#195: Measles For The 1%
Hi there, loyal readers, and happy Thursday! Today’s issue opens with a romping, topsy-turvy lead article that combines measles, local government, rich parents, and Waldorf education. No matter where you stand on the measles debate, you’ll no doubt experience some strong feelings.
If you’d prefer to steer clear of contagious diseases, enjoy outstanding articles on felony disenfranchisement, the college dropout crisis, wildlife tourism, and goats. There’s something for everyone in this week’s newsletter! Please enjoy.
+ Next Thursday is HHH #10! Please join 32 (so far) loyal readers to celebrate the beginning of summer and to discuss your favorite articles. We’re meeting up at Room 389 in Oakland starting at 5:30 pm. Get your free ticket here. I look forward to seeing you!
Get ready for a wild ride. At the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Rockland County, New York, many rich white parents refused to vaccinate their children last year, wishing to “reduce the load” of foreign substances in their children’s bodies. One parent said, “I just go based on what I believe. We’re all seed of God. We’re all stardust. My instinct is a guiding force.” When the health department banned unvaccinated students from attending the school, parents became enraged and sued.
But this outstanding article by Lisa Miller is about much more than measles. For me, even more fascinating was learning about the intense core beliefs of Waldorf education. Focusing on an “unhurried” approach to childhood, students learn to paint, garden, cook, juggle, and bind books by hand. There’s no technology at all until middle school. One parent said, “My son can knit, he can sew, he can light fires, he can forage. If the zombie apocalypse were tomorrow, he will be fine, but the kid next door, who’s on his iPad all the time, he won’t.” Sounds wonderful right?
Sort of, until you read about Waldorf’s history and founder, Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian intellectual who saw visions, spoke with the dead, harbored racist views, and banned black crayons in the classroom (because black signals emptiness). Maybe Ms. Miller unfairly portrays Waldorf as a cult, but reading this article left me half-fascinated, half-spooked. (31 min)
A History of Felony Disenfranchisement
Common sense tells me that ex-felons who have done their time should be able to vote. But that’s not so in 11 states (including Florida until last year), where laws disenfranchise felons forever. This article charts the racist history of felony disenfranchisement and asks why our country casts out 6 million people, many of them Black men, from participating in civic life. The answer, of course, is obvious. (17 min)
+ Read more on disenfranchisement and voter suppression: in Wisconsin, in Texas, in Florida.
Parents and educators out there, we know that getting our kids into college is only half the battle. Getting them through – well, that’s another thing entirely. About one in three students who enroll in college never earn a degree. In this piece, you’ll learn why some seemingly similar schools have better graduation rates than others. Also, enjoy further proof that Cal is superior to UCLA. (14 min)
Milhouse, who belongs to loyal reader (and former student!) Natalie, believes everyone should feel happy and free, never cry, and take long naps. Want your pet to appear in The Highlighter? hltr.co/pets
The Dark Truth Behind Wildlife Tourism
Welcome to Thailand, World Traveler! Step right up and take a selfie with Meena the Elephant as she paints you a portrait of the savanna. You say you’re a social media influencer? OK, then, your photo is free. After you read this article, which focuses on the abuse of elephants, bears, dolphins, and tigers around the world, you may never visit a zoo or “animal sanctuary” ever again. (22 min)
Loyal readers sometimes remind me that I tend to choose articles with heavy themes (see above). Hence this piece, which argues that goats are better pets than dogs or cats. For instance: “People who have spent a long time around goats know that they have an air of ancient knowledge about them.” They’re also good at clearing your yard. And sometimes, they yell like humans. (8 min)
+ Reader Annotations: Many of you, including loyal reader Luke, loved Jia Tolentino’s stunning piece on religion, drugs, and ecstasy. (If you missed it, you can press your luck to see if it’s chosen as one of the best articles of the year.)
Also popular was Sarah Fine’s article on her journey as a white educator. Sorry that some of you couldn’t view my (snarky) annotations. Loyal reader Victoria had this spot-on commentary:
I feel like that whole essay was asking for a cookie, like “look how tortured I have been as I vaguely thought about race in the US and yet continued to lead a life of tremendous privilege, even making more money off my privilege.” As my friend says often about white people emoting to prove their “down-ness” — no cookie! That is my response to her essay: NO COOKIE!
Thanks also to other readers who challenged my views on Ms. Fine’s essay, questioning my strong reaction and reminding me that maybe I was patting myself on the back as “a good white person.” (I stand by my views.)
Finally, a big thanks to loyal reader Vanessa, who read every article in last week’s issue (impressive work!), and to loyal reader Summer, who wrote this kind word about The Highlighter.
I subscribe because there’s a level of trust in the content you curate for the newsletter. There’s a lot of clickbait out there and articles unworthy of my brain cells, and I’m grateful for your thoughtfully curated essays.
Well shucks. And thank you all for sharing your thoughts! If you have a comment about an article or the newsletter in general, hit reply and tell me. I appreciate hearing from you.
How did that happen? You’ve reached the end of this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Thank you for reading it! Use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought. If an article moved you, please type me a quick note or leave a short voice memo. Also, let’s welcome this week’s new subscriber Jess. Thank you for trying out the newsletter. Hope it’s a good match for you!
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