Stealth Conservatives: Only the Finest in Artisanal Small-Batch Dog Whistles

You may; have noticed I haven’t posted as many pieces about far-right candidates for office as I did last winter and (especially) last fall. That’s because I haven’t heard about that many of ’em. And I suspect one of the reasons is that those extremists are getting better at hiding their true colors.

Concrete evidence of this comes to us from Fairfax, where two candidates for school board in the Franklin West Supervisory Union are verrrry carefully walking the line between signaling their presence to conservative voters and unmasking themselves to the rest of the electorate. But if you stay quiet for a moment and listen, you can hear the high-pitched whines floating faintly on the breeze.

People like this, it must be said (again), are cowards. They fear that their true beliefs could cost them an election, so they’re hiding — in fact, they’re running a scam on the voters.

The Fairfax duo are Jennifer Cole Patterson and Daniel Mincica. Their Facebook pages are nothing more than collections of family photos. Their campaign announcements on the Fairfax community Facebook page emphasize the customary conservative talking points: Transparency, emphasis on core academics, and fiscal responsibility.

Who can argue with any of that? I can’t. But the devil is in the details.

Your first hint about Patterson is this family photo from her Facebook page. Can you detect a theme?

[Photo removed at Ms. Patterson’s request. You can see it, at least for now, on her Facebook page.]

Now, there’s nothing wrong with patriotism. But when you dress up your entire family (except Dad, who might bear investigation) in red, white and blue, that tells me something. Also, this kind of getup comes perilously close to flag desecration, especially when you slap one on your left boob. I’ve seen progressive/socialist/nonconformist types harassed or prosecuted for wearing American flag-themed clothing.

In a post on the community Facebook page, Patterson champions parental involvement, by which she means that “ultimate responsibility and decision-making for each child rests with the family or guardian.” Sounds like the far right’s agenda of giving each parent veto power over curriculum and materials.

She would also bar any sort of gender education outside of the state-mandated sex ed curriculum. The public schools, she says, should not be teaching anything about “the complexities of gender identity.” And she claims that “the evidence about gender affirming care is weak and mixed, at best.” I don’t know where she gets that, but it’s not from the broad consensus of medical and psychological research or practice.

On to, you guessed it, critical race theory. She insists she’s “anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-all-the-isms.” But CRT “is a theory and an ideology” that should be kept out of the standard curriculum.

Finally, in 2022 she went on Front Porch Forum to promote a petition drive to “end the FWSU mask mandate.” This would likely be along the lines of the Canaan mask mandate, which is limited to protect the health of students at high risk of getting seriously ill from Covid.

There’s less of a digital paper trail for Mincica, but I can show you one telling paragraph from the Fairfax community Facebook page.

My motto is “If I know it, the parents should, and will, know it.” Parents and guardians concerned about what their children learn in the classroom should have access to that information. Additionally, children should be taught HOW to think critically, not WHAT to think ideologically. We all need to focus of what unites us, not divides us, and classrooms need to get back to basics.

I’m fine with parental involvement. Schools would work better if parents are committed. (Many; years ago, I did a series of reports on the then-nascent charter school movement. Conclusion: If charter schools perform better than public schools, it’s largely because they require that parents take an active role in supporting the school and in their kids’ education. But in the context of today’s curriculum and school library wars, Giving parents access to all teaching materials is an open invitation to meddling and special interest pleading.

He closes with the customary dog whistle about “what unites us, not divides us” and “back to basics.” But just before that comes the key sentence: “Children should be taught HOW to think critically, not WHAT to think ideologically.”

That’s a distinction made by conservatives targeting public education. They want to remove “ideology” from the classroom, by which they mean gender education, the 1619 Project, and any form of education that strays from the McGuffey Reader formula.

Funny thing is, that kind of education is precisely meant to teach children how to think. When presented with new information that challenges long-held assumptions and beliefs, students have to figure out how to incorporate that information into a more well-rounded worldview. It’s not ideological to teach kids about racism or gender identity or America’s frequent failures to live up to its ideas.

As ever, I’m not telling you to withhold support from these two candidates. I’m just identifying relevant information that the candidates themselves are trying to hide.


2 thoughts on “Stealth Conservatives: Only the Finest in Artisanal Small-Batch Dog Whistles

  1. germainmorgan


    div dir=”ltr”>Hi John, 

    Another good post with excellent analysis of ‘Stealth’ candidates. Thanks.

    Amateur report from Essex/Jct :

    Our group has been working to elect pro-EWSD school board candidates -last year we hand-wrote postcards to 4,000+ households. 


    div>This year rumor has it th


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