Progress & Love in a Divisive Climate

In a nation divided, linking progress & love together feels sadly out of place. But progress & love are being packaged together and used against the American people. Now a weapon in the culture wars, progress & love are cloaked, vilified, and denounced under the label “critical race theory” and social justice “ideology.”

Yes, you read that right. Here’s how I know.

Listening recently to critical race theorists speak about what sparked their interest in the theory, their use of it in scholarly research, and their discussion of recent events, several remarks stood out.

“It’s about progress.”

“It’s founded on the ethics of love.”

“Be equipped with truth and history.”

“Pursue what is just.”

“Commit to equity and excellence.”

“Live up to the promise of Brown v. Board of Education.”

Looking Further into the Love Connection

Historically, critical race theory arose when anti-discrimination laws appeared to no longer be moving us towards progress on equal treatment under the law. (See connection under: “Linking …”) But without being versed in scripture and seeing Martin Luther King, Jr. more as a a civil rights leader than a Reverend, the love connection gets lost. It’s found by looking through the perspective of a critical race theorist.

The Beloved Community. The goal of Critical Race Theory [CRT] in Christianity is the Beloved Community envisioned by Scripture and the biblical witness of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9-10; Galatians 3: 28-29; John 10: 16; Ephesians 2: 14-21; Colossians 1: 15-20; Acts 10: 34-35). Done in the spirit of lovethe ultimate goal of CRT in Christianity is the reconciliation of all peopleKey Tenets of Critical Race Theory in Christianity

Rise of the False Narrative: Where to Begin?

It’s hard to say with certainty where – behind what closed door – the false narrative about critical race theory began. But we don’t need to look far to see and hear the claims. The false claims include:

  • False: it has “identity-based” Marxist roots (truth: it’s an offshoot of social justice, civil rights and critical legal studies).
  • False: it’s “injected into” primary school curricula (read true stories below).

From there, the false claims of “indoctrination” go off the rails!

“… the overthrow of capitalism … the end not only of private property, but also of individual rights, equality under the law, federalism, and freedom of speech … [the theory will] overturn the principles of the Declaration and destroy the remaining structure of the Constitution.” Christopher F. Rufo, Critical Race Theory: What It Is and How to Fight It

Christopher F. Rufo, lecturing at Hillsdale College on March 30, 2021, also made the following claim.

“Last year, one of my reports led President Trump to issue an executive order banning critical race theory-based training programs in the federal government.”

In this same lecture, Rufo, a young, talented, privately-schooled film-maker and right-wing journalist/activist, focuses his main criticism on the work of Ibram X. Kendi, refered to as a “critical race guru.” But Ibram X. Kendi, another privately-schooled talented young person, has his own definition of racism from which he puts forth his ideas on “antiracism.”

A new definition for racism!?! Who knew? But never-mind how confusing that is for us. The real concern is, what is actually happening in OUR public schools?

Is there some kernel of truth to allegations of “indoctrination”?

I believe “antiracism” is misguided. Can I still teach Black children?” Catchy title! Written by a teacher!

In answering the nagging question of “indoctrination,” I thought I’d found a firsthand account. But alas, this author wasn’t “just” a teacher. He was a senior advisor to [DPPS] Democracy Prep Public [Charter] Schools, served as vice president for the Core Knowledge Foundation, and is senior fellow and vice president for external affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. His voice is amplified by a list of corporate-funded, politically right-leaning media outlets. And he provided a story!

(Subtitle) Does antiracism pedagogy demand—or even condone—inflicting emotional distress on children?

“The most chilling revelation to emerge earlier this month from a whistleblowing teacher at New York City’s private Grace Church School was the headmaster’s acknowledgement captured in an audio recording that “we’re demonizing kids, we’re demonizing White people for being born.”

Private schools have control over the content they teach —without interference or accountability to taxpayers. But I found another story, a lawsuit alleging indoctrination at a “public” charter school in Nevada. However, it is a story without an ending – to date.

On the surface, it looks straightforward.

Quoted from court documents, “My son is the only white student in this class, as far as we can tell. This teacher is blatantly justifying racism against white people thereby putting my son in emotional, psychological, and physical danger. This is not ok.”

… In the federal lawsuit [it’s alleged that the charter] violated the high school senior’s First Amendment rights by “repeatedly compelling his speech involving intimate matters of race, gender, sexuality and religion” during a required civics class. Las Vegas charter school sued for curriculum covering race, identity

This seems like a commonsense response.Yes?

But the rest of this story?

To date – this story shows a tangled web of people, money, power, lose of local control of curriculum and lack of public oversight for private providers.

Superintendent and CEO Natasha Trivers is a co-defendant in the case. Her role is to personally oversee staffing, design, and implementation of the charter school’s national curriculum program …

[The student] was originally enrolled in Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy in 2014. New York-based DPPS [Democracy Prep Public Schools ] acquired the Academy after receiving a $12.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2016.

Parents were unaware of the ideological changes in the Civics Program, as Trivers had used the name of an existing program  … and “inserted consciousness raising and conditioning exercises under the banner of ‘Intersectionality’ and ‘Critical Race Theory’” when she modified the Program in 2017. Lawsuit Alleges Leftist Indoctrination in Nevada Charter School

The founder of DPPS is Seth Andrew who also founded Democracy Builders, “a charter school advocacy group intending to create a hybrid college education system.” But students spoke up! Look at some of the allegations raised when Andrew attempted to purchase Marlboro College campus.

“We hope, through this letter, to give you some insights into the man behind Democracy Builders, the irreparable harm he has caused to the low-income and first-generation students of color that he served as the founder of Democracy Prep; and show you why the sale of the Marlboro College campus to Seth Andrew, is not only antithetical to the legacy of Marlboro, but a great human rights concern for the very demographics that he claims to serve,” the Black N Brown at Democracy Prep letter reads.

Marlboro Alumni condemn campus sale amid reports of racism at Democracy Builders

Then this story took an unexpected twist.

“Prosecutors say Andrew helped create a network of charter schools based in New York City in 2005, and left the network in 2013 for a job at the US Department of Education, and later became a senior adviser in the Office of Educational Technology at the White House, where he continued to be paid by the charter school network. Prosecutors say Andrew left his role in the White House in November 2016 and cut ties with the school network in January 2017.”

Natasha Trivers continues to be the CEO of the organization.

What and Who are We to Believe?

Going back to an earlier publication, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001), the writers describe a collection of activist and scholars adopting and using the theory to explain racism as it relates to various aspects of the world we live in, our laws, and our history. But it was clear that differing “camps” of thinking exist – realists / materialists / idealists etc. Conformity to one way of thinking (or “indoctrination”) is not at all what you find in this introduction to the theory.

Throughout the book, there is a feeling of real desire to help people understand the effects of racism. Granted, there are two more editions of the book since 2001, but the same desire to help others understand what critical race theory is and its proper use is exactly what came through in the discussion among the higher education critical race theorists mentioned at the beginning of this post.

At this time of escalating public confusion, we see new laws emerging opposing the theory!?! That doesn’t make sense!

“Over the past few months, Republican legislators in Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have drafted bills that would ban the teaching of what they deem “divisive” or “racist and sexist” concepts.”

Good laws begin with at least some clarity about the subject central to the legislation. So why deliberately write state laws restricting academic freedom? Because you can? Because legislative creep has allowed more and more State and private control of curriculum “content” while pushing aside parents and other local controls.

In Ames, Iowa: “This bill is very intentional in its approach to shut down equity work in districts. I think they can sugarcoat it however they want. That is what the bill is intended to do,” said Jenny Risner, the superintendent of Ames Community School District.

In Idaho …

BOISE, IDAHO

Meanwhile: The Search Continues for Proof of Wrong Doing by the PUBLIC School System


In Idaho, a public claim of “propaganda” entering K-12 education was made in an article posted by a private, Dark Money-funded “non-profit” — after the law passed. But the claim is once again against a charter school. So that does warrant looking further at Idaho’s charters.

Author: Anna Miller

Idaho has a private charter-expansion organization, Bluum, that received at least $22 million to expand charters under the DeVos administration.

“Bluum is privileged to give voice to the work that the charter school networks [DPPS] Democracy Prep, Great Heart, Success Academies and the [Hillsdale College] Barney Charter School Initiative are doing … ” — Terry Ryan, Bluum CEO

And at the Idaho Hearing (Senate Ed 4/26/21) on the Anti-Critical Race Theory bill, Terry Ryan clearly voiced his opinion — “Pass the budgets.”

Hum? Follow the money if you can.

Idaho news spread quickly in “The Network” designed to undermine and defund higher education. “The Fix” isn’t a fix.

Author: Anna Miller writes, “Starving universities of public money is the only way to rein in a social justice university and force activists to find careers outside of higher education.”

The College Fix is a “news” website focused on higher education and funded by the Koch Foundation (among others).

It’s no coincidence that the author of both the “propaganda” and “The Fix” articles is Anna Miller, a George Mason University grad. With Idaho lawmakers passing a higher education budget cutting $2.5 million to “send a message about ‘indoctrination,'” it goes into the win column for the Koch Network.

George Mason University has long been known as a place where students are treated to a  Koch-backed curriculum. Yes, this really did turn out to be another story about money, power, and control.

“We’ve Lost the Narrative” said a Scholar of Critical Race Theory.

We are losing more than the narrative. We’re losing the truth, public control of public education, and the ability to communicate with the public ahead of the Misinformation Network.

The danger is not in theory; it’s in limiting discussion of race and social justice in places where it belongs. But there is also the problem of ignoring State overreach and private control of public schools’ curriculum.The public education system is being dismantled.

Our biggest risk? Losing opportunities to stand on the ethics of love and create progress towards the promise.

Critical race theory allows us to see a path toward a truly just future where economic, social, and political power are decoupled from race.” U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman

Social Justice: Dangers & Expectations

In the mid-1800’s, an Italian Jesuit gave rise to the phrase “social justice.” But today, its use as a political wedge leaves its meaning unclear to many. It’s meaning is based on Italian theologian “Thomas Aquinas’ idea that, in addition to doing the right thing, we should strive to do what is necessary for the betterment of others.” Five Principles of Social Justice, Kent State.

As viewed through its religious origin, social justice is based on moral uprightness (rectitude).

Social Justice: Born from Revolution

When economic inequality produced economic distress, the resultant turmoil of the French Revolution birthed the social justice concept. Over time, its meaning began to vary based on “political orientation, religious background, and political and social philosophy.” Therefore, speaking in general terms, social justice is the concept “that people have equal rights and opportunities; everyone … deserves an even playing field.” Tricia Christensen

America’s Declaration of Independence proclaimed that “all men are created equal.” But that declaration is merely the foundation for the promise of America.

“…  the Declaration of Independence … was a call for the right to statehood rather than individual liberties, says Stanford historian Jack Rakove. Only after the American Revolution did people interpret it as a promise for individual equality.” Stanford News

Thus, America’s journey towards equality of individual rights and opportunities is guided by the U.S. Constitution. But we haven’t reached our constitutional obligation to “promote the general Welfare.” Regrettably, our roadblock is in determining what opportunities to provide equally. So consider this:

“By and large, it is for Congress to determine what constitutes the “general welfare.”

“… Congress may enact legislation ‘necessary and proper” to effectuate its purposes in taxing and spending.” Spending for the General Welfare: Scope of the Power

Linking Social Justice, the Civil Rights Movement, and Critical Race Theory

Social justice is America’s target while civil rights’ work is to protect all citizen’s rights — in theory. But social justices’ progress apparently requires constant strife —examples being the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement. Currently, progress faces new roadblocks.

The Civil Rights Movement spawned new lawsFair Housing Act, Voting Rights Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act all to protect citizens against discrimination. But over time, changes to enforcement and the laws have us backsliding. Awareness of that reversion is what brought Critical Race Theory (CRT) into existence.

What is the Theory?

CRT is an academic response to Critical Legal Studies —which sees “the law as necessarily intertwined with social issues …” emphasizing socioeconomic factors. But other scholars saw race as playing a more critical role than socioeconomic identity. Those scholars focused critically on the factors underlying racial inequality.

Here is a summary based on Dennis Fabrizi’s explanation of the three core themes of the theory.

  1. The theory sees racism infused in the everyday fabric of society.
  2. CRT raises the concept of ‘interest convergence’, a notion that white people have little incentive to eliminate racism except when the idea of greater equality operates in their own interests.
  3. It emphasizes ‘storytelling’ as a way to advance understanding of what it is like to be racially “minoritised”.

Why Is this Background Information Important?

By mid-September of 2020, the country fell prey to misinformation and disinformation! We all saw it happen but didn’t know enough to stop it.

“Perhaps the most controversial proposition of critical race theory is the idea that racism is built into American law and everyday life.” …

“Ironically, Trump’s most recent executive order banning racial sensitivity training confirms critical race theory’s central point: Racism is embedded in the law.” Victor Ray, Professor of Sociology, University of Iowa

The former president’s executive order halting all federal employee’s “diversity training” was a temporary setback. But it’s trickle-down effect is disastrous. By declaring the theory to be “un-American propaganda,” the political strategy of de-funding public education spread from K-12 up to higher education and down to pre-K.

“We’re indoctrinating our children at a younger level here. … the curriculum’s is already written, there’s social justice in it” said Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard [Idaho]. And [organizations] indoctrinate children with its own beliefs regarding “anti-bias education.” …. Idaho House rejects pre-K federal grant

This Big Bucks-funded “non-profit”, Turning Point USA, is a piece of the propaganda network set up to undermine the institutions of public education.

Misinformation Turns Into Bad Policies

Through networks of media sources, intentional messaging linked critical race theory to “dismantling all social norms” to “replacement of all systems of power” to being so “dangerous” it warrants laws to restrict its subject matter in schools! Let’s be clear. The messages make everyday words—like diversity and inclusion—sound like something we don’t welcome in America!

Messages heard; misinformation consumed. The result? Many state legislatures fell in lock-step to control the curriculum content in schools and de-fund those that don’t comply.

This Facebook post is from Idaho House Representative Tammy Nichols. Her rampage to de-fund Boise State University went public in September, 2019 and continues to the present.  

“What’s happening in Idaho is not unique. All over the country, state legislators are trying to curtail teaching about racism and sexism, in universities as well as elementary schools.” Michelle Goldberg

We Have to Stop the Destruction of Our  Language

If public institutions can provide opportunities for ALL citizens to participate in American life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then our policies must focus on what is “necessary and proper” to achieving that goal. But to do so, we must first stop the corruption of our political language. Equal, equality, equity, racism, sexism, privilege, diversity, “identity politics” — all of these words and more have been vilified and used to divide us.

If critical race theory helps explain why social justice is no closer to becoming a reality in America than it was in the 60’s, then let’s hear it. But if there are individual professors, teachers, or trainers misrepresenting or misusing the theory, by all means, stop those individuals. Do it without undermining public education and halting progress towards the promise of America.

The Dangers?

There is a real danger in forgetting the self-evident truism upon which America assumed independence— “all men are created equal”. Those written words only launched America’s journey towards building a nation capable of providing opportunities for all to live free, as equals. Social justice is the means to that end.

The danger is the fear created by those wishing to keep us divided. But it’s misinformation and misunderstandings producing the fear. Most Americans rightfully want acceptance without prejudice waged upon them due to their looks, speech, or individual choices.

The biggest danger is in vilifying the very meaning and goals of social justice.

A false narrative is circulating that social justice, critical race theory, and anti-bias education creates division. The propaganda claims that social justice advocates set a goal of giving everyone the same (equal) outcomes in life. In reality, we know that human differences (motivations, talents, etc.) play a role in “the outcome” of our lives. Life has never been a pie where we all get an identical slice.

The Expectations

In America, we expect fairness. We expect to not face discrimination when it comes to housing, voting, employment, and public education opportunities.

“Equality, in the American sense of the word, is not an end but a beginning. It means that, so far as the state can do it, all children shall start in the race of life on an even line. The chief agency for this purpose is the public school system.”

                                                — Edwin E. Slosson, 1921

So yes, anti-bias education —of our young— has a role to play in providing equal rights and opportunities. But without understanding the intended meanings of words used by any anti-bias author or speaker, we risk falling prey to “altered meanings.” Expect clarification.

Is anti-bias education indoctrination into a political ideology? Or is it the concept of “love your neighbor as yourself”?

“The heart of anti-bias work is a vision of a world in which all children are able to blossom, and each child’s particular abilities and gifts are able to flourish.” Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves

Did I mention participation, diversity of ideas and opinions, and inclusion of minority views make for a policy process MORE LIKELY to represent the People of the United States? Expect the policy-making process to work as intended.

“[T]he laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised.” — Thomas Jefferson

Congress decides our national Welfare.