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Slouching Toward Totalitarianism

Amidst all the other tribulations visited upon these United States in 2020, we find ourselves—like a frog in the proverbial pot of boiling water—immersed in the suddenly-ubiquitous delusion of wokeness. With startling abruptness, concepts and terminology previously at the periphery of popular culture—“white privilege,” “systemic racism,” “unconscious bias,” and the like—have become household terms. Once seemingly limited to the fever swamp of academia, and even then mainly confined to a few humanities disciplines, the death of George Floyd catapulted the long-simmering (and frequently-ridiculed) rhetoric of wokeness into the headlines. Without warning, fringe organizations like Black Lives Matter unexpectedly became mainstream—complete with corporate sponsorships and celebrity spokesmen.

A revolutionary moment emerged almost overnight. Across America, employers’ human resources departments revamped anodyne compliance training into Maoist indoctrination sessions. As Christopher Rufo reported, this radical transformation is not limited to a few tech companies in Silicon Valley; it is happening—with revolutionary fervor—everywhere, including the U.S. military and Sandia National Laboratories, the federal contractor responsible for maintaining our nuclear arsenal. The New York Times’ mendacious 1619 Project received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, despite fierce criticisms by many leading historians who found it factually inaccurate—an anti-American screed on the scale of Howard Zinn’s controversial and influential A People’s History of the United States(which was largely responsible for the demonization of Christopher Columbus).

The criticism of the 1619 Project went unheeded—this is a revolutionary moment, after all! Did the Jacobins pause before purging their enemies in the Reign of Terror? Of course not. The 1619 Project has been obligingly adopted by many school districts as a template for teaching U.S. history. Some readers will point out that the developments leading to the current state of wokeism did not happen all at once, but have been percolating for decades. Fair enough. Critical race theory, the framework for the current wave of wokeness, is a variant of post-modern intellectual movements such as Marxist critical legal studies, and deconstructionism (usually associated with Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault), which have been around for decades. Allan Bloom’s prophetic critique of higher education, The Closing of the American Mind, was published in 1987. In the intervening 33 years, things have only gotten worse. Much worse.

Cultural Marxism, pioneered by Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci, adapted the paradigm of class struggle (the rise of the proletariat) to a contest for intellectual control (or “ideological hegemony”) of social institutions, such as schools and churches. The goal was to redefine bourgeois culture on behalf of the “oppressed,” not just the “exploited.” Gramsci therefore inspired the Left’s “long march through the institutions,” which has been stunningly successful. Identity politics has spawned numerous academic disciplines focused on different groups’ “oppression” at the hands of heteronormative white males deriving power from a capitalist economic system predicated on private property. Nearly every college in America now offers a major in such “grievance studies,” with more “marginalized groups” being identified each academic year. Self-professed victims of oppression abound. The perceived sins of the ostensible oppressors grow commensurately.

The election of President Donald Trump in 2016 fueled a bitter resistance among Democrats and progressives who viewed Barack Obama as the harbinger of a new—postconstitutional—era in America. Progressive writers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates gave voice to those feelings and tapped into popular audiences with books and journalism featuring identity politics. Coates’ Between the World and Me (2015) was a best-seller and won the National Book Award. Until recently, however, the obscure dogma of critical race theory itself held sway only on college campuses and in certain intellectual salons. Or so it seemed. Then, precipitated by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, this radical ideology swept into the public consciousness. 

“Anti-racism” became the new tulip craze; wokeness, the latest mass delusion. Many white Americans have become obsessed with purging the original sin of their ancestry and heritage. Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility (2018) flew off the shelves, and Ibram X. Kendi, author of the blockbuster How to Be an Anti-Racist (2019), quickly became one of the country’s most prominent academics. The woke catechism of anti-racism misleadingly uses the vernacular of the civil rights movement to advance an agenda radically at odds with any sensible conception of racial equality. Wokeness is promoted in many churches—and even by my local public library in small town Tennessee. What are the tenets of this new creed, critical race theory (CRT)?

White people are inherently racist, the disciples of wokeness assert. Denying this merely confirms the verdict. Because racism is baked into the structures and institutions of our society (manifesting itself in idealized traits such as punctuality, merit, and industry—references to which are denounced as “microaggressions”), white people inevitably exhibit “unconscious” bias against members of marginalized (or “oppressed”) groups. All white people unfairly enjoy an advantage—“white privilege”—as members of the oppressor class. Statistical disparities among demographic groups (in terms of income, educational achievement, criminality, and so forth) are necessarily and solely the result of racism.

Not only has an entire generation of college students been indoctrinated by woke dogma, the Left has gained control of many public-school systems.

Indeed, Kendi contends that capitalism itself is “essentially racist,” due to the end-result disparities it tolerates. (By the same perverse logic, freedom itself is racist.) Therefore, Kendi maintains, all such disparities must be eradicated through government intervention. To this end, Kendi advocates a constitutional amendment that would mandate “racial equity” (end-result equality) and create a federal “Department of Anti-Racism” to ensure such outcomes in all spheres of life. State-mandated sameness is the antithesis of the Founders’ design—the abolition of a free society: Antonio Gramsci meets Harrison Bergeron. Critics contend that “Kendi’s goals are openly totalitarian.” Instead of resisting this hostile ideology, today’s woke business leaders enthusiastically support it.  (Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced that he was donating $10 million to Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, a project recently launched by Kendi.)

“Wokeness,” in other words, requires the destruction of a constitutional democracy based on equality under the law and the primacy of consensual exchanges in a free market. This is not the message of reconciliation and color blindness preached by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, the toxic rhetoric of BLM—now in vogue—recalls the radical liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s symbolized by the Black Panther Party, Angela Davis, and others who openly advocated revolution. Since then, alas, the long march has succeeded in the Left’s capture of higher education, including the critically-important colleges of education that train most K-12 teachers and administrators. Not only has an entire generation of college students been indoctrinated by woke dogma, the Left has gained control of many public-school systems.

Which brings us—finally—to the most recent example to receive media attention: the (now temporarily-withdrawn) proposal being considered by the school board in Loudoun County, Virginia that would adopt CRT (euphemistically labeled “Action Plans to Combat Systemic Racism”) as the school system’s official policy. Not only would this noxious doctrine be foisted upon Loudoun County schoolchildren, but teachers would be subject to discipline if they publicly disagreed with CRT—even in private speech off-campus and on non-working time. This government-enforced speech code is a clear violation of the First Amendment. The proposed policy forbids Loudoun County teachers to express disagreement with CRT and requires them to snitch on colleagues who do. Critics call the proposed policy “tyrannical” and charge that Loudoun County schools would become “ideology factories,” and rightly so.

This Orwellian policy has been denounced as “a rush to soft totalitarianism,” but recent events illustrate how quickly things can metastasize. Totalitarianism, whether “soft” or “hard,” has no place in America. Loudoun County is not a rural backwater or hipster enclave resembling Portland or Brooklyn. It is a wealthy suburb of Washington, D.C., and one of the nation’s most affluent communities. If this could happen in Loudoun County, it could happen anywhere. Only after a barrage of negative publicity did administrators announce that adoption of the proposed policy would be postponed to allow for its “clarification.” The pushback, initiated by the union representing many Loudoun County teachers, focused on the speech code, not the rest of the CRT agenda. Whatever finally emerges is likely to embrace race norming, educational “equity,” and (in the words of draft policy) “socially-just teaching.” This is code for wokeness.

One reason CRT was able to become ascendant is that most individuals—citizens, commentators, and elected officials—were reluctant to criticize it, or even to acknowledge its creeping advance, out of fear of being accused of racism. A courageous, independent-minded engineer at Sandia National Labs, Casey Petersen, changed that when he confronted his employer about a mandated training class containing CRT themes he found objectionable. When unable to obtain satisfactory responses from Sandia, Petersen created a detailed (and impressively-cogent) YouTube video that was widely circulated. It came to the attention of Christopher Rufo, who wrote about it, which led to Rufo’s appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, which in turn prompted President Trump to take executive action to ban the use of CRT training for federal employees and contractors.

One man triggered a chain of dominoes, demonstrating the power—and necessity—of individual action. Edmund Burke is reputed to have said that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” If we are to avoid the ruination of our country by CRT, we must slouch no more, and oppose it.

Reader Discussion

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on October 13, 2020 at 08:30:07 am

I teach at a public school system. On my walls are many things, flags, maps, documents. But the one picture students are most drawn to are of a group of white boys in the 1950's, waving Confederate battle flags and holding freshly minted sign that proclaims "We Want a White School". Their jeering, mocking and bitter faces would find much to smile about in your position. That is why you misunderstand the importance of all you mock. Which is more dangerous, fanning the coals in their young and twisted hearts or fanning the embers of hopes of those who find some solace in the histories of Zinn and the 1619 Project? While historians have never failed to criticize any history, these are the vital attempts to rebalance the massive imbalances that loom far beyond your thinly veiled darts of "punctuality" and "merit". The fact is that you see only the suddenness of the moment and not the generational frustrations of millions of people who live lives that might not be as equal under the law as your ideal imagines. This tidal surge is the lifeblood of constitutional democracy, not the death of it.

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Michael J Grey
on October 13, 2020 at 09:09:18 am

"thinly veiled darts of "punctuality" and " merit"." Punctuality and merit are White privilege. This is a person who is teaching your kids. This is a college educated person. This person is a Democrat. Please vote straight Republicans.

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Tom
on October 13, 2020 at 10:36:06 am

Mr. Grey, I see that you are a perfect example of the part that schools and colleges have played in this rush toward tyranny, suppression and subservience, and to see it as 'constitutional democracy' is perverse. Your provocative photo of 'white boys' implies that no progress has been achieved in 60+ years. Surely, not. Also, I did not think that historians were meant to criticize history, but to comment and illuminate the past, so that the present may learn from it.

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Bob Schweizer
on October 13, 2020 at 13:36:57 pm

If you believe we live in a Democracy then you believe in mob rule and you are not fit to teach teach young minds.
Rather telling what you choose to put on your class walls and the lack of any context you bring. Glad my kids were not taught by such as you. You need to take a deep dive into all the things factually wrong with Mr Zinns ideological screed but I doubt you will expose yourself to actual facts about our beloved country. Sad really.

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Steve Walser
on October 13, 2020 at 11:17:29 am

Ah, so you could find no more recent evidence of "white supremacy/racism" than a photo of teenagers from 70 years ago?

And you do not feel that society in general has progressed since then?

Why no pictures of blacks & whites peacefully socializing? Isn't that the norm these days, or does that go against the narrative you seek to impose on your charges?

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OH Anarcho-Capitalist
on October 13, 2020 at 12:20:23 pm

“I teach at a public school system. On my walls are many things, flags, maps, documents. But the one picture students are most drawn to are of a group of white boys in the 1950's, waving Confederate battle flags and holding freshly minted sign that proclaims "We Want a White School". Their jeering, mocking and bitter faces would find much to smile about in your position. That is why you misunderstand the importance of all you mock.”

To be drawn to such a picture, no doubt, can break your heart, but to suggest that an entire group of persons are racist based on one’s ancestry, and not one’s behavior, is what makes the term “white privilege”, a racist statement. To point out this hypocrisy, is not to necessarily mock the suffering of those who have been victimized by racism, unless it can be demonstrated that those who point out the hypocrisy do so because they desire that the victimization of racism continues.

Every Just Law serves out of respect for the inherent Dignity of the human person, who, regardless of ancestry, is first and foremost a beloved son or daughter, but a Just Law does not necessarily change a hardened heart.

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Nancy
on October 13, 2020 at 13:35:29 pm

I wonder if you have any children from interracial marriages in your class. What effect do you suppose it has on a mixed race child to be told that one parent is an unreconstructed racist? The white parent, of course. And what barriers will be created for such children interacting with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc? Or even raise barriers between children who have friends of other races? Imagine the distrust created by your brand of instruction.

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Lh fry
on October 13, 2020 at 14:15:50 pm

God help the poor kids you're funneling your Marxist drivel into.

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BrianB
on November 01, 2020 at 01:00:43 am

Just as the "horror" of the French Revolution (among others) shows an "attempt" to "rebalance the massive imbalances," you speak of.

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k w liebhardt
on November 21, 2020 at 18:52:34 pm

When you call Howard Zinn and the 1619 Project history, your credibility is approaching zero. Both are anti-American polemics designed to maintain a victimist narrative that serves the progressive agenda--nothing more, nothing less. And while you're upset about "jeering mocking and bitter faces" circa the '50s, maybe you'd be better informed by casting you gaze towards those tearing down historical artifacts in 2020--with the acquiescence or approval of leftist politicians, who've also stood by while so-called protests "intensfied."

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arnold ahlert
on October 13, 2020 at 11:27:13 am

Perhaps, Mr Grey would prefer to post on his classroom wall a photo of BLM / Antifa destroying Black owned businesses, burning buildings and churches and attacking their fellow citizens.
Hey, Grey, why not keep up with the times.
And yes Grey is a perfect example of what our university system has produced.

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Guttenburgs Press and Brewery
on October 13, 2020 at 13:40:30 pm

Every Human Rights Issue begins with respect for the inherent Dignity of the human person from the moment they were created and brought into being, in The Image and Likeness Of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a beloved son or daughter, at the moment of conception. It is a self evident Truth that can be known through both Faith and reason, that we became beloved sons and daughters at the moment of conception, which is not the same moment we came forth from our Mother’s womb.

Respect for The Sanctity of all human life, is a Human Right’s issue, not a State’s Right issue.

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Nancy
on October 14, 2020 at 11:11:04 am

I have a lovely assortment of items on display, including a Don't Tread on Me flag (gasp) and a banner defining the Rule of Law, which is the touchstone of our year. The bullying anti-teacher tone of these comments is just the usual blather handed down. Today my students are arguing the case of Kelo v New London, using the best facts they can glean from court documents, teams of attorneys researching and arguing for their clients, and justices writing and delivering questions that they write to understand the case and make their decision. For a warmup they learned about the Democratic AND Republican rule changes for judicial nominations in the Senate. I don't indoctrinate, my students are usually wrong when they try to guess my political views and I do not even confirm their guesses. Your guess would likely be wrong too. That is a trope, like so much of what I read here. However, it is blind to not see that attempts by those like Zinn and 1619 are not important to a deeper and richer understanding. The focus of the 1619 project, as well as the earlier Africans in America documentary, was to simply reexamine the contribution of a group of people who have been often excluded. That is what stops riots. It doesn't start them.

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Michael J Grey
on October 14, 2020 at 13:08:41 pm

"The focus of the 1619 project, as well as the earlier Africans in America documentary, was to simply reexamine the contribution of a group of people who have been often excluded. That is what stops riots. It doesn't start them."

Once again, as below, we have your barren assurances to argue your point. You're practiced in the manner and mode of platitudes, bromides, narratives, and sweeping generalizations, and in positing your assuraces as if they are self-evident. And of course they are self-evident - to you. Therefore if the world at large fails to accept them as verities then the world at large must be at fault. Fact is, the riots, the arsons, the lootings, the mayhem, the murder, all that was aided and abetted by narratives such as the "1619 Project" exemplifies. Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Well, could be. But as that which aids and abets, and reflecting a certain critical aspect of the zeitgeist? I very much doubt it. Regardless, and once again, your barren assurances to the contrary do not an argument make. Your platitudes and narratives and unsupported assurances are a house of cards, an endless shuffling of the deck. Tiresome, boorish and transparently so.

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Michael Bond
on October 15, 2020 at 13:48:24 pm

You sound like an Englishman in 1765, bemoaning the disloyal colonies assaulting lawful agents of the king and destroying property. But rest assured, I teach my students about all kinds of protests, violent and otherwise, and the quiet reflection of all these events upon the idea of the Rule of Law. They are already smart enough to know right from wrong. Enjoy your beer.

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Michael J Grey
on October 13, 2020 at 13:16:07 pm

I agree with the article. However, the concept of frogs tolerating being boiled is mythical. Frogs seek freedom from abuse; this should inspire humans to be equally critical, rejecting the leftist "woke" nonsense.
"THE LEGEND OF THE BOILING FROG IS JUST A LEGEND" (12-23-07)
http://archive-srel.uga.edu/outreach/ecoviews/ecoview071223.htm

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David E. Shellenberger
on October 13, 2020 at 16:20:51 pm

Thus, my reference to the “proverbial” frog.

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Mark Pulliam
on October 13, 2020 at 13:23:11 pm

Not to go off on a tangent, because it is in fact, related, today, as I listened to the Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation Hearing in regards to “dark money”, and what the opposition believes to be in jeopardy, which clearly is not the Sanctity of human life, or the Sanctity of The Sacrament Of Marriage, I am reminded of this:

https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/

https://www.lifesitenews.com/tags/tag/open+society+foundations

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Nancy
on October 13, 2020 at 13:48:17 pm

Those for whom blackness is a vocation, like the author of the 1619 thing, reject every idea, every institution, every historical account, every cultural practice, every standard, of American society for the single and simple reason that they were all of them the work of white persons, works in which there was no participation or contribution by black persons. While a few intrepid black thinkers, from DuBois to Sowell and Thomas, have understood American ideals to be universal in nature and to encourage their adoption and active participation in by black Americans, even while acknowledging the centuries of deliberate and malicious exclusion of black Americans therefrom by whites when the notion of white supremacy was, unlike today, an active, visible and vocal political force, vocational blacks merely start and end on the proposition that because American ideals, institutions etc. upon inspection do not reflect back black faces and voices to them, they must be per se agents, structures and implements of continued domination by white persons over black persons. Only a melting down of all American institutions and traditions and a recasting of the molten matter in a mold actively shaped by blacks will satisfy them. What the new institutions, ideas, values, practices, ethics will actually be like is immaterial; what counts is only that blacks can see themselves in them.

The central fact of black life in America is that blacks are surrounded on all sides by white people by ideas, standards, practices etc. that are the work of white people. I think there is no way any thinking black man or woman can wake up each morning and not have as his or her first thought that he or she is a black person in a majority white nation, that outside of relatively small enclaves, everywhere he or she goes she will be immersed in, engulfed by, white people. That circumstance must generate continuously an anxiety, a hesitancy, like feelings, which feelings are what black Americans desire to no longer have to contend with. I think that no matter how entrenched some variant of "wokeness" becomes in American life, no matter how many quaking educrats meekly subscribe to whatever incoherent claims asserted by vocational blacks, the highly visible racial minority position of black Americans, and the unalterable facts of slavery and Jim Crow, will continue to produce in vocational blacks a hostility to American society arising from emotion and seeking expression in claims that, like the present CRT nonsense, do not stand up to the slightest scrutiny, because "critical race theory" is not a product of the intellect but of emotion.

The entire police issue--the official version--could be almost wholly solved by state governments repealing qualified immunity and by municipal governments abrogating those terms of police union CBAs that prevent summary dismissal of officers known to be racist or overly aggressive toward blacks. But that won't actually solve the real police issue, which is the unacceptability to vocational blacks of seeing black persons physically questioned and manhandled by white police officers. It may be necessary to establish an entirely separate police force composed of and managed by blacks to police black communities. Of course, entailed in that (not logically but in reality) would be the need to establish an entirely separate criminal code for blacks. This kind of segregation, as it would be by blacks and for blacks, would no doubt be highly welcome. Resolution of incidents where one of the parties is white and the other black would have to be handled by some kind of treaty arrangement.

Those feelings are real and they are facts, and will have to be accounted for in some fashion. I am not certain how. I suggested one possibility above. The late eruption of black anxiety and anger and its alarming penetrative power in a society made prostrate by government officials using the pandemic as an excuse for re-ordering society according to their own inner lights may not just subside. I understand the tenet--the only tenet--of "critical race theory" to be that vocational blacks simply do not want to be members of the same society that whites belong to and that was established in its cultural, educational, and political forms by white-colored persons. Content is irrelevant; racial identity is the only thing that counts, because the identity of a black person as black in a majority white America is the most salient feature of that person's daily life, and the reverse is just not the case.

These are just my own opinions, of course.

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QET
on October 14, 2020 at 21:41:21 pm

Very thought provoking comment. I had not considered the idea that blacks would wake up each morning as members of a 13% minority group, not be able to do anything about being black, not be able to hide it (Michael Jackson not withstanding),and potentially if not actually subjected to racial prejudice. Plus if/when applicable, they had to rely on the 13th and 14th Amendments and related law, EEOC, etc. to minimize or correct any legitimate racial grievances they might have or have experienced.

Further thinking: "but wait!" they can get around these strictures in many cases by "acting white", as in study hard, get an education or learn a trade, get a job, get married, then have children (basically in that order). Eventually they should obtain a position and posture where people are more concerned to access the green in their wallets/ purses than worry about what skin hue they possess. Not a perfect answer but part of the solution. [Here is probably the place to insert references to the 17,000 theses and 34,000 professional articles on related "woke" topics and the difficulties thereunto appertaining.] [Plus I believe I left a comment at L&L on 9/7/20 addressing some ideas about reparations.]

More thinking: "Oh, I have been a non-religious person my whole life", part of a 6 to 20% minority of non-Jews and non-Christians in a predominantly Judeo-Christian society. No formal or informal religious training or meaningful exposure to church services during childhood, general absorption of religious ideas/concepts/ doctrines/ practices solely by social osmosis, some explorations as a teen, followed by study and reading as an adult. But none the less I woke up a member of a minority every day as well, just not one physically visible if I kept my head down and my mouth shut, which I basically did. None of my education, employment, or friend and family relationships were impacted by my lack of faith. Of course the 1st Amendment also provided a bulwark against any possible restrictions on my freedom of conscience.
Fast forward to June 2008 and I am attending the American Humanist Association meeting in Wash. DC. "Oh, this is nice, ... with these people I don't have to hide or worry about my lack of belief." They even had Christopher Hitchens as a featured speaker! I bought a signed copy of his book. But as the program advanced I saw that most attendees were politically liberal* and "not my sort of people" after all. Better to spend time with religious conservatives than irreligious liberals!
*To be fair: as the liberal noise increased (in this case against John McCain as presidential candidate), the AHA president did assert publicly that they were a politically neutral 501c organization.

More thinking: it appears that there are many more advertisements, TV shows, movies, etc. showing racially mixed couples and families, and apparently up to 11% of marriages are now mixed race. Is this part of a (possibly not so hidden but planned) campaign to aid diversity and quiet any racial animosities? Is this a portrayal of reality, or might it end up giving the white viewing community the false vision that greater integration has now occurred and affirmative action, etc. has been successful? Thus the protests and riots and grievance mongering is unfounded ... or is it? No answers here, just some thought?

But thanks again, QET, for provoking those thoughts.

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R2L
on October 15, 2020 at 15:55:43 pm

Thanks R2L. You put your finger directly on the central paradox of black American life (as I see it): when adherence to bourgeois values and practices, values and practices that usually ensure, even if it requires more than one generation to achieve, economic security (including homeownership), is derogated as "acting white," then young blacks are put in an impossible situation. The problem with the poor state of black education is not the material condition of the schools, the relative quality of the teachers nor even the general poverty of urban black communities. The problem is that young black men do not want to get an education, do not want lives as engineers, lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, office workers. They do not want to get a boring but steady job that requires literacy and numeracy, get married and stay married, etc. That is what white people do. Never mind that Hispanics and Asians also tend to do it. Blacks who do pursue a bourgeois life tend to spend most of their waking lives surrounded by similarly bourgeois whites, which surroundment again is, in my view, the original source of the anxiety that characterizes the black American psyche, the original source of the aversion to "join" white, bourgeois society.

Modern black Americans understand their unwillingness to take advantage of the economic opportunities made available to them in a still-majority white society by the struggle and victory of their ancestors as evidence those opportunities still do not exist due to "white supremacy" and "systemic racism." Those few intrepid blacks who dare speak the truth on this point suffer a veritable excommunication from the community of vocational blacks, which must be a horrible price to pay (usually the truth costs).

Your last observation has been mine as well. It is so obviously contrived and spoon-fed to us viewers, it is so transparent and puerile in its approach, that I wonder how it is that the vocational black vanguard hasn't objected. It is unreal. I believe it is intended to be unreal, as the purveyors must imagine their propaganda as virtuous social engineering: if we can just restructure the digital landscape to look like the world as we desire it to be (which world, because product-selling clients are paying exorbitantly for these ads, must look like a world in which all these young wokes (who never seem to have obvious employments) look like they can afford the products being hawked), then perhaps life will imitate art. Who can say whether they will be proved wrong in this? The digital era has stimulated the basic human impulse to imitate art to unheard-of levels.

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QET
on October 13, 2020 at 14:57:08 pm

We are threatened by an institutional catastrophe, the hordes of Michael Grey's who dominate K-16. Themselves the victims of inferior historical and cultural education, if not deliberate political indoctrination, they become teachers of our youth and pass on to the next generation their acquired ignorance and emotional bitterness. This mass of civic deficiency would destroy destroy America.

Only one barrier island of sanity and strength remains to hold back the imminent flood tide of ignorance and delusional group psychology: President Donald Trump and his supporters. He is the last man standing, and we are his deplorables, all that's left of America's endangered, traditional middle class and those who aspire to that middle class.

Were there ever before in American history presidential political rallies where huge crowds risked their health to come out to say to their candidate, "We love you"? That's how important this last stand is.

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paladin
on October 13, 2020 at 15:28:53 pm

Paladin, The Last Stand is important because without Religious Liberty, we will, all of us, lose our inherent Right to come to know, Love, and serve The True God, in this life, so that hopefully, we can be with The Ordered Communion Of Perfect Life -affirming-and Life -sustaining Salvational Love and our beloved, forever, In Heaven.

True Liberty exists when we have the freedom and desire to choose to Love God, as God So Loves us. That is why, at the moment of our death, the sin against The Holy Ghost, and thus the denial of Salvational Love, God’s Gift Of Grace And Mercy, is known as the unforgivable sin.

The Good News is, it is possible to have Liberty and a Happy Death if we but repent and accept The Power And Glory Of The Integral Essence Of The Cross, Salvational Love, God’s Gift Of Grace And Mercy.

Do not let your hearts be hardened.

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Nancy
on October 14, 2020 at 10:22:23 am

You should see the magic that happens in my classrooms. I don't use Zinn and I don't use the 1619 Project. But I understand the importance of seeing those unseen threads of history that make our nation so much richer. My students find no indoctrination. They find documents and questions and discussions. We study heroes and we study villains, and we are not so dim that we cannot see that those attributes are often in the same person. Your crowing about the end of days sounds pathetic and familiar, and old. But don't worry, my students from all shades of the political spectrum, will take over just as you fear, and you will see all will be well.

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Michael J Grey
on October 14, 2020 at 11:53:08 am

"Your crowing about the end of days sounds pathetic and familiar, and old. But don't worry, my students from all shades of the political spectrum, will take over just as you fear, and you will see all will be well."

Oh bother. If your classroom is richer than what you were previously suggesting then that is a good thing. But what you were previously suggesting was in fact something one-dimensional and biased. Being now coy, essentially pulling the rug out from the feet of others, is not to engage on any serious and substantial level - it is the very opposite, it is at best to be coy and smarmy in a feigned smarter-than-thou manner.

More significantly, your Nostradamus-like prediction that things will continue in the future as they have in the past reflects an exceedingly shallow assessment of the current situation. M. Anton's recent offering is perhaps the best single volume to indicate, to strongly and cogently argue otherwise. But the indicators are varied and sundry, virtually ubiquitous at social, cultural, political, legislative, enforcement and juridical levels, throughout society. By contrast we have your barren assurances to suggest otherwise.

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Michael Bond
on October 15, 2020 at 13:43:39 pm

Take a deep breath Mr. Bond. I'm just a history teacher. My first comment stands as I wrote it, my subsequent comment stands because fellow commenters immediately assumed their anti-education trope stance without remotely understanding the care and complexity of the work I do. It is not my fault he or you made assumptions about me. Read my original comment. You don't understand it either.

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Michael J Grey
on October 15, 2020 at 16:30:03 pm

You offer a dog's breakfast and proclaim it to be French cuisine.

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Michael Bond
on October 14, 2020 at 13:12:31 pm

Your comment on April 14 is considerably different from that of October 13. Today you sound like the kind of teacher we need; yesterday, the kind of teacher we need to get out of the classroom.

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paladin
on October 14, 2020 at 13:46:27 pm

Perhaps you are a strange classroom case, that of a Dr. Jekyll and a Mr. Hyde, tormented by internal contradiction between a politically-imposed ideological purpose and a morally-constrained academic integrity.
But your proffered story seems to me a front for whatever is actually transpiring, and your statement about a "takeover just as (I) fear" seems more than a veiled a threat. What teacher not an ideologue talks about "takeover"?

I would not allow my children or grandchildren in your classroom.

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paladin
on October 15, 2020 at 13:38:53 pm

Not to indicate your level of paranoia, but I mean take over in the calm and literal fashion. They will grow up and we will grow old and they will create their lives in the spaces they choose and despite your and Mr. Bond's terrors, the vast majority of school teachers are too busy battling tooth and nail to get their students to be interested in anything, let alone following whatever beliefs we might have. Don't worry, my students aren't heading for your imagined barricades. They are going to life.

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Michael J Grey
on October 15, 2020 at 13:33:03 pm

And thus you miss the point both of my original comment AND of what good teaching actually is. I was laughing yesterday as I realized I was writing sitting underneath my Confederate flag, which hangs in balance to a Union cavalry pennant, with a Mount Vernon US Flag in the middle. Good teaching opens as many doors as possible and asks students to look and to see and to think and to reflect. Good citizenship does the same, but judging by your comments on every post, you seem to be drinking from the same shallow bowl. My point is and will forever be, that if you deny the perspective of racist boys, of brave but murderous explorers, of complicated patriots, of modern cities, of homeowners, of peaceful protesters and of looters, you deny both the richness of history and the essential voices that are our nation, whether you like what they say or not. By the way, I work with hundreds of teachers who all sound just like me, not the left wing zealots you propose. But you understand that you are a right wing zealot, correct?

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Michael J Grey
on October 18, 2020 at 18:52:55 pm

If your education were superior, it would be taught. There is no one preventing you from maintaining your views while pursuing a professional degree. You have to obtain the merit to be "middle class" instead of demanding it. Produce some good evidence that supports your views and they will be accepted by the scientific community. Typically the types you describe pursue science to prove something assumed a priori, relying on some ridiculous notion of "common sense" in complex fields, but this is of course not confined to those for whom it is hard.

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xkz
on October 13, 2020 at 17:51:15 pm

The author says of the imposition of CRT by the public school administration of DC suburb Loudon County, VA: "If this could happen in Loudoun County, it could happen anywhere." I get the point, the danger is imminent and the CRT damage already ubiquitous. But, nevertheless, I live just a stone's throw (by G. Washington) across the Potomac, so I know that Loudon County is abnormal. Because the majority there is above average, it is a lot closer to Marin County, CA than to any normal place in America. Loudon County is one of the primary reasons that Virginia is now a Blue State. I would not be surprised to see a bill before the county council to change the name of its largest city, Leesburg.

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paladin
on October 13, 2020 at 23:13:10 pm

I note Mr. Pullliam's analogy "'Anti-racism' has become the new tulip craze; wokeness, the latest mass delusion." I made much the same comparison four days ago in a comment on the post "The Enduring Psychology of Slavery." Two occurrences of the same observation do not establish a trend, but it does suggest that people are starting to notice the elements of irrationality and emotional volatility associated with "wokeness."

My previous comment proposed that wokeness, like tulip mania is associated with a non-sustainable bubble; an asset bubble in the latter case, a grievance bubble in the former. To this I would add my suspicion that the bubble is starting to deflate; that reality is catching up with it, and it can no longer sustain itself on emotion-driven accommodation from the broader society. There are several observations that underlie this suspicion.

The first is that the basis of many of the "woke" claims require an omniscient narrator. The most obvious is the almost automatic claim that anyone who opposes a left-wing assertion is a "white supremacist." People who had nothing but the most cursory information regarding the shooting in Denver a couple of days ago leapt to that conclusion based on, essentially, nothing. Omnescience is suspect in people, no matter their grievances. Likewise the word "racist" is actually a homonym. There is a similar sounding word, more accurately denoted "Racist™." The older term is both a noun and an adjective; the newer version is an exclamation, used the same way "g*ddammit!" is when someone hits their thumb while using a hammer. It is a reflex, a verbal ejaculation deployed as emotional venting rather than as descriptive discourse. The reason why some of the more unusual claims about "racism," such that blacks cannot be racist, propagate is that they refer to Racism™ rather than what most people understand when they encounter the word "racism." Racism™ and Racist™ are fictional creations, like Sauron, to create villains to be vanquished in a made-up hero-myth. Racist and racism are real things of course, and should not be confused with Racist™ and Racism™.

The second observation is that the "demands" of the woke make little pretense to producing a real-world result. They are structured so as to create the need for "solutions," not provide solutions themselves. They are supported by claims regarding police-involved shooting statistics that do not survive scrutiny, by seeking to create martyrs by canonizing patron saints of bad judgment, and by making illogical and petulant demands for justice, by which they mean emotional satisfaction.

The third observation is that people notice the first two observations, and this includes people who were once called "minorities" and see no need for the innovation of the term "people of color." Just as some people have a natural aversion to being patronized and talked down to, others have an aversion to being told they are victims but are just to stupid to realize it. As Mr. Grey has perhaps inadvertently implied, there is a difference between the concerns of blacks in the 1950s and those of today. As Shelby Steele has noted, the more formal social equality and legal protections that minority groups achieve, the more desperate the search for evidence of oppression becomes. This is leads to a social snipe-hunt, the purported objects being hard-to-notice things like micro-aggressions, unconscious bias, "whiteness," and cultural appropriation These are all things defined into being, which provokes enduring skepticism. People notice this too. This makes people wonder what the use and end of cancel culture are, and this causes the bubble to deflate a little more.

A fourth observation is the selective nature of the grievances presented by those still in the thrall of the grievance bubble. This is being noticed by the people on whose behalf grievances are raised, but who will only accept so much of gaseous assertions and exhortations cloaked in academic obfuscation. For example, they may wonder why there seem to be so few descendants of the Indian Ocean Slave trade, or so little discussion of it. They wonder why the roles of fatherhood and families are denigrated, when they can see with their own eyes the damage that results. These people are drifting away from the bubble. I suspect that those who profited from it most will also find greener pastures when the emotions start to peter out, taking appointments to endowed academic chairs, accepting foundation grants, landing a hosting gig on cable news and making the lecture circuit. Just like the tulip bubble, when the people who are going to profit get theirs, they will leave behind those who could not distinguish the reality from the illusion.

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z9z99
on October 14, 2020 at 10:02:39 am

These are all things defined into being,

Precisely. When all of your heroes are people who marched against and fought against and prevailed against real white supremacy and real "systemic" racism back in the 1940s - 60s, when your sense of power and pride and self-esteem is wholly bound up in that cause, then like generals you must continue to fight the last war, always, which requires that you continuously exhume Cromwell's body in order to execute it, that you force yourself to see windmills as real racist giants to be slain, that you conjure the ghosts of the actual Jim Crow era in order to write a book titled The New Jim Crow. You are acting in a play whose scenes, climax and denouement are fully known, reprising roles originally performed by your ancestors. To let go of all this means to face a world and a life where your possibilities are infinite and your outcome unknown, yet a life that will almost certainly be ordinary, anonymous and not the subject of song and lore to future generations. So you set up a tautology, you set the stage and cast the parts in order to engage in, and require everyone else to engage in, live action role playing like Civil War re-enactors. In short, you define racism and white supremacy (and patriarchy) into being in order to give yourself purpose. It's the easy way out of the existential crisis we all face.

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QET
on October 17, 2020 at 07:22:21 am

Probably the most perceptive comment in the thread, the keystone to it all.

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Michael Bond
on October 14, 2020 at 12:27:38 pm

An observation: remember that reformers are no less selfish than Conservatives (or other special interests groups) and that their data are no less biased. Indeed, reformers constitute merely another interest group. Equally, even if their intentions may be commendable (and that is always arguable), their judgements as to feasibility and fairness may be somewhat questionable - the more so, the more they absolutize their position.

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Anthony
on October 17, 2020 at 02:01:06 am

Poor Mr. Pulliam proves the maxim "to the privileged, equality feels like oppression."

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Dr. Jeffrey Hampl
on October 17, 2020 at 10:38:25 am

One good maxim deserves another: One desires freedom so long as one does not possess power. Once one does possess it, one desires to overpower; if one cannot do that (if one is still too weak to do so), one desires ‘justice,’ i.e., equal power.”--Nietzsche

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QET
on October 18, 2020 at 19:11:00 pm

There's a lot of complaining in these comments, a lot of demanding that others change for you or that culture be legislated across the land, and very little action. It is not hard to become a teacher, so go do it. Set an example, and if people like it, they will adopt your superior culture.

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xkz
on November 14, 2020 at 00:01:46 am

Expand the education of young people on slavery, in every minute detail of its development and practices. It wasn’t that long ago. BLM and protests tried to achieve what the intellectuals couldn’t, an accounting from authority. If they still wait for it, they did achieve among themselves and the wiser counter-protestors understanding and recognition.

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Robert
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