A lesson from leftists on how to stop Critical Race Theory
The left dominates education at all levels in the United States, a victory that took decades to accomplish, and which now threatens to propel us into some kind of dystopian, neo-Soviet future. In that kind of society, all-powerful bureaucrats (the Soviets called them "commissars") decide who receives what when it comes to money, status, honor, and power by creating complex rules that they alone implement. The fact that such a society has already been tried and utterly failed to meet the needs of its peoples in the Soviet bloc is irrelevant. The last couple of generations of children have been educated to be ignorant of this reality, and instead have been taught to hate meritocracy as systemically racist, unfair, and cruel.
If we are to combat this brainwashing, we need to understand how change can be forced on educational institutions. The left accomplished this, and we need to learn from the leftists to undo their evil. If change is the goal, the success of the left bears close inspection and imitation.
The first lesson to learn from the left is the need to start with high-prestige institutions. This goes against the grain of many of us conservatives, who have learned to despise elites and elitism — precisely because the left succeeded so thoroughly in corrupting the elite institutions. But education is highly feudal in nature, with status and prestige prized above all else, at least until the money runs out, at which point money becomes the determinant.
And that's the second lesson: attack the financial basis of support of the elite institutions in order to get their attention and to bully them into changing their ways. I use the term "bully" consciously because a lifetime of observation of elite academic institutions has convinced me that most educators are the opposite of brave. They generally regard life in the private sector as unacceptably exposed to the risk of failure, with people getting fired for underperformance, measured by the fabled "bottom line."
University and secondary school leaders see themselves as buffeted by enormous pressures, fighting for the survival of their institutions, all the more so now that demography is cutting the size of the cohorts of students entering higher education.
We have a current example of the sort of approach that would work, in the case of the resignation of a teacher named Dana Stengel-Plowe from the Dwight-Englewood School, protesting the indoctrination of students there in Critical Race Theory. You can read her entire letter of resignation here, but an excerpt gives the flavor:
I became a teacher at Dwight-Englewood because, as a parent, I loved how the school both nurtured and challenged my own children. Today, I am resigning from a job I love because D-E has changed in ways that undermine its mission and prevent me from holding true to my conscience as an educator.
I believe that D-E is failing our students. Over the past few years, the school has embraced an ideology that is damaging to our students' intellectual and emotional growth and destroying any chance at creating a true community among our diverse population. I reject the hostile culture of conformity and fear that has taken hold of our school.
The school's ideology requires students to see themselves not as individuals, but as representatives of a group, forcing them to adopt the status of privilege or victimhood. They must locate themselves within the oppressor or oppressed group, or some intersectional middle where they must reckon with being part-oppressor and part-victim. This theory of power hierarchies is only one way of seeing the world, and yet it pervades D-E as the singular way of seeing the world.
As a result, students arrive in my classroom accepting this theory as fact: People born with less melanin in their skin are oppressors, and people born with more melanin in their skin are oppressed. Men are oppressors, women are oppressed, and so on. This is the dominant and divisive ideology that is guiding our adolescent students.
Tuition for high school at Dwight-Englewood currently is $52,100 a year, and it is a good bet that most parents who cough up a substantial portion of that fee do so in hopes that their children will get a leg up in admission to a high-prestige college. D-E is prestigious, but not in the top handful of private secondary schools. In various rankings, it comes out as second-tier — still elite, but not the very top.
This makes it very vulnerable to pressure — which is why the suggestion of John McWhorter, a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University who happens to be Black, is spot-on:
Truly antiracist parents, in the name of love of their kids, should pull them from the Dwight-Englewood school as of next fall. Only this will arrest these misguided Elect parishioners from their quest to forge a new reality for us all.— John McWhorter (@JohnHMcWhorter) June 8, 2021
Now is the time to use all the techniques the left pioneered to pressure parents into pulling their children out of D-E. Name and shame them for sending their kids to such a racist institution. Picket the school when classes resume in the fall. Question the value of a diploma from a school that teaches hate.
Saul Alinsky, the tactical guru behind the rise of the left to power, taught a number of useful lessons. His final rule, number 13, is of most relevance:
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
But two other rules also directly apply:
Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. There is no defense. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.
The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
If parents decide that further attendance at D-E is not worthwhile and their tuition payments start to dwindle, that will capture the attention of the trustees. So will ridicule, which attacks the basis of the prestige of the school.
If D-E can be forced to reject Critical Race Theory and fire the administration that has implemented it, other elite schools will take notice. Spread these tactics to other elite schools that are indoctrinating their students into self-hatred for Whites and Asians and generalized unproductive rage for Blacks and other "underrepresented" minorities, and the pressures will build. That is how trends start and spread.
Alinsky works for us now.
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