Critical theories teach students that the institutions of the West, including and especially America, are systemically oppressive for women, minorities, and other identity groups. These theories push the idea of equity or equal outcomes to adjust for this historical oppression. They divide individuals into identity groups and assume members have similar experiences, characteristics, social roles, and motivations. It seems those being treated the worst these days are individuals the radical left sees as oppressed but who reject the premises of critical theories.
Critical theories are a collective ideology in practice. As those who study their origins, like James Lindsay, have noted, these theories in their modern form originated in the Frankfurt School in Germany:
The members of the Frankfurt School tried to develop a theory of society that was based on Marxism and Hegelian philosophy but which also utilized the insights of psychoanalysis, sociology, existential philosophy, and other disciplines. They used basic Marxist concepts to analyze the social relations within capitalist economic systems. This approach, which became known as “critical theory,” yielded influential critiques of large corporations and monopolies, the role of technology, the industrialization of culture, and the decline of the individual within capitalist society.
Following World War II, many of these thinkers, including Herbert Marcuse, came to America and began to infect our universities with critical theories. We have seen the modern movement based on them burning our cities, toppling statues, and assaulting federal officers at a courthouse in Portland since last summer. Increasingly, the movement is pushing tribalism based on racial essentialism. This view is antithetical to the values of America, and the West more broadly, which is why the radical Left seeks to reframe our history, language, and customs to reorder society.
Every institution in our culture appears determined to push this destructive identitarian tribalism, from our federal law enforcement agencies to defense contractors. As Bret Weinstein predicted following his experience at Evergreen State College, this insane anti-Western philosophy has exploded off of elite university campuses into every facet of American culture. Blatantly pushing into public education for K-12 may be where the members of Wokistan have gone too far.
Parents nationwide awakened during the pandemic watching Zoom lessons in horror and have made it plain they do not like what they see. Videos of parents at school board meetings demanding their children be treated as individuals and learn a balanced history of our country go viral almost daily. Warts and all, the founders built America on the exceptional ideas of individual rights, freedom, and personal liberty. Subsequent generations extended those values to include every American because our founding values demanded it. People come from all over the world to be a part of the most significant political experiment in history.
Many Americans want this heritage taught to our children and feel public schools are not doing a good job. According to a new Rasmussen poll, 78% of U.S. likely voters think it is at least somewhat important to teach the traditional values of Western civilization. That constituency is not limited to Republicans or white Americans:
Eighty-six percent (86%) of Republicans and 73% of both Democrats and voters not affiliated with either major party believe it’s at least somewhat important that schools teach the traditional values of Western civilization. However, Republicans (66%) are more likely than Democrats (42%) or unaffiliated voters (47%) to say it is Very Important that schools teach traditional values.
Teaching Western values in schools is considered at least somewhat important by 78% of whites, 74% of black voters and 77% of other minorities. Black and other minority voters are more likely than whites to think most schools don’t do a good job of teaching traditional values.
Only 29% of respondents feel schools are doing a good job of teaching traditional values. No subgroup by political affiliation or race yields a majority view that the education system is doing a good job in this area. Recent National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers annual meetings have shown that the education establishment is not hearing what parents are saying. They have incorporated the anti-American ideas of critical theories, anti-racism, and equality of outcomes into their annual meetings and approved resolutions to infuse them into the K-12 curriculum.
Democrats and their allies in the corporate media have fully bought into the narrative of the critical theories. The phrases “systemic racism,” “white supremacy,” “equity,” and even “white rage” fall out the mouths of the president, the press secretary, military leaders, the attorney general, and every unimpressive anchor at CNN and MSNBC. An increasing number of Americans are turning off the news and avoiding politics.
The fatal mistake for Democrats and the radical left pushing the progressive agenda might have been coming for the kids. Those of us who know history understand what’s happening. Legal immigrants from authoritarian regimes see right through it. The backlash is coming, and the ballot box in 2022 will indicate just how big and inclusive it is.