Henry Jay Karp is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanuel in Davenport, Iowa, which he served from 1985 to 2017. He is the co-founder and co-convener of One Human Family QCA, a social justice organization.
Please join me in applauding the leaders of Iowa's three Regents universities—University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson, Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen, and University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook—for their courageous stand against the Republicans on the Iowa House Education Appropriations subcommittee.
These principled leaders vigorously defended the costs and necessity of diversity education in higher education, during a hearing where Republicans "questioned whether the initiatives were worth the cost," Katie Akin reported for the Des Moines Register.
Please indulge me as I dare to create a new term for what the Republicans, both in Iowa and around the nation, are attempting to accomplish.
Not satisfied with the other terms used to describe the purging of diversity awareness in our nation, I have decided to start calling these efforts "bleaching."
These bigots view the very existence of marginalized groups—particularly people of color, or ethnic and religious minorities—as a stain upon the fabric of American society. Therefore, just as one adds bleach to their laundry in hopes of removing stains from their clothing, these twisted politicians seek to enact laws that would effectively "bleach" American society of the "stains" of diversity that threaten their sense of white Christian superiority.
Their attempts to "bleach" our education system of all references to the diversity which has made America great and has been a hallmark of American social values will only end in disaster. By banning books, whitewashing curricula, and eliminating entire educational departments, they can rip our society apart. But even so, they cannot "bleach" out of existence the very groups diversity education addresses.
However, it leaves one wondering what might be their next step. A frightening thought! If history has taught us anything, it has taught us that it rarely ends well when societies try to elevate one racial, ethnic, or religious group above others.