Legend says that when Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha after finding enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, He was asked if He was now a prophet or a saint, to which He replied, “I am awake.”
Given today’s political milieu, one might wonder why Buddha chose to use such a pejorative term to define an otherwise life-altering experience.
Of course, the truth is that being awake means being conscious, being aware, and being knowledgeable, and thus being less susceptible to the corrupt methodologies of the evil and self-serving.
This is the reason so many politicians and pundits today are haranguing against what they describe as “wokeness” and so zealously trying to dictate what can and cannot be taught, because they realize this knowledge could expose how the tactics they are using are the same that have been deployed throughout history by dictators of all political stripes.
History has shown that the seemingly diametrical extremes of Adolf Hitler’s fascism and Mao Zedong’s communism are strikingly similar: Studying the methods previous dictators have used to obtain and maintain power; silencing the intellectuals and academics who could question, challenge, and reveal the duplicity behind their kleptocratic schemes; and keeping people ignorant by withholding the information and educational tools that could unmask their authoritarian machinations.
It’s easy for Americans to take succor in the belief that these tyrants evolved in other nations and thus their tactics could never work here. But it should be remembered how Sen. Joseph McCarthy easily parlayed the “Red Scare” of the 1950s into roughly a decade of autocratic power.
The infamous question McCarthy and his supporters would often ask was, “Are you now or have you ever been a communist?” Fast forward to today and it doesn’t take much imagination to see how easily “communist” has been replaced with “woke,” or “critical race theorist.”
And, just like during the McCarthy era, the label “Marxist” is being disingenuously affixed to these terms to mute legitimate questions and criticisms about the threat these modern-day McCarthyites are posing to the Constitution, to the educational system, to democracy, and to the future of this country.
We are already seeing the dangerous and deadly residuals of this strategy. The Daily Beast recently reported that white supremacist groups are now endeavoring to transform the anti-CRT hysteria into a recruitment tool, hoping that the void left by banning intellectual discussions about race and racism will be filled by the conspiracy fueled “Replacement Theory,” which motivated the deadly shooting in Buffalo, New York.
Some view history as linear, progressing directly from the ancient, less “civilized” times to the modern day. I, however, have always viewed it more as a pendulum incessantly swinging between overreaction and regret. Just like when the end of Reconstruction ushered in almost a century of brutal “Jim Crow” segregation laws and obliterated the 15th Amendment’s right to vote, the "anti-Critical Race Theory" and “Stop the Steal” movements are now doing the same, dividing not perhaps by physical barriers, but by more intangible, but no less insidious, ones.
So please remember that much of the money and backing for the war against CRT and education in general is coming from organizations and individuals who do not have your children’s best interests at heart.
David R. Hoffman is a retired constitutional law and civil rights attorney.
This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Attack on CRT is not in children's best interest | David Hoffman Guestview