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E-Pluribus | July 24, 2023
Why just "conservatism" doesn't cut it; do the math; and how DEI restricts freedom.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Matthew Continetti: Why Freedom Conservatism Matters
A conservative is someone who is standing athwart history yelling 'Stop!', William F. Buckley, Jr. famously said, but in recent years, it’s fair to ask, ‘Stop what?’ Writing at the Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti examines the recent statement of principles put out by a group of Freedom Conservatives and explains why it was necessary.
Most of Freedom Conservatism will be familiar to anyone with knowledge or experience of the conservative movement before June 2015. Still, the statement of principles emphasizes several issues that have emerged recently: The authors call for reducing the cost of living, restoring fiscal sobriety, and addressing the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow while adhering to the Colorblind Constitution. The major theme is that individual liberty is necessary for human flourishing. "We call ourselves Freedom Conservatives," the organizers write, "not because freedom is our sole interest but because without individual and economic liberty, our other fundamental values and aspirations will prove impossible to sustain."
What's remarkable about the document is that it had to be written at all. Conservatives have placed freedom at the heart of their political program since the 1930s. They have resisted the encroaching control of centralized bureaucracies by appealing to the dignity of human life, the limited government of the Constitution, and the space that market economics provides for individual choice and competition.
[ . . . ]
As much as one may disagree with large parts of National Conservatism, one cannot dismiss its significance. It has influenced the Trump administration (if not Trump the man) as well as Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Add businessman Vivek Ramaswamy to the mix, and candidates who reflect National Conservative views command 78 percent of the national GOP primary vote. That is a sign of a party transformed. And the transformation may well accelerate. A lot of the energy behind National Conservatism comes from young people.
For the rising generation that came of age during the Trump presidency, there has been no compelling alternative to National Conservatism. There have been no groundbreaking works of free market economics and, other than George Will's Conservative Sensibility, no major text making the case for ordered liberty. Intellectual activity has run in the opposite direction—toward the state, toward planning, toward tribal identity, toward arbitrary power, toward personalist rule.
That is why Freedom Conservatism matters. The statement isn't perfect. Hugh Hewitt observes that it ought to mention property rights. Andrew T. Walker notes that it departs from the 1960 Sharon Statement by neglecting transcendent values and the existence of God. My own manifesto—yet to be written—would include additional language on human rights and democracy and the mediating institutions of family, community, vocation, and faith.
Read it all here.
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Williamson M. Evers: California Math Framework: Proven Methods vs. Political Ideology
Of all the subjects taught in school, math would at first blush seem to be the one least likely to be subject to politicization, but California seems intent on proving that assumption inaccurate. At Real Clear Education, Williamson Evers relates how the Golden State is making two plus two far more convoluted than anyone might imagine.
The curriculum recommends that teachers employ “trauma-informed pedagogy” in the classroom. Such pedagogy contends that students are crippled emotionally by a racist, sexist, violent society ruled by a capitalist class. Consequently, teachers should train students to effectuate transformative social change.
Political organizing and making political issues the subject of math class leads to lessons on, for example, the need for decision-making about natural resources and ecosystems in light of “political virtue.” The teacher is supposed to highlight “connections” between math and “environmental and social justice.” Students might write an “opinion piece” or an “explanatory text.”
[ . . . ]
The curriculum designers should not have wallowed in utopian political sentimentality, nor should they have neglected efficacy in teaching methods. There is no royal road to geometry; it takes hard work.
Teachers should adopt instructional methods tested by randomized trials and evaluation techniques that come close to random assignment. Education researcher Tom Loveless, now retired from the Brookings Institution, looked at what research is not cited or not drawn upon in the new California math curriculum. It turns out that the framework “ignores the best research” on K–12 mathematics.
Expert panels organized by the What Works Clearinghouse, Loveless points out, have combed through the research literature and have filtered out studies based on quality, using strict protocols. Is this the research that the designers of California’s math curriculum relied on? No, they ignored it. It didn’t match their progressive-education biases.
Read the whole thing.
Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: ‘Antiracists’ vs. Academic Freedom
Also out of California, there’s a reason there’s no “F” in DEI. The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal writes that the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) standards of California Community Colleges make a mockery of academic freedom and value conformity over real diversity.
Mr. Johnson opposes it all and is suing with help from the Institute for Free Speech. “Professor Johnson cannot satisfy DEIA standards based on the state Chancellor’s DEIA competencies without violating his conscience and surrendering his academic freedom,” his filing says. “Almost everything Professor Johnson teaches violates the new DEIA requirements—not just by failing to advance the DEIA and anti-racist ideologies, but also by criticizing them.”
He doesn’t want to change his “classical pedagogy that stresses the study of ‘truth, goodness, and beauty.’” He doesn’t want to engage in DEIA “self-reflection,” which “he views as religious-like and little more than neo-Marxist re-education on race.” He doesn’t want to “articulate” the antiracism credo, which he believes is “antithetical to Bakersfield College’s mission and the American national ideal not to discriminate and provide equal opportunity for all regardless of the melanin in a person’s skin.”
Mr. Johnson emphasizes that this DEIA push is not a benign directive about trying to reach students from diverse backgrounds in the classroom. It’s a radical political project. He cites an official DEIA glossary posted by California Community Colleges:
Antiracists “understand that racism is pervasive and has been embedded into all societal structures.” Also: “Persons are either anti-racist or racist. Persons that say they are ‘not a racist’ are in denial of the inequities and racial problems that exist.”
Colorblindness “de-emphasizes, or ignores, race and ethnicity, a large part of one’s identity and lived experience.” A suggested synonym is “color-evasiveness,” which is better, because it “avoids describing people with disabilities as problematic or deficient by using blindness as a metaphor for ignorance.”
Read it all.
Around Twitter (or X, as it is now known)
Via the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR), another example of the “hate speech” smokescreen:
And finally, a court in Oregon outdoes itself: