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E-Pluribus | November 19, 2021
Shocking audio from a teachers conference, why everyone should be concerned about violence against the religious, and changing the direction of public discourse.
A round up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Abigail Shrier: How Activist Teachers Recruit Kids
Abigail Shrier literally wrote the book on the pressure children face today from the intense focus on gender-related issues (Irreversible Damage: Teenage Girls and the Transgender Craze). Now at her Substack, Shrier reveals some disturbing recordings she was provided from the California Teachers Association Conference (2021 LGBTQ+ Issues Conference, Beyond the Binary: Identity & Imagining Possibilities) on the under-the-radar tactics advanced by activists to teachers for engaging (indoctrinating?) their young students.
On the audio recording, Baraki and Caldeira explain that they give an anti-bullying school presentation every year. “Let me assure you that the presentation that we gave was 100 percent age appropriate. Literally, definitions: ‘If someone is gay, it is a man who is attracted to another man.’ Right? ‘If somebody is a lesbian, it is a female attracted to another female.’ Literally, gave them definitions. We also covered religious differences, race, cultural backgrounds, family status poverty—everything that is listed in the Parents’ Rights handbook, we covered. That is not what kids went home and told their parents, though,” Caldeira said.
There was parent backlash; Caldeira and Baraki learned from the experience: “Next year, we’re going to do just a little mind-trick on our sixth graders. They were last to go through this presentation and the gender stuff was the last thing we talked about. So next year, they’ll be going first with this presentation and the gender stuff will be the first thing they are about. Hopefully to mitigate, you know, these kind of responses, right?” Baraki can be heard telling the teacher audience. Parents who oppose this material being taught to their sixth graders will find that their objections arrive too late.
A conference attendee told me that Baraki then directed the participants’ attention to a parent email objecting to the presentation. The parent had written that she had not intended to have a conversation with her middle schooler about sexual orientation and gender identity, but the school presentation forced her hand. Baraki mocked the parent to her audience: “I know, so sad, right? Sorry for you, you had to do something hard! Honestly, your twelve-year-old probably knew all that, right?”
One parent objected so strenuously that the principal “invited them to take their child to a private school that more aligns with them,” Caldeira can be heard to say. “So that was a win, right? We count that as a win.” Then, Caldeira added: “Plus, I hate to say this, but thank you CTA—but I have tenure! You can’t fire me for running a GSA. And so, you can be mad, but you can’t fire me for it. CTA has made it very clear that they are devoted to human rights and equity. They provide us with these sources, these resources and tools.”
Despite the use of these sundry tactics, Caldeira insists to her audience of educators: “You should know, we’ve also acted with great integrity in the past several years that we have run [a GSA]. We never crossed a line,” she says. “We’ve wanted to, but we never have.”
Read it all here.
Samuel J. Aquila and Tim Busch: Church vandalism is soaring. Here’s why everyone should care.
Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are closed linked and not just because they appear together in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Samuel Aquila, Catholic archbishop of Denver, and Tim Busch of the Napa Institute write at the Washington Post that the increasing violence and vandalism of places of worship in this country should be a concern to every American and not only the religious among us.
Today, Catholics are far from the only people of faith being attacked. The Mormon Church has reported its own dramatic spike in violence and vandalism of their temples. Numerous African American churches suffered property damage over the past year and a half following protests over racial justice. Buddhist temples and Muslim mosques have been targeted too, while Jewish communities are facing historic levels of antisemitism, including attacks on synagogues and cemeteries. Hate crimes, which include religiously motivated attacks, will likely set a 20-year record in 2021.
As Catholics, we recognize that this is a spiritual crisis. We pray for the end to such horrifying attacks and for God’s love to drive out the hate in the perpetrators, regardless of who they have targeted. Yet as Americans, we also clearly see a cultural crisis. People of goodwill, whether religious or not, must condemn and confront the societal trends that encourage attacks on houses of worship — trends that extend far beyond religion.
America has long been a place where different people with different views could coexist in peaceful communities. Those differences were often significant, but the ability to hold them without fear of punishment was a wonderful source of national unity. Now, however, those differences are increasingly seen as something to be reined in or driven out, contributing to a mounting state of national division.
There is never a valid justification for such actions, just as there is no sound reason to vandalize a business or invade the home of someone you dislike. Simply holding different beliefs, however strongly, is not an invitation to aggression. If that becomes a widely accepted reaction, which now appears to be a real possibility, society will rapidly spiral downward. We’ll reach a place where Americans turn on each other at the slightest provocation. Democracy cannot survive when difference is a source of strife.
Read it all.
R. James Carter: We Can’t Keep Going Like This
While robust public debate in the United States has always been (and should always be) part of what preserves liberty, R. James Carter writes at Quillette that the degradation of the political and cultural discourse is unsustainable. Without a commitment to a certain level of respect for those we oppose and also a commitment to persuasion over coercion, we are headed down a path that cannot help but end badly.
Today, we examine everything, and we proclaim it all. Pics, or it didn’t happen. We know now what lurks in our country’s dark corners and we cannot unknow it. I wouldn’t want to anyway. I am not advocating for some radical return to ignorance. Even if I were offered the chance to expunge my sense of the world’s institutional corruption, I don’t believe I would take it. The fire was stolen for us, and I would not give it back, even if some must spend their days chained to a mountain, devoured repeatedly, while the rest of us face Pandora and her jar of goodies.
But we need to understand what we’re facing. And we don’t—the evidence for that is clear. Our current pattern of discourse, repeated weekly and sometimes daily, is not so much a cycle as it is an exercise in insanity, a continual banging of our collective head against a wall. […]
The race to post the first and most sensational reaction drives the entire online world to spurn Aesop’s classic “slow and steady” archetype in favor of some coked-up, sleepless, steroid-enhanced version of the hare that is as likely to win as it is to drop dead halfway through the race. Online commercialism, in its current infancy, does not reward civility, and does not provide space for content submitted without an eye for reward. There is no market for measure, no pause for pacing and processing. The tortoise was left behind long ago.
Read the whole thing.
Via Bari Weiss’s Substack, former New York Times reporter Nellie Bowles reveals how the Times sat on a story about the Kenosha riots until after the 2020 elections:
A concerning move by YouTube on a report about China’s treatment of one of their tennis stars, Peng Shaui, who accused a Chinese government official of sexual misconduct and has not been seen in public for days:
And finally, Peter Boghossian on “Unsafe”: