On 24 July 2023, it was announced that educational materials produced by the right-wing media organisation PragerU would be introduced into the Florida school curriculum, sparking fears across the country that the sunshine state, which abides under Ron DeSantis’ control, had officially lost it. So, what exactly is PragerU? And just how bad are the educational cartoons it has made? Spoiler: they’re pretty awful.
If you’re not familiar with PragerU, I want to start by apologising, because I’m about to ruin your day. Founded by radio host Dennis Prager in 2009, PragerU is a right-wing advocacy and media organisation whose aim is to create content that promotes conservative values. Picture five-minute infographics with the insufferable likes of Ben Shapiro and Steven Crowder explaining traditionalist talking points through a deceptive ‘educational’ facade.
The videos, which routinely reach millions of viewers, masquerade as a reasonable and balanced discussion of politics and ethics. However, over the years it’s become evident that PragerU is desperate to promote the right-wing agenda, one that is so often co-opted by misogynists, white supremacists and, of course, climate change deniers.
Some other lowlights from its main channel include videos such as The top five issues facing Black Americans, which pushes the eye-rolling tired idea that Black Americans are the ones holding themselves back rather than the structures of society that rarely supports or prioritises its minority groups.
Naturally, we were shocked to learn that the highly inflammatory PragerU had been approved as an educational vendor for Florida schools. But in Ron DeSantis’ increasingly oppressive state, this should come as no surprise. The videos have been blowing up on TikTok over the last week and are quite frankly terrifying, so watch with caution:
How do we even begin to approach these? The first video opens with a historical account of the British occupation of India during the colonial era, implying that it was a positive move for the country. What’s conventionally omitted however, is the extensive suffering endured by millions of individuals under the British empire’s rule, along with the erasure of culture, and the oppression of its people. But hey, let’s not forget the good work the British did by bringing Christian and western values to India.
Without turning this into a history lesson, it’s important to examine how this ‘educational material’ is going to affect future generations, as well as further embolden misinformation within the US—a disease that’s spread rather effectively throughout the nation, partially thanks to former President Donald Trump. Another of the clips sees renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass criticise the aims and methods of the modern day Black Lives Matter movement, comparing it to those who slowed down the fight against the slave trade in their own time by refusing to “make compromise and when they don’t get their way, set fire to things.”
The subtle racism, blatant propaganda, and utter failure to separate church and state from PragerU’s content is incredibly worrying, especially when considering that it’s going to find its way into Florida’s schools.
With LGBTQIA+ freedoms already under serious attack in the southern state, it’s terrifying to think that this may just be the beginning. Needless to say, this kind of content has no place in the education system. It fails to address history through the lens of factual information, and instead seeks to push the Republican agenda. Don’t even get me started on the climate change denial.