Rules for radical chic

·7 min read

In January 2019, I wrote in these pages about how the teachings of ‘60s radical Saul Alinsky were all over school lesson plans in America, though students rarely knew of or understood the connection to Alinsky himself. It’s hard not to notice virtually the same phenomenon repeat itself with critical race theory, the pseudo-Marxist brand of race essentialism at the core of the curriculum fights between students (and their parents) and teachers.

Racial cooperation and colorblindness have been replaced in many schools by an all-encompassing valuation of students’ lives and experiences based solely on the color of their skin. Alinsky would be proud. Simply attack opponents personally and professionally, he advised. Intimidate them, disorient them.

Welcome to the politics of the 21st century, in which candlelight vigils and conventional political processes are trampled underfoot by violent riots, intimidation, and institutionalized division.

A movement of “woke” activists, politicians, CEOs, military brass, professors, journalists, and teachers has moved on from what we associate with classic civil rights leaders, which was a strategy of alternating cooperation and confrontation. Now, it’s all confrontation, all the time. Trading black civil rights leaders for white Alinskyite thuggery is a downgrade not just for the Left but for society as a whole.

The common theme, whether it’s CRT or Saul Alinsky or whatever form the next radical trend takes, is the Left’s consistent adherence to doctrines of confrontation that emphasize and exaggerate identity conflicts. Difference, not dignity.

And these chic ideologies always get a massive boost from the National Education Association. The NEA has praised and pushed Alinsky’s writings for decades, and endorsed the teaching of critical race theory this month.

Union leaders want the nationwide teaching of a curriculum that tells nonwhite students they are helplessly oppressed by white students. They want nonwhite children to believe society was designed to ensure their failure and hand success to people born white.

By planning an organized “fight” against opponents of critical race theory, as this month’s NEA resolution calls for, the union stands to obstruct overtly and then replace the very concept of equity in classrooms, a foundational principle of education in America’s grade schools.

The union's backing of critical race theory, in other words, is completely in character.

Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals gave America-loathing activists a sophomoric manual for sowing division. It lives on today, even among those who learned the tactics indirectly and have never heard of Alinsky and his rules. That’s precisely what’s happening with critical race theory: a guide to divide and humiliate students that incorporates all manner of stunts and tactics that will be practiced by those who know little, if anything, about the actual ideological and intellectual origins of it.

“Rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression,” implores Alinsky’s Rules. And, importantly, “clothe it with moral garments.”

There’s no room in Alinsky’s rules for unity, praising America, or extolling freedom. Instead, they justify exactly the type of division we see in “defund the police,” violent riots cloaked in concerns for “racial justice,” a New York Times series that pretends the country was founded by slave masters in 1619, and a classroom curriculum that tells white children they are oppressors of nonwhite children.

Since its founding in 1776, the United States has ended slavery, outlawed forced segregation in schools, ended “whites only” drinking fountains and other sickening Jim Crow laws, passed a sweeping federal civil rights act, elected a black president, and moved in the direction of a country unified by character, even if it still has a ways to go to get there.

Long before parents discovered the proliferation of critical race theory and similar curricula in schools, Professor Nicholas Daniel Hartlep wrote an assessment of the ideology for the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

“Color-blindness and meritocratic rhetoric serve two primary functions: first, they allow whites to feel consciously irresponsible for the hardships people of color face and encounter daily and, secondly, they also maintain whites’ power and strongholds within society,” Hartlep wrote.

One cannot teach children to strive for success while simultaneously telling them a system of oppression will hold them down no matter what they do.

Only time will tell which of two conflicting movements will prevail. Will society cling to the longstanding ethic that says character matters most? Or, will we see pervasive acceptance of the ideology that says factions of genetic identity should and always will define our country? Will we debate and learn from people with opposing ideas, or will we destroy their reputations and harm them personally and professionally with Alinsky-style tactics?

Alveda King, who grew up under the guidance of her uncle Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, said critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and anything else that divides people along racial lines goes against the vision of her uncle. She believes these narratives would also offend her father, civil rights leader A.D. King, and her grandfather, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Sr.

“Those men were all reverends, and they taught the Bible truth,” Alveda King said.

King learned from her elders the basis of their family’s civil rights activism was Acts 17:26 from the King James Bible, which says God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”

“That verse helped my uncle say something we quote today: ‘We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.’ There’s one race, and that’s the human race,” King said. “The preachers in my family have always understood there is only one human race, and science proves this as well. When we think we are a separate race and there are separate races, we are being racist.”

Despite the country’s largest teaching establishment imposing critical race theory, despite violent race riots, despite the 1619 Project, and despite Alinsky’s insidious rules, King believes the agenda of her uncle, father, and grandfather will prevail in the long run. She believes society will tire of dividing classrooms by “oppressor” and “oppressed” and return to children holding hands and thanking God for freedom.

She may be right. Throughout the country, black and white parents are packing into school board meetings to demand an end to curricula that say whites are oppressors and nonwhites are oppressed.

Legislatures and state school boards in Idaho, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Florida have taken measures to prohibit the teaching of critical race theory and the 1619 Project in public schools. Other states and school boards are considering similar actions.

An Ipsos/USA Today poll in May found only 18% of the public supports “defund the police.” A year-old survey by Braun Research found nearly 60% of parents and nearly 73% of school board members want schools to teach the year 1776, not 1619, as the founding of the United States.

Black civil rights leader Bob Woodson reports school boards across the country are embracing his 1776 United curriculum, an alternative to critical race theory and the 1619 Project in classrooms. The 1776 curriculum teaches the country’s history of slavery, segregation, and all varieties of racism. Unlike critical race theory, it avoids blaming today’s children for the color of their skin and pitting them against one another.

“The truth will rise again. Of course, the truth is going to win. Jesus already won this on the cross,” King said.

Wayne Laugesen is editor of the editorial pages for the Gazette in Colorado.

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Tags: Saul Alinsky, Critical Race Theory, Teachers Unions, Education, Public Schools, Race and Diversity

Original Author: Wayne Laugesen

Original Location: Rules for radical chic

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