What would happen to a house if you attacked and destroyed its foundations?
Our nation right now is listening to hucksters and psychopaths as if they are revealing some brilliant new truth about our country and ourselves.
One of these enlightened minds is Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility and, more recently, Nice Racism.
D’Angelo is very white. She is also very anti-white. Matt Taibbi tears into her new book on Substack.
Reading DiAngelo is like being strapped to an ice floe in a vast ocean while someone applies metronome hammer-strikes to the the same spot on your temporal bone over and over. You hear ideas repeated ten, twenty, a hundred times, losing track of which story is which. Are we at the workshop where Eva denies she’s a racist because she grew up in Germany, or the one where Bob and Sue deny they’re racist by claiming they think of themselves as individuals, or the one where the owning-class white woman erupts because no one will validate her claim that she’s not racist, because she’s from Canada?
Why should anyone listen to such a scattered, biased, fragile person? We used to admire and listen to the strong and bold. Now? Our military from the top down listens to DiAngelo. The top two in the military have recently admitted as much by putting her books on their recommended reading lists. West Point is teaching concepts based on DiAngelo and another race huckster, Ibram X. Kendi.
The arguments the wokesters make are at once historically inaccurate — wildly so, in many cases — dishonest, and tedious. They often fail to stand up to even the most basic logic or fact tests. They are simple-minded to the point of being childish.
Most of history happened far outside white contact with other races. How does critical race theory deal with elitism among, say, the Chaco Canyon people, or the Mayans, before Columbus ever set foot in the New World? How do they deal with the racism, violence, and slavery that existed in Asia, the Americas, and Africa before the Age of Exploration? How do they deal with the racism, violence, and slavery of white Europeans against each other during the Viking age? No one asks them. History is a very messy thing, incompatible with an ideology that puts everyone in neat little boxes.
The 1619 Project is a prime example of both wokeism’s dishonesty and its simple-mindedness. New York Times staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones is not a historian, but had one of those flashes all writers get sometimes, an “Aha!” that may well be the beginning of a brilliant idea. It may also be a turd.
I’ve had one such idea, maybe great, maybe not, which I’ve been researching and testing for a few years now, and am almost to the point of saying that I believe it to be true and putting that in writing. But not quite yet. The competent and honest writer tests the idea against facts, and facts must win. Not so with Jones, though. She ignored historians who factually questioned her political assertion that America was really founded in 1619, with the arrival of a couple dozen slaves in one of the then colonies, not 1776, when America actually declared its independence and also set out in writing what the new country would be about.
Jones’ idea was not brilliant. It was wrong. America owes its founding ideals much more to ancient Greece and Rome, the Magna Carta, the 1641 English Civil War, and the 1688 Glorious Revolution than to an event that wasn’t even the first arrival of enslaved Africans in the New World. But that wrong idea has been unstoppable. The 1619 Project is now all but orthodoxy to the Biden administration, which is pushing it into public schools nationwide via grants and incentives — money, which practically no educator can resist now, whatever strings may come with it. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has imbibed it. He’s only the top soldier in our whole military. This is a significant problem.
Jones has spawned a new cottage industry, it seems. After Woodward and Bernstein did Watergate, every ambitious journalist wanted to be them, and the way to be them was to emulate them. Every Washington scandal got -gate attached to it, even if they were fake, such as Russiagate. The national media pushed every fake twist and every fake turn in that fake scandal to undermine a duly elected president during his entire term. They all sought that grail that would be their ticket off the beat and onto the desks at some national cable channel or even Meet the Press (which hardly anyone watches anymore). Self-interest overrides the quiet pursuit of the facts.
Now, though, times and motivations have changed. Out is the idea that investigative journalism is the path to fame and fortune. In is the notion that rewriting history with a dash of snark is the way to a Pulitzer and a post at a university. Hannah-Jones has been feted with both, despite being fundamentally wrong. Now she’s demanding tenure — lifetime employment — for being wrong in her fundamental but fame-building conclusion.
I’ve written quite a bit about a me-too 1619 Project in Texas, a book written by an author, a business journalist at the Houston Chronicle, and a Democrat political operative who was once the spokesman for Austin Mayor Steve Adler. Significantly none of them are historians and none of them have put in the time it takes to really understand 19th century Texas. This trio has written Forget the Alamo. It’s a dumb book that gets the Alamo and Texas history in general pretty wrong. Why these three are believed over career historians, by anyone let alone the media in San Antonio, is puzzling. They simply haven’t been around the Alamo story for very long, and it’s a story that takes time to unravel. A historian friend of mine is working on a book about the 1813 revolution in Texas. That’s not the famous one, it’s one that failed, but he and many other historians say that in order to understand the 1836 revolution, you need to understand that one. I would generally agree and add that you also need to understand the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Mexican Revolution. At least. There were a lot of revolutions going on, and they all had a significant impact on events in Texas. You need to understand Napoleon, Jefferson, Washington, and the currents of thought of the time. You need to understand that several Texas revolutionaries’ fathers fought in the American Revolution. These facts matter.
The Alamo Truthers behind Forget the Alamo don’t evidently understand any of it. They don’t even really understand simple military reality. Take this passage from page 99 of their book.
And, sad to say, how anything that happened after Santa Anna’s appearance on February 23 can be held up as “bravery” is beyond us. Once Santa Anna appeared, Travis and his men were trapped. Despite the legends, there was never any conscious decision or vote in which the defenders elected to stay and fight. They had simply lingered too long, and now they were trapped. Every one was a dead man walking.
Yes, this would be beyond folks who don’t understand much outside a newsroom or a political operation. Juan Seguin rode out of the Alamo with a call for reinforcements a day after the siege began. Nearly three dozen men from Gonzales, Texas, got into the Alamo five days later answering that call. James Butler Bonham got into the Alamo on March 3, three days before the climactic battle in which he and all the other defenders died. Was he brave to enter the Alamo while it was under siege by Santa Anna, who had murdered about 5,000 Mexican citizens in Zacatecas?
The defenders could have left. Santa Anna’s lines obviously were not impenetrable. But they stayed.
The authors imply that once you are surrounded by an enemy force you lose agency and are no longer to be considered brave. The Americans who were encircled by the Nazis at Bastogne in December 1944 might have a word for them: “Nuts!”
No one outside a few Republicans, conservative media, some knowledgeable writers, and the occasional heretic from the left such as Taibbi is calling any of this out. This is a significant problem.
Museums and institutions wanting in on the buzz will fete these three wrong authors and others who follow their example with credibility and exposure. Soon enough they’ll win a prestigious award. Soon enough some public university will hire one or all of them to teach classes. Don’t laugh — Texas State hired Beto O’Rourke despite his utter lack of qualifications. Soon enough there will be overt or covert means to insert their quite wrong take on Texas history into Texas history curricula in classrooms across the state. If you doubt this, you underestimate the level of wokeness in public education now, even in Texas. It’s not quite pervasive but it’s getting there. Between that and the spinelessness of public educrats, we have another significant problem. Academics who are not yet woke cower in fear of being canceled, losing their jobs, and losing their precious pensions.
At this point, George P. Bush, the elected commissioner responsible for the Alamo’s upkeep, hasn’t uttered much in its defense. The state’s political and cultural leaders are all busy with other things, from running for other offices as he is, to good and necessary things to ensure the state’s safety and survival. These are busy times.
But wokeness threatens the foundations of the nation, the foundations of the state, the foundations of everything. America is founded not on blood or geography but on ideas. Wokeness replaces our real, sometimes glorious and sometimes messy, history with simple-minded lies that undermine the credibility of the American project at its foundation. What we teach our children about the past very much affects the future. What will future generations do with an America they have been taught is racist at its roots?
Parents are rising up against wokeness in their schools when they find it. That’s happening nationwide, which is good. But here’s how pervasive this simple-minded nonsense is now. The FAA is changing the language around aircraft to remove terms such as “manned” and “cockpit.” This isn’t inclusive, it’s just dumb. The National Archives has issued a report turning against the founders and the founding documents that the Archives protects. This is dangerous.
Most Americans don’t support any of this and were never allowed to vote on any of it before critical race theory — the simple-minded take on history that’s behind all this — was not taught but implemented in our schools, the military, and corporate America. When some on the left say CRT isn’t being taught, they’re being accurate and legalistic. It’s not being taught. It’s being implemented. Teachers are creating activists through indoctrination.
When CRT ideas have been put up for a vote, they have been decisively defeated. That happened in Loudon County, Virginia, one of the CRT battle nexus points, recently. The wokesters’ response is to try and dissolve the parents’ group that’s resisting. They didn’t like the outcome the rules allowed so they’re trying to change the rules.
Is there any stopping this now? I’d say yes, but no one should think it will be easy and stopping it is not foreordained. Sometimes the worst ideas win. There will be pushback and it will be vicious. The federal government, to name just one, will have to have this cancerous ideology rooted out. That will take leadership, but so far there isn’t much even in Texas to defend its Alamo.