Accuracy in Media

Salon treats us to something that we’d probably describe, if we were being reasonable, as foam-at-the-mouth criticism.

“Education has increasingly become a tool of domination as right-wing pedagogical apparatuses controlled by the entrepreneurs of hate attack workers, the poor, people of color, refugees, undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ people and others considered disposable.”

That’s a rather strong way to describe Thomas Sowell’s support of charter schools.

However, there is an important point to make – American education is becoming more politicized.  One possible explanation for this is that lockdown – actually seeing, right up front – what children were being taught has led to perhaps what we might call more concern about what children are being taught. Even, pushback on what it is that the system is teaching.

We do not – even by Salon standards – think that this piece is well balanced.

“Under neoliberalism, everything is for sale and the only obligation of citizenship is consumerism,” the piece says.

It “has revealed in all its ugliness the death-producing mechanisms of white supremacy,” it continues. “In an age of social isolation, information overflow, a culture of immediacy, consumer glut and spectacularized violence…” There isn’t a Roget’s Guide to left-wing column writing, even as it could be argued there should be. It would, if it existed, warn against such stylisms.

However, buried under all the verbiage is an important point. Here is one of the real complaints being made:

“We now live in an age in which the threat of authoritarianism has become more dangerous than ever. This is evident as a number of red states have put in place a range of reactionary educational policies that range from banning books and the teaching of “critical race theory” to forcing educators to sign loyalty oaths, post their syllabuses online, give up tenure, allow students to film their classes and much more.”

Posting the syllabus online? Allow students to show Momma and Poppa what they are being taught? This is authoritarianism?

Well, yes, by the standards being used here, it is. Because there’s a little code work that runs all through this: “a critical consciousness,” “critical thinking,” “critical literacy,” “critical education,” “critical pedagogy,” “a critical rendering of history,” and so on. The important word here is “critical” because it does not mean “making a critique of.” It’s an academic theory (and where “critical race theory” comes from) that stems from “critical theory.” Critical theory itself says that all that is wrong with society – patriarchy, equity, equality, just everything – can only come good when we have a properly socialist society. It is capitalism, markets and even individual freedom which are the problems that have to be resolved before that proper society can come into being.

And that’s why the opposition to schools stating what it is that they’re teaching, or students being able to record what is being. For they’d rather get the indoctrination of the young done before the rest of us know what is happening. It’s that little code word, “critical” that is the giveaway. Critical theory is, filtered through academia, full-on Marxism. That the education system would rather not reveal that this is what’s driving some substantial part of the syllabus is exactly why education has become something of a political football.

Salon ranks around number 60 for media outlets devoted to law and government and gains some 8.5 million visits a month from that position. It’s rather more important than that in the progressive pantheon.

Think of what the real underlying complaint is here, below the verbiage. The school system shouldn’t have to reveal what it’s teaching because that would show that it’s teaching socialism. The rest of us might think that’s why the sunlight which, as we know, is the best disinfectant.




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