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Salem-Keizer School Board Director goes “anti-woke," spreads disinformation
Republican Satya Chandragiri promotes disinformation & conspiracy-fueled rhetoric
From the looks of his Salem-Keizer school board director social media account, Satya Chandragiri is no stranger to posting weird shit.
But in the wake of May 2023 school board elections, where Chandragiri won another term on the Salem-Keizer School Board, he seems to have Spinal Tapped the weirdness to 11.
These days from his official school board political account, Chandragiri has sort of spiraled into a pattern of disinformation and advancing a fringe, right-wing Republican presidential candidate named Vivek Ramaswamy - probably best known for promising to pardon former president and criminal douchebag Donald Trump.
Salem-Keizer Proletariat hasn’t read Vivek Ramaswamy’s book. But, honestly, we’re not sure anyone has. Anyway, SKP is entirely reader-supported. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
In a video Chandragiri shared on August 8 on Facebook from his school board account, he lauds Ramaswamy’s “clarity and courage.” But in the post he shared and the text description included with Ramaswamy’s video, it states, “Time for The Great Uprising to defeat The Great Reset.”
What’s the Great Reset being referenced here?
Oh, no biggie - just a festering conspiracy theory that claims COVID-19 was planned by global elites to usher in a New World Order captained by the World Economic Forum. And as a nice side of hate to that main dish of crazy - the Great Reset theory Chandragiri is helping spread is often used to advance dangerous anti-semetic propaganda.
Considering Chandragiri writes “Moment of great reset” when sharing Ramaswamy’s poorly disguised dog whistle, it seems like he either badly misunderstood the point of the video, or he has no idea Ramaswamy is advancing an aging and thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory.
That’s a little concerning, right? Imagine if one of the more progressive Salem-Keizer school board members shared something even half as crazy and dangerous.
But, as you might have guessed, it doesn’t stop there!
Chandragiri also took to his School Board Director social media account to urge constituents to buy a book written by Ramaswamy titled (and I’m not making this up), “Woke, Inc. - Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam.”
“Woke,” of course, is a pretty simple term with a pretty simple meaning in the context of society/culture. It means being aware. Here’s the Mirriam-Webster definition:
“...aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”
But, for folks of certain political and ideological persuasion, “woke” is actually way more than that. It’s a mind-virus. It’s the end of America. Sometimes, “woke” fashions itself into mobs. Florida is, apparently, where woke goes to die. Heck, a Republican candidate for Governor in Oregon declared his very own “war on woke.”
With this book that Chandragiri is hawking on his school board account, Ramaswamy attacks “woke-ism” as a sort of “insidious secular creed— (that) has overtaken religious faith, patriotism, and the work ethic as a key American value.”
But with his 2021 book, Ramaswamy had a pretty clear goal - he needed to break through the far-right political noise and reach the Fox News-addled crowd. “Woke, Inc.” earned him enough credibility to start popping up on right-wing cable news shows. With that foothold, Ramaswamy saw enough daylight to put his recent biotech failures (he built his wealth on an unsuccessful attempt to create an effective drug for Alzheimer's disease) behind him and launch a bid for president.
It’s unclear whether Chandragiri is aware of Ramaswamy’s virulent opposition to racial and social justice. Nor his willingness to denigrate racial and social justice to score political points for what is, by most accounts, a vanity campaign with almost zero shot of succeeding.
And, as much as I’d like to stop talking about Ramaswamy, he continues to advance a set of racist, bigoted, sometimes just plain offensive positions. Here’s a fun list!
Ramaswamy recently suggested that the U.S. Government wasn’t being entirely truthful about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He said Juneteenth was a “useless” holiday. This one is particularly awesome because Chandragiri attended local Juneteenth celebrations recently and posted pictures (below) on his school board Facebook page. Another example of the walk/talk not really lining up with Chandragiri. But again, is it intellectual negligence, or does Chandragiri not really care about what he’s saying, but rather who he’s saying it to? For what it’s worth, Ramaswamy seems to fall into the latter category, considering his view on Juneteenth seems to change depending on who he needs political support from.
In interviews, Ramaswamy says he’s committed to advancing Trump’s failed agenda and, in fact, would pardon Trump if given the chance.
He’s dipped his toes into the Biden conspiracy pool and implied that the United States is involved in the war in Ukraine because of Hunter Biden.
Ramaswamy has a tendency to minimize and justify the J6 violent coup attempt by claiming it the result of a “year of systemic, pervasive suppression of truth.”
But Chandragiri’s social media behavior is more than just advancing fringe candidates with socially & culturally deleterious impact.
Chandragiri has also been caught recently grossly mischaracterizing local issues to make flimsy political arguments and draw completely erroneous conclusions. Some might call it lying.
Here’s a great example. It was recently reported in The Oregonian that Multnomah County had a large number of people move out of the area, representing $1 billion in personal income.
The VERY FIRST sentence of the article does what a good, straight news lede should do - tells you what happened and why. In this article:
“Multnomah County residents who moved away took more than $1 billion in income with them during the first year of the pandemic, as remote work allowed people to keep jobs in cities but live anywhere.”
Except when Chandragiri shared that same story from his school board Facebook page, he instead fabricated his own reason why Multnomah County had experienced this outward migration of high-earners.
When given the chance to clarify his misrepresentation in the comments, Chandragiri made it clear this wasn’t a misunderstanding. Despite the actual reason detailed in the article, he claimed:
“If MULTNOMAH county is well governed and creates safe and attractive conditions to retain high end taxpayers and businesses, then it will help the entire state.”
But the outflow of high-earners seeking to fully leverage the flexibility of remote work didn’t seem to have anything to do with governance or the safety and attractiveness of Multnomah County (Portland, specifically).
If anything, that $1 billion in income looking for greener pastures is one of the purest expressions of regular ol’ free-market capitalism. In fact, it’s happening in cities all over the country.
So, again, is Chandragiri acting with intellectual negligence (say, maybe, not even reading the article), or is this just more political maneuvering from a partisan politician in a supposedly non-partisan role?
Maybe the real question is…who cares?
Who gives a shit what Chandragiri posts on his social media accounts? Isn’t he allowed to speak his mind and share information with his constituents and community?
Fair questions. Easy answers.
Yes, Chandragiri is absolutely entitled to speak his mind from his school board director Facebook page. But he also should be held accountable for that “speech.” Seeking accountability is just as protected as his speech, right? Right.
So…why should anyone care? Chandragiri is posting these things from a social media account (Facebook page, in this case) titled “Dr. Satya Chandragiri, Salem-Keizer School Board Director, Zone 4.” He is clearly operating in his role as an elected official tasked with representing the diverse community served by Salem-Keizer schools.
To advance political actors like Ramaswamy from this account - with a well-documented history of extremely far-right positions - does not serve our diverse student & family community.
And to willfully and grossly misrepresent a simple national economic trend as proof of failed local progressive policies (and politicians) is far beneath the behavior we’d expect from a school board director, no?
Again, think about a progressive school board director in Salem-Keizer engaging in these types of egregiously shitty behaviors. How do you think the withering, but shriekingly loud far-right extremists in the district react?
Actually, we don’t have to speculate. We know what they’d do.
They’d launch a recall. It’s what they did in late 2022/early 2023. A local failed school board candidate and anti-transgender organizer Casity Troutt filed recalls against three progressive school board directors.
And that recall, which failed (failure is kind of a theme with these folks) hinged almost entirely on Troutt and her ilk simply not liking the policies certain directors supported (or didn’t support). You can read each one here - for Osvaldo Avila; for Ashley Carson-Cottingham; and for Karina Guzman Ortiz.
If all it takes to launch a recall effort is simply not liking a board director’s decisions…it would be entirely reasonable to recall a director who publicly advances fringe, national political candidates that espouses views and conspiracy theories antithetical to the diverse community he represents, and creates and spreads politically-charged disinformation from his school board social media accounts.
We should demand far better from our school district leaders. It’s not a promising signal to parents, families, teachers and staff when those we trust with our district act so carelessly with their commitment to a diverse community and telling the truth.
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