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In my state, the Republican-dominated legislature is moving toward a vote on two anti-CRT bills. Here, as in other places where similar bills are being considered, the state edu-blob is wringing its gelatinous nubs and screeching about censorship. Not long ago, Indiana teachers warned that a “CRT-inspired bill” could “drive them from the classrooms.” We can only hope! The College Board is threatening to withhold AP credit from schools in communities that adopt anti-woke policies. As bills like Ohio’s make it onto statehouse floors, I expect the controversy to ramp up.
Local media is behaving as you’d expect — holding a microphone up to the edu-blob’s mouth, publishing outraged op-eds written by professors, non-profit leaders, and “experts” on racism, sexism, ableism, disestablishmentarianism, and every other -ism under the sun. A typical example of the reaction is today’s episode of Today in Ohio, a news podcast produced by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. What do the hosts think of Republican anti-CRT bills? Here’s editor Chris Quinn:
[W]hat these legislators really want to do is take away higher-level thinking from our schools they don’t want. And, and you know, you want to take that one step further. This is what Vladimir Putin is doing in Russia. He’s shutting down any other perspective, but the one he wants people to see, which turns out to be totally false. This is what our legislators are doing. They want the kids in this school to only see the perspective they have and deprive them of things that can help lead to higher levels of thought.
Ah, yes. Wokeness is “higher-level thinking,” you see, and Republicans are basically Putin. There’s nothing profound or new in this quote, but it is revelatory. It reveals the central conceit of the American cultural elite: It is the job of sophisticated urban people — you know, the kind of people who post on local subreddits, live in impeccably restored Victorian mansions (built by dead white males, I hasten to add), and listen to NPR in their Mini Coopers — to rescue children from their clueless, bigoted families and shepherd them into a brighter, more equal, more inclusive future.
I don’t doubt that many of these anti-CRT laws are badly written. But they’re part of a desperate effort to reimpose neutrality on an institution that is (and has long been) anything but. Indeed, the Chris Quinns of the world understand their own moral ideology as neutral. They genuinely cannot fathom why anyone would oppose their activism or interpret their woke virtue-signaling as a political act. And that’s the root of the problem: Any institution in which 90 percent of people agree with each other is going to function as a propaganda mill, no matter how facially tolerant. You can have the strongest, robustiest FIRE-approved free-speech protections on planet Earth, and it won’t matter if everyone starts on the same page.
There is only one solution: Destroy the system, and let a new one grow in its place. Have two kinds of school for the two Americas: woke ones and non-woke ones. Dispense with the pipe dream of “neutrality.” Kill the teacher’s unions. Get rid of education-degree requirements for teachers. But don’t think that wagging your finger and saying “No divisive concepts!” can save you.Published in