Garland’s memo, issued in October, instructed “the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district,” in order “to facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats.”
The attorney general’s directions were inspired in large part by a letter from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) citing a number of incidents and arguing that some of them verged on domestic terrorism.
Both the incidents themselves and the label have come under significant scrutiny. Sixteen of the 24 examples listed by the NSBA constituted tense verbal altercations, which did not include physical threats. And the remaining examples, if criminal, fall squarely under local and state jurisdiction. One of the instances pointed to by the NSBA was the arrest of Scott Smith, the father of a sexual-assault victim in Loudoun County, Va. None of these, critics say, fall under the category of “domestic terrorism,” or even fit within the Bureau’s purview.
The NSBA has apologized for the letter, having seen significant membership losses as a result of it. Since its release, 17 state school-board associations have left the NSBA and 27 have publicly condemned it.
Adam Lee is a former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Richmond division and national executive for the FBI’s public-corruption and civil-rights programs. He oversaw the FBI’s involvement in the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 and even interviewed with former president Donald Trump to replace James Comey as director of the FBI.
Lee called the memo “pretty rare,” in an interview with National Review, noting that in his long tenure at the Bureau, he only saw a couple of items like it. Of even more concern to Lee was the fact that “the only way that [the memo] is hitting FBI jurisdiction at all is under the rubric of domestic terrorism.” According to Lee, the bureau’s domestic-terrorism program, which is held within its counterrorism division, includes resources and permission structures that he’d be concerned to see brought to bear against Americans.All Our Opinion in Your Inbox
“The counterterrorism division’s incredible capabilities were built to target foreign terrorist organizations under Title 50, which is all the PATRIOT Act enabling statutes. It is a juggernaut and has saved countless American lives,” explained Lee.
But, he added, “it is a scary prospect to turn those capabilities inward on U.S. persons. The Bureau is bound by the constitutional protections which all law enforcement in America is rightly constrained by.”
Lee doesn’t “have concerns that FBI professionals will run out and start violating core constitutional principles,” but he submits that “the worrisome dimension of tagging Americans as domestic terrorists is the scrutiny it brings and the resulting data collection and assessments of the counterterrorism division. Americans should be confident that, absent an existing predicate of criminality, the government has no interest in their personal activities.”
Lee’s concerns were echoed by Bill Corbett, a retired supervisory agent who worked on national security and criminal matters for the Bureau. He told National Review that “it doesn’t seem like, substantively, there’s really anything. I don’t think that anyone’s seen any incidents of actual organized violence for political ends that might fit in that rubric of terrorism.”
Corbett was particularly surprised that even after the NSBA apologized for its letter, Garland declined to back down from his memo and the instructions therein during hearings on Capitol Hill. In rebuffing calls to rescind his memo, Garland claimed it was only partially motivated by the letter and cited unspecified media reports as the other motivator. Corbett emphasized the ways in which the memo might further undermine confidence in the FBI and federal law enforcement more generally, arguing that it constituted a betrayal of trust and an “encroachment into the public square, into First Amendment spaces, and we’re doing it because of safety and security.”
“It turns out that was sort of an empty, politically-loaded claim,” he observed, calling it a “black eye” for Garland’s DOJ that “quickly kind of collapsed in on itself.”
Corbett was, however, encouraged by reporting from the Daily Caller that FBI director Christopher Wray had told a group of former agents that the FBI would stay in its lane and refrain from any behavior that might have a chilling effect on speech about educational policy. The Bureau has, however, created a “threat tag” for data collection on threats against schools and officials, but Lee and Corbett both downplayed them as direct threats to Americans’ civil liberties, describing them as a sorting mechanism.
The downstream effects, however, could be somewhat more pronounced. the tags are “a mechanism just for general bookkeeping, passively,” said Corbett. “But it also has an ability of kind of chilling people because this isn’t the Department of Agriculture here, this is the FBI,” an agency capable of investigating and jailing Americans. As such, Corbett argues that anything, even something seemingly innocuous like creating a threat tag, “has to pass the sniff test.”
Lee concurred, calling the tags themselves a “passive way of compiling data around a threat issue to determine its scope,” but he also acknowledged that “it is fair to call the creation of a tag follow-through and, depending on what the data reveal to FBI analysts, it could foretell further steps for the FBI.”
He also expressed concerns over not just the appearance of political bias, but its consequences on Bureau behavior. “It is essential that FBI leadership remain politically agnostic and actively resist the pressures of political actors within government. The vast majority of my career was spent in field assignments; the special agents I worked alongside for nearly a quarter-century are the most honorable among us,” said Lee.
And yet, he nevertheless observed, “even those street agents with the highest integrity, however, are still working a mission dictated to them by leadership.”
The Democrat is running against Trump while Virginia voters worry about the education of their kids.
When Terry McAuliffe won the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia, he probably expected to defeat Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin without breaking a sweat. McAuliffe is a former Virginia governor with decades of political experience and countless connections. Youngkin began the race with little political experience and less name recognition. Yet McAuliffe clearly is sweating the gubernatorial race, and for good reason. The polls show Youngkin surging to a tie with him and suggest that the Republican is making inroads among crucial voter blocs whose support McAuliffe can’t afford to lose. According to a Monmouth University poll published October 20, for example, Youngkin has gained considerable support among independents and women:
The biggest swing in support from Monmouth’s last poll comes from independent voters, registering a 48% to 39% lead for Youngkin now compared with a 37% to 46% deficit in September. Youngkin has also cut into McAuliffe’s advantage with women voters. The Democrat currently has a narrow edge among women (47% to 43%), down from a sizable 14-point lead last month (52% to 38%).
In addition, Republicans are far more engaged and are widening their enthusiasm advantage:
This metric stood at a 13-point Republican advantage in prior polls — 34% GOP to 21% Democrat in August and 44% to 31% in September. That disparity has grown to a 23-point chasm in the current poll — 49% GOP to 26% Democrat.
These numbers clearly indicate that Youngkin enjoys growing momentum at a point in the race when McAuliffe has little time to turn the tide. Normally, the presence of a recently-elected Democrat in the White House could offer some assistance, but President Biden’s approval numbers are underwater by nearly 10 points according to the RealClearPolitics average. If Biden campaigns for McAuliffe next week it will likely depress Democratic enthusiasm. Nor is it helpful that the only black politician ever elected governor in Virginia, Douglas Wilder, has chastised the McAuliffe campaign for illegally playing an electioneering ad featuring Vice President Harris in black churches. The Washington Examiner reports that Wilder said, “If this is legal, then it’s surprising to me.”
Former president Obama has also cut an ad for McAuliffe in addition to campaigning with him on Saturday. Even if this increases the number of votes McAuliffe receives, it’s unlikely to be enough to offset his politically untenable position on public education. His campaign has failed to overcome the ill will he created among voters by declaring, during the final gubernatorial debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” McAuliffe has attempted to spin his way out of that blunder, but the voters are just not able to unhear that startling assertion. He is now trying to change the subject to … Trump. In a recent interview with WJLA 7News he responded to a question about the proper role of parents in education with a 237-word periphrasis ending thus:
Glenn Youngkin has a Donald Trump Betsey DeVos plan. He has said publicly many times he will take money out of public schools and put them into private. The Washington Post just did an editorial and three independent reviews have been done on Glenn’s plan: 43,000 teachers will be cut in Virginia.
WJLA reporter Nick Minock put this to Youngkin who dismissed it as a sign of desperation:
I believe Terry McAuliffe is doing what you would expect from a 43-year career political operative when he sees the race slipping away is he doesn’t want to run against me. He wants to do anything he can to change this to a race against somebody else. And the reality is that it’s Glenn Youngkin on the ballot.
This description of McAuliffe’s campaign is all too accurate. During one 12-minute CNN interview conducted on October 10, he mentioned former President Trump no fewer than 18 times. This got so awkward that host Dana Bash joked, “I’m glad I have two cups [of coffee] here, so I can keep drinking when you mention Donald Trump’s name.” He rarely makes a speech without calling Glenn Youngkin “a Trump wannabe.” And, when asked about his controversial contention that parents should not tell schools what to teach, he invariably avoids answering the question by reciting the conspiracy theory about Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos. This makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that Youngkin is correct about McAuliffe’s increasing desperation.
Perhaps the most embarrassingly desperate act of the McAuliffe campaign, however, was its ridiculous attempt to smear Youngkin as a sleazy showbiz crook who somehow bilked singer Taylor Swift. The Daily Beast informs us that the McAuliffe campaign actually invested in a series of digital ads on Facebook in which the Democratic gubernatorial candidate asks, “Did you know that Republican candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, helped buy Taylor Swift’s masters out from under her when he was co-CEO of the Carlyle Group?” This blockbuster revelation, in the unlikely event that it is true, presumably sewed up the Taylor Swift constituency. It isn’t clear, however, that this burning issue will be enough to get McAuliffe over the top in the Old Dominion.
In the end, McAuliffe’s last best hope is that the federal bureaucrats who have colonized northern Virginia will vote in large enough numbers to save him. That’s how he won in 2013. In 2021, however, those voters have something in common with Youngkin’s supporters — they are parents who want their children educated rather than indoctrinated. Moreover, many of the school board protests that have made national news occurred in Fairfax and Loudoun counties in northern Virginia. Most of those protests have been against the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools. Glenn Youngkin has pledged to ban the teaching of CRT on his first day in office if elected governor.
A Fox News poll published on October 14 found that a 57 percent of Virginia’s parents believe they should tell schools what to teach, and that only 40 percent of likely voters agree with McAuliffe’s stated position. If these numbers accurately reflect the attitude of the Commonwealth’s voters, particularly as they relate to those residing in the state’s northern counties, it is entirely possible that Virginia is about to send former Gov. McAuliffe and the Democratic Party in general to school.
And the need for a conservative education agenda
A single exchange may decide the Virginia governor’s race. At one point during a September 28 debate, Republican Glenn Youngkin slammed his opponent, former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe, for vetoing a 2017 bill that would have allowed parents to remove their children from courses studying sexually explicit material. McAuliffe shrugged off the criticism. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” he said.
If you live in Virginia, as I do, then you have heard McAuliffe saying those words approximately a gazillion times on television, where they are replayed ad nauseam in one of Youngkin’s most effective attack ads. The former Carlyle Group executive and political newcomer clearly believes that grassroots outrage at the educational system will provide him the winning margin in what is now a tossup election. On the banner of Youngkin’s website is a tab that reads “Parents Matter.” Among the items in his “day one game plan” is a promise to ban instruction in “Critical Race Theory” (CRT). “This is no longer a campaign,” Youngkin recently told a crowd in Winchester, Va., according to the New York Times. “This is a movement. It’s a movement led by parents.”
It sure is. The question is where the movement is going. So far, the revolt over politically correct and anti-American curricula has produced more heat than light. Loudoun County, Va., the epicenter of this latest populist rebellion, has become a stand-in for national polarization and tribalism, as the left-leaning school board engages in bitter fights with well-organized parents. Several states already have banned CRT, including materials based on the New York Times’s “1619 Project,” a factitious revision of U.S. history whose absurd premise is that the American Revolution was fought to protect slavery. Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s politicized Justice Department has promised to investigate threats against school boards and educators. No one seems able to agree on what, exactly, CRT is, but that doesn’t really matter for either side. What matters is the fight.
If it propels Youngkin to Richmond, then, the debate over education may end up looking like a wasted opportunity, a moment for serious thought and policy creativity that was frittered away in exercises of mutual fear, loathing, and contempt. For example: Even if we can agree on a definition of CRT that doesn’t inadvertently include fair-minded social studies in slavery, Jim Crow, and the civil rights movement, expunging this balkanizing and corrosive ideology from schools is just a first step. There is more to be done.
Yet the rest of Youngkin’s education platform is vague. It includes keeping schools open, “Restoring High Expectations & Getting Every Student College or Career Ready,” “Rebuilding Crumbling Schools, Raising Teacher Pay, & Investing in Special Education Programs,” and “Creating at least 20 New Innovation Charter Schools across the K-12 Spectrum to Provide Choice.” In a July speech, Youngkin pledged to retain advanced math courses and reimpose pre-McAuliffe standards.
This smallball is not new. Of the four character-shaping institutions of family, faith, neighborhood, and school, conservatives have had the least to say about education. They lament its sorry state. They say it is not a federal responsibility even though the Department of Education remains standing after both Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich vowed to eliminate it, and no one calls for the repeal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. They rightfully and productively expand homeschooling and school choice, without paying close enough attention to the 90 percent of students who attend some 100,000 K-12 public schools across the country. They somewhat reluctantly went along with George W. Bush’s efforts to impose school standards in the 2000s but did not know where to turn after the collapse of the test-based accountability model of education reform.
Former secretary of education William J. Bennett often speaks of the “three Cs”: choice, content, and character. The Youngkin plan gestures toward choice, issues vague calls for less politicized, more rigorous content, and overlooks character entirely. This final omission is a shame because, in its malign and counterproductive way, CRT or “antiracist” curriculum is itself a form of character education.
Progressives have long treated the public school as the place where children receive the knowledge, traits, and habits necessary for life in a modern democracy. Today, in the worldview of the education establishment—what Bennett calls “the Blob”—that means teaching to the lowest common denominator and avoiding or downplaying assessments under which some students fall short. It means inducing feelings, depending on the student, of shame or self-esteem. It means reducing individuals to physical characteristics, fostering the idea that these characteristics determine most if not all life outcomes, and dividing the world between oppressor and oppressed. Is it any wonder that the institutions premised on such ideas tend to mold individuals with guilt-ridden, suspicious, agonistic, fragile characters who can’t read or write or perform basic math?
Ambitious conservatives have to think bigger. Try improving teacher quality through licensing reform. Charter schools can be excellent, but what about incentivizing learning pods and investing heavily in Career and Technical Education? Last year, my American Enterprise Institute colleague Frederick M. Hess sketched out a fulsome education agenda in the pages of National Affairs. The ideas are there. Someone needs to pick them up.
And soon. In the absence of leadership that provides alternatives to liberal programs, conservatives assume a negative attitude and defensive crouch on issue after issue. Education is no exception. Progressive outrages spawn populist backlashes that may block the most egregious initiatives and embarrass their most radical proponents, but in the end not much changes. Why? Because conservatives are unable to agree on specific and lasting measures to reshape the institutional structure in ways that improve social conditions and restore civil peace. This isn’t conjecture. This is the failure to repeal Obamacare in 2017.
“A populist upsurge always points to very real problems that ought to be on our political agenda,” wrote Irving Kristol in 1972. “But populism itself usually misperceives these problems, and the solutions it proposes are, more often than not, illusory.” It would be a partial and ultimately unsatisfactory outcome if the parental revolt over the high-handedness and lunatic wokism of the educational system exhausts itself, like the Tea Party movement of the 2010s, in a combination of electoral victory and policy defeat. Time for Glenn Youngkin to hit the books.
Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said in 2019 that implementing a “diversity” and “inclusion” curriculum is “just as important as your math class [and] your English class.”
“We’ve got to do a better job in our education system. … Early on, we’ve got to start teaching, talking about these issues, much earlier than we’ve done it before. We don’t do a good job in our education system talking about diversity, inclusion, openness and so forth. We don’t,” McAuliffe said in a 2019 interview on C-SPAN’s “After Words.” “We got our textbooks, but you know there has to be a big part of ‘how do you fit in into the social work of our nation and our fabric?’ How is it that we deal with one another is to me as important as your math class, your English class and so forth.”
McAuliffe joined the show to promote his book “Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism” and demand change to combat the “racism” that he claimed was plaguing the nation.
“Elected officials need to lean in on these issues because racism is prevalent today in this country,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe has repeatedly denied that critical race theory is taught in the state even though, while he was governor from 2014-2018, the Virginia Department of Education explicitly pushed public schools to “embrace critical race theory” and “engage in race-conscious teaching and learning.”
More recently, communications obtained by Judicial Watch indicate that Loudoun County Public Schools made a long, coordinated effort to ensure that critical race theory was institutionalized despite public opposition. In one email, LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler tried to calm concerns from parents about racist teachings by claiming that the “Rumors Concerning LCPS Equity Work” are confusing critical race theory and culturally responsive teaching. When Ziegler tried to distinguish between the two, he merely affirmed that the district was asking “employees to examine their own personal biases and how they might affect student instruction and interactions with the community.”
“Concepts such as white supremacy and systemic racism are discussed during professional development,” he wrote. “LCPS has not adopted Critical Race Theory as a framework for staff to adhere to.”
Former governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill to block sexually explicit books from schools
Independent Women’s Voice, a Virginia conservative women’s advocacy group, created the ad and bought airtime late at night to reveal the existence of the books. They were rebuffed, however, from airing the ad by ABC, CBS, and NBC. The networks said federal law prohibits them from showing pornographic images. But the books, which have pornographic images and descriptions of sex and pedophilia, are still available in school libraries
The battle between parents and public schools over curricula has been a fraught issue in the nation, particularly so in Virginia during the gubernatorial election. Critics have attacked Democratic candidate and former governor Terry McAuliffe for permitting sexually explicit material in schools and calling parents’ concerns over the teaching of critical race theory a “racist dog whistle.”
Parents have expressed outrage at the permissive stance that the state, its school board, and localities have taken on pornographic reading material in schools. In September, a Virginia mom confronted the Fairfax County School Board for allowing pornographic books in school libraries. She read excerpts and showed pictures from the books, one of which showed a fourth-grade boy performing oral sex on a grown man.
The board later removed the books from the school system pending a thorough review. But the books, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, are still available in school catalogs in neighboring counties such as Loudoun County, Arlington County, Alexandria County, and Montgomery County, Md.
McAuliffe in 2016 vetoed a bill that would have prevented students from having to see such sexually explicit material in schools. The so-called Beloved bill, which was named after a parent objected to sexually explicit content in the eponymous novel by Toni Morrison, would have allowed parents to review and opt out of engaging with sexually explicit books that might be shown to their children.
McAuliffe at the time called the bill “unnecessary” and said the matter would be resolved by the Virginia Board of Education. In 2017, however, the state board rejected a similar proposal to allow students to opt out of engaging with sexually explicit reading material.
When asked during a recent gubernatorial debate about vetoing the bill, McAuliffe defended his decision and said parents shouldn’t have the final say about what reading materials are allowed in schools.
“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision,” McAuliffe said. “So, yeah, I stopped the bill. I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Victoria Coley, the vice president of communications at Independent Women’s Voice, called the existence of federally prohibited pornography on school bookshelves “shocking.”
Crazy but true: Critics of the Biden administration's critical race ideology and coronavirus policies have been classified as domestic terror threats.
It is no coincidence that the Department of Justice heeded the National School Boards Association’s call for the Biden administration to target parents critical of critical race theory curricula and dubious coronavirus policies in schools by labeling them domestic terrorists and mobilizing the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The administration’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism mandates just such chilling action.
That little-discussed but hugely significant document codifies a War on Wrongthink, demanding that the full weight of the federal government and private-sector allies like Big Tech be brought to bear against dissenters from Biden regime orthodoxy. Consider “pillar four” of the strategy, titled “Confront Long-Term Contributors to Domestic Terrorism.” It reads in part:
…tackling the threat posed by domestic terrorism over the long term demands substantial efforts to confront the racism that feeds into aspects of that threat. We are, therefore, prioritizing efforts to ensure that every component of the government has a role to play in rooting out racism and advancing equity for under–served communities that have far too often been the targets of discrimination and violence. This approach must apply to our efforts to counter domestic terrorism by addressing underlying racism and bigotry.
On day one of the Biden presidency, the administration issued an executive order lamenting America’s “systemic racism.” In response, it called for the administration to pursue “an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda.”
It also revoked the Trump administration’s executive order barring training of federal employees in “anti-American race … stereotyping and scapegoating” — an implicit reference to critical race theory and related critiques of America. This revocation could be seen as at minimum a tacit endorsement of CRT, as could the Biden administration’s dissolution of the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, a group whose work could be seen as challenging CRT.
A Department of Education proposal in April represented a more direct demonstration of the Biden administration’s pro-CRT position. The rule would have prioritized grants for American history and civics programs that “incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives,” citing as examples The New York Times’ 1619 Project and “anti-racist” par excellence Ibram X. Kendi.
The rule promoted “culturally responsive teaching,” which Ethics and Public Policy Center senior fellow Stanley Kurtz describes as an “ultra-woke and utterly politicized pedagogy derived from Critical Race Theory.” That rule was ultimately shelved amid a massive backlash, but the administration’s position was made clear: It fully supports critical race theory.
It stands to reason that the Biden administration would see support of CRT as consistent with its “equity” agenda, and therefore opposition to CRT as an impediment to it. “Equity” is a concept firmly rooted in the “anti-racism” of the likes of Kendi. Kendi asserts that “Antiracist ideas argue that racist policies are the cause of racial inequities.” CRT is therefore an anti-racist idea. To critical race theorists, then, opposing them is racist.
If, as the Biden administration argues, countering domestic terror, the greatest threat of which comes from white supremacism, requires “addressing underlying racism and bigotry,” as the national strategy says; and opposition to CRT is racist; then targeting CRT critics becomes a national security imperative.
With respect to the Chinese coronavirus, the Biden administration’s purported counter-terror strategy quotes from a March 2021 intelligence community domestic violent extremism (DVE) threat assessment noting that “Newer sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of … conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic … will almost certainly spur some DVEs to try to engage in violence this year.”
That assessment followed a January 2021 national terrorism advisory bulletin noting that in 2020 “domestic violent extremists” were motivated by “anger over COVID-19 restrictions” and that “Threats of violence against critical infrastructure … increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions.”
Subsequently, an August 2021 national terrorism advisory bulletin warned that:
…anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists will remain a national threat priority for the United States. These extremists may seek to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks.
The bulletin cited “continued, non-specific calls for violence on multiple online platforms associated with DVE ideologies or conspiracy theories on…alleged reinstatement, and responses to anticipated restrictions relating to the increasing COVID cases.”
The Biden administration of course supports more restrictive coronavirus measures generally, and has vowed to combat policies barring universal masking in classrooms — the kind of policy parents have protested nationwide. Its purported counterterror strategy notes that “domestic terrorists” “espouse a range of violent ideological motivations,” including not just racism but “anti-government or anti-authority sentiment.”
The Biden administration apparently believes challenges to school boards on its favored coronavirus policies reflect such anti-government or anti-authority sentiment, as the DOJ memorandum responding to the NSBA argues that it is compelled to act given “Threats against public servants.” The NSBA notes that “groups” are “spreading misinformation that [school] boards are … working to maintain online learning by haphazardly attributing it to COVID-19.”
The Biden strategy calls for “enhancing faith in government and addressing the extreme polarization, fueled by a crisis of disinformation and misinformation … which can tear Americans apart and lead some to violence … Enhancing faith in American democracy demands accelerating work to contend with an information environment that challenges healthy democratic discourse. We will work toward finding ways to counter the influence and impact of dangerous conspiracy theories that can provide a gateway to terrorist violence.”
Seeking to frighten parents into silence by threatening to sic our nation’s most powerful law enforcement bodies on them for challenging critical race theory, or coronavirus policies, would seem to be perfectly consistent with the Biden administration’s “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism.”
Its reach is virtually limitless if dissent from the regime’s agenda constitutes a danger to “democracy.” At minimum, it should be clear that critics of the regime’s CRT ideology, and coronavirus policies, have been classified as threats.
The irony here, in the case of school boards, is that to justify its call for federal protection, the NSBA cites all of two instances where individuals were arrested at school board meetings for their behavior. Those two arrests concerned disgruntled parents at board meetings, one of whom allegedly struck a school official escorting him from the premises, and another of whom reportedly physically threatened someone and resisted arrest.
These acts are unacceptable, and anyone who breaks laws ought to be prosecuted accordingly. But is this the stuff of domestic terrorism?
Otherwise, the NSBA largely substantiates its concerns by flagging a series of disrupted school board meetings, some ending in the face of “angry mobs”; a report of menacing social media posts threatening several schools without any readily discernible connection to school boards and their positions on CRT or Chinese coronavirus policies; and another report that “A resident in Alabama, who proclaimed himself as “vaccine police,” has called school administrators while filming himself on Facebook Live.”
It appears the NSBA actually got this story wrong. “Vaccine police,” according to the link it includes, was “confronting pharmacists in a Missouri Walmart.”
Once again, is this the stuff of domestic terrorism? Is the threat so dire that it demands, as the NSBA called for, the intervention of no less than: the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center, and U.S. Postal Service, under laws including the Gun-Free School Zones Act, PATRIOT Act, Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, Conspiracy Against Rights statute, an executive order to enforce all applicable federal laws for the protection of students and public school district personnel, and any related measure?
So far, the Biden administration has only enlisted a subset of these agencies, but perhaps more is to come. One thing is clear: The Biden administration’s War on Wrongthink, masquerading as a domestic counterterrorism mission, will inflict infinitely more terror on America than will loving and impassioned parents concerned about the education and health of their children in the taxpayer-funded schools.
The nation’s colleges and universities market themselves to prospective attendees and their families as places where academics and inquiry combine to produce well-rounded students capable of advanced thinking and prepared for the world of tomorrow. The reality, a recently published database of campus incidents shows, is quite different.
The College Fix, a website sponsored by the Student Free Press Association that provides student journalists with the opportunity to expose the insanities and inanities that occurred regularly in contemporary higher education recently compiled a database of incidents showing the so-called “cancel culture” to be alive, well, and growing throughout American institutions of higher learning.
The organization’s work, it says, is the first real attempt to quantify the problem. According to The Fix, the intolerant, politically correct crowd who are both socially prominent and academic decision-makers on so many campuses can claim, at minimum, to have taken “650 scalps” over the past ten years.
Among the outrages large and small identified in the database are:
–A move by the University of Pennsylvania to rename its Alice Paul Center – named for a suffragette who was instrumental in securing the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote – as the “Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies” to signal a “commitment” to LGBTQ “intellectual and political movements.”
–A public apology delivered in 2021 by the president of Muhlenberg College – a private college well known for its theater arts department – for a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” put on in 2010 followed by the deletion of all the photos of the performance from the school’s website.
–The expulsion from the University of Louisville (KY) School of Medicine of fourth-year student Austin Clark, allegedly over his expression of pro-life beliefs school officials labeled unprofessional.
–The dismissal of Hannah Berliner Fischthal, an adjunct instructor at St. John’s University in Queens, NY after she read a passage containing the N-word from Twain’s anti-slavery novel “Pudd’nhead Wilson” in her “Literature of Satire” class – but not before first explaining the context of the word and saying she hoped it would not offend anyone.
“What we have witnessed over the last decade is nothing short of a new Red Guard enforcing its cultural revolution on American college campuses,” said Jennifer Kabbany, editor of The College Fix. “This database stands athwart the campaign to condemn, erase and rewrite our shared history.”
The number of incidents cited in the database amount to roughly one per week for every week for ten years. The College Fix said updates would be made regularly as part of an ongoing effort “to document every example of targeting and suppression in an age of censorship, memory-holing, and soft totalitarianism.” What has been uncovered so far, the group said, is likely just the tip of a very large iceberg “but there are likely more examples out there, and much more to come.”
In the late spring, as coronavirus cases in the U.S. were trending way down and vaccination rates were trending up, Dr. Lucy McBride and three of her colleagues authored an optimistic Washington Post op-ed with a clear and straightforward message: “It’s time for children to finally get back to normal life.”
The risk to children was too low to justify burdensome restrictions over the summer. And when school begins, kids should return “without masks and regardless of their vaccination status,” the four doctors wrote. “Even small steps toward normality can have a large impact on a child.”
After more than a year of confusion, fear, death, school closures, and mask mandates, here, finally, was a group of respected doctors, writing in one of the nation’s most respected newspapers, that the time had come for kids to get back to just being kids, no masks required.
Fast-forward three months: The highly contagious Delta variant is surging, particularly in hot Southern states and in states with low vaccination rates. Intensive-care units are overflowing, and COVID-19-associated hospitalizations of kids and teenagers are at an all-time high. Virus-related deaths are rising again.
And with the change in conditions, McBride’s messaging has changed along with it.
“Right now, with Delta running roughshod through the country, I think it’s appropriate for unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas where transmission is high,” McBride, a Harvard-trained physician and practicing Washington, D.C., internist, told National Review. “I would want to mask my unvaccinated child in a state like Mississippi or Florida at this moment.”
This latest coronavirus surge began in the weeks before schools reopened in many states, leading to statehouse fights and heated school-board debates over mask mandates and parental freedom.
In Florida, the school boards in at least five counties have voted to defy governor Ron DeSantis’s order, which empowers parents to decide if they want their kids to be masked in school. In Hillsborough County, more than 10,000 students and 300 school staff members were quarantined last week. Earlier in the month, before classes resumed, three unvaccinated Broward County teachers died in a 24-hour span. DeSantis has questioned the effectiveness of mask mandates in schools, saying, “There’s not much science behind it.”
In Mississippi, 13-year-old Mkayla Robinson died of coronavirus complications in mid-August after attending eighth grade for a week at a school where masks weren’t required. It’s unclear if the teen contracted the virus at school. Her mother told a local TV station that Mkayla was a healthy kid with no pre-existing illnesses. Mkayla’s death came on the heels of 16-year-old Jenna Lyn Jeansonne’s death in the state in late July.
Some Mississippi schools already have reverted to virtual learning because of COVID outbreaks. Only 36 percent of eligible Mississippians are vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the country.
The Delta surge has left parents confused, and it has scrambled the way many of them are thinking about how they should protect their families.
The Delta surge also has led to a renewed debate in the medical community about just how effective a COVID-19 mitigation effort masks really are for kids, with some doctors saying there isn’t enough science to back universal mandates in schools, and arguing that for some kids the masks may do more harm than good. Other medical professionals argue that the protection that masks provide — however small — far outweighs their downsides.
“People have very strongly held opinions on masks and children with very little information,” Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told National Review. The effectiveness of masks on children has been woefully understudied, so most of what we know about the benefits for kids is extrapolated from adults, Makary said.
In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for schools, recommending that all adults and children wear makes indoors. The CDC reports that multi-layered cloth masks can block up to 80 percent of respiratory droplets. A recent Duke University study found that widespread mask use in schools can effectively prevent COVID transmission.
But a New York Times Magazine article published on Friday noted that a groundbreaking CDC study published in May found no statistically significant benefit from requiring students to wear masks. The Times article also criticized the Duke study for not using a comparison group of unmasked students, making it impossible to isolate the effects of masks. A National Institutes of Health review last year found that cloth masks have limited efficacy in preventing viral infections, depending on the materials used, the number of layers, and how the mask fits.
Many European countries, including the U.K., France, Switzerland, and all of Scandinavia, have exempted children from wearing masks in classrooms, with no evidence of more outbreaks in those schools compared with U.S. schools where masks were required last year, the Times reports.
Makary recently co-authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed that ran under the headline “The Case Against Masks for Children.” But Makary said the headline is not exactly representative of his position. He is not an opponent of masks for children generally. He’s been an advocate of most people wearing masks since the beginning of the pandemic. As a surgeon, he wears a mask.All Our Opinion in Your Inbox
“Masks reduce transmission, and I believe even the very flimsy, low-value cloth masks do something for kids,” he said. “I would say that wearing them in an area of an active outbreak is a good idea, even though the benefit may be minimal.”
But children are not homogenous. Some live with adults who are vaccinated, some don’t. Some live in communities where major outbreaks are occurring, some don’t.
Makary’s concern is for kids who legitimately struggle with masks: kids with physical and cognitive disabilities, kids with myopia whose glasses get fogged when they’re masked, kids with severe acne, kids with anxiety and depression from wearing masks, kids with hearing impairments or issues with phonetic development. He worries that covering the faces of children, particularly young kids and children with disabilities, could lead to developmental delays.
In some cases, the risk-to-benefit ratio falls on the side of a child not wearing a mask, he said.
In terms of effective mitigation measures to protect kids from the virus, masks are pretty far down on the list, behind vaccinating adults and teens, ventilation, social distancing, podding kids in school, and hygiene, Makary said.
“So, we have had this massive culture war over maybe what’s the sixth mitigation step, which has a small impact if any, and has not been formally studied,” he said.
Most kids who contract COVID-19 manifest with mild symptoms, and often no symptoms at all. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been fewer than 500 deaths involving children under 18, out of more than 600,000 total deaths nationwide, according to CDC data. For the week of July 31, the rate of hospitalization with COVID of children five to 17 was 0.5 per 100,000, according to the Wall Street Journal. A study of children and young people in England found kids generally have a lower risk of death or serious outcome from COVID than even vaccinated 30-year-olds. But children are making up a growing share of serious COVID cases now.
“A percentage of a larger number is a larger number,” said Dr. Charlotte Hobbs, a pediatric disease specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and an advocate for universal masking in schools. There are concerns for kids besides just death from COVID, she said.
As of July 30, the CDC reported that more than 4,400 children in the U.S. have contracted post-COVID Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, a potentially lethal condition that causes parts of the body — including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, and eyes — to become inflamed. And Hobbs noted the long-term effects of COVID still are not well understood, though a large British study published this month found that only about 4.4 percent of infected kids had symptoms for longer than 28 days, with the most common symptoms being fatigue, headaches, and loss of smell. Less than 2 percent had any symptoms after 56 days.
Because kids under 12 aren’t eligible for a vaccine, adults need to do everything they can to protect them, including getting vaccinated and supporting masks in schools, she said.
Some people who got vaccinated earlier in the year and thought they could put away their masks for good are having second thoughts amid the Delta-variant surge.
Jeff Navarro, 68, who has twin 16-year-old sons in high school in Amory, Miss., was looking forward to life without masks, after he, his wife, and his kids all got vaccinated. But as an older parent, Delta has him worried, and he supports the mask mandate his school district imposed.
“I’ve learned at 68 years old that no one is bulletproof,” he said. “I take it seriously. I follow the science. I certainly do not understand it enough to dispute it; therefore, I have to accept it.”
Sean Kruer, a father of two young children in Huntsville, Ala., has been a strong supporter of a school mask mandate in his community. He and his wife had serious discussions about pulling their kids out of school if there was no masking requirement.
“From a public-health policy perspective, universal mask mandates absolutely make sense,” Kruer said. “So, as much as I understand that it would be nice if things had continued the way that it looked like they might in May, that’s not the reality. And continuing as if it were and being petulant about it isn’t helping anybody.”
Melissa Bernhardt, the mother of a high-school student and an elementary-school student in Jacksonville, Fla., said she questions the science around masks. She’s not against people wearing masks, she said, but she doesn’t believe they should be forced on all kids.
She described one of her sons as particularly high energy, but she said he became lethargic and fatigued during school last year. She believes it’s because he had to wear a mask.
Bernhardt’s kids attend private school because she thought they wouldn’t impose a mask requirement. But, she said, she was wrong.
“The private schools really disappointed me,” she said. “They have committees with doctors, and all the doctors that are on the committees are not only pro-mask, they’re pro-vaccine.”
Bernhardt declined to discuss her vaccination status, but she said she feels protected because she contracted COVID early in the pandemic and has antibodies.
Hobbs said that even though kids don’t frequently get as sick from COVID as adults, “they can and they do, and we’ve had kids who have died. . . . Any pediatric death in my mind is one too many, especially when we know that this is preventable. We have a vaccine for those who are eligible, and we know that masking works.”
McBride, the D.C. internist, said parents need to know that there is an off-ramp down the road. She believes the CDC and other public-health agencies need to offer clear metrics about when schools can start rolling back mitigation efforts, including mask mandates.
“After all, COVID-19 isn’t going away. It’s going to be an endemic virus, and we know that there are enormous downsides (of pandemic restrictions, particularly) for kids,” she said. “We can’t mask indefinitely, nor should we.”
Hobbs said it’s too soon to say when that off-ramp will arrive. No one predicted the emergence of the hyper-transmissible Delta variant six months ago, and no one knows what variants will emerge in the future amid a backdrop of unvaccinated populations. Only 51 percent of Americans of all ages are fully vaccinated, including people not eligible for the vaccine.
“Until we basically have all of those eligible to get vaccinated vaccinated, it is most likely that we will not see the end of this anytime soon,” she said. “In the absence of people getting vaccinated and doing what they can to mitigate the spread of the virus, which itself will lead to continued emergence of new variants, then I don’t know what the end of this road will be.”
Parents are entitled to worry about the virus, McBride said. “It’s how we survive,” she said. “But we also have to acknowledge that worry can take on a life of its own and cause its own problems. I think it’s a very hard time for everyone.”
Now more than ever, she said, it’s important for people to have a trusted pediatrician or family doctor to help them take public-health advice and make nuanced personal health decisions.
“There’s no way the CDC can possibly speak to every individual,” she said.
The mask debate, she said, has become divisive and political. McBride agrees with Hobbs and Makary that the most important thing adults can do at the moment to protect kids is to trust the science, listen to their doctors, and get vaccinated.
“What we really need to be doing,” McBride said, “is getting dose one into people who are unvaccinated.”
Over the last year, teachers and administrators nationwide have weaponized K-12 education, injecting progressive politics into classrooms, and indoctrinating students with novel social justice dogma, including theories that call for racialized curriculums and reverse discrimination to achieve racial equity.
Mainstream media outlets and left-wing commentators have accused conservatives of demonizingcritical race theory, and turning an obscure academic theory into a rightwing “bogeyman.” But there sure are a lot of examples of it turning up in schools across the country, from big city Democratic strongholds to suburban districts in red America. The following are summaries of just a small number of the fights that have erupted in the last year.
Princeton Offering ‘#Black Lives Matter’ Class Taught By CRT Advocate
Princeton University is offering a “#BlackLivesMatter” course this fall, where students can learn about the “historical roots and growth” of the “social movement” from a professor with a “commitment” to critical race theory.
The class, first reported by The College Fix, includes readings from former Black Panther member Angela Davis, a two-time vice-presidential candidate of the Communist Party who once made the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
The course description says the class “seeks to document the forms of dispossession that Black Americans face, and offers a critical examination of the prison industrial complex, police brutality, urban poverty, and white supremacy in the US.”
It says the Black Lives Matter movement and the course are “committed to resisting, unveiling, and undoing histories of state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown bodies.”
The course will be taught by professor Hanna Garth, who has described herself as a person who is “broadly interested in the ways in which people struggle to overcome structural violence.”
“All of my research, teaching, and mentoring is designed around my commitment to feminist methodologies and critical race theory,” Garth writes on her personal website.
She has previously taught courses including “Race and Racisms,” “Postcolonial and Decolonial Theory,” and “Theories of Social Justice.”
Fairfax County Schools Sent Second Graders a Video Vilifying Police: ‘I Feel Safe When There Are No Police’
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) sent second-graders a “summer learning guide” in July which included a Youtube video titled “Woke Kindergarten” that vilified the police.
Centered around the importance of “feeling safe,” the video, which was obtained by Parents Defending Education, presents a slideshow of photos featuring groups of young African Americans, some of whom are holding Black Lives Matter signs.
“We deserve to feel safe in our homes… I feel safe when there are no police. And it’s no one’s job to tell me how I feel. But it’s everyone’s job to make sure that people who are being treated unfairly……feel safe too,” a narrator says.
The “suggested texts” section of the summer learning guide also recommends students listen to “Good Trouble by Ki,” which instructs students on the merits of civil disobedience.
The narrator of another video, intended for seven-year-olds, tells students, “sometimes it’s good to get into trouble.” The video also presents a sequence of photos depicting social justice demonstrations, some from the modern day and some taken during the Civil Rights movement of the mid-twentieth century.
In a reference to Representative John Lewis’ 2020 speech in Selma, Alabama commemorating Bloody Sunday, the video adds, “John Lewis was a freedom fighter who got in a lot of good trouble.”
“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America,” Lewis declared at the 2020 event.
Over the last year, the Fairfax school system has become a notorious hotbed for many of the progressive developments taking root in public K-12 education across the country. Teachers have been instructed to use students preferred pronouns and an aggressive form of diversity, equity, and inclusion curricula has taken hold. Teachers in the district have also resisted efforts to return to in-person learning.
On the radicalized curriculum front, prominent journalist Asra Nomani criticized the district’s decision to change a rule guiding how contentious topics are discussed in the classroom.
The district leaders announced they would be “revising the existing Controversial Issues Policy and developing a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy.”
Nomani told National Review that she believes the curriculum revision is laying the foundation for progressive activists to impose “anti-racist” indoctrination and critical race theory on students.
Teachers’ Union Sues Rhode Island Mother for Over-Requesting Public Records on CRT in School District
Nicole Solas, a mother of a kindergartner in South Kingston, R.I., was sued by a powerful teachers’ union earlier this week after she requested documents surrounding the teaching of Critical Race Theory and related concepts at her daughter’s public school.
After hearing reports that teachers refused to address students as “boys” and “girls,” Solas grew concerned that progressive indoctrination was infiltrating her child’s classroom.
Denied both a tour of the elementary school and an un-redacted copy of its curriculum, Solas identified an avenue to inquire directly about the district’s social justice agenda without incurring the exorbitant cost many parents confront just to gain access to information about their children’s schooling.
In July, The Goldwater Institute filed a public records request on Solas behalf, resulting in her receiving a $74,000 bill to fulfill it, according to The Goldwater Institute.
To avoid paying thousands of dollars, Solas submitted over 160 specific public records requests, narrowing the scope to six months and requesting digital rather than hard copies, to investigate the school district’s plans to introduce critical race theory and other equity and inclusion initiatives, GoLocalProv reported.
Among the records Solas requested were documents pertaining to the influence of the AFL-CIO and NEA unions and teacher discipline and performance, as well as emails sent by various district administrators over the last six months, according to the lawsuit.
To justify the legality of filing so many records requests at once, Solas cited a provision in the state Access to Public Records Act (APRA) law, which holds that “[M]ultiple requests from any person or entity to the same public body within a thirty (30) day time period shall be considered one request,” according to her own account.
But the local branch of the National Education Association, the largest teachers’ union in the country, sued Solas alleging that she unfairly inundated the district with solicitations for documents, some of which are obscure items that do not constitute public records.
The lawsuit’s declaratory judgement reads, “The APRA system is not an alternative to the civil discovery process and is not to be used for abusive purposes or a fishing expedition – it was not intended to ’empower the press and the public with carte blanche to demand all records held by public agencies.”
The South Kingston School Committee subsequently hosted a public meeting, listing “filing lawsuit against Nicole Solas to challenge filing of over 160 APRA requests” as a major agenda item. Solas contended that such a meeting was designed to pressure her to prove the case for her requests or threaten her with litigation, in violation of the APRA law, which prohibits a government body from compelling a citizen to explain requests for public records.
Represented by a legal team from The Goldwater Institute, Solas intends to fight the NEA’s challenge in court to defend parents’ right and entitlement to obtain knowledge about their kids’ education and school system.
Two Moms Fought against Left-Wing Indoctrination. Their Kids Paid the Price
Two moms decided to push back when their kids’ elite private school, the Columbus Academy, sent home a “Justice in June” email announcing a series of new diversity and equity initiatives.
The email included a list of daily activities that read like a progressive wish list. Read about white privilege, the 1619 Project, and the case for reparations? Check. Donate money to progressive organizations such as Black Lives Matter and the Southern Poverty Law Center? Check. Advocate to reallocate city budgets by defunding the police? Check.
When the moms, Andrea Gross and Amy Gonzalez, began organizing fellow concerned parents and publicly criticizing the school’s new progressive orientation, it was their kids who paid the price; they were expelled.
Teachers, CRT Advocate Plotted to Keep Parents in the Dark About Social Justice Efforts
The curriculum-writing team in a suburban St. Louis school district plotted with a critical race theorist on how to keep parents “in the middle of Trump country” in the dark about their efforts to inject leftwing social justice advocacy into their classes.
During a webinar with members of the Francis Howell School District curriculum-writing team, the district’s equity consultant, LaGarrett J. King, told the group that “our social studies and our history curriculum is political and racist,” and “there is no such thing as neutral history.” He said the way history is taught is psychologically violent to black people, and the nations’ founding “means nothing to black people.” He asked the team members to question whether they are developing black history curriculums through the historical lens of “the oppressor.”
Teachers on the call asked King how they could reframe their classes to teach social justice concepts “in a highly conservative county … in the middle of Trump country.” King suggested they could drop controversial terms like “white privilege” while still getting the progressive message across to students. One white teacher on the call acknowledged that “Kids are way more open” to social justice teaching, “but then they go home and they tell their parents, and then their parents get upset.”
How Critical Race Theory Is Remaking a Connecticut School District
In the overwhelmingly white and moneyed town of Guildford, Connecticut, progressive parents and teachers have formed the Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Alliance(ABAR). The group intends to make “anti-racists” of each and every child who passes through the school district. ABAR says on its website, “In diving into this, you’ll find that the first critical step to raising anti-racist kids is to understand our own biases and identities, to ‘do the work’….We realize that as a predominantly white, cis-gendered community we are shaped by our privilege and limited ability to fully understand the impact of bias and racism.”
The group enjoys a powerful ally, Superintendent Paul Freeman. With him in charge, curriculum alteration is underway. At a recent social justice meeting he praised the formation and aims of ABAR, calling them “one of the brightest spots in the school year.” Freeman has a history of re-education pushes. In 2019 he had teachers create a “racial autobiography,” an accounting of the racial makeup of one’s life experiences, to illustrate the whiteness of their backgrounds. He then distributed copies of White Fragility and How to be an Anti-Racist to every teacher in the district using $6,000 taxpayer dollars to pay for the books.
Resistance to these “anti-racist” efforts is in its infancy, led by a fast-growing parent group called Truth in Education(TIE). TIE is now wrestling with the school district about having a public debate about critical race theory. The district denies they teach critical race theory in their schools and has rebuffed the debate requests.
How Southlake, Texas, Won Its Battle against Critical Race Theory
In Southlake, Texas, CRT activists and a conciliatory school board attempted to take over the Carroll School District curriculum via a hushed mid-summer vote. Southlake, an affluent Republican-voting suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth, was seventy-two hours from an “anti-racist” coup that would have meant a dramatic leftward shift for the district. The District Diversity Council crafted the proposal, called the Cultural Competence Action Plan(CCAP), to create an “anti-racist” culture in the district, replete with micro-aggression guidance and speech-policing policies.
Concerned parents flooded into the board meeting and delayed the vote on the proposed bill, allowing an anti-CRT coalition to form in the following weeks and secure seats on the school board. With historic turnout, there is confidence that the next election will raise their hold on the district 5-2, a bulwark against another attempt to pass the proposal. To many outside observers, this was the first resounding defeat of a CRT effort and can provide a playbook for parents elsewhere.
Head of Elite NYC Private School: ‘We’re Demonizing White People for Being Born’
The head of an elite New York City prep school privately acknowledged that the school’s anti-racism training is “demonizing white people for being born,” according to leaked audio from a conversation he had with an embattled teacher in March.
George Davison, the head of Grace Church School in Manhattan, told math teacher Paul Rossi that the school uses language that makes white students “feel less than, for nothing that they are personally responsible for,” and that “one of the things that’s going on a little too much” is the “attempt to link anybody who’s white to the perpetuation of white supremacy.”
“I also have grave doubts about some of the doctrinaire stuff that gets spouted at us, in the name of anti-racism,” Davison told Rossi, according to the recordings.
Rossi was relieved of his duties at Grace for calling out the school for its antiracist orthodoxy. During their conversation, Davison said he agreed with Rossi that “there has been a demonization that we need to get our hands around.”
Maryland Middle-Schoolers Taught that MAGA is White Supremacy
Thomas Pyle Middle School students in Montgomery County, Maryland, were taught that former-President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” is an example of “covert white supremacy,” ranking only slightly less troubling than racial slurs, hate crimes and lynching, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.
Other examples of alleged white supremacy include: the belief that “we’re just one human family,” the one-time American ideal of colorblindness, celebrating Columbus Day, and the belief that through initiative and drive people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps to improve their lives, also known as “bootstrap theory.”
Students in the school’s social justice class were taught that white privilege means being favored by school authorities, having a positive relationship with police, “soaking in media blatantly biased toward my race,” and “living ignorant of the dire state of racism today.”
Montogomery County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, recently spent over $454,000 for an “anti-racist system audit,” according to Judicial Watch.
Wealthy Washington D.C. Suburb is Ground Zero in Nation’s Culture Wars
In Loudoun County, Virginia parents fighting to reopen schools during the coronavirus pandemic joined forces with parents pushing back against leftwing political indoctrination, making the wealthy Washington D.C. suburb ground zero in the nation’s culture wars.
In early 2021, several video clips from the district’s school board meetings went viral.
There have been heated debates over the Loudoun County School District’s efforts to root out “white supremacy” and “systemic racism,” which many parents see as a blatant attempt to inject critical race theory into the schools. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, parents learned that the school district paid at least $422,000 to the Equity Collaborative, a CRT-espousing California-based consulting firm, to conduct a “systemic equity assessment.” In March, the district de-emphasized Dr. Seuss on Read Across America Day – held on Dr. Seuss’s birthday – because of “strong racial undertones” in many of his books. The district also has partnered with the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center to develop a social justice-inspired curriculum for kids as young as kindergarten.
The cultural battles in Loudoun County are broader than just fights over CRT. In May, a Christian elementary school teacher was suspended after he voiced opposition to a proposed district rule that would require faculty to acknowledge and address students by their preferred gender-identity pronouns. A judge later ordered that he be reinstated.
Maine School Committee Claims Society is ‘Built on White Supremacy’
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police last June, the equity committee in a far-away school district in Maine released a stunning letter. It was time, the committee members declared, to “dismantle the anti-Blackness all of us have internalized by living in a society built on white supremacy.”
The committee members wanted the entire Cumberland and North Yarmouth community to know that they were ready to make changes to the majority-white school district. “It is our duty,” they wrote, “to educate ourselves and dismantle the violent and oppressive structures which have kept us divided.” Black people “experience violence every single day because of our white supremacist society,” they added, and the community’s students needed to be taught that “Black Lives Matter.”
The school district has since paid over $12,000 for diversity and equity training from Community Change Inc., a non-profit that advocates to “end capitalism” and to “look at other economic models … such as socialism and anarchism.”
San Diego Teachers Taught They ‘Spirit Murder’ Black Students
White teachers in San Diego were taught during a training session last year that they are guilty of committing “spirit murder” against their black students.
In September, the San Diego Unified School District, hosted critical race theorist Bettina Love for a presentation on “Abolitionist Teaching.” The presentation centered around Love’s book, We Want To Do More Than Survive, and addressed the concept of “spirit murder,” which Love has described as “a death that is built on racism and intended to reduce, humiliate, and destroy people of color.”
The training was led by then-superintendent Cindy Marten, who has since been tapped by President Joe Biden to serve as his deputy secretary of education. Marten urged people attending the training to “recognize our privilege and bias.”
Kentucky Social Equity Course Didn’t Pass Neutrality Test
Concerned parents in a suburban Kentucky community organized in early 2021 to put the kibosh on a proposed social-equity course designed to teach about “the intersection of gender, race, class, and sexuality,” and to help students “create an action plan for future social change.”
A syllabus for the course at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., identified two “required textbooks” – Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility – which students would be asked to buy, with the hope that “these books will stay with you as a reminder of the work that we (society) need to do.”
In his book, Kendi argues in favor of race-based discrimination to achieve racial equity. DiAngelo suggests that white people should be viewed as a racist collective socialized to “fundamentally hate black people.” One of the teachers who helped develop the course has identified herself as a “dumb white girl with white privilege.”
The course was tabled because a school leader said it created “unnecessary division,” and did not pass the neutrality test.
Rhode Island Teacher Urges Students to Testify About Legislation She Opposes
A Barrington High School teacher in Rhode Island is accused of promoting political activism in her class after she emailed students this spring, mischaracterizing an anti-critical-race-theory bill in the legislature and urging students to testify about it with a promise of extra credit.
The teacher sent the email in late March, telling her students that bill H6070 – one of many bills in statehouses across the country aimed at stopping schools from preaching CRT-related concepts – would prohibit any discussion of race or gender in the classroom. In reality, the bill would only have barred things like teaching that any race or sex was inherently superior or that any individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive – “whether consciously or unconsciously” – based only on their race or sex.
“I strongly urge you to testify on this bill tomorrow,” the teacher wrote to her students, after clearly stating her own opposition to the legislation. “As always, if you are a student in my class, you will receive 5 points on your next unit test if you decide to testify and provide me with your written testimony.”
Virginia School District Revising How Controversial Topics Addressed
In an effort to realize their “vision of educational equity,” school leaders in one Washington D.C. suburb are revising a policy that requires controversial topics be addressed impartially, objectively, and from multiple perspectives.
The effort in Fairfax, Virginia, is part of the school district’s plan to develop a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy. To develop its plan, the district has partnered with The Leadership Academy, a New York-based consulting firm that promotes “equity-focused leadership development” and “anti-racism.”
The district also has done away with testing requirements for admission to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, one of the nation’s most prestigious public schools, because it was not diverse enough. More than 70 percent of the school’s students in the 2019-20 school year were Asian. The school board is facing at least two lawsuits alleging anti-Asian discrimination.
Massachusetts Students, School Staff Encouraged to Report Microaggressions
Leaders of the Wellesley Public Schools system in Massachusetts are encouraging students and staff members to snitch on one another for telling rude jokes and committing microaggressions.
Students and staff are encouraged to report incidents of discrimination “or any concerning pattern of biased behavior” to any district staff member or trusted adult, according to documents from the district’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Reports can be made anonymously.
According to training slides, “Telling rude jokes that mock a protected group” is an example of a “bias-based incident.” Examples of microaggressions include saying “My principal is so crazy!” asking someone “Where are you actually from?” or saying “Ohhh, you got the ‘China Virus’?!?!”
Potential discipline includes detention, suspension or “other restorative responses.”
The professional conservative movement should be moving massive amounts of money to support parents' efforts and harden them as a target of this leftist onslaught.
By Joy Pullman•
For the first time in ages, the political right has had a massive boon dropped right into its lap. Democrats are shaking in their boots over the political implications of their institutional support for the state-sponsored racism known as critical race theory.
Their initial attempts to Jedi mind trick away people’s concern by insisting CRT isn’t real failed, and even Nancy Pelosi mouthpiece Politico is reporting how CRT in schools is deeply offending the independent and Democrat voters crucial to the Democrat Party’s competing grievance groups.
So what is the institutional right doing to capitalize on this amazing opportunity? A few states are banning it from classrooms — amid the usual friendly fire butt-covering for do-nothing Republican politicians — while Democrats prepare for total war to maintain their control of the national child-indoctrination apparatus known as public schooling.
If the conservative movement and Republican Party were serious like the left is serious, here’s what it would be doing to use the CRT uproar for tactical advantage instead of maxing out their energies on chest-thumping panel discussions and TV appearances while parents with kids and full-time jobs try to do all the groundwork without air cover.
The nation’s largest teachers union announced it’s filled a $5 million war chest to provide legal defenses for any teachers caught pushing CRT. The Biden administration has nominated to a key U.S. Department of Education legal post a leftist extremist who previously wielded federal power to institute racist policies that forced schools to discipline children according to their skin color instead of their actions: “Under her leadership, civil rights investigations became tools of harassment to coerce changes in school policies.”
These institutions are going to use the might of the federal government, an army of lawyers, and the nation’s largest teachers union to defend their territory. Who is helping parents go on the offensive against state-sponsored racism?
One-man journalist army Chris Rufo is recruiting lawyer volunteers via Twitter. That’s great, but he shouldn’t have to do this himself. The professional conservative movement should be moving massive amounts of money to support parents’ efforts and harden them as a target of this leftist legal onslaught. Stop platforming leftist propaganda outlets and start hiring effective marketing strategists, investigative journalists, and scads of lawyers.
Max Eden points out in City Journal that when racial extremist Catherine Lhamon underwent confirmation hearings as Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of USDOE’s Office of Civil Rights: “Republican senators… did not challenge Lhamon on her record on school discipline. Nor did they ask any questions on the issue at the forefront of so many voters’ minds: critical race theory.”
Later, one senator, Ranking Member Richard Burr, sent Lhamon written questions about racial extremism and Llamon dodged, claiming she could not answer any “hypothetical” questions. Eden notes:
While Burr deserves credit for forcing Lhamon to make her ambivalence about racial discrimination a matter of public record, it is a shame that no Senator was willing to ask her any of these questions directly during her hearing. The American people deserved to witness her reluctance to condemn racial discrimination. The exchange could have made national news and framed Lhamon’s nomination as what it likely is: a referendum on whether or not the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights should permit anti-white racial discrimination.
Republican senators are not elected by the people of their states to rubberstamp racial extremism. The least we ought to be able to expect them to do is probe and bring out nominees’ unfitness for office, then vote against those nominees as a consequence. Explaining that vote to constituents should be a no-brainer. Get better, Republicans. Kids being recruited by racists are counting on you.
It should also be a complete no-brainer to make effective opposition to critical race theory a litmus test for public office, including appointments and judges. Not just saying “I oppose CRT,” but displaying an effective track record of opposing it or things like it, or presenting a specific plan about how the candidate proposes to combat it with the power he wants voters to grant him.
We’re talking about an ideology that pushes eight-year-olds to rank themselves and their classmates according to their racial and sexual (?!) “privilege,” demonizes people according to their skin color, says babies can be racists, and encourages leading children in chants to an Aztec god. Opposing CRT should be like taking candy from a baby. If a candidate can’t or won’t do it, he’s worthless and better disposed of.
How does one dispose of weak public officials who won’t stop taxpayer dollars from funding racists? Pressure. The Republican Party and all its various local branches should make CRT opposition a requirement for getting their campaign dollars and other assistance.
If primary season is coming up, primary them. If it’s not, run ads pressuring them. Send journalists to look into the public money and institutions politicians oversee and whether it’s funding CRT, and ask them to comment on why this is allowed. Get allies to go on TV and ask why Politician A who oversees the education committee wouldn’t comment about evidence of tax dollars funding racism. This is politics 101, people. Lefties do this in their sleep.
Richard Hanania pointed out earlier this year that, months into the CRT explosion, National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru and Republican Sen. Tom Cotton publicly stated that neither had any policy ideas about how to fight cancel culture. Hanania responded by noting that the cancel culture use of “racism” to tar and feather perfectly normal and nonbigoted ideas is backed by an entire legal apparatus that has accreted over the years under the “disparate impact” doctrine, sprouted from race-conscious “diversity” laws and jurisprudence.
“Disparate impact” is, of course, what critical theorists use to absurdly accuse the United States, babies, and white males of inherent and systemic racism. It is very much linked to policies that can and should be reformed. Hanania gives these suggestions for such anti-CRT reforms:
1) Eliminating disparate impact, making the law require evidence of intentional discrimination.
2) Getting rid of the concept of hostile work environment, or defining it in extremely narrow and explicit terms, making sure that it does not restrict political or religious speech.
3) Repealing the executive orders that created and expanded affirmative action among government contractors and the federal workforce.
This is a starting point for think tanks to delve into various laws and regulations to put out actually useful whitepapers. Give politicians and bureaucrats a map of exactly what policies the real antiracists want them to search out and destroy. That way we can better hold them to it.
Philanthropists should get together and stick a bunch of money into an endowment — or endowments! — that distributes “critical race theory escape scholarships” for families stuck in school systems that are trying to make their kids racists.
State lawmakers should sponsor bills to create “antiracism choice scholarships” that make state funds available to families in school districts that are found to be teaching racism. As Chris Bedford notes, this is the time to institute universal backpack funding so parents never have to negotiate with racial terrorists again. Churches should step up to their historic commitments to provide a Christian education to all Christian children, and to serve the poor, by starting schools or crowdfunding CRT escape scholarships.
State think tanks should help fundraise for any and all of these, or provide startup funding and assistance to groups of parents to start non-racist charter and private schools, education “pods,” and homeschool communities. The possibilities for direct action to give affected children immediate lifeboats out of desperate situations are myriad.
Parents need help using research skills such as filing open records requests to find out what their school systems are doing with their kids and tax dollars. They may also need lawyers to send threatening letters and even file lawsuits if school districts refuse to disclose this public information. This kind of discovery, and amplifying it, would be largely the work of journalists if the profession weren’t such a mess.
Again, Rufo is amazing, but he should be duplicated as much as possible. Get the guy a research assistant, and journalists and lawyers to extend his work to as many school districts as possible. How many parents really know what their children are being told in school? Very few.
Scared parents in my local district in a red state recently sent around an “I do not consent” form letter to bring to school this fall stating that they don’t want their children taught critical race theory. How is that enforceable? How would they know if the school went ahead and ignored them? Why is it even a thing that parents should feel the need to send letters like this to an institution they are funding and sending their children to? Who is backing them up?
I know who it should be: Those with the resources to make their concerns heard and enforced, through as many avenues as possible. The time to press this advantage — one of the few people on the political right have right now — is immediately, and as hard as possible. Don’t squander this moment. Who knows if and when another one like it will arise.
Teachers questioned how they could teach history and social studies through a social justice lens without rankling parents in the 'highly conservative county ... in the middle of Trump country.'
The curriculum-writing team in a suburban St. Louis school district plotted with a critical race theory advocate on how to keep parents in the dark about their efforts to inject leftwing social justice advocacy into their classrooms, according to a video of their meeting leaked online.
The video, posted on rumble.com in early July, is alleged to be a condensed version of a September 2020 webinar that members of the Francis Howell School District’s curriculum-writing team participated in. The webinar was hosted by their equity consultant, LaGarrett J. King, an associate professor of social studies education at the University of Missouri. He was described on the call as a specialist in the study of “race, critical theories and knowledge.”
It’s unclear who edited the video, which appears to have been posted anonymously by someone with the online moniker “wokeatfhsd.”
During the webinar, King told the predominantly white team members that “This is not a safe space,” but rather a “racialized space,” because “In many ways a safe space is a space where white people tell us how not racist they are. And this is not that space.”
King said “the first thing we have to understand is that our social studies and our history curriculum is political and racist,” and “there is no such thing as neutral history.” He then asked the team members to question whether they are developing black history curriculums through the historical lens of the oppressor. “We have made those who have oppressed people, the oppressor, we have humanized them,” he said.
The nation’s founding “means nothing to black people,” he said, calling history “psychologically violent” but one-sided. He also seemed to justify violence in the name of racial justice.
“All of our wars was about freedom, violence,” King said. “But yet, when black people say, ‘Hey … we need to take over, man. We need to burn this place down, we need to do this, we need to do that.’ ‘Oh no, you should do non-violence to achieve freedom.’ It’s silly. It’s prejudice.”
During a question-and-answer portion of the webinar, teachers and staff on the call questioned how they could reframe their classes to look at history and social studies through a more racialized social justice lens without rankling parents in the “highly conservative” community, which one teacher described as “the middle of Trump country.” King agreed that teachers could do away with verbiage like “white privilege,” while still getting the progressive message across to students.
One white teacher on the call said she’s been teaching about white privilege for a decade.
“Kids are way more open,” she said, “but then they go home and they tell their parents, and then their parents get upset. I don’t advertise to my students when I’m teaching U.S. history that sometimes I would consider myself the anti-U.S. history teacher.”
Another white teacher said because they teach in a conservative county, “Sometimes I think we have deferred to letting that stop progress. We let noise keep progress from moving forward.”
In a paper he co-authored in 2018, King acknowledged that critical theory was developed in the 1920s by German thinkers who “sought to extend Marxist theory into the changing social, political, and economic landscape of the twentieth century by talking about how culture and ideology encourage and sustain social inequality.” In order to “remain true to critical pedagogy,” the authors wrote, “teachers should work to identify questions that are important to students’ lives and that encourage them to reflect on the ways that they are either privileged or oppressed by social dynamics.”
While the district’s teachers have privately discussed their efforts teach students through a decidedly progressive social justice lens, school leaders have publicly denied this is occurring. At a recent school board meeting, superintendent Nathan Hoven said the district has not adopted critical race theory into the framework of its curriculum. “We are not and have no interest in advancing any political agenda,” he said.
“While we support the work and many of Dr. King’s contributions, we vehemently disagree with any suggestions that teachers or staff hide the work we’re doing from parents and taxpayers,” the district told National Review in a statement provided by spokeswoman Jennifer Jolls. “We always strive to make decisions that we believe are in the best interests of students, and do so in a way that is transparent and accessible to all stakeholders.”
School board members recently voted to approve black history and black literature courses as high school electives, according to local media reports. “Students and parents requested these courses be added to the curriculum and we are proud to offer them for those who choose to expand their learning on these topics,” the district said in its statement.
The rapid spread of the COVID-19 delta variant has spooked people who thought the pandemic had ended. Policymakers have called the rise in new infections associated with the strain first encountered in India alarming even though the data suggest strongly the latest variant strain, while perhaps easier to contract, is far less lethal than the original.
Like the disease for which it is named, America’s COVID crisis continues to evolve. The end of the lockdowns in most states has people back to work, unmasked, and happy – even as some public health professionals are urging a renewed mandate to put them back on. All that, combined with the lack of clarity coming from groups like the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers means that no parent can be sure the schools run by the government will offer full-time, in-class instruction when and if they reopen in the fall.
All this could have been avoided if the rush to lockdowns had been slowed and while greater thought was given to a plan to segregate out and protect the most vulnerable populations which, it has been lost on some people, does not include K thru 12 school-age children. Given the difference in approach to containing COVID taken by the governors of red states compared to those who lead blue states, it is not surprising to learn Democrats are hoping that masks and vaccines not yet approved for children under the age of 18 will be mandated before schools are allowed to return to pre-COVID instruction.
According to a recent survey by Rasmussen reports, just over a third of all Americans said they believed children should have to be vaccinated for COVID before they can return to the classroom. Of those, more than half – 56 percent – were Democrats. Only 29 percent of Republicans agreed.
The data, Rasmussen reports said, showed a “strong correlation” between support for masking children and for forcing them to be vaccinated. “Among Americans who think schools should require children to wear masks to protect against the coronavirus, 68 percent also think schools should require children to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Among those who oppose schools requiring children to wear masks, 79 percent are also against schools requiring children to get the coronavirus vaccination.”
The split along party lines on the issues is clear. Majorities of Republicans (61 percent) and independents (52 percent) said they opposed a vaccine requirement. Likewise, on the issue of masks, 58 percent of Democrats said they thought masks should be required as part of the basic back-to-school outfit while only 27 percent of Republicans thought this would be a good idea. Almost two-thirds of GOPers – 60 percent – and as well as a plurality of independents, the polling firm reported, said they were opposed to the mandatory classroom masking in K thru 12 classrooms.
The pollster found white Americans “slightly more in favor of schools requiring children to get the COVID-19 vaccine than blacks or other minorities” while blacks were “more supportive” than whites or other minorities regarding a requirement children wear masks. And that upper-income Americans were more in favor of requiring children to get vaccinated, with 48 percent of those earning $200,000 a year or more “favoring mandatory vaccination” while just 36 percent of those earning less than $30,000 a year agreed.The survey of 1,000 U.S. American Adults was conducted on July 13-14, 2021. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
State Department in 2020 declared the group a 'propaganda' arm of CCP
Several American universities maintained relationships with China after shuttering their Confucius Institute chapters, shifting resources to affiliate K-12 programs and fostering sister relationships with Chinese schools.
Rather than fully cut ties with the Confucius Institute, many universities shifted their resources to affiliate programs aimed at K-12 classrooms. The Confucius Classrooms program offers an array of Chinese language and culture programs to elementary, middle, and high school students across the United States. Often linked to Confucius Institutes at nearby colleges, Confucius Classrooms are funded and run by the Hanban, a division of China’s Ministry of Education.
The shift reveals the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party is ingrained in American educational institutions. American security officials have recently warned about Beijing’s efforts to cultivate links with educational institutions in order to change American perceptions of the Communist regime.
Over a dozen universities closed their Confucius Institute chapters after the State Department declared the organization a Chinese propaganda arm. According to Rachelle Peterson, a China expert at the National Association of Scholars, the Communist regime was ready for the fallout.
“The Chinese government has developed a nuanced and sophisticated network of tools,” Peterson told the Washington Free Beacon. “In the case of Confucius Institutes, the Chinese Communist Party is aware that they are falling out of favor in the U.S., and they’re preparing alternative ways of engaging with the United States—many of which are equally problematic.”
Confucius Classrooms are just some of those “problematic” alternatives. The National Association of Scholars estimates that, at its height, there were upward of 500 Confucius Classrooms in operation—significantly more than the 41 active Confucius Institute chapters. And because most federal oversight is directed at higher education, China has been able to covertly entrench itself in the K-12 education space.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R., Utah) told the Free Beacon that he is concerned Confucius Classrooms operating in his district teach an inaccurate view of the Chinese Communist Party to children.
“The Confucius Classrooms are a little bit different and a little bit harder [than Confucius Institutes] because they’re not as obvious,” Stewart said. “The thing we’re trying to do now is to show that they’re not using it for intelligence access, computer access, or to propagandize adults, but they are using it to soften children.”
The Confucius Classrooms operating in Stewart’s district are just a few such outposts that grew out of shuttered Confucius Institute chapters across the country.
A consortium of Confucius Classrooms serving nearly 1,200 K-12 students in Ohio continues to operate more than a year after Miami University in Ohio announced it shuttered its Confucius Institute. In western Kentucky, a coalition of more than 30 staffers led by Simpson County public schools has taken up the mantle of the Western Kentucky University Confucius Institute, which closed in 2019.
When Michigan State University’s Confucius Institute closes this year, the school plans to transfer the program’s resources “to other areas within the university” so as to “benefit K-12 students and teachers who would not otherwise have these learning options available in their schools,” a spokeswoman told the Free Beacon.
In addition to shifting resources from universities to elementary and high school classrooms, China has found ways to maintain a foothold at universities that have closed their Confucius Institutes. Several universities have sought out partnerships with Chinese “sister schools” to replace their Confucius Institutes.
Middle Tennessee State University closed its Confucius Institute in August 2020, after receiving criticism from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.). But the school continues to foster ties with sister universities in China. The University of Nebraska said it remains “deeply committed” to its connections with Chinese universities after its Confucius Institute closed in December 2020.
In a statement to the Free Beacon, Tufts University—which plans to close its Confucius Institute chapter in September—said the school will “focus on expanding and deepening” its ties with Beijing Normal University. Similarly, the College of William and Mary closed its Confucius Institute at the end of June, but will continue to offer China-related programs “through university-to-university agreements,” a spokeswoman told the Free Beacon.
In at least one case, China has continued to donate to a university in order to bolster ties. Peterson uncovered Education Department documents that show the University of Michigan received a $300,000 gift from China after the school closed its Confucius Institute in 2019.
“All the signs are that there are replacements for Confucius Institutes,” Peterson said. “Alternative forms of engagement are popping up—many in ways that are going to have the same problems as the Confucius Institutes.”
In Biden's America, the action is outside the Beltway
It took a few days away from the nation’s capital for me to appreciate how boring the place has become. Recently I returned from a trip to California and discovered that I hadn’t missed anything—no presidential scandal, no legislative logrolling, no surprise vacancies on the Supreme Court. Yes, the pace of events slows down in Washington every summer. Congress goes on recess and metro residents travel for vacation. But 2021 is different. This year, D.C.’s irrelevance is neither seasonal nor exceptional. It’s the norm.
Since Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the city has been the site of momentous events and world-defining debates. The fallout from the 2000 election, 9/11, the war on terrorism, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the surge, the financial crisis, the election of Barack Obama, Obamacare, the Tea Party, the debt ceiling, the response to the Arab Spring, the 2013 government shutdown—they all testified to the centrality of Washington.
Donald Trump’s descent on the escalator in 2015 intensified press coverage. His victory in 2016 upped the political stakes. The Trump presidency unfolded in spectacular, captivating fashion. It was a live-broadcast, four-year, nonfictional telenovela, complete with a climactic twist and a tragic ending. On occasion, the cast traveled to Singapore, Hanoi, Helsinki, and Mar-a-Lago. But the main set was the Oval Office.
Well, the show is over and the thrill is gone. It used to be that the federal city—and its chief executive—drove the national conversation. But President Biden purposely limits his exposure to remain as uncontroversial as possible. “Boring news cycle deals blow to partisan media,” read the headline of an article in Axios on June 29. The piece tracked a fall in web traffic, app user sessions, and social media engagement since President Trump left office. Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, tweeted out the story. “Sorry not sorry,” he wrote.
After 12 years of highly visible celebrity presidents, the current occupant of the White House is a 78-year-old who eschews social media, rarely gives one-on-one interviews, limits himself to about one public event a day, calls on pre-selected reporters at press conferences, often refers to notes, and returns home to Delaware most weekends. Joe Biden’s spending plans may be gargantuan and foolish, his decisions on the border and on Afghanistan may be impetuous and disastrous, and his offhand remarks may be puzzling and odd, but no one gets worked up about him personally. Last month Doug Rivers of the Hoover Institution observed that voters don’t consider Biden an ideologue. It doesn’t matter that Biden’s goals are more ambitious than Obama’s: Far greater numbers of voters said that Obama was “very liberal” than say the same of Biden today.
This low-key presidency combines with tight margins in Congress to diminish Washington’s importance. Unlike his two most recent predecessors, Biden is not an omnipresent figure. The 50-50 Senate blocks the progressive wish list from becoming law. The result is a devolution of controversy to the state, municipal, and local levels of government. Not in two decades covering politics, for example, have I seen state legislatures receive as much attention as they have in recent months.
Meanwhile, the big political news is Democrat Eric Adams’s victory in the New York City mayoral primary. What’s unique about Adams is that he ran the first New York campaign in decades with national implications. His triumph underscored the electorate’s concern with rising crime rates. It demonstrated that even Democratic primary voters in a majority-minority city oppose defunding law enforcement.
“According to recent data from the Democratic-oriented Navigator Research,” writes Ruy Teixeira in a recent issue of the Liberal Patriot newsletter, “more Americans overall, including among independents and Hispanics, now believe violent crime is a ‘major crisis’ than believe that about the coronavirus pandemic or any other area of concern.” This alarm over rising crime manifested itself locally before becoming apparent to officials in Washington, including Biden, who scrambled to announce a crime reduction plan in late June.
The most glaring sign of the Beltway’s detachment from national life has been the movement against critical race theory (CRT) in public schools. Like the Tea Party, this movement is spontaneous, self-organizing, and uncontrolled. Unlike the Tea Party, however, it is focused on a hyperlocal (yet super-important) issue: K-12 instruction. As of this writing, the anti-CRT movement fields candidates for school boards. Congress is an afterthought.
The national politicians who amplify the movement’s rhetoric are piggybacking on a grassroots phenomenon. And while the fight against CRT has implications for federal policy, it is not as though the right’s answer to far-left school boards is national curricular standards. On the contrary: The parental revolt over “woke” education bypasses Washington, transcends party lines, and has clearly defined and limited goals.
What’s fascinating about the anti-CRT campaign is that its most prominent antagonists are not elected officials. The Tea Party pitted rebels such as Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz against the Republican establishment and Barack Obama. But the participants in this most recent iteration of the culture war are different. The anti-CRT spokesman Christopher Rufo of the Manhattan Institute is a documentarian and activist, and Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan are journalists. The most famous advocates of so-called antiracist education are Nikole Hannah-Jones, lead writer of the New York Times‘s 1619 Project, and Ibram X. Kendi of Boston University. Fights over CRT don’t take place in the halls of Congress, but on Morning Joe.
Maybe political entrepreneurs in the coming months will appropriate and elevate the issues of voter ID, crime, and anti-American pedagogy into national campaigns. Maybe the anti-CRT movement will follow the Tea Party and use the 2022 election to springboard into the Beltway. Maybe the next president will impress himself or herself into the national consciousness in the manner of an Obama or a Trump. Or maybe the next president will be Trump.
For now, though, Joe Biden is president. Congress is deadlocked. Both the left and right are more interested in values than in entitlements. The media track the states, the cities, the schools. Why? Because the real action is happening in places like Atlanta, Tallahassee, Austin, Phoenix, New York City, and Loudoun County. Not in Washington, D.C.
Truthful discussions never begin with lies. The 1619 Project is founded on a lie. It has no place in our nation’s schools
Parents across the country are revolting against activist school boards and teachers who are introducing critical race theory and propagandistic accounts of American history into classrooms.
One such history is the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which is already being taught in at least 4,000 classrooms in all 50 states.
The 1619 Project is an alternate history of the American founding that claims our nation’s true birthday was not 1776 but 1619, the year 20 slaves arrived in the British colony of Virginia. According to the 1619 Project, America was founded on racism and slavery — never mind the text of the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that all men are created equal, or the words and deeds of our Founding Fathers, many of whom deplored slavery and tried to place it on the path to ultimate extinction.
The 1619 Project avoids discussing how slavery clashed with the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence. Instead, it portrays our Founding Fathers as liars and frauds who did not believe the stirring words they wrote — and in fact wrote them to uphold the evils of human bondage and white supremacy.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats and liberals have lavished praise on this revisionist account of our history. The 1619 Project’s lead author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, won a Pulitzer Prize and quickly hit the lecture circuit. Then-Senator Kamala Harris quickly expressed her support, writing that “the #1619Project is a powerful and necessary reckoning of our history. We cannot understand and address the problems of today without speaking truth about how we got here.”
The response from actual historians, even many on the left, has been less favorable. The project is “so wrong in so many ways,” according to Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Gordon Wood. James McPherson, the dean of Civil War historians and a Pulitzer Prize winner himself, remarked that the project presents an “unbalanced, one-sided account” that “left most of the history out.” A history curriculum that leaves the history out? No wonder parents are upset.
Young Americans are in desperate need of history and civic education, as surveys often find that they do not know basic details about our history and system of government. The 1619 Project will not help Americans achieve greater historical literacy or a deeper appreciation of our nation’s Founding, which truly is the greatest political experiment in human history. Instead, students who are exposed to the 1619 Project will learn to despise their country and their fellow citizens. That is a recipe for division and disaster.
In response to parents’ concerns about the 1619 Project and critical race theory, we have introduced a bill to prevent federal funding from being used to teach the 1619 Project in K–12 schools. This bill, titled the Saving American History Act, would not prevent any local school from making decisions about what curriculum they wish to teach — but it would state firmly that federal taxpayer dollars cannot be used to teach a malicious lie that threatens to divide the country on the basis of race.
America’s students deserve to know the true story of our nation’s Founding, and to be able to grapple with, and debate, the difficult questions in our history. That story includes many great and noble chapters, from the abolition of slavery and Civil Rights Movement to the moon landing and the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny. It also includes many dark chapters where our nation has failed to live up to our own noble principles. Teachers ought to present this history in its full glory and tragedy, making clear how our Founding principles have inspired generations of patriots and reformers.
Truthful discussions never begin with lies. The 1619 Project is founded on a lie. It has no place in our nation’s schools.