GOP Senator at Committee Hearing: ‘I Don’t Want Reality’

A Republican senator was trying to draw attention to a book about race taught in schools, but he instead made himself a laughingstock Wednesday during a committee hearing on child care. During a testy exchange, Oklahoma Sen. Markwayne Mullin told a witness that “I don’t want reality,” prompting laughter across the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing room, per Mediaite. Mullin had held up the children’s book Our Skin by Jessica Ralli and Megan Madison, then read an excerpt: “A long time ago, way before you were born, a group of white people made up an idea called race. They sorted people by skin color and said that white people were better, smarter, prettier, and they deserved more than everybody else.”

Mullin said he disagreed with the text “1000% percent.” “Someone prove to me that this is a truth that white people developed race … that all of a sudden that was our word that we developed,” he said. He then asked witnesses to say which was better to teach to students, Our Skin or the hymn “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” which includes the line “Red and yellow, black, and white / They are precious in His sight,” per the Guardian. As witnesses attempted to answer, he repeatedly interrupted them. “Why do you teach this?” he asked one witness of Our Skin. “Don’t you think that other people are saying that white kids are to blame? It’s exactly what they’re going to teach, is exactly what it is.”

“I disagree,” another witness interjected. “First, I think it is important that we teach Jesus and Jesus is what we teach.” Mullin then spoke over her. “But which one is better?” The witness continued speaking. “But the reality is,” she said. Mullin interrupted again with the standout line. “I don’t want reality, I’m asking the question which is better,” he said, as the watching crowd laughed. “Got it on tape,” another senator was heard saying before Mullin quickly conceded that he “misspoke.” Parents in New York, where Our Skin has been distributed to students, have also complained about the line Mullin highlighted, per the New York Post. (Meanwhile, parents in Texas are complaining about a book they say normalizes school shootings.)

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