Oh, hey, I found some of those “divisive concepts” Governor Noem now won’t tell us about!
The South Dakota Historical Society Press today announced the publication and impending release (August 9) of After Populism: The Agrarian Left on the Northern Plains, 1900–1960, University of Nebraska–Omaha professor emeritus William C. Pratt’s book of essays on how left-wing farm movements improved farmers’ lives:
Historians have given a great deal of attention to the rise of Populism, a farmer-led movement calling for sweeping economic reforms that become a major political force in several corners of the nation during the 1890s. While the heyday of Populism was seemingly brief, its core ideas remained popular in communities in North and South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and Canada’s prairie provinces well into the following century.
After Populism reveals how a diverse range of voices pushed to improve conditions for farmers and rural communities on the plains during decades of significant political transition. Pratt explores farmers’ relationships to Socialist groups; the persistence of radicalism in isolated plains communities; agrarian radicals’ involvement in local affairs; women’s roles in radical farm groups; the importance of the Farmers Union in regional and national politics; repeated, unsuccessful attempts at third-party organizing; and the gradual decline of progressive farm protest in the late twentieth century [South Dakota Historical Society Press, press release, 2022.07.25].
The South Dakota State Historical Society is part of the Department of Education. On April 5, Governor Noem ordered the Department of Education to identify and remove all “materials produced by the Department” that “promote or endorse inherently divisive concepts” by October 1. That April 5 order defines “inherently divisive concepts” as “advancing any ideas in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964…”. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity title, excludes Communists and other dangerous fellow-traveling Red dupes. Advancing Communism thus appears to violate the Civil Rights Act. Dr. Pratt has previously documented the influence of Communists on Northern Plains agriculture and protest movements.
This new book published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press thus appears to promote an inherently divisive concept, that leftists—Communists!—have done some good in farm country. The Department of Education is thus obliged by the Governor’s order to “remove” (stop the presses? burn?) this book.