Helplessly Hoping Progressives

The absurdity of progressive politics is now on full display. Let us consider just two of the many inherently contradictory initiatives championed by the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi axis. What these initiatives share is the preposterous notion that a huge centralized bureaucracy is not only capable of achieving progressive’s stated goals, but that the goals are worthy in themselves. Neither is true.

First, there is climate change, or in the overwrought language of progressives, the climate “emergency”. (Pretty much everything that progressives favor is pitched as a way to address some “emergency” that requires governmental action.) President Biden & Co are in the business of restricting, with an eye to eventually eliminating, the use of fossil fuels as an energy source. Some examples: the Biden Administration has expansively interpreted its regulatory authority to restrict fracking; President Biden revoked a key permit for the Keystone pipeline thus shutting down the project; and the Biden Administration has strong-armed the Fed into incorporating climate change risk into its regulatory mandate.

At the same time, as the Wall Street Journal points out, Mr Biden is pleading with OPEC to reach a deal to raise production quotas so that gas prices don’t rise further. So we have the spectacle of the U.S. President promulgating regulations designed to reduce domestic production of fossil fuels while imploring OPEC to produce more. 

But wait—it gets better. Who are the chief beneficiaries of this schizophrenic policy choice? Well, how about Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia. And to boot it is a slap in the face to our longstanding ally Canada. 

Most astoundingly, the Biden Administration has adopted a policy stance designed to limit domestic production of fossil fuels by restricting permits and raising regulatory costs while at the same time hoping against hope that retail gas prices will stay the same or decline. The self-evident absurdity of this apparently lies beyond the reach of progressives. 

Second, there is  critical race theory (CRT), which has been around for 35 years or so. It was developed in elite American Law schools in the 1980s and 90s, but has just recently become a topic of public controversy.  While much of the discussion has been reduced to dueling bumper sticker slogans, the behavior of the progressive vanguard has been remarkable for its display of cognitive dissonance. 

The progressive obfuscation relies on a pretty familiar tactic. Quite simply it claims that opponents of CRT don’t understand what it is and are cherry picking a few over-the-top incidents to mischaracterize CRT in particular and progressivism in general. Students of the game will instantly recognize this ruse, perfected by Noam Chomsky, as the “Real Socialism has never been tried gambit”. Except that of course it has been tried— many times and the result has always and everywhere been misery for the people who were its supposed beneficiaries.

 So what is Critical Race Theory?  CRT is essentially a warmed over version of the Marxist class war dialectic (circa 1848) that argues that history is a series of clashes between the haves (oppressors) and have-nots (oppressed) that will eventually lead to a workers paradise where all are equal. Just substitute race, class, gender, sexuality for class and voila—we now have CRT. 

Riotously enough, Randi Weingarten (head of the American Federation of Teachers and cheerleader for President Biden and his faux scholar wife Dr. Jill Biden, Ed.D.) insisted the other day that “…Critical Race Theory is not taught in elementary schools or high schools. It’s a method of examination taught in law school and college that helps analyze whether systemic racism exists”. 

The problem is that if Weingarten’s claim were true, then it’s pretty hard to explain why, for instance, the Fairfax County Public School system felt compelled to put the following statement on its website.

“To achieve educational equity, FCPS is analyzing and addressing the beliefs and policies that inform what is taught in schools. The school division is beginning the process by revising the existing Controversial Issues Policy (Policy 3280.3) and developing a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy.”

Especially when the existing policy adopted in 1996 and last reviewed in March 2014, is perfectly reasonable. It specifically states:

III. PHILOSOPHY The preparation for effective citizenship includes the study of issues that are controversial. The study of controversial issues shall create an atmosphere in which knowledge can be freely imparted and the critical thinking of students can be developed through research and classroom discussion, within the guidelines of the Program of Studies. 

IV. PROCEDURES Such studies shall be carried out in an atmosphere of freedom from bias, prejudice, or coercion. 

It is also difficult to explain why Fairfax County paid CRT theorist Ibram Kendi a $20,000 fee for a 1 hour “conversation”. Or why Fairfax County spent $24,000 for books by Kendi promoting critical race theory and “anti-racism”, and making them required reading for K – 12 students. Or why Kendi’s virtual talk came amid Fairfax County’s “Virginia’s Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week” or why such a County sponsored propaganda week was necessary in the first place. 

Deep blue Fairfax County is hardly an outlier; neighboring Loudon County’s school board is in the middle of a dispute over its handling of these issues as well. In fact, these disputes are breaking out all over the country. 

In any event, no sooner had Weingarten spoken to deceptively assure us that CRT was not being taught in the public schools, the National Education Association (NEA) wiped its website clean of the following statements. 

“We oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.” 

Before it tried—unsuccessfully— to hide the evidence, the NEA also proposed to push a study that “critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society.”

In addition, the NEA voted to conduct opposition research on groups that oppose integrating CRT into academic frameworks. 

Needless to say, once parents began to find out about all this, they began to revolt. There are school board fights breaking out in deep blue districts as well as traditionally conservative ones. Perhaps because so many children were subjected to what we euphemistically call “at home learning” via Zoom, parents who had been unaware of what was going on in their children’s schools began to take notice. 

It is unfortunate that in their zeal to stop indoctrination from replacing education, conservative politicians have adopted the same top-down one-size-fits-all approach favored by liberals and progressives. There is a far better solution to the specific problem of indoctrination in the public schools that applies to the disastrous performance of public schools in general. That solution is: competition.

In general, charter schools, school voucher programs, private and parochial schools do a much better job of educating students than do the public schools, especially in less affluent areas. These alternatives are a threat to the ideology factories (AKA monopoly public schools) that are owned and operated by the teachers unions. Instead of trying to legislate curricula, legislators ought to aggressively push to open the field to competition and parental choice. That would solve two problems. 

JFB