Trouble in Farrisland

Is the defense of homeschooling still the priority for HSLDA, or are there other things that are priority? And really, what are membership dues being used for?

That’s a question we’ve been asking about this dubious organization founded by Mike Farris for quite some time. What, for instance, does homeschooling have to do with prohibiting the legal recognition of GLBT families, or with maintaining hilariously archaic “crimes against nature” statutes?

The above quote happens to be from Ned Ryun, until quite recently the director of the HSLDA Federal Political Action Committee. His resignation was apparently occasioned by the executive decision by Farris to endorse Mike Huckabee, although the simmering student and faculty dissent at Patrick Henry College doesn’t seem to have helped.

Mr. Ryun also points us to a blog by Spunky Homeschool, which exposes Huckabee’s record of less than stellar support for the legal rights of homeschoolers – a record that is documented and criticized on the HSLDA website.

This line ought to be self-explanatory: After acknowledging Huckabee’s “correct” anti-gay and anti-reproductive freedom views, Spunky asks “But what about another issue that is very important to homeschoolers–education?” In an extensive and well-documented analysis, she even details Huckabee’s alliance with then-Virginia Governor (gasp!) Mark Warner in a task force intended to bring education in the U.S. closer to “a European style education model,” an idea that is supposedly anathema to the Christian Dominionist set.

Why, then, the enthusiastic endorsement (made without even consulting Ryun, the PAC director at the time), Farris’ high profile presence on the campaign trail, the buzz in the media about the role of grassroots homeschool activists in Huckabee’s rapid rise?

Let’s be honest: Mike Farris and his merry band of Dominionists do not advocate homeschooling because homeschooling provides a superior education (which it can, under the right circumstances). They advocate homeschooling because they fundamentally and forcefully disagree with this statement:

Children are owed as a matter of justice the capacity to choose to lead lives–adopt values and beliefs, pursue an occupation, endorse new traditions–that are different from those of their parents. — Rob Reich, Stanford University

They do not associate with, nor support, homeschooling families who do not share their very particular fundamentalist theology, and in fact the machinations of Farris and HSLDA caused a split in what was once a vibrant and politically diverse homeschool movement, a split from which it is still recovering.

The real reason that Mike Farris endorses Mike Huckabee, which has nothing to do with homeschooling, per se: Huckabee is virulently anti-gay, obviously; and he is an adherent of the Southern Baptist dogma that women are to be submissive and obedient to men. Here is the real story of the rapist released by then-Arkansas Governor Huckabee, a violent and anti-social man with a lengthy criminal record, who went on to rape and murder at least two other women after his release. According to an update to the original story, Huckabee received letters from numerous other women who had been assaulted by this man. He ignored them – and then tried to obtain all existing copies of the letters to cover up what he had done. Huckabee, far from being the principled Christian conservative now being portrayed, was just a water-carrier for a vindictive “Christian Right” tabloid campaign to discredit one of the rape victims, all because of the hatred his good friend, Baptist radio host Jay Cole, felt for Bill Clinton. According to a Huckabee supporter who claims to have been there at the time, “we had this preacher named Jay Cole who went all over the state telling about how an innocent man was locked up and the corrupt Democrats had framed and abused an innocent man.” Some “culture of life.” Women’s lives don’t count.

All of the evidence points to this conclusion: Mike Farris doesn’t ultimately care about the rights of homeschool families in general, the quality of education these children receive, or even the capacity of the “culture warriors” he boasts of producing to be effective in the world of government, let alone the global economy. Those things are just window dressing. The HSLDA was intended to be a voting bloc, end of story. The homeschool parents who basically agree with his stance on social issues such as marriage equality are merely tools whose voting and lobbying behavior is to be directed from Mike Farris’ office, and the objective has less to do with education than with Ned Ryun’s euphemistic “other things.”

I assume that Ryun’s question about membership dues was rhetorical; surely he knows this:

[M]ost homeschoolers, even HSLDA members, aren’t aware that their membership dues pay for Michael Farris’ membership on the Council for National Policy. Look that one up.

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