How Our Anti-American Education System Made Riots Inevitable
Inez Feltscher Stepman
The past fire-lit weeks in America’s cities have made clear that the protests, and the riots that attend them, have little to do with the condemnable alleged murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.
Even in the non-violent demonstrations, protesters can be seen burning the American flag, an act that just 30 years ago engendered such outrage it spurred Congress to pass an unconstitutional law, but doesn’t even warrant coverage today. In broad daylight, protesters have defaced and toppled statues dedicated to any and all figures of America’s history.
Lest anyone think the mob’s Year Zero behavior stopped with the slaveholding Confederacy, in Boston a monument to the 54th Massachusetts, an all-black Union regiment during the Civil War, was among those vandalized. Matthias Baldwin, an early abolitionist, got the same treatment in Philadelphia, as did the lesser-known Rotary Club founder Paul Harris, whose plaque in Washington D.C. was marked simply with an ignorance-acknowledging “probably a racist.” The monument to the author of the Emancipation Proclamation on the National Mall was likely spared only because of the protection of the National Guard.
As John Daniel Davidson has noted, toppling statues is not a good sign for the future of the republic; it looks a lot less like a policy conversation about police reform than it does regime change and revolution.
Nor are revolutionary sentiments limited to the youthful protesters. Much as they have in newsrooms and corporate boardrooms, the cultural revolutionaries find only willing kneelers among their elders in the Democratic Party.
After presiding over several nights of free-for-all looting, beatings, and police deaths, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said “400 years of American racism” excused the violence and social distancing violations. In Fairfax, Virginia, known as a moderate county, the Democratic Party put out a tweet praising rioting as an “integral part of this country’s march towards progress.”
Teaching Americans to Hate Their Country
At the heart of the unrest is the belief that the United States is a uniquely bad country, instead of an exceptionally free, prosperous, and powerful one. It’s the same message that the Pulitzer Committee endorsed when it crowned The New York Times’ 1619 Project: the United States is, always has been, and likely always will be, a deeply racist society.
Ibram Kendi, a leading promoter of what is euphemistically termed “anti-racism,” suggests as a solution to America’s alleged systematic racism an amendment that would gut the Constitution and its commitment to equality under the law and freedom of speech. “Americans should pass an anti-racist amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enshrines two guiding anti-racist principles: Racial inequity is evidence of racist policy and the different racial groups are equals. The amendment would make unconstitutional racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials.”
It should be clear from Kendi’s view, which replaces the equality of individuals based on natural right with “equality” of collective racial groups, that what the left innocuously now terms “anti-racism” requires the total destruction of the American system.
The narrative that systematic racism has been embedded in America’s DNA from her founding is a dangerous lie. Escaped slave turned statesman Fredrick Douglass, no stranger to harsh and righteous criticism of his country, called it “a slander upon [the framers’] memory.”
America Is Not Systemically Racist
No one denies America’s original sin of slavery, including the Founders. But slavery and racism are not at the heart of the American experiment or its documents and institutions.
Injustice, unfairness, and bigotry are, indeed, an ineradicable part of life. But America is not a systemically racist society. Far from being fruit of a rotten tree, America’s founding principles form the best recipe for racial harmony, and rebuke to inequality, yet devised by man.
Where does this poisonous anti-American idea, acceptance of which seems to be toppling institution after institution, come from, especially after the United States has advanced so far in living up to the promises of its birth?
The error-ridden, America-hating 1619 Project, and its associated Pulitzer-endorsed, Common Core-compliant lesson materials, is already being taught in more than 3,500 schools across the country. Anecdotally, ever more superintendents are responding to the current unrest by promising to adopt the 1619 curriculum. The problem will get worse before it gets better.
Most ‘Educational’ Institutions Indoctrinate
Well before protesters spilled into the streets in 2020, the largest national teachers’ union gave its official stamp of approval to Black Lives Matter and to indoctrinating teachers with the concept of “white fragility” and its supposed cause, “white supremacy culture,” as part of professional development. The effort to re-educate the nation’s teachers in the left’s radical image will also likely be accelerated due to the protests.
The same national union runs a division solely dedicated to advancing Black Lives Matter and encouraging identity politics in schools. During that same meeting, the National Education Association failed to pass a resolution pledging to “re-dedicate [the union] to the pursuit of increased student learning,” ostensibly its purpose for existence.
Out of the 100 largest school districts, precisely none have the words “America” or “patriotism” in their mission statements. This fact is even more shocking when one considers the public school system was originally created to teach American citizens how to preserve the republic they had been bequeathed.
Noah Webster, one of the country’s earliest textbook publishers and education advocates, wrote of a future American public school system: “begin with the infant in the cradle, let the first word he lisps be ‘Washington.’” Now the public school system teaches students to view the “indispensable man” as, foremost and unforgivably, a slaveholder.
Marxist College Grads Descend Upon Society
If elementary and secondary schools lay the foundation, colleges and universities, now attended by 40 percent of young Americans, provide the activist training to turn passive beliefs into action. The cultural revolutionaries produced by our education system then advance into corporations, tech startups, Hollywood, sports, and of course, media.
If conservatives ever believed the canard that safe-space social justice warriors would implode on impact with the “real world,” now’s the time to forget that happy notion. They’re not John Mayer, waiting on the world to change; they’re remaking the world as they see fit, consistent with what they’ve been taught from K-12 to the highest echelons of learning.
Where the right finds itself today is a direct consequence of its appalling failure to take culture, and the institutions that shape it, at least as seriously as it takes tax cuts, deregulation, and economic growth.
Is it any surprise that we’re now seeing 1619 in the streets? The anti-American ideas of the radical left have already won nearly everywhere else.
Where the right finds itself today is a direct consequence of its appalling failure to take culture, and the institutions that shape it, at least as seriously as it takes tax cuts, deregulation, and economic growth. I like taking home more of my paycheck as much as the next person, but minor economic reforms will not change the overall trajectory of the country if its schools and academies continue to preach disunion instead of e pluribus unum.
Two thirds of millennials believe that America is a racist and sexist country and close to 40 percent think the United States is “among the most unequal societies in the world.” Not just racist and sexist, but uniquely so: this is the historically-illiterate worldview of the graduates of our nation’s education system.
Some Americans might comfort themselves with the notion that this is a passing madness, but it is instead the inescapable consequence of what is being taught from kindergarten through graduate school. A nation that teaches its children to hate their country cannot endure. A nation that pays out $700 billion a year, and trillions in taxpayer-financed student loans, to train future citizens to see their country as hopelessly and irreparably racist cannot continue.
If the justice at the heart of the American project is no longer taught in the education system, there will be no peace.
Inez Feltscher Stepman is a senior contributor at The Federalist. She is also a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum and the Thursday editor of BRIGHT, a women’s newsletter. Find her on Twitter @inezfeltscher.