Three weeks ago, Florida’s Board of Education banned the teaching of critical race theory in public schools in the state.
It turns out hardly anyone teaches critical race theory as such in public schools, anywhere. Fox News has been beating drums about it, warning that Marxists have been taking over the country’s schools, bending the theory of Marxism from one of class oppression to one of racial oppression and indoctrinating students with it.
There’s plenty of proof there is systemic racism in the U.S. It’s just a fact. Pointing it out isn’t being a leftist ideologue. The disparities in justice, economics and health, the barriers to accumulation of wealth and the lack of support for raising children all are just facts to be witnessed.
Seriously, where are these kids in public schools being indoctrinated in Marxist theories — or any other theories? Theoretical learning isn’t something grade-schoolers are known to be good at. Give them time, and they might get to it in graduate school, if they get to go to one.
I have an expression I made up. “Cat disease,” or looking adamantly past what’s right in front of you. If you want a cat to look at something, don’t bother pointing at it. He’ll just look at your finger. He might look at what you want him to see, if you look at it intensely yourself. But don’t expect huge leaps of abstract insight.
I like to think of myself as a theoretically inclined kind of guy. But when people sit me down and start going on about critical race theory — the real thing, not just the facts about systemic racism, but the actual theoretical frameworks that some sociologists have cooked up — I start looking for a window to stare out. If there’s no window, I dissociate.
It’s the same with “Das Kapital.” The first time I ever tried to read an English translation of that thing, I felt the walls of the library closing in on me. I was 23. If I had been eight years old, I might have passed out. It was awful.
By the way, none of my 1970s Marxist-Maoist teachers told me to read “Das Kapital.” I decided to try to read it because I couldn’t afford to buy a cheeseburger, and I thought Marx might help me understand my predicament. He did not.
I don’t think conservatives realize how hard it is to indoctrinate kids with theory. It takes a government to get behind the effort. You have to have schools set up like military boot camps, with constant drilling. No one gets their daily gruel without reciting today’s passage from the Manifesto by heart. Tonight, you will go to bed hungry. Tomorrow, you will be better motivated to excel in theory.
Speaking of government involvement in indoctrination, and getting back to Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed a law requiring the state’s colleges and universities to survey the political views of faculty and students. DeSantis is strongly suggesting that, if the results of the surveys do not meet with his government’s approval, institutions will be defunded.
Worse, there’s no guarantee in the bill that the surveys will be anonymous.
This is being done because of the perception that there has been left-wing indoctrination on these campuses. So, what better answer to that than some good old right-wing clubbing? “You all better get indoctrinated the right way, or else.”
DeSantis also signed a bill recently to require high schoolers “receive instruction on the evils of communism and totalitarian ideologies” during government class. I hope teachers will comply with this requirement by holding the example of DeSantis’ government up as an illustration of the dangers of right-wing totalitarianism.
DeSantis actually said this: “It used to be thought that a university campus was a place where you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas. Unfortunately now, the norm is really these are more intellectually repressive environments.” So, to offset that, he wants to make the schools intellectually repressed from an alternate direction. His real repression is going to be better than the imaginary repression in his mind and those of Fox News commentators.
The best “indoctrination” the left has ever been able to get over on college students was the negative indoctrination handed to them by Mitch McConnell and through four years of Trump. If the right doesn’t want college students veering left, they could put more care into who they support in power.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Read more of the June 30 - July 6, 2021 issue.