The National Association of Scholars Takes on the Marxists in Education

I am not a professional academic but for many years I have been a member of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), a politically conservative academic professional group that has always opposed the Marxist socialist, collectivist invasion of educational and other institutions of Western democracies.

On June 13, 2022, Peter Wood (PhD Anthropology, U of Rochester) President of NAS, released a position paper opposing leftist invasions of American education and culture that are broadly referred to as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) in a long and thorough (more than 4000 words) critique and call to arms and opposition: Regime Change: Repelling the DEI Assault on Higher Education .    

I provide some pertinent excerpts from the monograph and some comments.

Dr. Wood Introduces the Position Paper:|

Criticism of American society for its inequitable treatment of blacks and other minority groups has become a focal point of American education at every level of instruction. Sometimes this criticism is historically well-grounded and tempered by recognition of social, political, and economic complexity. But more often this criticism veers into simplistic claims and fictions presented as fact. . . .  “anti-racist” agenda in post-secondary education have not drawn nearly as much attention as they have in K-12 schools. In this essay I intend to address the critique of America on racial grounds mainly at the college and university level, but problems in K-12 schools will necessarily come into the picture.

Words Matter

America’s racial critics often disarm their opponents by using a vocabulary whose unassuming or technical demeanor hides radical meanings.

Anti-racism is a word contrived by Boston University professor Ibram X. Kendi….  Kendi and his followers use it to mean racial favoritism toward blacks, deliberate discrimination against whites aimed at compensating for “systemic” racial injustice, and the suppression of all speech and action opposed to their preferred policies.

Systemic racism refers to the supposedly omnipresent racially disparate treatment built into institutions such as law, the real estate market, medical practice, and education. . . . Even individuals who decry racism and are free from any personal racial animus are thus part of systemically racist institutions.

Critical Race Theory (“CRT”) is a branch of neo-Marxist social analysis formulated by Harvard Law School professor Derrick Bell in the late 1970s. . . .Proponents of CRT see themselves as liberating people from their illusions by showing them that American institutions are built on and continue to perpetuate racial oppression. They also believe they have a duty to subordinate all activities of life, and especially education, to the CRT’s dis-illusioning project. 

Diversity was a doctrine first articulated by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell in a 1978 decision. Powell argued that colleges and universities might engage in some racial favoritism toward black students if the schools could show that this would advance the “intellectual diversity” of college classes and thus benefit all students regardless of race.  In 2003, the Supreme Court in a majority decision in the case of Grutter v. Bollinger agreed that “diversity” was an acceptable reason for racial preferences in college admissions, provided that the use of preferences was somewhat disguised.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) is the contemporary expansion of the diversity doctrine.  “Equity” replaces the older idea of individual equality under the law with the idea that all social goods should be distributed in proportion to each ethnic group’s size relative to the total population. “Inclusion,” which violates the principles of freedom of association and individual merit, requires the extension of group-identity quotas to every part of society, public and private. This fixation on group-identity extends beyond race, as the proponents of DEI increasingly write “gender identity” into institutional policy. DEI ideologues share with their “anti-racist” peers the habit of suppressing their critics rather than answering their criticisms.

The 1619 Project, a publication of the New York Times . . . has become a condensed way of referring to America as systemically racist in its very origins and of justifying acts of violence against Americans and their property. 

National Peril

The rise of the anti-racist, DEI, CRT agenda in American education had been decried by many on the grounds that it poses a peril to the nation:

Ethnic division and strife. . . . Political opportunism. . . . Cultural impoverishment. . . .Historical amnesia. . . .     Professional incompetence. . . . International competitiveness. . . . Destructive orientation.

DEI is . . .  now taking hold in the American economy as the “ESG” movement (Environmental, Social, and Governance investing). DEI prioritizes race in all contexts and subordinates all other principled considerations. Graduates carry this into the corporate world, where it has now been elaborated as ESG.

The perils posed by DEI no doubt vary from time to time and place to place. The factor on this list that is ubiquitous is ethnic division and strife. In all contexts, DEI fosters racial conflict.

Dr. Wood proceeds to outline the problems with our schools at all levels and the difficulties that have developed because teachers have been indoctrinated to DEI and all its permutations outlined above. The Problem is these indoctrinated teachers have a lot of autonomy—less in grade schools than upper levels, but still a lot of opportunities to be indoctrinators in grade schools.   By the time students arrive at college, Dr. Wood asserts they “arrive at college already steeped in CRT and DEI viewpoints” so the solution is “not just to curtail bad instruction but to replace it with better instruction.” But indocrination in higher education is actually more intense.

The NAS is strongly and energetically opposed to racial preferences and reverse discrimination, and against the canard of “Diversity” that is racialist at its core and “climbed from a relatively inconspicuous term in politics and biology to become the master concept of contemporary liberal or progressive thinking.”

The NAS is opposed to any ideology that “elevates the principle of “diversity” over individuality, personal freedom, courtesy, fair-mindedness, and even equality.”

The plan that NAS proposes to stop the invasion is to Audit the Academic Administrative State and stop the pronouncements of anti-racist and radical reformations, end the DEI leavened mission statements, diversity plans, accreditation and faculty hiring and tenure policies, research and curriculum changes, new bureaucracies and administrative changes intended to promote DEI policies.  

Dr. Wood reports that:

A recent study by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) reported that 21.5 percent of all colleges and universities in a survey already have DEI criteria embedded in tenure standards, and another 38.9 percent have such criteria “under consideration.” At large universities the trend is even more pronounced, with 45.6 percent already imposing such standards and another 35.5 percent considering them—a total of 81.1 percent.

He deplores the DEI filter changes in College Bylaws, hiring quotas, learning goals, admissions standards, funding and other efforts to promote DEI effects.  He advocates discarding reverse discrimination based on race, but also eliminating the relaxation of grading and promotion intended to be race based that deemphasize merit and achievement in favor of “equitable outcome” goals—a cover for the trend to promote and graduate everyone with good grades that mean nothing.  

Dr. Wood points out that there would be legal problems with efforts to eliminate curricular changes pushing DEI—but reducing the DEI dominated administrative atmosphere, what he calls the “institutional surround,” would reduce the negative DEI reverse discrimination academic trends that violate the Constitution and coerce and intimidate faculty and students.   

The DEI/CRT antidote recommended by Dr. Wood is to start with Academic Institutional Audits of Wokeness projects-- DEI/CRT/ESG projects in the fabric and structure of the institution. Those audits may be facilitated by encouraging and protecting whistleblowers and victims of the DEI/CRT tyranny.  Since DEI and CRT administrative changes violate the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, not to mention the fundamental basis for the anti-discrimination provisions of civil rights legislation, finding the problems should and would lead to action to eliminate discrimination in the DEI / CRT/ESG anti-racism totalitarianism of academia.   

The devil is in the details and the details were not neglected by Dr. Wood’s position paper.

He advocates the following, quoting one law professor who said that the fight against CRT is a fight for national survival.   The laundry list is banning Mandatory DEI/CRT training, evaluations, demanding transparency, creating a counter bureaucracy and gearing funding to penalize DEI /CRT persistence.  

Dr. Wood notes that vocation and training schools eschew political agendas as a rule and should be recommended as a good alternative to 4 year higher education as good bang for the buck investment.  As for higher education, it should be liberal in spirit but conservative and evidence based in method, intended to teach careful and effective assessment of ideas and arguments by a proper examination of the evidence, a real search for truth and avoidance of true believer intellectual tyranny.   CRT and DEI as well as all the anti-racism movements have become a noisy and dominating True Believer authoritarian cult that claims it will purify and cleanse America and Western Civilization—the purification and cleansing could be nothing more than the usual leftist utopian delusions and promises of a post-revolutionary paradise. 

Dr. Wood concludes, pointing out that the anti-racist mania doesn’t move things in a positive direction:

 “It prepares students to live in fear, resentment, and recrimination in a society dominated by manipulative elite. We look to our elected leaders to stop these developments now, before the damage of so-called anti-racism becomes irreparable.

Dr. Wood is an anthropologist, knows a lot about the human condition and definitely has a way with words. 

John Dale Dunn is a retired emergency physician and inactive attorney in Brownwood, Texas

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