Children are afraid to challenge the repressive ideology that rules our school. That’s why I am.
Who does not look back on the great moral crises of our past and hope, had we been there, that our courage would have risen to meet the terrible moment? Who does not feel anguish at the almost universal silence which enabled the monsters of our shared history? Would we have just followed orders? Or would we have sheltered Anne Frank? Would we have crossed the Selma bridge? Would we have joined the Salt March? Would we have risked everything? Would we have risked anything?
We think: of course we would. Or at least that’s what we post on Facebook. And then we say a little prayer of thanks that our time is nothing like that. Except that once again it is like that. Paul Rossi has taken a stand for the children he teaches. It cannot help but make a difference for them. In fact it clearly already has. The bigger question is: will it make a difference for the rest of us, suddenly forced by his example into our own moral reckoning, and the awful recognition that for each of us our own time of choosing is here. History is back.
When Ibram X. Kendi, antiracism guru, was asked by Politico to take his best shot at solving the problem of inequality in America, he responded by suggesting a constitutional amendment to create and permanently fund a federal agency with the mandate to control everything.
It’s only a thought experiment of course. But I can’t understand why people haven’t revolted at following an ideology promoted by a mind that, when tasked to solve a nuanced problem, comes up with an idea that takes a sledgehammer to the underpinnings of America itself.
Kendi's Department of Antiracism (DOA) would oversee all policy at the local, state, and national level, and monitor public and private entities and public figures for antiracist ideas. The last sentence of his suggestion chills my bones thoroughly - it provides for “disciplinary tools“ to use against those who do not VOLUNTARILY change their minds.
The idea of such a constitutional amendment is laughable today. But will it be so amusing in 20 years after a generation of children have been subjected, as these children have been, to a culture that denies their individualism and treats all disagreement as existential threat to the lives of oppressed minorities?
We have got to get off this path, and we need to do it fast. This ideology has now invaded my public school. I urge everyone, even if you don’t have school-aged children, to find out if your local schools have adopted this philosophy, and get involved to prevent it.
For my fellow liberals who, as I once did, see fear of antiracism teaching as mere hysteria by conservatives, another “blah blah blah Marxism” GOP talking point, here is the link to see for yourself. Turns out the conservatives are right this time - every word is an assault on America herself.
And this man is required reading for educators at every level, all across the country. He has captured our future.
Sadly and infuriatingly: (1) this school administration sounds like a Maoist/JimJonesian cult, and (2) it’s become a cliche to say (1).
Thank you, Mr Rossi, for your courage.
i am unsure why so many people are unable to recognize that this is the same kind of enforced ideology that occurred in stalinist russia and mao's china, something that a decade ago everyone would have insisted never occur in this country. I am having trouble understanding the collapse of intellectual rigor among my liberal tribe and the religious fervor of their conversion. i salute Paul for speaking out on this issue. the only way to stop it is if each of us in our sphere of influence speak out and begin to set limits on those who are espousing the ideology.
BTW, the school bills itself in the "Episcopal Tradition". Its website contains the following paragraph:
"The third and fourth grades read Hebrew scriptures, and the fifth grade focuses on the New Testament. These sacred texts are taught neither as truth, nor as literature. Rather, they are presented as a body of powerful stories that have moved millions over thousands of years and serve as truth to those for whom they are true."
It's interesting that whereas scripture is taught as symbolic and open to interpretation, Critical Race Theory is being taught as unquestionable and absolute. In other words, CRT is taught as a fundamentalist, intratextual enterprise.
Please let your readers know how to help Paul Rossi.
I am normally not an emotional person, but reading this made me angry. Very angry.
We can't continue relying on people like Bari and Paul to risk everything by sticking their necks out while we sheepishly stand by. We need organization from all ends of the political spectrum. We need a database that lists all schools where this kind of indoctrination is occurring, and which teachers and administrators are guilty of pummeling this garbage. We need the financial backing to file lawsuits. We need consistent polling from an independent third party to demonstrate how the vast majority of Americans oppose this woke nonsense.
As a new father, I cannot stomach the thought of my two kids growing up in this America. If we don't all band together and take concrete actions soon, we may not live to see the dawn again.
The only way this stops is for teachers like Paul to sue on grounds of a hostile work environment and violating his 1st Amendment rights and his right to a freedom of conscience.
Let’s start using “neo-racist” (instead of “antiracist”) when referring to CRT and people promoting it as neo-racists (rather then “antiracist”). Words matter. Perhaps more people will realise what is going on.
Thank you. It is unbelievable that this propaganda has captured our schools without most of us even noticing. It seems like it happened overnight.
Congratulations Bari, you have a new subscriber! (From New Zealand) I have been thinking about it for a while but the excellence of this piece and the hope that you will use your editorial skills to effectively build “an alternate paper” finally made me hit the button. What is in this column is truly frightening, but I am convinced by the humanity of the author that it is equally true.
I worry that my “sponsorship” efforts in journalism to date are mainly helping the already mega successful (Taibbi, Greenwald, quillette, spiked) but with you I get the feeling you will find the little known voices and set them in front of me with the reference that they deserve.
The ideologues are firmly in charge of public education and much of private education. Right and wrong don’t matter. Reasoning with people who have political ideology as their religion is hopeless.
Mr. Rossi is showing great moral courage. He will be punished for it. My father spent over a year, and my uncle over two years, killing those who wished to enslave others to an ideology. Mr. Rossi will find that their old maxim of “the nail that sticks up, gets hammered down” is still in the toolbox.
These ideologically motivated educators are equal to those malefactors.
They wish to enslave your child’s mind. Bind it and make it rigid and incapable of reasoning.
May God bless Mr. Rossi and strengthen him.
Thank you, Ms. Weiss for publishing this.
What a terrifying piece. Thank you for bringing your experience to wider attention – a courageous move in today’s climate. I have two sons in their early teens who are at school in the UK. The situation is not as bad here as you describe – YET – but it is increasingly obvious that this pernicious orthodoxy is gaining ground.
My concern with this ever-growing trend of Critical Race indoctrination is that the people who are driving it, despite their protestations, have NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in achieving equality between the races.
Because they are not in the Equality business. They are in the Grievance business.
And business is good at the moment. There are fortunes to be made, stirring the pot, feeding the sense of guilt among Whites and stoking the sense of victimhood among the Black community.
Beyond their own pockets – WHO DOES THAT SERVE? Are these people looking to improve relations between communities? It doesn’t seem so. Their movement only appears capable of creating division. Separating and segregating people based on which “community” they “belong” to.
The liberal-left decries inequality of opportunity and income disparity as the two main evils that are fracturing society. But I’d suggest this Identity politics agenda is a far more pernicious way to separate us.
Identity politics is the very antithesis of the principles of universalism - it suggests what differentiates us is more important than what we have in common. Surely we should treasure more what we share as members of a diverse community rather than seek to silo people and segregate that community into ghettos based on our racial identities, sexual orientation, age, gender or creed?
How do people who claim to speak for progressive attitudes justify shifting the argument from Martin Luther King’s dream of a future where people are judged according to their character rather than the colour of their skin to the point where these activists are calling for PRECISELY THE OPPOSITE? That you are defined, as a person, solely by the groups to which you belong. To abandon that call for universalism in favour of separatism is surely a retrograde step? That point seems so incontestable to me that I am utterly baffled how “progressives” can think their present strategy is advancing the cause of equality.
When it comes to the vast majority of those who’ve bought into the woke agenda, I think it comes from a good place. Many seem unaware of the malignant undertones of the BLM movement, and buy into the simple idea that ‘Black Lives Matter’ – but that is so obvious a statement as to be almost a banality.
How, though, do the well-intentioned woke justify to themselves calling for the cancellation of anyone who counters with ‘All Lives Matter’, or any other push-back against these pernicious doctrine?
I’m not paranoid enough (yet) to believe that the majority of the “woke” actually want to see society divided – but I cannot fathom how they think the divisive, separatist attitudes of their movement can possibly bring us together. It seems so self-evidently self-defeating.
Just a few years ago we were exhorted as a society to be colour-blind, to accept people simply as people, whatever their background, their lifestyle, their “differences”.
What happened to that idea?
For many years I lived in London and worked in an industry (Broadcast TV) that was as diverse as one could possibly find anywhere. As far as I was concerned the arguments of Race, Gender, Creed, Orientation had been fought and largely won. We seemed at the time – perhaps naively – to be enjoying the peace.
Maybe those who are inclined to be activists feel they have to keep picking at the scab and reopening old wounds or there is no point to their existence, but it seems incredible that we’ve gone so far backwards and quite so quickly.
As I say, I have a good deal of sympathy with the young in all this – not the activists who are driving this movement, but those who’ve grown up in this atmosphere. They’ve been fed a constant diet of woke totems and “progressive” thought (actually horribly regressive thought) throughout their education and now must navigate a “thought-crime minefield” where the slightest miss-step can blow up in their faces.
Some, believing what they’ve been taught - and with the best intentions – try to stick to all the latest approved attitudes and mantras and find themselves saying and doing things that (I can only hope) will make them shudder with embarrassment when they look back on them in years to come. I’m optimistic that they’ll be young enough to still have the chance of an awakening (from their awokening?). Others eschew the whole concept of inclusivity and adopt almost a siege mentality that helps no one (the rise of the young alt-right in America is a direct consequence of US College campus PC conformity).
For those cultural Marxists driving this movement and cancelling any who dare gainsay it, of course debate must be silenced. The easiest way to prevent your argument from being examined, its flaws exposed to ridicule, is to prevent any discussion of it in the first place. The easiest way to gain status is to tear down those who would even dare question your argument. That is the defining characteristic of cancel culture. It appears, from the outside, almost a competition as those who vie for greater woke status compete with fellow adherents to identify and criticise (what reasonable people would see as) vanishingly trivial offenses.
You can spend years going along with the progressive herd, but the minute you fall out of lock-step with them on a single contentious issue you will be turned on. Previous adherence to orthodoxy is no defence once you’ve been accused of heresy. Each and every trifling misstep – or statement of biological fact – must be campaigned against as if they are proof positive of racism – or transphobia, sexism or patriarchal oppression.
And so anyone who is not willing to go to war is compelled to agree with this nonsense, or at the very least stay silent on the matter, for fear that they too will be “cancelled” or face accusations of bigotry.
Reagan saw this coming in the mid-70s when he noted “If fascism ever comes to America, it will come in the name of liberalism.”
But not only does the politics of grievance divide us, it makes us weaker. It glorifies victimhood and vilifies anyone who tries to suggest otherwise. The #metoo movement could have been empowering, yet insisting that a clumsy advance, or an unwanted touch of a knee, is somehow equivalent to rape is insane. Who is that empowering? Telling every woman they are a victim, teaching impressionable young women they are likely to become victims, that all men are naturally predatory? Does that heal divisions in society or exacerbate them?
Similarly, teaching young black men that they are oppressed, that society doesn’t value them as much, that the police are not to be trusted. Who does that help? Does it improve their chances of success in life or does it weigh them down with unnecessary baggage? Does it drive a wedge between communities, between groups? I would suggest that, yes, of course it does.
In the end, the politics of grievance can only be defeated by a better politics – but that has to be rooted in honesty, not what fits the narrative. Honest assessments of a situation probably sell fewer newspapers, or get fewer Youtube views, than sensationalised hyperbole. This poses a dilemma for any media outlet that has bought into the identity fixated woke agenda.
The ongoing narrative is blatantly at odds with reality. The “liberal Left” media - in thrall to appearing Woke – has a narrative that drives and supports a worldview that is predicated on catastrophism and a dystopian future – it seems almost as though they are willing such a future into existence.
For each anecdotal instance of intolerance that gets trumpeted as “proof” of widespread bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc there are a million other instances of just everyday acceptance of people, – regardless of colour, nationality or gender – that aren’t worthy of anecdote simply because they are so everyday.
I would suggest that these activists seem not merely willing, but positively hoping, to see the country divided, pitting their Woke agenda against the reality of a tolerant and accepting society. In an attempt to appear Woke they are sleepwalking the country into the very same dystopian future that they imagine our present to be.
Worst of all this movement pits the young against their own families who have not bought into this madness. But the young have been told that any who do not immediately fall into line are somehow the intolerant and hateful ones!
Many of these woke activists would undoubtedly denounce any who’d think to pigeonhole someone whilst, almost in the same breath, constructing a fairly sturdy pigeonhole themselves and stuffing it with a well-fed pigeon.
You can’t win (unless you simply refuse to play their game).
Thanks for sharing all these stories, Bari. But until these schools start being sued for racism and discrimination, nothing will change. Accordingly, local politicians should speak up and start introducing local regulation banning this neo-racist teaching.
Is this for real? Why are parents allowing their students to be abused like this. When they get in the real world and find that independent and creative thinking are valued, how in the world are they going to compete and survive. Let alone enjoy relationships with friends or spouse that thrive when there is give and take and openness to differences of opinion.
I so appreciate this teacher and you Bari for publishing his story. I am so proud to be able to support you and your work via substack. I hope that decoupling true journalists from the gatekeepers will save and improve your noble profession. We've never needed journalism so badly as we do now.
This CRT stuff gives me China Cultural Revolution vibes. Why aren't we seeing hundreds of lawsuits? Is that something you can report on? Are lawsuits happening?
Wow! I predict that this column becomes one of the most important and impactful in the growing battle over critical race theory ("CRT") This tears the seemingly just "anti-racist" branding and facade off of the deeply illiberal substance of CRT. Grace is now boxed: if they further reprimand, punish, or even terminate Paul Rossi, they will be further demonstrating how illiberal the school has become in brooking no ideological dissent. On the other hand, if they take the wiser and more just course of action and take no action against him, then other faculty members and students-- at Grace and other schools -- will be emboldened to dissent from CRT. Such dissent can only weaken the coerced conformity and compliance that is a key component of CRT. Paul Rossi deserves our thanks and praise!