I Tried to Fool My Son With These Right-Wing Extremist Children's Books (2023)

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I am veryYour standard Brooklyn left-handed millennial mom. I buy my son's dolls. I serve him outrageously expensive chicken wings. I don't let you lookpaw patrol,though that has less to do with the way the show glorifies the police industrial complex and more to do with the fact that it blows up (with the exception of Mayor Humdinger, who I'm convinced is a queer icon). But there are also ways in which my husband and I, as parents, sadly fall short of the parenting standards prescribed for us by our fellow matcha addicts. I'm married to a straight man, for example, with whom I do all the gross things straight people do, like saying things like, "This is perfect Patagonian microfiber weather" and complaining that there are too many sex scenes on TV. .You🇧🇷 I didn't breastfeed my son either, although to be fair that was less for ideological reasons and more because every time I tried to breastfeed he reacted as if my boobs wanted to extort money from him.

Perhaps most importantly, unlike most liberal parents, I have no qualms about impeding my child's moral development in the name of content production. Precisely for this reason, when I came across aChronic reportit isE CrenshawI had published an anti-cancellation children's book - and it was part of a larger series aimed at conservative parents - my first thought was not "Wow, this is disgusting", but "Wow, I need to get my hands on a copy so I can read it to you." to my son and write about what happens.” Which is, I suppose, the kind of dastardly diligence most right-wing parents would recommend.

libro crenshaw,Fame, guilt and the raft of shame, is part of a larger series produced bybrave books, a conservative brand of children's books that claims to offer "a conservative alternative to today's cultural activism that our children are learning in schools, the entertainment they watch, and the books they read." Other inputs includeElephants are not birdsa transphobic rant penned by Ashley St. Clara-like wannabe Tomi Lahren; YFree Ice Cream Island,a fable written by a far-right activistJack the manintended to teach children about the dangers of socialism. The books are set in various outposts on "Liberty Island," and the publisher includes an interactive fold-out map with each copy so young readers can further immerse themselves in the world.


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Brave Books founder Trent Talbot is open about the fact that the company intends to serve as a corrective to the liberal propaganda that is regularly fed to unsuspecting American children. “I thought there was a need for books that could help parents teach the values ​​they hold dear,” he told theNew York Post🇧🇷 To that end, the books include interactive educational activities at the end, such as parents asking their children to stay at the Balsa da Vergonha for a "funny reason", such as "having stinky feet", and forcing them to stay until they make a compelling enough argument to be dispensed with, in the service of teaching "how to ask for forgiveness and how to understand the intentions of others."

As a culture reporter, I found this kind of heavy-handed moralizing quite objectively hilarious; As a parent, I admit I was worried. Brave Books currently has a very small market share (they don't even sell their books on Amazon), but could this be an effective way to instill conservative values ​​in children from an early age? I decided to find copies and use my own son, Solomon, as a kind of guinea pig to test it. Sol is at the younger end of the four to 12 age group that is Brave Books' target audience, but he is observant, smart, funny and eager to please, and if there are any kids who would be the demo target for his goal of capturing young hearts and minds, would be him. Besides, I thought, what harm could he do? He is four years old. Not like reading him a parable about the dangers of socialism once led him to jump on Twitter and start posting rants about replacing Aunt Jemima with bottles of syrup, right?

I Tried to Fool My Son With These Right-Wing Extremist Children's Books (1)

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Brave Books sent us two articles: Crenshaw'sFame, guilt and the raft of shame, which features a group of animals building the eponymous "raft" on the cover; YFree Ice Cream Island,featuring an image of a smiling fox hang-gliding over a cone-covered island (in a bold move by Brave Books from a copyright perspective, the fox bears a strong resemblance tozootopiait's Nick Wilde, a resemblance my son noticed immediately when he saw the cover; though I doubt Posobiec knew that Nick Wilde is consideredsomething like a sex symbolin the furry community).

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The covers weren't immediately appealing: "I want topocahontasinstead,” my son complained after I showed him the books. (To be fair, given the necessary historical liberties,pocahontaswould have been a little less troublesome.) He was not drawn to the story ofFree Ice Cream Island,which revolves around a cabal of wolves who take over the town of Rushington with the promise of giving its inhabitants free ice cream, only to keep all the ice cream for themselves and give them "mushy, moldy noodles". A brave fox, Asher (Nick Wilde's doppelgänger), saves the day by flying on a hang glider to Utopia, where the wolves come from, and exposing his evil plan.

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Presumably the promise of "free ice cream" should appeal to kids, but not to my son, who hates ice cream and once declared it "too much douche" ("bathroom" is another thing he hates, and has been around ever since). become part of our vernacular family). The book ends with a violent confrontation between the wolves and the animals, and the wolves are catapulted off the island for their misdeeds. Joining the story was an extremely complicated educational “game” meant to teach children that “communism is not fair, how competition leads to better products and services, and how capitalism makes people want to create value for others.” ” (with helpful tips from a cartoon by Posobiec). Although Sol liked Asher's hang gliding, he didn't learn this lesson: he fell asleep the moment the fox arrived in the gray and gloomy Utopia, complete with sad cartoon animals crawling in rows of bread and vaguely anti-Semitic depictions. of evil Wolves.

A bigger hit than the book itself was the interactive map of Liberty Island. He enjoyed looking at the colorful charts, identifying various locations as places from his own life: Furenzy Park, he declared himself, was "Coney Island"; and Utopia, the faux socialist slum, was “Yankee Stadium,” while the Sky Tree was “Central Park” and the menacing “Cabal Island” (probably included to draw the Q crowd for good measure) was “Fire Island.” (a place that never was, but has achieved almost mythical status in her mind thanks to her pre-K classmates). He also loved playing with the stickers and placing them on the map to complete "quests" as indicated in an envelope hidden at the end of each book. Thus, although the context and message offree ice cream islandlost in it, the truly kid-friendly elements - the Disney characters, the cool gadgets featured, the colorful map - no.

the second book,the fame, the guilt and the raft of shame,that I read to Sol the following night, he was a little better. The book tells the story of a sassy hippo named Eva (who, ironically, dresses like an ordinary Planned Parenthood Williamsburg volunteer) with performing arts aspirations and who works as an assistant to a swan. When a pushy skunk pulls a practical joke on a cougar (the lion is drawn exactly like Crenshaw, who lost an eye while serving in Afghanistan), the swan decides to put him on a "raft of shame", sending the skunk and other animals off. fleeing conventional thinking into a whirlwind of purgatory, until Eve gains the courage to face the "mob." That narrative resonated a bit more with Sol, who is old enough to understand empathy and the importance of not hurting people's feelings. “It's not nice to say that,” she said when we got to the part about the opossum teasing the puma.

“But how do you think the skunk feels when they put it on a raft?” Asked.

"Sad," he said. "That's not a nice thing to do either."

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I realized that this was exactly the response that Brave Books wanted to get from young children reading the narrative: that two wrongs don't make a right, and that punishing someone for their mistakes isn't as effective as trying to understand why they made it. mistakes. . and teaching them to do better. Which, as someone who has no doubt been the subject of rabid Twitter looting, isn't necessarily something I disagree with in theory, though I'm not sure why a publisher would find it necessary to convey this to young children who presumably they are not active on social media. .

But as the narrative progressed and the out-of-control swan began sending more animals to the raft for lesser and lesser transgressions, I began to be less amused by the goofy messages about the importance of empathy over knee-jerk reactions, and more actively. pissed off with the obvious manipulation that was going on here. As anyone who has spent time with a very young child knows, they have no filters; they are still learning about the importance of kindness and respect for the feelings of others. Since I'm still teaching these lessons to my son (who only days before, to our horror, somehow learned to use "gay" as a pejorative, an offense worth writing off if there ever was one, what has sparked an hour-long discussion, including tangents about their many gay male role models and the aforementioned Mayor Humdinger), it seemed emotionally manipulative, to say the least, for Brave Books to ask kids to side with the obvious bully in this scenario ( that is, the type to be publicly mean to a person with a disability), as opposed to the victim.

"You know it's never okay to make fun of someone for their looks, right?" Asked. "Putting someone on a raft for doing something wrong isn't cool, but neither is making fun of someone for something they can't change, ever." But at that time, he was already asleep.

Ultimately, I'm not all that concerned about the threat that Brave Books poses to the future of America's children, or my own son specifically. The message is too heavy and slanted to really get across, especially if kids are at an age where, like my son, they're much more concerned with whether or not they get a few minutes to play.dinosaur trainon the iPad than the intricacies of the free market. And even if he wasn't, he's inherently too empathetic to fall victim to any of the ideals espoused by the Brave Books series.

Parenting is an ongoing process of healing, of choosing between different options about what kind of parent you would like to be and what you would like to avoid; and for me, reading these books by Sol was beyond. in ainterviewasNew York Post Office,Talbot has mentioned that the Brave Books series was inspired in part by his distaste for liberal children's textbooks.,And to be completely honest, while the latter genre's values ​​may resonate with me a lot more than the former, I don't entirely disagree. I have always been a firm believer that most of a parent's energy should be invested in making sure that their child is healthy and happy and puts one foot in front of the other; the idea that they have to reach some level of achievement or reach the threshold of performative political consciousness (i.e. the kind of cute kid anecdotes referring to RBG as a "princess" who gets thousands of likes on Resistance Twitter ) has always been anathema to me. Trying to indoctrinate your child with an obscure set of political values, in an age where parents should simply be encouraging children to learn the basics of empathy and friendship, is pretty sickening. And liberalism or conservatism aside, many times aggressively copying and pasting your own politics on your young child serves his own ego far more than it probably would to his benefit.

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It is the parents (however few) who buy these books without irony who should really be cause for alarm. The idea that someone could believe so fervently in gender essentialism, for example, that they would have to instill their hateful ideology in their four-year-old son is far scarier than the idea that some cynical publisher was able to rally his right wing. influential friends to sell a few copies of a worse written version ofFarm.What these parents don't understand is that even if their children grow up enough to really understand the message these books are conveying and begin to parrot their opinions, they won't do so for long; children are inherently rebellious and resistant to Brave Books' brand of treacherous evangelism. They are smart enough to know when adults are trying to sell them a counterfeit bill of goods. It's parents who are dumb enough to think that a cartoon hippo can teach kids about the dangers of cancel culture that we really need to worry about.


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