâ€”and even of the tenth, the teacherâ€”were lightened and brightened by National Socialism as they knew it. And they look back at it nowâ€”nine of them, certainlyâ€”as the best time of their lives; for what are menâ€™s lives? There were jobs and job security, summer camps for the children and the Hitler Jugend to keep them off the streets. What does a mother want to know? She wants to know where her children are, and with whom, and what they are doing. In those days she knew or thought she did; what difference does it make? So things went better at home, and when things go better at home, and on the job, what more does a husband and father want to know?â€ (48)
â€œI am glad that Native American heritage and culture will be well represented in these standards,â€ said Joe Circle Bear, member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and member of the Commission. â€œGovernor Noem promised to tell our story as part of American history, and these standards do that.â€
"I am very proud of the work we as a committee have put into the new Social Studies Standards,â€ said Stephanie Hiatt, doctorate in education, member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and member of the Commission. â€œThe new standards offer a chronological history of the founding of America. With these new standards, I am confident South Dakota students will develop a historical appreciation that will foster hopeful and prosperous communities.â€
In preparing the draft standards, the Commission focused on the four following goals:
Genuine content in the form of specific stories, historical figures, maps, research, images, and historical documents;
Sound skills for making sense of the past, understanding their neighbors, earning a livelihood, and exercising the rights and responsibilities of citizenship with prudence;
Honest, balanced, and complete accounts of historical events and debates that foster a love of country that is not blind to faults; and
History and civics instruction free from political agendas and activism.
â€œI couldnâ€™t be more thrilled with the new social studies standards. They are substantial and straightforward standards that emphasize our founding documents, our pursuit of freedom, and treat our nationâ€™s history honestly,â€ said Representative Sue Peterson, Vice Chair of the House Education Committee.
The proposed standards provide many notable changes, and a new approach to American History. Rather than the current model which jumps around chronologically, a new spiraled sequence would allow students to build upon what they have learned previously. The content has been enhanced as to challenge familial units, and expand knowledge in every home as parents become a integral part of the learning process. Perhaps most important to many families, "streamlined identification," which allows students, teachers and parents to have full transparency and access to the content itself.
In addition, the standards return to an economic framework, beginning in high school. Prior to graduation, students will fully understand supply and demand, contract law, macro - micro-economic security through private ownership, the free market, trade and more.[pg 84]
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The committee was assembled in response to growing parental concerns related to Critical Race Theory, and various new curricula that are said to be replacing traditional academics in the classroom. Nation-wide un-enrollment rates have spiked this year, as families pull their children from public schools.
Even in the red state of Tennessee, core academic classes have been cut down to thirty minutes, accounting for a total of two-hours per day allotted for math, science, reading, and social studies.
Many believe that South Dakota, on the other hand, is now leading the way forward toward enrollment retention within K-12 public schools.
Not everyone agrees with the new Social Studies Standards however. The South Dakota Education Association has recently stated its concerns for the age appropriateness of the new standards. The SDEA, is the South Dakota chapter of the NEA, the largest teacher's union in the country, which recently adopted Critical Race Theory into its platform.
Taneeza Islam, the former mayoral candidate for Sioux Falls, is the Executive Director of South Dakota Voices For Justice. Islam recently announced on social media that the group will be busing people to Pierre, to testify against the "CRT Ban."
Islam's post was shared by the South Dakota Democratic Party, South Dakota Teacher's Union, Healing Racism, Minnehaha Democratic Party, and more. The meeting was later postponed by the Board of Education.
Critics of CRT, say that parents and families are being left out of the process, and have limited access to what their child is learning. Others contend that traditional academics are slipping away, and being replaced by Social Emotional Learning, which places a focus on emotion over facts. However, the most compelling arguments against CRT have come from Black and Latin families themselves, as they say that CRT actually perpetuates systemic racism rather than providing solutions to it.
In this 82 page document, handed out to Oregon teachers, by the ODE and NEA (National Teachers Association) it is now considered racist to teach Black, Latin and Indigenous students the correct answers to math, science and reading. In addition, the new curriculum prohibits teachers from requiring BIPOC students to show their work, because doing so "perpetuates systemic racism."
Updated 08/22/2022 to reflect correct meeting dates. A previous version of this article shared meeting times that have since been postponed.
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--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor and Health Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader