If Tucker Carlson can go down, maybe Ryan Walters can, too
When you think about it, Tucker Carlson and Ryan Walters are kind of the same guy.
There are differences, of course.
One is a smart dangerous lunatic who knows exactly what he’s doing, or did for a very long time until Fox News, early Monday, decided, you know what, we may be crooked liars with no regard for the national interest, but that guy’s freakin’ dangerous.
So they fired him.
The other is a dumb dangerous lunatic, who either has no shame or mountains of it, who’s talked himself into his own zealotry, presumably to afford a larger home, a great deal of fawning attention from the most insufferable among us and power.
One is a media figure who reminds of Andy Griffith’s character in “A Face in the Crowd,” the other a politician who reminds of Barney Fife, deputy to Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor, portrayed by Andy Griffith in “The Andy Griffith Show.”
How about that.
What makes them dangerous rather that merely corrupt is the same tic: a willingness to go where others won’t.
Oklahoma Columnist is a reader-supported venture. Free and paid subscriptions are available, but the best way to keep this thing going is to purchase a paid subscription for $6/month, less if you purchase an entire year.
Because when you think about it, you know who’s not spouting overtly racist replacement theory?
I mean, he’s ridiculous, but he’s not going there.
And you know who’s not looking to recast the entire Jan. 6 insurrection, demanding thousands of hours of footage and getting it from Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy* and then using to give knowingly false analysis about what happened that day?
* Like McCarthy’s a liquor store and Carlson’s an armed robber. I mean,
how screwed up is that? Come to think of it, who will Republican House
members turn to now in order know the party line?
Similarly, you know who has no use for Walters’ weird and gross crusade against any mention of sexuality in our public schools or their libraries, who feels no need to harangue Oklahoma’s teachers for indoctrination, who sounds nothing like our superintendent of public instruction even as his administration undercuts public schools, attempting to give money away to families already affording private education just fine?
The governor doesn’t want those headaches.
He’s not trying to sound extreme.
He’s corrupt and champions terrible policy but he ain’t dangerous like Walters.
He’ll even tell you, as he sort of told everybody in a March 21 Oklahoman story penned by Ben Felder under the headline “Stitt defends Walters, opposes income cap on private school tax credits.”
“He’s easy to target maybe, and I think he has some social media stuff. I don't really get into all that stuff, so I know he’s easy to pick on a little bit, but I don't see what he’s doing that isn't in line with everything that I’m talking about [on education].”
Let’s break that down.
“I think he has some social media stuff. I don’t really get into all that stuff, so I know he’s easy to pick on a little bit …”
He’s an embarrassment. His social media stuff is asinine and makes my job harder but I’m going to say I’m unaware of it even though I’m fully aware of it and that’s why I know he’s easy to pick on a whole lot.
It’s on social media Walters is most embarrassing and truly dangerous.
It’s there he’ll trash teachers, make villains of those trying to make a difference in students lives — who may sometimes be the only person trying to make a difference in a student’s life — who do the hard work for not much pay, so the least the elected representative who ought to be their advocate, not their tormentor, should do is have their damn backs.
But not only can Walters not do that, he also make villains of students, for not only is he trying to siphon money from public to private schools, he’s attacking LGBTQ+ students along the way … like they’re a threat, like they’re the other.
Indeed, until state attorney general Gentner Drummond stopped him, Walters’ passed new accreditation rules mandating teachers spy on their students and tell their secrets.
Meanwhile, he rails and rails about “pornography” as a smokescreen to distract his very real campaign to separate students who might be struggling with their sexuality or identity from any literature that might offer a modicum of comfort.
He’s mean, a bully, happy to do harm.
Which brings us to Sunday, when U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona tweeted the following:
“Politicization, banning books, and picking apart the Black history curriculum are deliberate attempts to attack our public school system. I won’t let it happen.”
Cardona wasn’t even tweeting at Walters. Wasn’t pointing at any particular state.
But for some reason Walters was sure he was and wasn’t standing for it. He was going to tell Cardona it’s not true, he’s got it wrong, that’s not what’s happening in Oklahoma.
This is what Walters tweeted back:
“No, telling kids they’re racist because of the color of their skin is nonsense. Stop indoctrinating our kids with liberal ideology.”
You might think the worst part of that was accusing liberals of a policy position they do not hold, espouse or support.
But it wasn’t.
It was this:
Cardona offered a short list of three things he will work to not let happen in our nation’s public schools.”
Ryan Walters said, “No, …” those things are not problems.
He said, “No, …” it’s fine to politicize education in this country.
He said, “No, …” it’s fine to ban books.
He said, “No, …” it’s fine to pick apart Black history curriculum.
He didn’t have to say it that way, but that’s how he said it.
In such a hurry to shoot back, he copped to all the whackadoodle craziness he’s putting our state through.
But hey, like somebody said, “He’s easy to pick on a little bit.”
Only because he’s a crazy zealot, happy to make villains of individuals and groups just trying to make their way in our state.
Let’s hope Walters steps in it.
Let’s hope resignation’s on the horizon.
After that, Stitt can appoint April Grace to the post and maybe she and Jena Nelson can show us what a civil election between two honorable people yearning to serve looks like come 2024.
It’s an idea.
Because Ryan Walters just copped to it.
Like Tucker Carlson, again and again, he’s told us who he is.
We should believe him.