Mary Lou Bruner, the Texas teacher who once referred to Barack Obama as a “gay prostitute,” has lost the race for a seat on the Texas Board of Education, NBC News is reporting.
Ordinarily, a matter as mundane as the outcome of a school board election wouldn’t be worth of national news. But Texas wields huge influence over the content of textbooks used in public schools throughout the United States, and Bruner’s rather unorthodox beliefs could theoretically have made their way into public school textbooks used both inside and outside of Texas.
In a rare TV appearance, Mary Lou Bruner explains her controversial comments.
Inside Texas Politics
WFAA @ 9:00a pic.twitter.com/4o7uWJSgyk
— WFAA-TV (@wfaachannel8) May 22, 2016
In addition to claiming that Obama had worked as a gay prostitute in New York to support a supposed drug habit while he was in his twenties, Bruner has also consistently referred to Obama as “Ahab the Arab” and claimed that he is a Muslim and speaks Arabic, according to Slate. Obama identifies himself as a Christian, does not speak Arabic, and is not known to have had a drug habit or to have ever been involved in prostitution.
In Facebook posts dating back years — posts which have since been deleted, but not before they were published by left-leaning government watchdog group Texas Freedom Network — Bruner not only took repeated digs at Obama, but she also shown a fondness for unfounded conspiracy theories.
Mary Lou Bruner lost last night’s Texas BOE election, which clears the way for her to become Trump’s VP nominee. pic.twitter.com/B1YBBad9Zo
— Scott Wampler (@LimitedPaper) May 25, 2016
In one post, she claimed that the United Nations is part of a secret plot by the Illuminati to run the world. In another, she claimed that Democrats killed John F. Kennedy.
She also showed a fondness for teaching children a version of U.S. history that can most charitably be described as slightly less straightforward than the consensus of most historians.
For example, on the teaching of the crimes committed against Native Americans by the United States government, Bruner had this to say.
“[Teaching about the injustices against Native Americans] would DESTROY PATRIOTISM (sic). Many [Native American] tribes were war-like and vicious and they lived like many of the tribal people in Iran and backward Middle Eastern Countries.”
The candidate for a powerful position in Texas’ public education system also appeared to be against public education itself — at least, when it came to children of immigrants.
“We must stop ALL of the magnets which are attracting illegal aliens including the sacred cows: Birthright Citizenship and Free Public Education.”
On Tuesday, Texas voters decided against Bruner and her views in favor of Republican Keven Ellis, for the Republican nomination for the seat on the statewide school board. Ellis will face off against his Democratic opponent; he is expected to win easily. Bruner could still run as an independent or via a third party, but as of this writing she has not declared her intention to do so.
According to The New York Review of Books, Texas’ huge population, and because Texas pays 100 percent of the costs of textbooks used in its public schools, textbook publishers often write the content of their books to support the whims of the Texas Board of Education. Because of the high costs of developing textbooks, school boards in other states often adopt the Texas textbooks simply to save money.
Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on your point of view — that means that textbooks throughout the country may, for example, champion American Exceptionalism and downplay darker points in U.S. history. Or they may downplay the contributions of African-Americans, omit certain points of view entirely, or, in a more extreme example, post that evolution is just one of many possible ways of explaining the origins of life.
With Mary Lou Bruner now denied a spot on the Texas Board of Education, it remains to be seen whether or not Texas will continue to push for content in public school textbooks that is specifically suited to the interests of certain conservatives on the board, and their donors.
[Image via Shutterstock/Maxx-Studio]