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https://thinkprogress.org/americas-biggest-right-wing-homeschooling-group-has-been-networking-with-sanctioned-russians-1f2b5b5ad031/

wow!

and remember the newsy bit a couple days ago about a small polling place being paid to rig 2 polls in favor of Trump, then they got screwed by getting paid less than half the fee? Wonder who the pollster that agreed to lie and cheat? The CIO of Liberty University!  Wait, a Christian school????

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That’s a pretty poor article.

The facts (as reported) seem to be that the HSLDA is interested in homeschool “outreach” in Russia (as it is in many foreign countries) and has therefore facilitated and sponsored conferences there. The conferences involved some unsavoury people who (in addition to being pro-homeschooling) are also (allegedly) politically responsible for promoting (variously) military action and/or repressively ultra-conservative legislation through their own government. They have influence in their own circles, and the US has sanctioned them for the ways they have used it.

The implications and insinuations around “why this matters” are vague and poorly written, using alarmist rhetoric without much substance. Is HSLDA “in cahoots” in a secret anti-democracy plan? Are they under Russian influence? If so, for what purpose? Is the HSLDA supporting the Russians? Are they being duped? Hacked? Are they anti-American just by association? Is it just “bad” that some people in Russia who like homeschooling aren’t good people? Is their interest in homeschooling false, and infiltration their real goal?

The writer seems to neither know nor care which conclusions a reader reaches based on the article’s insinuations... as long as it’s alarming and anti-right-wing.

Terrible journalism.

Edited by bolt.
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I don't like the HSLDA (or their fearmongering cousin, the THSC).  That said, I found this article hard to read and it doesn't lay out facts well, especially when it comes to the do's and don't's of sanctions.  It left me wondering exactly what the bottom-line issue is, other than something else sordid to add to the HSLDA resume.

Liberty U doesn't surprise me either.  I wish I could say it did, but the number of "christians" who abuse their offices of power is about as shocking as the plot twist in a sitcom.  I have a list of companies and places I stay away from while homeschooling and anyone/anything skeevy is on that list.  So, uh...yeah.

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42 minutes ago, Ellie said:

Oh good grief. Slanted much?

 

I don't think slanted is really the right way to characterise it.  It's coming from a particular point of view, sure, but that doesn't mean that it is either wrong, or dishonest in the inks it is making.

Given some of the really weird stuff going on now with certain right-wing groups and Russia, it is really interesting to see that an organisation like HSLDA is working so much in Russia and even just taking such an interest.  Is it naive, or something else?  What is driving that interest?

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Oh, I agree that there are no firm conclusions in the article, and it's tending to be alarmist.  But I think that is rather different than being anti-factual. It may be anti-factual, I really am not going to look it all up as I don't care that much.  But accurate with a strong view in one direction isn't necessarily bad journalism.

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Russian conferences and “outreach” efforts by homeschooling evangelical organizations aren’t new at all. Right wing homeschooling has been very active in Russia for decades.

As a specific example, Bill Gothard’s ultra conservative homeschooling organization is/was collaborative with his “Institite of Basic Life Principles Ministry” (which purportedly focuses on ‘character’ and not home education or Christianity).

This article (2000) references conferences in Russia as early as 1991.

https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2000-04-23-0004230033-story,amp.html

Edited by bolt.
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This affects anyone how? 

Also, I don't generally consider a policy institute's "news outlet" to be an unbiased trustworthy source. I really don't care what HSLDA does. I am not a member, nor have I ever been. If they want to sponsor homeschooling conventions overseas, that's their business. Right wingers working with other right wingers is not exactly shocking.

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As an outsider, I'll just say if I was trying to push Russian thought on Russian kids, I'd use the public schools, not homeschooling ....  Which I believe they already do....

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On a somewhat related note, I'm not sure what's right-wing about communism.  But that's OK, I'm cool being ignorant.

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I agree that this is a very poorly written article and I know nothing about the source. I do think the primary concern was articulated very poorly, but it was articulated:

"By networking with Russians, the HSLDA — now America’s largest right-wing homeschooling association — has provided the Kremlin with a new avenue of influence over some of the most conservative organizations in the United States."

"And while investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, intelligence organizations, and congressional committees have focused on Russia’s efforts to influence U.S. elections, Russian ties to groups like the HSLDA demonstrate the Kremlin’s broader attempts to hold sway over American policies."

So, think Maria Butina's association with the NRA and the National Prayer Breakfast and you have the nexus of the concern - that a far right, politically conservative Christian group is rubbing shoulders with & being influenced by those that influence and execute Russian policy. They could then lobby for the furtherance of those policies here in the US. In other words, the concern held by this particular source, is that the HSLDA is leaving themselves vulnerable to Russian influences and could find themselves, knowingly or not, advocating for the advancement issues/relationships important to the oligarchs (positions on various sanctions, military actions, economic and social issues).

I will stop here because I don't want to get into politics.

Edited by TechWife
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19 minutes ago, SKL said:

On a somewhat related note, I'm not sure what's right-wing about communism.  But that's OK, I'm cool being ignorant.

 

Russia isn't a communist country. 

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I have zero idea about Think Progress, but there's a certain section of the (educational) left that treats negative stories about homeschoolers like extra awesome Christmas presents. 

I have no time for HLSDA, or Russian elites, or HLSDA in Russia, but it would not suprise me in the slightest if there is zero to this 'story' other than the grand excitement of a progressive outlet that loves to kill Trump AND homeschool! with one stone!!

 

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I didn't find this as shocking as I expected to, assuming they have their facts right. I think of Think Progress as being... really biased but usually factual, but biased enough that I tend to look for another story. And I'm pretty liberal.

I think this shows us some things we already knew, but in case anyone was unclear... HSLDA's primary interest is not homeschooling, it is furthering their own values through homeschoolers. They use homeschoolers and homeschooling as a way to get across their agenda, which is firmly anti-LGBTQ, among other things. Now, if you agree with that agenda, of course you think them working with some of these folks is fine.

There are deep links that are growing between right-wing groups (and some left-wing, but more right-wing) and Russia. Russia is very interested in affecting American politics in any way possible. There is also a growing pro-Russia sentiment among many right-wingers, who like that the Russian society and government on the whole has the "right" kind of attitude about LGBTQ people and masculinity and authoritarianism. I personally find these links really concerning. But if you think having a government like Russia's is peachy or that LGBTQ people shouldn't have the right to marry (or, in Russia, the right to exist since gay men can be imprisoned for being gay) or that men should be more manly and this whole "toxic masculinity" thing is a bunch of whiners who want men to be weak, then of course you're not going to find it concerning.

When I read the headline, I initially thought HSLDA had maybe done something illegal. We know that some conservative American groups may have taken money from Russian sources in order to funnel it to American political campaigns, which would be illegal. That doesn't seem to be the case there at all. None of this is really that surprising unless you don't know much about HSLDA or the growing connections between Russia and conservative groups.

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Man, I just got a chance to read that story - the breathless tone seemed at odds with actual revelations. I mean, it's not like they actually unconvered a cell of sleeper homeschoolers...

Our public school teachers get funded trips to China for cultural 'interchange' aka soft power aka shaping student views of China post Tiananmen to a more benign and friendly pov. No one's writing a breathless story on left OR right about that! I wonder why not ?

 

Edited by StellaM
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21 hours ago, StellaM said:

HA's main concern seems to be giving Putin aid and encouragement and specifically, Crimea, which I think is interesting.

https://homeschoolersanonymous.org/2015/01/09/when-hslda-went-to-the-kremlin/

Nothing much else pops up for me on this topic, just some general stuff on the increase of homeschooling in Russia. 

I didn't read it that way. More that some groups felt cozying up to Putin at a moment when he was being visibly expansionist and totalitarian wasn't something that some of these groups wanted to do, but HSLDA didn't have qualms about it. On the other hand, they didn't shout it too loudly to their American base either. I took it that they were commenting on HSLDA's willingness to go, not whether the support of one tiny group actually helped Putin or anything.

HSLDA matters to us, but not to most folks. They are singlehandedly behind killing that UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as some UN disability rights treaties here in the US though, which is interesting.

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10 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I didn't read it that way. More that some groups felt cozying up to Putin at a moment when he was being visibly expansionist and totalitarian wasn't something that some of these groups wanted to do, but HSLDA didn't have qualms about it. On the other hand, they didn't shout it too loudly to their American base either. I took it that they were commenting on HSLDA's willingness to go, not whether the support of one tiny group actually helped Putin or anything.

HSLDA matters to us, but not to most folks. They are singlehandedly behind killing that UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as some UN disability rights treaties here in the US though, which is interesting.

 

Yeah, that's a more nuanced reading. 

I have a lot of trouble 'reading' American attitudes to Russia because I lack a whole heap of socio-historical context. Maybe that's why the headline and tone of the article just seemed out of whack to me.

 

Edited by StellaM
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5 minutes ago, StellaM said:

 

Yeah, that's a more nuanced reading. 

I have a lot of trouble 'reading' American attitudes to Russia because I lack a whole heap of socio-historical context. Maybe that's why the headline and tone of the article just seemed out of whack to me.

 

Nah. They seemed whack to a lot of people in this thread. Think Progress likes to be really "OMG, the world is ending!" about everything. I think a lot of Americans are in the midst of realizing that 1) Putin is really bad 2) Russia is super interested in affecting US elections and policy and 3) a lot of people on the far right are really into that because they don't think Putin is bad - they think he's manly cool and has a lot of awesome ideas. And for a lot of people just realizing that, it does feel really sudden and scary and they are having an "OMG, it's all connected!" moment. And some of the ties between Russia and some right wing groups may turn out to be a bigger deal - there are some allegations that are actually sort of serious in terms of money and elections. But this? I mean, meh. People with a shared agenda shared their agenda. Well, yeah.

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Honestly, I don't think that homeschoolers are going to be either a powerhouse in Russia, nor something the Russian government would generally support.

Left over (or new, depending on your view of current Russian politics) totalitarianism doesn't exactly encourage separatist parents influencing their offspring out of reach of the state...

The reach the other way, with Russia allowing hslda to think they're being supported by the Russian government in order for the Russian government to gain a foothold of influence in some parts of the right in the US, is possible I suppose. How much political power does hslda and/or homeschoolers have in the US? (Here it's zip, nada, nuthin, so a Russian conspiracy would be pretty impotent!)

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23 minutes ago, LMD said:

Honestly, I don't think that homeschoolers are going to be either a powerhouse in Russia, nor something the Russian government would generally support.

Left over (or new, depending on your view of current Russian politics) totalitarianism doesn't exactly encourage separatist parents influencing their offspring out of reach of the state...

The reach the other way, with Russia allowing hslda to think they're being supported by the Russian government in order for the Russian government to gain a foothold of influence in some parts of the right in the US, is possible I suppose. How much political power does hslda and/or homeschoolers have in the US? (Here it's zip, nada, nuthin, so a Russian conspiracy would be pretty impotent!)

 

I understood the bolded to be the sort of thing they are talking about - not these American homeschoolers looking to infiltrate Russia, but Russia trying to build connections with these right-wing organisations.  Even there, I would doubt they care about homeschoolers really, it would be just more a matter of building these connections across many of the right kinds of organisations.  Creating sort of a wide net of relationships.

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Yeah, clearly this is not about whether HSLDA's agenda is taking over Russia. It's about whether or not Russia is using HSLDA to influence people, politics, movements, etc. in the US.

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55 minutes ago, LMD said:

Honestly, I don't think that homeschoolers are going to be either a powerhouse in Russia, nor something the Russian government would generally support.

Left over (or new, depending on your view of current Russian politics) totalitarianism doesn't exactly encourage separatist parents influencing their offspring out of reach of the state...

The reach the other way, with Russia allowing hslda to think they're being supported by the Russian government in order for the Russian government to gain a foothold of influence in some parts of the right in the US, is possible I suppose. How much political power does hslda and/or homeschoolers have in the US? (Here it's zip, nada, nuthin, so a Russian conspiracy would be pretty impotent!)

I would argue that HSLDA has a relatively large amount of influence compared to their size/scope. So, not huge, but bigger than many people expect. As I said about, they pretty much single-handedly have killed the US ratifying some UN rights treaties. But they are not a major player overall.

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Just now, Farrar said:

Yeah, clearly this is not about whether HSLDA's agenda is taking over Russia. It's about whether or not Russia is using HSLDA to influence people, politics, movements, etc. in the US.

 

This is kind of  why I don't understand why it's a story. Isn't the default assumption 'yes' ? Just like the default assumption for us here is that the Chinese government is not funding language centres in our public system out of love for Aussie kids, but to increase influence in a variety of spheres, including the ed system ?

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Just now, StellaM said:

 

 

This is kind of  why I don't understand why it's a story. Isn't the default assumption 'yes' ? Just like the default assumption for us here is that the Chinese government is not funding language centres in our public system out of love for Aussie kids, but to increase influence in a variety of spheres, including the ed system ?

Absolutely. It's such news to some people here though. And some people still don't seem to get it. Thus the "LOOK! LOOK! WAKE UP!" attitude in some of these stories. I think most Americans stopped thinking about Russia at all circa about 1991, when we "won the Cold War."

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We are culturally arrogant, most Americans never consider the possibility that The Greatest Country of All could be vulnerable to foreign influence.

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2 hours ago, Farrar said:

I would argue that HSLDA has a relatively large amount of influence compared to their size/scope. So, not huge, but bigger than many people expect. As I said about, they pretty much single-handedly have killed the US ratifying some UN rights treaties. But they are not a major player overall.

Although they are very influential when it comes to setting educational policy. They have pretty much written the homeschool laws in many states and they keep tabs on developments in education law overall. They have opinions & have filed “friend of the court” briefings on a variety of legislation over the years, not just education related. I think they are more influential with the right than many people realize. 

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8 hours ago, Farrar said:

Absolutely. It's such news to some people here though. And some people still don't seem to get it. Thus the "LOOK! LOOK! WAKE UP!" attitude in some of these stories. I think most Americans stopped thinking about Russia at all circa about 1991, when we "won the Cold War."

Except that when Mitt Romney came back from a trip to Poland during the 2012 election and said that Russia was a huge threat, everyone on the left, including his opponent and the opponent’s Secretary of State laughed and made fun of him.  Now that it turns out he was right and they are a threat, everyone in the Left is all up in arms about them.

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28 minutes ago, scholastica said:

Except that when Mitt Romney came back from a trip to Poland during the 2012 election and said that Russia was a huge threat, everyone on the left, including his opponent and the opponent’s Secretary of State laughed and made fun of him.  Now that it turns out he was right and they are a threat, everyone in the Left is all up in arms about them.

I believe Romney said that Russia was the "biggest" geopolitical threat. Which is a smidge different characterization than saying it was a "huge" threat. FWIW I'm an independent voter and I would have agreed with him if he'd said huge. I didn't necessarily agree with him (and still don't) when he said Russia was the biggest geopolitical threat. Some will call that being nitpicky and some will call it nuanced. Two sides of the same coin, I guess.

IMO our biggest geopolitical threat is ourselves -- the overwhelming ignorance (of history, of our system of government, how the rule of law works, etc.), lack of critical thinking skills and apathy of so many of our citizens.

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1 minute ago, Pawz4me said:

I believe Romney said that Russia was the "biggest" geopolitical threat. Which is a smidge different characterization than saying it was a "huge" threat. FWIW I'm an independent voter and I would have agreed with him if he'd said huge. I didn't necessarily agree with him (and still don't) when he said Russia was the biggest geopolitical threat. Some will call that being nitpicky and some will call it nuanced. Two sides of the same coin, I guess.

IMO our biggest geopolitical threat is ourselves -- the overwhelming ignorance (of history, of our system of government, how the rule of law works, etc.), lack of critical thinking skills and apathy of so many of our citizens.

I’m an independent, too, and I think that’s why I find it amusing and frustrating at the same time. And I totally agree with you on the overwhelming ignorance being the biggest issue. I am flabbergasted at the lack of ability to analyze information. 

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Oh, the left’s ability to muck up foreign policy is definitely strong. But at the moment, it’s mostly (though not entirely) right wing groups that are lauding Russia’s strength and where Russia is focusing their efforts at influence.

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13 hours ago, TechWife said:

Although they are very influential when it comes to setting educational policy. They have pretty much written the homeschool laws in many states and they keep tabs on developments in education law overall. They have opinions & have filed “friend of the court” briefings on a variety of legislation over the years, not just education related. I think they are more influential with the right than many people realize. 

 

I don't even think this is the issue though.  I don't think the Russians care about homeschooling policy.  They might not even care about convincing people to like them.

I suspect what they care about is creating a big database that will be useful for keeping tabs on the far-right.  Who comes to all of these little groups ?  Who do they talk to?  What other organisations do they belong to?  Who do they vote for, and what people in government - political or civil service - do they know?  What kinds of companies do they work for? Who is i the military?  The more they interact with these people, the more details they know about them, their lives and what influences them.  They can use all these links to see who has political leverage, or to see how they can use ideas and information to leverage these people, unknowingly, in their interests.  THey can see who is vulerable to directly being compromised or blackmailed.

By keeping tabs on all these little, seemingly insignificant group, they can create quite a useful and detailed map of that segment of society.

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I must be on the wrong websites, kuz I haven't noticed anyone lauding Russia's anything.

Well except for the communist / socialist ideal, but that would not be on the right.

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I think there is quite a bit of hypocrisy with all the outrage in the US over the meddling from other countries. Truth be told, the US government meddles in other countries all the time. 

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20 hours ago, Farrar said:

I didn't read it that way. More that some groups felt cozying up to Putin at a moment when he was being visibly expansionist and totalitarian wasn't something that some of these groups wanted to do, but HSLDA didn't have qualms about it. On the other hand, they didn't shout it too loudly to their American base either. I took it that they were commenting on HSLDA's willingness to go, not whether the support of one tiny group actually helped Putin or anything.

HSLDA matters to us, but not to most folks. They are singlehandedly behind killing that UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as some UN disability rights treaties here in the US though, which is interesting.

To be fair, the Rights of the Child was a massive misnomer, since it basically undermined parental rights in favor of a massive expansion of state power and intervention in the lives of families, and not in a way that was actually binding or helpful in preventing numerous human rights abuses against children.  That’s a whole different kettle of fish, though.

 

I’m not a member or supporter of HSLDA, but they were bang on with that one.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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32 minutes ago, SKL said:

I must be on the wrong websites, kuz I haven't noticed anyone lauding Russia's anything.

Well except for the communist / socialist ideal, but that would not be on the right.

Ditto. But I am selective with my news and commentary.  The increasing worry over Russia’s expansionist goals and stranglehold on their population is something I hear from every right leaning voice I listen to, including folks like Limbaugh and Henninger.  This may be a case of lumping in crazy authoritarian/supremicist bloggers with actual mainstream republican/conservatives again, though, which is common on some sites (like TP, lets be honest here).

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15 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

To be fair, the Rights of the Child was a massive misnomer, since it basically undermined parental rights in favor of a massive expansion of state power and intervention in the lives of families, and not in a way that was actually binding or helpful in preventing numerous human rights abuses against children.  That’s a whole different kettle of fish, though.

 

I’m not a member or supporter of HSLDA, but they were bang on with that one.

That's definitely in the eye of the beholder. Since the argument that you just put forth originated entirely from HSLDA and does not have any major adherents except them and other groups they influenced, I would guess they're take is the one you have. No other nation on earth sees that treaty that way, which is why it's ratified by everywhere. Ditto the disability treaty.

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5 minutes ago, Farrar said:

That's definitely in the eye of the beholder. Since the argument that you just put forth originated entirely from HSLDA and does not have any major adherents except them and other groups they influenced, I would guess they're take is the one you have. No other nation on earth sees that treaty that way, which is why it's ratified by everywhere. Ditto the disability treaty.

 No, I was actually giving the argument that came about when Bill Clinton signed it but didn’t put it before the senate.  Because this isn’t some narrow thing, the US has a long and strong tradition, ethically and legally, in parental rights. That’s where I derive it from.  In that I happen to agree with the group, but it’s a correlation of similar belief and value that is shared broadly in this country, and not just in some nutcase segment of the population or in recent years only, either.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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3 hours ago, SKL said:

I must be on the wrong websites, kuz I haven't noticed anyone lauding Russia's anything.

Well except for the communist / socialist ideal, but that would not be on the right.

 

Russia hasn't been a communist or socialist country for a good while.  Very much the opposite.  

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2 hours ago, Farrar said:

That's definitely in the eye of the beholder. Since the argument that you just put forth originated entirely from HSLDA and does not have any major adherents except them and other groups they influenced, I would guess they're take is the one you have. No other nation on earth sees that treaty that way, which is why it's ratified by everywhere. Ditto the disability treaty.

I'm not sure what it means that the treaty is ratified everywhere, considering no country really follows it and many of those who have ratified it are outrageous when it comes to the way children are allowed to be treated.

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