The Left's Latest Battleground Is Your Neighborhood
The progressives running the Biden administration are planning a two-pronged strategy to attack traditional suburban families where they live — in their homes and schools. The Biden campaign platform, largely written by Bernie Sanders and his supporters, called for initiatives for equity in housing and education. Going forward, these will translate into actions by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to assert its policy to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) and for the Department of Education to impose Critical Race Theory (CRT) to attack both real and intellectual property. The strategy got underway with the new president's executive order on equity that calls for "an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda."
Their primary weapon is the concept of disparate impact, a conveniently squishy theory that there needs to be no factual finding of discriminatory zoning or racism in schools to conclude that a community is racist. All disparate impact requires is for a bureaucrat to declare an imbalance of race or income among the residents of a local community or in its school's Advanced Placement courses.
To understand the seriousness of the assault, it is necessary to understand the philosophical origins of the left's positions on private property and the class struggle. The first tenet of Marxism is the abolition of private real property. The second is the class struggle between the oppressed proletariat and the oppressing bourgeoisie.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Marxism was adapted to education, called Critical Race Theory. Proponents of CRT believe that racism is normal in the U.S. and that black Americans, Latinos, and American Indians are excluded from educational equity. They believe that inequity stems from the "tension" between property rights and human rights. More recently, Black Lives Matter explicitly reframed the Marxist class struggle between the oppressed and the oppressors in terms of blackness and whiteness.
HUD's actions during Obama administration provide a template for what is coming. During the Obama administration, HUD targeted specific affluent communities: Marin County on the West Coast and Westchester County on the East Coast. HUD was armed with the Fair Housing Act, which required a determination of discriminatory housing or zoning practices, to force the two counties to build affordable housing units for disadvantaged minorities. Marin caved immediately; Westchester successfully fought HUD.
Future attacks on property rights will be carried out by HUD by using the concept of disparate impact to eliminate what it calls exclusionary zoning, which HUD believes has prevented non-white people and low-income families from living in affluent communities with good school systems. The Biden administration may try to legislate this through the HOME Act of 2019, proposed by Senator Cory Booker and House majority whip Rep. James Clyburn. HOME would give states and localities block grants to be used to change single-family zoning policies and local regulations. Even if Congress does not pass the HOME Act, Biden's executive order on equity already gives HUD and the Department of Education new powers to roll out the double-barreled assault.
In a number of states, including New York, local zoning is incorporated into the state's constitution. But any state, county, or municipality that needs federal monies for local roadwork would be hard pressed to defy the HOME Act initiatives. The HOME Act would use access to federal dollars as a cudgel to force compliance with an expanded and aggressive AFFH policy.
During the Obama administration, for example, in 2009, HUD forced Westchester County under a legal settlement to build 750 affordable units. Westchester County did so, but in 2013, HUD raised the ante to 10,768 units and withheld federal monies. Under HUD's new disparate impact theory, the fact that Westchester County was the third most diverse county in the state and lacked exclusionary zoning was irrelevant.
The second prong of the attack is on intellectual property, specifically the next generation being educated in suburban schools. It was already gaining headway in liberal enclaves, but it accelerated with the racial riots in the summer of 2020.
For suburban consumption, CRT has been recast as a Culturally Responsive-Sustaining (CR-S) education. The proponents of CR-S present it as happy talk about racial understanding, but CR-S's goal is to dismantle the social structure of the property-based suburbs and their bourgeois values, such as working hard, self-reliance, and belief in the importance of family. The black and LBGT communities are the new virtuous proletariat, and white suburban residents are the new permanent enemy.
CR-S's invasion of the suburbs starts with the teachers' unions and liberal-leaning state administrations, instead of a direct assault by the U.S. DOE. In New York, for example, the state Board of Regents adopted a guidance document supporting CR-S in 2018. This encouraged some suburban school districts to talk more about race and displace classic literature with polemics on race and sex differences. In other school districts, race consultants and advocates have moved in, offering courses in whiteness and anti-racism. One of the most active organizations is New York University/Steinhardt Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (NYU/Steinhardt), which is partially funded by the Gates Foundation. NYU/Steinhardt is conducting an equity "audit" in Westchester County's Pelham schools and managing a secret racial awareness taskforce in Rye.
While CR-S is being pitched to suburban parents and school systems as virtuous, nothing could be farther from the truth. CR-S is a divisive pedagogical practice that has already provoked turbulence, the shaming of white students, and opposition by residents. Its teachings undermine parental rights to teach their children that character, not the color of your skin, counts. Its teachings also subvert parent's efforts to encourage students to work hard, be self-reliant, and be ethical, because these attributes are contrary to CRT doctrines due to their association with whiteness.
The equity "audits" collect data on student discipline rates, A.P. course enrollment, and other metrics by race and sex identification. It is a foregone conclusion that whatever school system agrees to such an examination by CR-S consultants will be declared racist by disparate impact.
Over time, opening up schools to CR-S will result in the diminution of the quality of education by eliminating classic literature, which is so important in building children's vocabularies and love of reading; teaching that American history is based on racism; and dumbing down math. Common Core was the first step in ridding classrooms of classic literature. Very liberal teachers' unions and administrations in some districts have succeeded in promoting toxic versions of American history. Common Core also introduced math curricula that made arithmetic unpleasant and hard to learn. Radical curricula developed by the Pathway for Equitable Math Instruction, also funded by the Gates Foundation, has introduced the concept that it is wrong for teachers to correct mistakes made by minority students in math because it's white racism.
If allowed to proceed, CRT/CR-S will result in lower academic achievement in some school districts and a reduction in relative property values. AFFH combined with CRT/CR-S is the way progressives will undermine suburban family culture and the wealth of the suburbs.
Americans who live by the traditional values of self-reliance, academic achievement, delayed gratification, hard work, and family need to understand how closely these pillars of economic success and personal happiness are based on intellectual freedom and property rights. The left has bought in to the propositions that race determines equity, that U.S. society is unfairly based on property rights, and that only by destroying the intersection of race and property will Marxian nirvana be achieved. That means annihilating property rights and education in the suburbs.
Linda R. Killian is a retired financial analyst.
Image via Public Domain Pictures.