Through the years, I’ve witnessed first hand the decline of our education system, particularly in the teaching of American History and Civics. We are failing our children on so many levels, but most detrimentally, we are exposing them to dangerous and divisive theories and rhetoric without providing them proper context or the critical thinking skills they need in order to decipher the myriad of conflicting interpretations of history, as well as current events, they’re being exposed to.
If you teach them to hate, they will hate. If you teach them to devalue themselves based on the color of their skin, they will judge others based solely on theirs. If you teach them they deserve without the benefit of hard work and sacrifice, they will live their lives with their hands outstretched and their minds closed.
And if you teach them that their country is inherently evil, they will see evil at every turn.
It doesn’t take a genius to know this. It’s truly just common sense. But common sense seems to be in short supply these days. And sadly, we are witnessing firsthand the consequences of just how deeply these destructive ideas have become embedded in our education system, for decades, largely without our awareness, and definitely without our consent.
Unchecked, these dangerous ideologies have spread into almost every area of our country, our government, and our lives. If you don’t believe it, just take a look at the last few years alone. From the pandemic to the riots, to the 2020 election, to the undermining of free speech and the Second Amendment, these narratives have been used to spread disinformation, bolster rioting and violence, perpetuate racism, compromise law enforcement, undermine the Constitution, and destroy the very liberty and freedom that built this country in the first place.
Why? That is the question. The question whose answer we know but are hesitant to articulate out loud. Perhaps because we know that answering out loud will brand us as racist, as evil, as any number of labels used to suppress opposition to the narrative. No one wants to be labeled a racist, after all. Perhaps because as studies have repeatedly shown, Americans are among the least racist people on the planet.
Then why work so determinedly and methodically to ingrain these doctrines in the most impressionable among us? Why start the process at such an early age, targeting children before they’ve even had an opportunity to enjoy their childhoods? Why spend so much time, energy, and countless resources to plant these seeds and then doggedly sew them throughout their entire education, including most especially at the college and university levels?
The answer, in my opinion, is more chilling than not asking the question in the first place.
Is it to remove all roadblocks standing in the way of power? Yes. Is it to maintain power, once gained, in perpetuity? Yes. Is it to expand a voting base? Yes. Is it to increase the wealth of the ones writing and perpetuating the narrative in the first place? Yes. Is it to undermine the history and the foundations of America? Yes. Yes to all of the above, and then some.
Say what you will about the reasons behind the dogma, but the one thing they all have in common is their total disregard for the common good and the demonization of anything and anyone who stands in the way of their agenda.
My first encounter with this unspoken agenda occurred during my undergraduate studies at Florida State University in the early 1990s. In one of my sociology classes, I came face to face with the consequences of not toeing the line.
Thinking that as long as I presented my arguments knowledgeably, backed up with reliable, factual sources, and wrote within the parameters of the APA or MLA style guides, my work would be judged fairly. I was gravely mistaken.
I learned quite quickly that regardless of how I wrote, what I wrote was more important. So long as my ideas and arguments contradicted my professor’s positions, I would not pass the class. And passing the class was, after all, the endgame. So, I learned how to play the game and in the end received an “A” along with the three credits I needed towards graduation. I didn’t do so mindlessly, I held on to my principles, but I did learn to bend, even if it was painful.
This occurred again and again as I made my way through two more degrees over the course of about a decade, becoming more the “norm” as time went on. In the end, I more than understood that these pieces of paper I had earned were only half the story. The real story was that I had retained my objectivity, my thirst for knowledge, my dedication to critical thinking and reason, and my love of history, and my country despite the system’s best attempts to force it out of me.
I count myself lucky. I came from a generation and a family that still held on to those values and beliefs. I was able to withstand the pressure and still retain a clear sense of self.
That’s not been the case for successive generations. No, that innate pull toward self-determination is being rapidly forced out of them, especially the current generation, thanks to social media and the instant gratification received by fitting in and parroting the rhetoric of the day.
In his article, American Universities Have Lost Their Prestige, published April 29, 2021, by Real Clear Politics, renowned Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute, Victor David Hanson, provides a succinct and compelling look at the post-WWII evolution of America’s university system. And it’s not good.
“Imagine a progressive place that once renounced unconstitutional “loyalty oaths” but now rebrands them as “diversity pledges” and requires reeducation and indoctrination training,” states Hanson. “Imagine a place where “diversity” is the professed institutional ethos, while studies reveal that liberal faculty outnumber their conservative counterparts by over 10 to 1.”
From politicking from the lectern to restrictions on freedom of speech and suspension of constitutionality, Hanson uncovers the disquieting reality of what it truly means to get a liberal education today.
In his book, Is College Worth It?, former U. S. Secretary of Education and author, Dr. William Bennett, demonstrates how higher education is failing our students on multiple fronts. “Higher education isn’t solely about financial returns,” explains Bennett, “the first duty of any school is education.” Bennet goes on to expose “the frighteningly paltry amount of learning taking place on some college campuses.”
So if learning isn’t taking place, what exactly is?
As a former United States History teacher, I can only answer that question from my own experience. I think it’s safe to say that all teachers, no matter the level at which we teach, come to the lectern with our own experiences, values, and beliefs, political or otherwise. However, our own ideologies are not what we’re hired to teach. In a sense, we have a captive audience before us, made up of young impressionable minds. To tamper with these minds for our own gain or to advance our own agendas is a sacrilege and a dark mark on this otherwise noble profession.
I understood this from the outset, mainly because, as a student, I had experienced that very attack on my own mind, and I vowed not to perpetuate it moving forward. My job was to teach my students history, not just within the confines of the books in which it was written, but also how to think critically, to ask questions, to challenge the status quo, to form their own opinions, and to seek knowledge, not as an endgame, but as a life-long endeavor.
Punishing students, whether overtly or covertly for not toeing the line, for questioning what they are being told, for asserting their own individuality, and yes, their own character, is not only wrong, it’s extremely dangerous.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is just one example of exactly how dangerous it’s becoming. First introduced in the 1970s, as an idea originating at Harvard Law School, CRT has become part of mainstream academia and media.
“Critical Race Theory is an academic discipline, based in Marxism, that teaches racism pervades every corner of American society, and therefore, that American institutions must be torn down and remade so that all of society’s benefits can be equitably redistributed.”Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) | May 21, 2022
What CRT does is boil everything down to race. What it does not do is take into consideration a person’s character. What it does is reject the very foundations of liberty, freedom, and the Judeo-Christian values upon which America was built. What it does not do is leave any room for logical, scientific, or critical thinking. What it does is find racism everywhere, even if it has to interpret peoples’ motives to do so. What it does not do is take into consideration the whole of a person, including their behaviors, values, and individuality — YOU ARE THE COLOR OF YOUR SKIN, PERIOD.
In other words, if you happen to be a member of one racial group, you are a victim; of another, you’re an oppressor, whether you mean to be or not.
CRT asserts that any progress made in this and other countries towards equality is but a mirage because racism never died, it simply hid better. The fact that we have worked hard as a country to move forward from the sins of the past, to create a system of government that continues to reach toward the ideals embedded within its foundations, and to uphold those ideals for ALL Americans, is nothing more than a smokescreen behind which to hide the truth.
And what is the truth? To CRT proponents the truth is this, “White Americans can never judge blacks by the content of their character. They can only judge them, always unfavorably – consciously or unconsciously, by the color of their skin,” James Lindsay, April 2021.
The danger inherent in this way of thinking is far-reaching. It not only boils human beings down to race, a characteristic that was never in anyone’s control, to begin with, but it goes a step further by assigning specific and divisive labels to that distinction, those of victim or oppressor. That IS racism. Call CRT what you will, but don’t try to sell it as anything other than racism.
So what happens after you’ve allowed these misguided principles to seep into every aspect of government, justice, education, and business? Exactly what proponents want to see – a complete dismantling of America from the ground up. A “reimagining,” if you will. Into what? I haven’t discovered any credible answers to that question, but I can surmise, based on CRT itself, that it is not something I’d ever wish for, and certainly not something I’d wish to leave my children, grandchildren, or future generations.
But the fact remains, CRT, diversity training, systemic racism, the 1619 Project, all have one thing in common — they are designed to divide rather than unite. They are designed to destroy rather than build up. They leave no room for compromise. If you are white you are inherently racist, it’s in your DNA, in your “whiteness,” whether you acknowledge it or not. If you are not white, but another race, most notably black, then you are a victim, it’s in your DNA, so no matter what you do, you will always be oppressed.
America is NOT a racist country.
Though advocates for such destructive thinking argue that America is racist, there is actually no real science or evidence to back up their assertions. As Liam Smith, writer for The Falcon explained in his February 11, 2021 article, “Since the earliest days of American history, the governing philosophy of the United States is rooted in the protection of individual rights.”
Smith goes on to back up his premise with facts, including statistical evidence. Fact number one, The Constitution of the United States explicitly protects every citizen from unequal protection under the law. Fact number two: the top median income groups in the US by distinct race are non-white. Fact number three: success is achievable in America because hard work, innovation, and ingenuity are its backbone. Fact number four: and perhaps the most important rebuttal to the argument of systemic racism, is that the political system of the United States itself protects minority rights. As Smith explains, “The Bill of Rights was explicitly written to protect the minority from the majority.”
In short, though you may decry that America is racist at the top of your lungs, if there’s no evidence to back it up, the argument is weak and always will be.
Further, if you boil everything, including every political issue, down to skin color, and every individual down to victim or oppressor, then you remove from public discourse the opportunity for open dialogue and any chance for unity.
Imagine if our Founding Fathers had been so closed-minded? Considering the task they undertook, and the sacrifices they had to make to arrive at that moment in history, had they been unwilling to consider the greater good along with the potential our fledgling country had to become something better than anything the world had ever known, I, for one am ever grateful their minds remained open.
Which leads me right back to the question, Why?
Why embark on this road in the first place? And why continue down it regardless of the consequences? What possible motive could there be for perpetuating these fallacies, for encouraging these unsubstantiated narratives, especially in our classrooms?
Power. Greed. Control. Entitlement. This is not a positive list. It never has been. With goals such as these, logic, reason, laws, justice, even our Constitution, get in the way. With goals such as these, in order to progress, you must first destroy. And as history has repeatedly shown us, progress through destruction is not progress at all. It’s simply destruction; with few benefitting at the expense of the many.
That’s not America. It never has been. And it’s certainly not what we should be teaching our children America is.
We are now reaching critical mass, and regardless of the consequences speaking out may engender, the fact remains, this premeditated and blatant indoctrination of our children has got to stop. If America is to survive as a free country, as the republic it was established to be; if our God-given rights are to be protected, if liberty is to prevail, then it has got to stop. Now.
“Many Republican lawmakers and parent advocates describe CRT as racially divisive, teaching children to judge differences in skin color above the content of character. They say adding curriculum rooted in CRT also teaches children to search for racism in all aspects of life over teaching civics and history education.”Ellie Bufkin | Sinclair Broadcast Group | May 2021
At the grassroots level, at local school board meetings, at the state level, and at the national level, we have to fight back. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s not a them or us issue. And it’s certainly not a black or white issue.
This is a fight for the very fabric of our Nation. For what we will and will not tolerate.
In the past few years, we have been forced to tolerate many things we would not have chosen; things no morally responsible, ethical, humane person would have chosen. But tolerance has got to take a back seat when it comes to the rights of our children and our responsibility as their parents, teachers, and society as a whole to protect them from harm.
“Not only is government-sponsored CRT poisonous, pernicious, and demeaning to all Americans, it is also illegal in many ways. The United States Constitution guarantees the equal protection of the laws. Moreover, the Constitution protects a “freedom of conscience,” meaning that government schools cannot force students to adopt a certain point of view, such as those core propositions of CRT about white supremacy, white privilege, or systemic racism. Relatedly, the Constitution prohibits “compelled speech,” meaning that teachers cannot force a student to speak a certain message, such as a confession that “I am a racist.”WILL | May 21, 2021
Some states, including, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Arizona are beginning to push back against CRT through legislation banning its inclusion in public school curriculum.
Likewise, parent advocates are also beginning to push back. FightForSChools.com is one such grass-roots effort. A non-partisan political action committee whose focus centers on “electing common-sense candidates that commit to policies that support equal opportunity, tolerance, meritocracy, and achievement.” Through petitions, school board recall efforts, and proposed legislation, FightForSchools is doing just that, fighting to take back America’s schools.
If American values are to prevail, it is vital that we stand up for those values. Our government institutions and elected officials work for us, not the other way around. And just because something is repeated again and again via social and mainstream media, by politicians, Hollywood, and big business does not mean it’s true.
It’s time to call out these divisive ideologies for what they really are and to stand against them, regardless of the personal attacks, ostracism, public branding that will undoubtedly occur. As has often been quoted and more often witnessed throughout history, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” (Edmund Burke, 1729-1797). Let’s not be that generation. The one that cedes control, the one that allows evil to prevail, by doing nothing.
JN Fenwick (© 2021-22)