Cartoon by LK Hanson (I own the original)
by Steve Timmer
Apr 7, 2024, 10:00 AM

Katherine Kersten: spokester for the overdogs

When the Sunday paper landed on the steps (really, the sidewalk; that’s as far as it gets these days), it let out a piercing, febrile shriek. I was brought instantly awake, aware that Katherine Kersten was tucked in its pages. And Kersten, who crafts her imagery with a wood chisel, really let it out today. The subject of her screed: social studies standards for public schools and how the Minnesota Department of Education had been captured by leftists and revolutionaries. It took about 1,200 words to get it out of her system. She does go on.

Just to limber up, Kersten started out bemoaning how “terms and concepts” like “decolonization,” “settler-colonialism,” “dispossession” and “resistance,” had come into conversation to describe the Palestinian conflict.

Really, Katherine, what words are we supposed to use to describe a chubby man from Brooklyn, standing on a dusty hill in the West Bank that formerly had a Palestinian olive orchard, blatting away tunelessly on a shofar? And then maybe sacrificing a goat. Or two million Palestinians whose ancestors were “dispossessed” from their land and herded into Gaza, the largest open-air prison in the world?

“Settler colonialist” and “dispossessed” seem pretty on the nose to me.

Kersten says of the standards:

In connection with one standard, for instance, students are instructed to “describe how individuals and communities have fought” for “liberation against systemic and coordinated exercises of power.” In another, they must “analyze the impact of colonialism” and in a third, they must “analyze dominant and non-dominant narratives.” In all three cases, Israel-Palestine is highlighted as an example. Likewise, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar is held up as an immigrant who has made “contributions” to “political ideas.”

Kersten probably remembers fondly her days in parochial grade school in Fort Dodge: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and she stiffens at the thought of anything that might upset her childhood understanding of the natural order of things. There are overdogs and underdogs, and Kersten is definitely a champion of the overdogs.

Kersten is terrified that schools will become nests of activists. Really what they’ll become is a place to teach students how think about and participate in a democracy, as Article 13, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution requires.

This is really an old topic for Kersten. See, for example, a LeftMN story from October, 2017 entitled Multiculturism is the root of all evil.

Oh, and Katie, say hello to Steve Hunegs for me. This Steve Hunegs.

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