Discover more from PLURIBUS
E-Pluribus | July 31, 2023
Critical race leery; the Biden administration versus the First Amendment; the New Right: old and wrong.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Kenny Xu: Critical Race Theory Doesn’t Empower Students
While proponents of critical race theory (CRT) often contend that it’s not taught in school, experience has shown otherwise. Writing at National Review, Kenny Xu asserts that whatever its merits (or demerits), CRT is simply too heavy for young students and can instill a victim mentality that is difficult to shake.
Recently, parents, teachers, and schools have been engaging in a cultural battle over what kinds of curricula should be taught to young minds. Should kids be immersed in the dynamics of privilege and oppression — à la critical race theory — or should we avoid exposing kids to this form of education?
Critical-race-theory proponents argue that this kind of education is empowering. As Paulo Freire, the Marxist educator and founder of critical pedagogy argued, “the only effective instrument” in education “is a humanizing pedagogy in which the revolutionary leadership establishes a permanent relationship of dialogue with the oppressed.” According to critical pedagogists, education in one’s “place” in society can empower and stimulate interest in and growth in the world.
[ . . . ]
Whatever the age should be at which students grapple with harsh narratives about a racist society, it should be after they’ve properly matured into free thinkers and won’t internalize the teachings into their own sense of self-worth. Schools teaching about race should follow the example of the young King Randall, who built a boarding school for young children in Albany, Ga. — the murder capital of the state. Mostly black, entirely poor, King Randall’s “X for Boys” school focuses on teaching children basic life skills before it addresses topics such as racism and discrimination. Those are topics for another day. Today is focused on building up a confident young man ready to take on society.
[ . . . ]
Critical pedagogy that teaches that racism is overarching attempts to make black people think of their political status as inferior. Randall teaches black kids to view themselves as equals to the white man not by imposing the racial dichotomy on them but by enabling them to become equally skilled. In doing so he follows the line of thinking of Booker T. Washington, a black American teacher and orator who wrote in his autobiographical Up From Slavery: “I tried to emphasize the fact that while the Negro should not be deprived by unfair means of the franchise, political agitation alone would not save him, and that back of the ballot he must have property, industry, skill, economy, intelligence, and character, and that no race without these elements could permanently succeed.”
Read it all.
Subscribe for free:
Philip Hamburger and Jenin Younes: The Biden Administration’s Assault on Free Speech
The Biden administration, while stressing the role of government in fighting mis-and disinformation, insists it’s not engaging in government censorship. Writing at The Wall Street Journal, Philip Hamburger and Jenin Younes take exception to that claim, based on documentation recently revealed in the Missouri v. Biden court case.
Court-ordered discovery in Missouri v. Biden has already revealed that the White House strong-armed platforms into more censorship than they considered justified—prompting the judge to declare that the administration had made “arguably the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.” The new documents go further, showing that the administration drove much of Meta’s censorship.
In April 2021, Facebook (now Meta) executive Nick Clegg wrote to the company’s leaders, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg: “We are facing continued pressure from external stakeholders, including the White House and the press, to remove more COVID-19 vaccine discouraging content” (emphasis in original). Mr. Clegg recounted a conversation he had with Andy Slavitt, then White House senior adviser for the Covid response. Mr. Clegg wrote that Mr. Slavitt was “outraged” that Facebook hadn’t taken down a meme, which joked that 10 years from now trial-lawyer commercials would be soliciting the vaccinated to seek damages. When Mr. Clegg protested that the administration was making “a significant incursion into traditional boundaries of free expression,” Mr. Slavitt (according to Mr. Clegg) dismissed such First Amendment concerns on the ground that the objectionable meme “inhibits confidence in Covid vaccines.” This prompted Mr. Clegg to comment to his colleagues that “given what is at stake here,” the company should “regroup to take stock of where we are in our relations with the WH, and our internal methods too.”
Meta acquiesced to the administration’s pressure. An internal Aug. 2, 2021, email from a Facebook employee on the Trust and Safety Team noted: “Leadership asked Misinfo Policy and a couple of teams on Product Policy to brainstorm some additional policy levers we can pull to be more aggressive against Covid and vaccine misinformation. This is stemming from the continued criticism of our approach from the US administration and a desire to kick the tires further internally on creative options.”
[ . . . ]
The First Amendment prohibits the government from “abridging the freedom of speech.” Supreme Court doctrine makes clear that government can’t constitutionally evade the amendment by working through private companies. The newly released documents paint a clear picture of an administration running roughshod over these protections.
Read it all here.
Jonah Goldberg: The New Right Is Neither New nor Right
Few would dispute that a power struggle has been going on among the right for some time, but in his latest G-File for The Dispatch, Jonah Goldberg argues that at least one party in that struggle is only marginally “right” in reality. The New Right fancies itself the modern face of conservatism, but Goldberg says it doesn’t live up to either half of its name.
[A]s I’ve often argued, a lot of the New Right stuff is less about principles or ideals or policies, and more about factional infighting and the desperate effort to climb to the top of the greasy pole of power. According to internal tribal rules, the last thing any of these people can do is begin a sentence, “As David Brooks brilliantly demonstrated …” They see those guys as icons of the old establishment they want to replace. So they pretend these debates never happened (or in some cases they don’t pretend, because they have the historical memory of gnats).
[ . . . ]
[According to] this piece by David Azerrad for a symposium in The American Conservative [. . . t]he “manly” New Right is “counter-revolutionary” and “understands not just ideas, but power,” he explains. What intellectual dissidents there are in the old right are “drowned out by those of the conservative establishment.” Someone has got to point out this conservative establishment at some point, because this strikes me as straw-manning for the benefit of some hotheads in a dorm room.
Of course, there are no new ideas here. None. It’s all atmospherics and chest thumping about how they’re fighters who fight the way the left does. The only figure quoted by name is Patrick Buchanan, who didn’t offer any new ideas (he at least admitted his ideas were old) but said some stirring things about fighting.
I’ve met Azerrad a few times and got along with him just fine back when he was at the Heritage Foundation. But one of the reasons I got along with him—other than the fact he was a fairly personable guy (as befits a Canadian)—was that his old routine was to talk a lot about “timeless principles.”
“The Framers may be dead and gone, but their timeless principles endure,” he wrote. He excoriated Barack Obama for his novel reinterpretations of the Constitution on the simple basis that “times change.” Those principles, as he explained at length over the years, were about limited government, free markets, etc.
Now that it’s a “century” after the New Deal (more like 90 years, but whatever), talking about limited government is cowardly folly, the stuff of craven eunuchs and corrupt buffoons. The cause is lost, so we must become like the left and use the state for our purposes.
Was the cause not lost when the New Deal was a mere 75 years old? What happened in the last 15 years that made it futile to fight for … checks notes … timeless principles?
Read the whole thing.
And finally, nobody saw this coming. right?