This regular legislative session provides an opportunity to prevent a Trojan Horse of racism from insinuating itself into Louisiana education. Legislators, with slight modification, have the instrument in hand to achieve this.
HB 564 by Republican state Rep. Ray Garofalo would prohibit the primary use of “divisive concepts” in student education or staff training in education from kindergarten through graduate school, for any institution that receives any state dollars. It responds to the viral infection of “critical race theory” as it attempts to make a leap from the labs of faddish higher education to the general public.
Critical race theory posits that racism – defined as emanating only from whites against people of all other races (including Hispanics and those of Middle Eastern descent, who technically biologically don’t come from a separate category) – is inseparable from all American institutions that whites have shaped and control. Indeed, according to it the consensus methods of combatting racism such as neutrality in treating individuals as individuals rather as people ineluctably defined by their racial background are racist features of these systems.
It goes beyond that to question the very foundations of the liberal order on which the American republic was founded and has operated with fidelity for the past half-century, including equality among races, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law. Extending it to policy-making, it advocates for measures that privilege non-whites in outcomes, because whites by their very racial nature have created and controlled a system that oppresses all others.
The solutions accordingly demand confession and reeducation of whites through coercion (whether by condition of employment or course grading), because that is the only way to break the system. Society also must be reengineered to prevent recurrence of this false consciousness, and government must embark on power and resource redistribution that structurally favors nonwhites to compensate for past and present sins against them.
In short, it’s a thinly disguised neo-racist appeal hardly removed from the Ku Klux Klan, without the sheets but with a veneer of academic approval even as theoretical and empirical scrutiny leaves it shorn of respectability. However, like communism it tries to delegitimize its verified shortcomings by declaring its opponents as oppressors and evidence against it false because these are products of the very system it alleges to overturn, as it rejects systematic discovery of truth by defining that as contigently discernable only to the individual concerned – in this case, allegedly oppressed racial minorities.
HB 564 spells out tenets of this noxious ideology to be banned, and extends protections from these on the basis of sex as well. Some of them are indisputably racist, such as the race of a person defines that individual by certain criteria or that race determines a collective guilt or innocence of an individual’s motivations and actions. Others flog policy preferences alleged connected to outcomes that foment the “oppression,” such as concepts of meritocracy and free markets.
Teaching race hatred and normalizing it as a strategy to bring about system transformation serves no useful public purpose, if not threatens the health and safety of all individuals. As a training module for educators, it stands for indoctrination rather than education, and thereby contradicts their very mission. As such, it has no place in educating children that less likely have the intellectual maturity or experiential wisdom to understand its bankruptcy. It has questionable value at the collegiate level, acting more as a waste of time and diversion from serious intellectual inquiry.
Note the bill doesn’t prohibit the outright teaching and discussion about divisive concepts, with language to assure that. It does prevent their privileging as the sole paradigm for instruction, although the language could be tweaked at certain points, such as identifying one concept as “That either the United States of America or the state of Louisiana is fundamentally, institutionally, or systemically racist or sexist,” to ensure this idea can be taught, but that it must be part of a balanced discussion that investigates the merits and demerits of it as well as with other competing ideas.
Training is another matter. The bill notes that the environment under which employee instruction occurs must respect all participants, which the divisive concepts clearly don’t.
Institutions receiving public dollars shouldn’t propagate ideologies that legitimizes race hatred (or misandry or misogyny) as a part of training, nor should these be allowed to dominate instructional channels. Societies never are perfect, but neither should taxpayers encourage tearing them apart over intellectually unsustainable ideas privileged above all others. Something close to HB 564 will secure this safeguard.