Republicans and right-leaning pundits are giddy over the effects of the November 2 Virginia gubernatorial election. Many see the come-from-behind victory as a template for Republican success in 2022 and 2024.
Indeed, progressives generally—and especially liberal educationists—suffered a massive blow.
An Election Based Upon the Culture War in Education
The thrust of the victory came from attacks on Critical Race Theory, an issue that Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin hit hard and Former Governor Terry McAuliffe insisted was a “racist dog whistle.”
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The editors of the Washington Examiner provided a typical reaction to the Virginia election.
“For decades now, left-wing activists have used their power in academia and public education to fundamentally change how people understand their nation’s past, present, and future. Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial election was the first battle in an effort to take that narrative back.”
Meanwhile, The Federalist foresees a new political trend.
“The rapid Republican sweep in Virginia showcased a repeated pattern nationwide, where grassroots conservatives began to organize in new coalitions to effectively engage in the culture war. School board races became ground zero as leftists implemented plans indoctrinating students to see the entire world through a racial lens.”
A Partial Victory, At Best
Much of the jubilation is justified. Critical Race Theory is a dangerous set of ideas custom built by anti-American Marxist academics. Mr. Youngkin’s victory is the first real sign that parents soundly reject it and are willing to vote on that belief.
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However, getting rid of CRT is not enough. Its doctrines are only the most prominent fruits of a rotten tree. Handing the “anti-racists” a defeat is gratifying, but only the beginning of the battle. The tree itself must be cut down, uprooted, chopped into pieces, and burned.
CRT is an Effect, Not a Cause.
The progressive mindset that created CRT goes back to the early twentieth century. In the realm of education, the progressive-in-chief was John Dewey (1859-1952), which the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy calls “arguably the most prominent American intellectual for the first half of the twentieth century.”
A hallmark of John Dewey’s ideology was his attempt to make education into a science. In 1927, Dr. Dewey drew a somewhat homely analogy to illustrate the importance of experts. “The man who wears the shoe knows that it pinches and where it pinches, even if the expert shoemaker is the best judge of how the trouble is to be remedied.”1
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Today, most of America’s schools rely on such experts, all trained by Dr. Dewey or his disciples. These sages funneled Critical Race Theory into the classroom.
There is a direct connection between John Dewey’s analogy and Mr. McAuliffe’s politically disastrous statement, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The Enemy is Deceptive.
The political furor over Critical Race Theory surprised the left. Their knee-jerk reaction to the uproar followed three lines. Some tried to assert that CRT accurately depicted America’s past. Others tried to say that attacks on CRT were proof of “systemic racism.” However, the loudest “defense” was that CRT is a university-level idea absent from K-12 education.
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The overall effect was confusion in the CRT ranks as they seemed to both defend and deny the theory at the same time.
CRT opponents need to know the fallacies behind all three arguments.
First, CRT—and especially its best-known product, the 1619 Project—is grossly inaccurate. Many reputable historians on the right and the left take issue with its fundamental premise—that racism has irredeemably “poisoned” all aspects of the American society, culture and economy.
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The ploy that CRT resistance is the product of “systemic racism” consists of personal attacks on those who disagree. The left argues that the system is at fault, and there is nothing individuals can do to remedy problems except overthrow the system. This is a typical Marxist boilerplate that denies personal responsibility and sets up class struggle situations that don’t exist. The best response is an insistence that CRT oppresses and inflicts great psychological harm on the children exposed to it.
The argument that CRT is limited to the university classroom appears to be the left’s favorite. It elevates the leftists as informed while asserting that their opponents are ignorant. The best way to solve the crisis is to deny it exists. Thus, the left is carefully scrubbing the term from lessons and curricula. However, it is impossible to remove the vocabulary that supports CRT. Terms like equity, intersectionality and privilege are dead giveaways that CRT is lurking behind the scenes.
The Enemy is Prepared.
The statistics of education are mind-numbing. There are over 50.7 million students in U.S. schools. Each child spends roughly 14,000 hours in one or more of America’s 131,000 schools before graduation. Taxpayers provide over $700 billion to public schools. About 3.2 million people run and staff these schools. Most of them have degrees from University Schools of Education. Most teachers and administrators are state certified—and the certifiers went to the same Universities.
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Together, those figures provide some sense of the educational establishment’s political, social, and economic power. It oversees a well-equipped army with an abundance of foot soldiers. The media establishment eagerly spreads its message.
The Next Steps
Nonetheless, the Virginia election shows that CRT can be defeated. The leftists are in disarray. They cannot accept the real reason for their defeat—that the average American is not a racist and objects to being called one. Others realize that American values, education and private property are all at stake. In addition, the teaching of the Catholic Church is contrary to such.
The election proves that Americans will defend these basic concepts of society. Such a development is heartening. However, optimism and elections aren’t enough. If the left is finally defeated, Americans must fight the roots of the evils surrounding us and turn to God, whose grace is necessary for ultimate victory.
Indeed, Catholic teaching recognizing all people created in the image and likeness of God represents the true vision of society contrary to Critical Race Theory. It teaches the harmony of the races rather than the class struggle dialectics that destroy society.
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1. Quoted in Laurence A. Cremin, American Education: The Metropolitan Experience 1876-1980 (New York: Harper and Row, 1988, p. 186.