“The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so. In this cultural issue, we are, without reservations, on the side of excellence (rather than ‘newness’) and of honest intellectual combat (rather than conformity).
The above words were from William F Buckley’s National Review mission statement in 1955. Sadly, almost 70 years later, our “intellectual cliques” and, in fact, increasing numbers of our institutions are faddier and more fallacious than ever. In short, our country in many areas has gone bull-goose loony. To wit….
The mission of the Government Accounting Office is to “examine how taxpayer dollars are spent and provide Congress and federal agencies with objective, non-partisan, fact-based information to help the government save money and work more efficiently.” But most recently, the GAO jumped far out of its lane and proclaimed that school dress codes can make students “unsafe” and can further racism.
In suburban Connecticut, a father was arrested after he let his seven and nine-year-old kids go to Dunkin’ Donuts by themselves. The police soon released the dad, but the Department of Children and Families (DCF) got involved. At the same time, in Gillette, Wyoming, the local library director defended the use of obscene books in the children’s and teen sections, explaining that removing any books “is a First Amendment violation – and that means that we could get sued.”
The same woke crowd that has embraced the disgraced and disgraceful Anthony Fauci, who once proclaimed, “I am the science,” cannot define what a woman is.
In the medical arena, U.S. News has for years been ranking medical schools on factors such as reputation, MCAT scores, and grade point averages of incoming students. But now these schools are resisting. Typical is the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai which, in a Jan. 24 statement, said the U.S. News rankings undermine the school’s “commitment to anti-racism” and “outreach to diverse communities.”
Law schools are no better. Georgetown University Law School is demanding that students consider whether the law should any longer be “considered and enforced neutrally.” A professor at Boston College of Law suggests that it’s time to consider “scrapping” the Constitution.
Not surprisingly the education arena is the ripest area for the culture warriors’ efforts. This is “Black Lives Matter at School Week” and with the teachers unions leading the charge, the nation’s kids are being bombarded with propaganda. In fact, the California Teachers Association is positively gleeful over the celebratory week. “Structural racism, intersectional black identities, black history, and anti-racist movements” are all part of the union’s suggested curricula. Wednesday is set aside for a lesson on “Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming and Collective Value.”
The National Education Association certainly is on board with all the propaganda, claiming that Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action “helps create a safe space to talk about race, racism, and other difficult topics in school.”
Back in the real world, Wilfred Reilly, an associate professor of political science at Kentucky State University, writes, “In 2021, University of Massachusetts researcher Travis Campbell found that cities that experienced Black Lives Matter protests and riots — and surely often attempted to accommodate the demands of the marchers — did see some decrease in police homicides . . . but also experienced “a huge overall increase in murders.” The resulting murder surge was at least 10 percent overall, “equaling 1,000 to 6,000 additional murders” when expanded to the nationwide level.”
My guess is that this data will not be a part of any presentation during Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action
While many of our elites eschew cultural battles – either because they are true believers or are afraid to fight back – one fearless warrior is doing his best to deny the wokesters. And just recently, he had a major success. After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed back, the College Board announced some major changes to its noxious framework last week.
The pilot version was a sop to the regnant leftist tripe that pervades so much of academia these days. Per Max Eden in City Journal, the following units have been excised: “The Black Feminist Movement and Womanism,” “Intersectionality and Activism,” “Black Feminist Literary Thought,” “Black Queer Studies,” “‘Post-Racial’ Racism and Colorblindness,” “Incarceration and Abolition,” “Movement for Black Lives,” “The Reparations Movement,” and “Black Vernacular, Pop Culture, and Cultural Appropriation.”
And here’s what’s been added: “The Growth of the Black Middle Class,” “Black Political Gains,” “Demographic and Religious Diversity in the Black Community,” and “Black Achievement in Science, Medicine and Technology.” (While the College Board insists that the changes would have been made without DeSantis’ involvement, that is a bit hard to believe.)
DeSantis and the Florida State Board of Education explained that the course was “contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” The governor also said the course would run afoul of a state law that bans instruction “that defines people as oppressed or privileged based on their race.”
In addition to the aforementioned excisions, the updated version includes an excerpt from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s inspirational 2012 speech at the Republican presidential convention.
And just for good measure, on Jan. 31, DeSantis announced he would try to eliminate all funding for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI), and Critical Race Theory (CRT) throughout the state.
Needless to say, the wokesters have not taken kindly to the governor’s actions. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin accused DeSantis of going “full-blown white supremacist.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre lashed out at DeSantis over his “incomprehensible” decision.
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten was “shocked” over DeSantis’ move, incoherently saying that the governor “is afraid of teachers teaching kids to think for themselves.”
National Education Association president Becky Pringle asserted, “He seeks to distract communities from his real agenda, which is to first whitewash and then dumb down public education as an excuse to privatize it. His ultimate goal? The destruction of public education, the very foundation of our democracy.” (Note to Ms. Pringle: the foundation of our democracy was at our nation’s birth in 1776. Public education came along some 70 years later, and has nothing whatsoever to do with democracy.)
Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also weighed in. On CNN, he opined, “Unfortunately, you know, Governor DeSantis has been very, very clear he has what appears to be a white nationalist agenda. And what I hate most is he just always attacks the most vulnerable, whether it’s the AP African-American history, whether it’s the LGBTQ community, whether it’s immigrants, he always attacks the most vulnerable.” Duncan added that he hopes voters “don’t think that is what our country needs – is more bullying, more attacking on those that need our help and our support.”
One other bit of good news is that according to an Education Week analysis, 18 states now limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism.
The culture war is real and many of our institutions are caving as a result of the woke assault. Those of us who are of a classical liberal bent cannot stand idly by, and accept the destruction of our culture and traditions. To paraphrase Mr. Buckley, we all must stand athwart history, and yell stop. Ron DeSantis and state legislatures around the country understand this and are thankfully fighting to derail the totalitarian woke train.
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Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.
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