Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#1591: William Estrada

William Estrada is the former director of the fundamentalist organization Generation Joshua – founded by Mike Smith (current president) and Michael Farris – and the Home School Legal Defense Association. As a homeschooling activist Estrada has been tirelessly campaigning against Common Core and any other measures he claims take away “parental control” over children’s education. Of course, his organization was created to train children to be activists for rightwing candidates who are pushing conservative platforms – indeed, to “reclaim America for the glory of the Christian god” (i.e. not parental freedom; that’s just a handy phrase for political campaigning). More than that, though, they are trying to impose upon homeschoolers a certain narrative: As you remember, in the Old Testament, the Egyptians held the Israelites in captivity until Moses was chosen to lead them out of captivity and into the Promised Land, and for the people of Generation Joshua, Christians in the US are in the same situation now as the Israelites were in Egypt: Whereas the U.S. was, according to them, founded as a Christian nation, the forces of secularism have held Christians in captivity as the U.S. progressed, and homeschooling is their means for leading America back to its Christian roots by training children to be new, fanatic, religious warriors. To achieve this, all aspects of the children’s lives will need to be monitored, of course, and the organization has introduced an impressive apparatus to prevent children from growing up disagreeing with the agenda: they have books, videos, seminars, and camps dedicated to ensuring that kids stay in line with the ideology – a favored tactic is scaring parents with statistics showing how many kids relinquish their parents’ fundamentalism and bigotry once they go to college, thereby motivating them to push even harder. 

Curriculum-wise, they offer courses such as Introduction to Constitutional Law, Democracy in America, Campaign School: Successful Cam­paigning, Founding Fathers I & II, and Revolutionary War Era Sermons (targeting parents as much as children), and they have a close contact with David Barton and, of course, Mike Farris, who president of Patrick Henry College – indeed due to a Templeton grant (!), Generation Joshua has been awarding $80,000 worth of scholarships to its members so that they can attend Patrick Henry College.

Estrada himself appears to be under the illusion that he/they are winning the culture wars. In 2011, for instance, he argued that young, homeschooled people had been organizing in order to fight marriage equality, and that they seemed to be doing so successfully – you almost feel some pity for him.

Diagnosis: Raging, raving fundamentalist madman. This is scary shit.

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