COLUMNIST

Here's a Wild Idea That's Taking Root

BY JIM HIGHTOWER

Growing up, I absorbed a lot of values from my Ol' Texas Daddy: a strong commitment to the common good, a healthy work ethic and a lively sense of humor. But one thing about him I've rejected: his determination to have a perfect yard of thick, verdant St. Augustine grass. Lord, how he worked at it -- laying sod, (watering), fertilizing, (watering), weeding, (watering), spreading pesticides, (watering), mowing... (more watering). But it was too hot, too dry, too infested with blight, bugs, slugs and such. He was up against Texas nature, and he just couldn't win.

So, I've gone in the opposite direction -- slowly nurturing a natural yard of native trees, drought-tolerant plants and a general live-with-nature ethos in my little landscape. I'm hardly alone in this rejection of the uniform "green grass imperative." A spontaneous yard rebellion is taking hold across our country as more and more households, neighborhoods, businesses, etc. shift to a nature-friendly approach. A particularly encouraging push for change is coming from schoolkids -- elementary through college -- who're appalled by the poisoning of our globe and organizing locally to do something that both makes a difference and makes a statement. One exemplary channel for their activism is a student movement called Re:wild Your Campus.

Of course, some people consider wild yards to be scruffy, ugly... unruly. That's their choice, but some also insist that tidy grass lawns must be everyone's choice. So, they proclaim themselves to be the yard police, demanding that cities and homeowners associations make green-grass uniformity the law, filing busybody lawsuits and running right-wing social media campaigns targeting people and groups that disobey.

These attacks are silly because... well, they are silly, and also because they're attacking the future, which is nearly always a loser strategy. To work for yard sanity and choice, go to Rewild.org.

VOTERS REJECT THE ILLIBERAL BIGOTRY OF MOMS 4 LIBERTY

In one of their satirical songs, the Austin Lounge Lizards lampooned the ridiculous bigotry of some Christian factions, singing: "Jesus loves me. But he can't stand you."

That could be the bellicose anthem of a quasi-religious Republican front group with a very sweet-sounding name: "Moms for Liberty." Far from sweet, however, these moms are funded by rich Republicans to be ground troops in the party's culture wars -- essentially an anti-liberty campaign against people, books, teachers and ideas they don't like. In the last few years, squads of these moms have turned into political hate groups, persecuting small town school board members by baselessly accusing them of conspiring to indoctrinate children with pornography, hatred of white people and "liberal" thinking.

Having stirred up dust devils of division and fear, the momsters ran candidates in local board elections this fall, hoping to take over public schools. But they miscalculated on an essential political reality: Most Americans are not right-wingers, bigots or Christian nationalists. The group had counted on surprising voters in what are usually low visibility/low-turnout races, but the extremists were the ones surprised by an aggressive voter pushback against their scheme.

Indeed, various surveys show that the GOP's mom-wing lost about 80% of its races across the country, even in major swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. For example, in the very conservative school district of Pennridge, Pennsylvania, where a far-right majority of the board was attempting to impose a national model of a politically driven educational system, five Republican incumbents were up for reelection. All five were swept out, turning the Pennridge school board blue for the first time in years!

To help push back against right-wing politicizers of your school district, contact Campaign for Our Shared Future: CampaignSharedFuture.org.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Upcoming Events