America’s Systemic Racism Problem Is Mostly In Woke, Anti-Asian Education Bureaucracies

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Public school officials caused harm to Asian students’ college applications by not notifying them of important academic achievements.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin began 2023 by asking the state’s Attorney General Jason Miyares to investigate the allegation that officials at Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ) intentionally withheld notifications of National Merit awards from the school’s students and families (most of them are Asians) in the name of “equity” and “inclusion.”

Asra Q. Nomani, a human rights activist and a proud mom of a TJ graduate, broke the latest scandal at the school right before Christmas. According to Nomani, the scandal was initially uncovered by another TJ mom, Shawna Yashar, whose son took the PSAT test. He was recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation “as a Commended Student in the top 3 percent nationwide — one of about 50,000 students earning that distinction.” It was the kind of honor that would have helped his applications for colleges and scholarships last fall had the TJ officials not withheld his award announcement. When the TJ officials eventually notified him of his award, the deadline for his college applications had already passed, which rendered the award useless.

Nomani learned that her son, a graduate of TJ’s class of 2021, was never told by school officials that he was a “Commended Student” in 2020. Even more infuriating is that these two young men’s experiences were not the result of some honest one-time mistake.

Nomani discovered that “the principal, Ann Bonitatibus, and the director of student services, Brandon Kosatka, have been withholding this information from families and the public for years, affecting the lives of at least 1,200 students over the principal’s tenure of five years.” These officials’ actions (or inactions) disproportionally hurt Asian students because the majority of the school’s student body is Asian. By intentionally withholding awards and eventually delivering them late and in a low-key way, these officials robbed the students and their families of chances to celebrate hard-earned achievements.

In addition, these officials caused undue harm to these students’ college applications and scholarships. For some first-generation immigrants with no other financial resources to fall back on, the damage caused by these school officials’ actions could have a lifetime effect, with some students having to settle for less prestigious colleges or be forced to take out more student loans.

After Nomani broke the story, TJ’s director of student services, Brandon Kosatka, justified her action by insisting, “We want to recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements.” Does she understand that celebrating someone’s achievement and acknowledging someone’s effort is an important part of recognizing students as individuals?

Meanwhile, Bonitatibus “still hasn’t publicly recognized the students or told parents from earlier years that their students won the awards. And she hasn’t yet delivered the missing certificates.”

TJ is a prime example of the woke left’s systemic racism against Asian Americans in our education system. Besides withholding awards, TJ’s woke officials and liberals of the Fairfax County School Board also canceled the school’s merit-based and race-blind admission exam to increase the student body’s “diversity,” which has become a code word for “purging qualified Asians.” The result speaks for itself: Asian students make up 54 percent of the class of 2025, a dramatic decrease from 73 percent of the class of 2021.

Another elite high school that followed TJ’s lead and canceled its merit-based admission in 2021 has experienced disastrous results. San Francisco’s Lowell High School, once the best high school in the city, dropped out of the top 100 ranking of high schools nationwide for the first time in the school’s history after woke officials canceled the school’s merit-based admission and replaced it with a lottery system. After Asian American residents in the city successfully recalled three leftist members of the school board, the new members reinstated merit-based admission at Lowell last year.

At TJ, a group of concerned parents organized a group called the “Coalition for Thomas Jefferson High School,” and they sued Fairfax County Public School District for the school’s “unconstitutional” and discriminatory new admission policy. A federal judge ruled in favor of the coalition last year, but an appeals court stayed the decision.

The coalition filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court last year, but the high court declined to block TJ’s new anti-Asian admission policy. The high court decided before it heard two cases challenging affirmative action-based admissions policies at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University. The oral arguments of the two cases have given much hope that the Supreme Court will uphold America’s principle of equality under the law by ruling in June this year that affirmative action-based admission policies are unconstitutional.

But Asian Americans cannot rest our hope in one court’s ruling alone. A lot more should be done at the state level. That is why Youngkin’s announcement of launching a civil rights investigation of TJ officials who withheld awards from students is welcome news. Youngkin said, “Parents and students deserve answers. … I believe this failure may have caused material harm to those students and their parents and that this failure may have violated the Virginia Human Rights Act.” Youngkin was spot on.

What these school officials did was a violation of students’ civil rights. Youngkin’s consistent focus on education and the clarity in his messaging explains why many Asian voters supported him during his gubernatorial race.

I sincerely hope Youngkin’s investigation will not only right the wrongs for affected Asian American students and their families at TJ but also become a rallying cry for all patriotic Americans. The most pervasive form of institutional racism widely practiced today in the United States is the anti-Asian hate in our education system. From eliminating gifted and talented programs in K-12, to canceling merit-based entrance exams to elite high schools, to dropping standard tests from college admissions, the objective is to reduce Asian American representation regardless of our qualification and effort because we are the “wrong” kind of minority.

The woke left’s war on merit in our education system hurts more than Asian Americans. The war on merit is a war on fundamental American values and America’s future. No society can advance or even maintain its current standard of living if its education system discourages the pursuit of excellence, celebrates mediocrity, and treats people differently based on the color of their skin. Therefore, the pushback of the woke left’s war on merit in education should not be just Asian Americans’ fight. We need all concerned Americans to join us.

Hopefully, 2023 will be the year we stop the war on merit.

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This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.

Weekend Read: Soul Dysphoria [A Trans and GenZ Disaster]

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Understanding the “trans” phenomenon means recognizing it’s about more than gender.

In 2013 the DSM-V, an authoritative diagnostic manual for therapists and clinicians published by the American Psychiatric Association, defined gender dysphoria as “the distress that may accompany the incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s assigned gender,” where “gender” refers not to one’s biology but to “the public (and usually legally recognized) lived role as boy or girl, man or woman.”

The psychologist John Money popularized this way of speaking in the mid-20th century—it is the lasting legacy of his highly disreputable career. The word “gender” draws a stark—some might say Platonic—dividing line between “sex,” meaning one’s biological characteristics as male or female, and “gender,” meaning the ways in which one behaves, feels, and is perceived. The runaway success of the philosopher Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble in 1990 helped sunder these two ideas more starkly among the leftist intellectual class. Butler was wrestling with French poststructuralists like Michel de Foucault and post-Freudian feminists like Simone de Beauvoir, who had famously written that “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Pushing Beauvoir’s idea further, Butler suggested that “sex does not cause gender, and gender cannot be understood to reflect or express sex.”

But then, still more radically, Butler proposed that sex too is an invented idea applied to the body, so that even the most basic facts of our physical selves are subject to transformation and reinterpretation: “gender is not to culture as sex is to nature; gender is also the discursive/cultural means by which ‘sexed nature’ or a ‘natural sex’ is produced.” Gender is a performance; binary sex is a social construct; our bodies are objects of hostile interpretations fabricated by the powerful. At the time these were explosive statements. Today, they are practically commonplace.

With this new vocabulary came new awareness of a painful split between body and soul. By all accounts, dysphoria is agony—a jagged perceived mismatch between flesh and spirit. In 2016, Buzzfeed asked gender dysphoric people to depict what it was like to feel as they did. Women drew their breasts as balls and chains shackled to their legs; men imagined unzipping their own skin and emerging, newly female, from their old unwanted exoskeleton. In children with gender dysphoria, puberty can be a time of acute distress when the maleness or femaleness of the body suddenly asserts itself in a dramatic way. The thoughts of gender dysphoric adolescents often turn to suicide, which is why many parents are willing to do anything—including irreversible surgery and hormonal intervention—to help alleviate the discomfort.

But it is telling to read in the DSM-V that gender dysphoria occurs in just 0.005 percent to 0.014 percent of natal males, and 0.002 percent to 0.003 percent of natal females. In 2013, those numbers were current. They are already wildly out of date. Girls, especially, are developing gender dysphoria at an alarming pace: between 2006 and 2016, the number of referrals to London’s Charing Cross “Gender Identity Clinic” nearly quadrupled. Between 2008 and 2015, another such clinic in Nottingham saw its referral numbers jump from 30 to 850. A Gallup report in 2020 found that 1.8 percent of Gen-Z kids in the United States (born between 1997 and 2002) identified as transgender. By 2021, it was up to 2.1 percent. A shocking uptick in gender dysphoria, especially among girls, has blown the DSM-V’s figures out of the water. We are simply more uncomfortable in our bodies than we were before.

Perhaps some of this is because gender dysphoric people are more comfortable sharing their feelings as it becomes commonplace, not to say required, to accept and validate transgender people in American culture and society. But it is just as likely, if not more so, that causation goes the other way: maybe boys and girls feel more uncomfortable about their bodies as they are increasingly taught by adults and peers to view their physical sex as something detachable from their gender. Brown University health researcher Lisa Littman caused enormous controversy when she surveyed 250 families with dysphoric children and observed that 80 percent of the kids were female. What Littman called “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” is a new phenomenon, a sudden self-identification as trans in girls who never showed signs of bodily discomfort before. Littman was attacked because her results suggested that our massive dysphoria epidemic might not be entirely spontaneous.

More and more public schools have adopted the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “gender snowperson,” or other similar infographics✎ EditSign, to teach that sex, sexuality, and gender are unmoored from one another. But this kind of messaging goes beyond classrooms. One 2020 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found evidence that in areas where kids are exposed to more media coverage of transgender-related issues, gender therapy clinics receive more referrals. Kids increasingly shape their political beliefs and values (including their sense of gender identity) in conversation with one another in online forums. “Online engagement is not just isolated,” said Tumblr’s director of outreach Liba Rubenstein, “it really is attached to people’s offline identities.”

Typically, this kind of peer-to-peer discussion is represented as a victory for liberation and inclusion. But online life is not just allowing kids to vent their discomfort with their bodies: it’s also creating that discomfort where previously there was none. In this broader context the rise in transgender identification and gender dysphoria seems less like an authentic phenomenon in and of itself, and more like one symptom of an ancient conflict between body and soul, kicked into hyperdrive by the experience of internet life.

Abigail Shrier, a journalist who documents the rise of gender dysphoria in young girls in her book Irreversible Damage, interviewed one teenager whose anorexia morphed naturally into gender dysphoria as if the two sprang from the same source: “My goal went from diet pills to testosterone…. From fantasies about slicing off my thigh fat to slicing off my breasts. I bound them with duct tape. I couldn’t breathe. It made me panic, but I felt brave.” Buck Angel, a transsexual internet celebrity, speculated to Shrier about the association between widespread gender dysphoria and a disgust at the body more generally among teens, who are having less sex than previous generations and seem more comfortable in virtual than physical space. Shrier concludes that adolescent transgenderism “very often seems to be a sad cult of asexuality, like the hand-painted sign in an antique shop reading ‘Please Do Not Touch.’”

Persona Creata

Given the explosion of gender dysphoria among adolescent girls, this phase of the body crisis suggests a particular horror at the idea of womanhood. “Perhaps forever,” writes Shrier, “but at least since Shakespeare’s Viola arrived shipwrecked in Illyria and decided to pass herself off as a man, it has occurred to young women: it’s so much easier to be a boy.” The feminist injunction for women to “lean in”—to hunt out positions of power and dominance in traditionally male industries and pursuits—comes freighted with the implication that traditionally female pursuits are weak, contemptible, and dull. “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession,” sniffed Hillary Clinton, in a classic summation of this idea, during her husband Bill’s first presidential campaign.

Both implicitly and explicitly, our ruling classes express contempt for homemaking and motherhood. But this closes off the most primal path to resolving the body crisis. Women, by creating new life, bear witness to the possibility that body and soul can in fact be reconciled: in childbirth, human flesh becomes the medium of the divine. Poets have expressed this as the “eternal feminine,” the strangely luminous power of women like Dante’s Beatrice or Faust’s Margarete to act as physical conduits for the life-giving power of God. “Woman, eternal, beckons us on,” wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the closing lines of his Faust. This is the meaning of the Virgin Mary’s consent to bring God into the world: her body will become the medium to deliver divine life, God made flesh.

Not that pregnancy and labor are some sort of cakewalk that we should regard with misty-eyed sentiment. Ever since Adam and Eve left Eden, creating life has also meant facing pain. The delicate challenge of growing from girl to woman involves coming to terms with the blood and the sorrow of what it means to have a body in a fallen world. Now, though, that hard task is made harder by the constant social implication that to be a mother is to be brainwashed and oppressed. Small wonder girls are fleeing womanhood, and small wonder this has intensified our sense that the human body is nothing more than a dead weight. Childbirth is not the only way to be fulfilled, nor the only way out of the body crisis. But if our bodies are not at least potentially a source of life as well as death, of blessing as well as discomfort, then they are simply a burden. Shucking off that burden means turning women into mere body parts that can be removed, reconfigured, or appropriated at will, reducing the female body to its functions and recasting women themselves as “menstruaters,” “chest feeders,” and “birthing people.”

Thus trans activism increasingly comes along with the implication that the body has no inherent integrity; that its meaning is entirely at the whim of its inhabitant. “Here’s the thing about chest surgery,” said Dr. Joanna Olson-Kennedy, a trans youth specialist and director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles: “If you want breasts at a later point in your life you can go and get them.” Reacting with alarm to Olson-Kennedy’s statement, British journalist Douglas Murray, asked: “Are people like blocks of Lego onto which new pieces can be stuck, taken off and replaced again at will?”

Not yet, but perhaps that is the longing upon which trans extremism plays. Increasingly the objective is to abolish the boundaries of the body altogether, to liberate the human spirit and let it mold the flesh as it chooses. This is what critic Mary Harrington calls “biolibertarianism”: the aspiration to remove bodily constraints, to turn our physical form into a set of customizable parts that can be interchanged or reshaped. Harrington notes an anonymous 2018 paper, Gender Acceleration, which argues that surgical transition from male to female “breaks [a] lucky few free from the horrid curse of being human.” A woman who goes by the handle “whorecress” expressed a very similar attitude in a video that went viral on TikTok: “I’m not body-positive,” she declared, “I’m not body-neutral. I’m body-negative. I wanna be vapor. Or like, a plume of blue smoke. Or mist. Or a rumor—I’d be a rumor… ’cause like, gender? Humiliating. An ache, a pain? Needing to sit down? Spatial awareness? The vulgarity…. Every day I wake up and I’m subject to the burden of embodiment. How dare I be a shape? Disgusting.”

Obviously this monologue was delivered with a certain irony. But like all successful humor, it articulated a real sentiment that the online audience connected with. Whorecress’s cri de coeur against embodiment featured on a Reddit discussion thread called r/voidpunk, which “is a subculture for those who often feel rejected or disconnected from humanity” and prefer to associate themselves with a more spectral or robotic form of life. r/voidpunk has 21,600 subscribers as of this writing, but the trend is much bigger than that: “transhumanism” is a growing movement among technologists, many of whom imagine a future where gene editing, virtual reality, and bionic enhancement render us free from the limitations of physical existence. This is the modern culmination of our extreme body crisis.

The connection between transgenderism and transhumanism is made explicit by transgender activist and scientist Martine Rothblatt. Rothblatt’s book, From Transgender to Transhuman: A Manifesto on the Freedom of Form, argues expressly that gender transition is just the beginning:

I am convinced that laws classifying people as either male or female, and laws prohibiting people’s freedom based on their genitals, will become as obsolete in the twenty-first century as the religious edicts of the Middle Ages seem absurd in America today…. Over the next few decades we will witness the uploading of human minds into software and computer systems, and the birth of brand new human minds as information technology. As we see our selves and our loved ones in these transhuman beings, and they make us laugh and cry, we will not hesitate long to recognize their humanity with citizenship and their common cause with us in a new common species, Persona creatus (the “created person”).

And so the most cutting-edge current expression of the body crisis is not the hormone injection but the digital avatar: pick and choose how you will move through imagined digital space. The movement that began with “gender neutral” pronouns has now produced an enormous constellation of totally invented identities, going far beyond ze and zer to include neologisms like “pupself” and “demonself,” for those who identify spiritually as animals or demons. What’s going on here is bigger than gender: we are dreaming not simply of making men into women, and vice versa, but making ourselves into anything, at a whim.

Desire and Happiness

“Gender? Humiliating.” Whorecress was on to something. “How dare I be a shape? Disgusting.” There is the body crisis in a nutshell.

And yet we can’t escape the body except at a great and terrible cost. Much like virtual reality and online life, transhumanism holds out glittering promises on which it is singularly ill-equipped to deliver. It’s not just that sex-change technology currently comes with gruesome risks and lifelong complications. Even if we imagine that rearranging or reconstructing body parts becomes painlessly easy, will it make us happy? What will “happy” even mean? Already Andrea Long Chu, a major transgender writer, has emphasized that happiness is not the point: “My new vagina won’t make me happy,” Chu wrote in the New York Times, “and it shouldn’t have to.” This is because “desire and happiness are independent agents.” Really? If our desires have no governing aim, such as happiness or virtue, what is the use of them—or us—at all? Surely we follow our desires because they point us toward something desirable—if not, we are just aimless hunks of flesh pulled randomly in all directions by wants that have no connection to goodness or joy. This total dissolution of purpose would be one of the real wages of transhumanism, were it ever to become reality.

If we become fully free from the constraints of physical form, if we even develop the technology to “feel” whatever we want, then we really will become nothing more than the chemistry sets that the crudest materialists imagine us to be: joy will be an electro-chemical occurrence, unrelated to any objective excellence or achievement. In our effort to liberate our spirits from our bodies, we will make our spirits and our very consciousness into the mere mechanical illusion that machinists already imagine it to be. Dissolve the boundaries of your body and you dissolve the boundaries of yourself. If you feel an instinctive disgust at this dystopian futuristic prospect, it is because you have a felt intuition of what we really are.

We can have compassion for gender dysphoric people without making them the central ideal of all our aspirations. Without a trace of malice toward them, we may observe that the measures they take to transform their bodies are not steps in a direction we find particularly attractive or healthy. Treating the body like an endlessly permeable and cumbersome appendage is just as degrading as ignoring it in favor of constant online entertainment, and for the same reasons. Both are means of seeking escape from our physical forms, and both promise liberation while actually leaving us sick, remorseful, and listless. We have indulged for too long in the vague fantasy that if these kinds of life are pushed to the extreme, they will suddenly become fulfilling—that if we just proceed down this path that is currently making us sick and miserable, we will eventually be happy and free. This, as always, is a dubious proposition.

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This article was published by The American Mind and is reproduced with permission.

A Little More Poison

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Taking “the hair of the dog that bit you” means curing a hangover with another drink in the morning. Nobody follows that principle as public policy, but current government practice regarding gambling and drug use subscribes to the same logic.

For instance, there haven’t been too many Puritans around in a long time who objected to horse racing or social, Friday-night poker games. And though the “numbers racket” was often under the control of organized crime, the fact that many, mostly poor, people played a number each week, knowing the odds were against them but just wanting to indulge a dream of riches, didn’t bother most of us. When casino gambling was first legalized early in the Depression, creating the potential for much larger losses, it was limited to a remote, underpopulated, and largely resource-free state, Nevada.

All this began to change in the sixties. First, New York State introduced off-track betting, which enabled people to gamble on the ponies from offices scattered around urban areas, without having to go to the track. It became far easier to blow large sums on the races. Next came the 1964 introduction in New Hampshire of a state lottery in order to generate revenue on a “voluntary” basis; other states got in on the lottery game, too, and today only Alabama and Utah lack legalized gambling. Nevada doesn’t offer a lottery, either, but only because the powerful gaming industry doesn’t want competition.

Here is where the “hair of the dog” principle began to make its appearance. Television ads urged people to play the lottery regularly, while also counseling bettors to “bet responsibly,” and even giving toll-free phone numbers for new gambling addicts to turn for help. In fact, a small portion of the proceeds of state gambling receipts were set aside for such counseling programs. It was as if in their pursuit of revenues, the governments had begun to promote cigarette smoking, coupled with an exhortation not to overdo it, and an 800 number to connect lung-cancer patients with medical treatment.

In the next stage, revenue-hungry governments around much of the country legalized casinos. Slot-machine casinos were especially popular since they require no experience and give no advantage to those with skill. The latest generation of slot machines, electronic rather than mechanical, has been designed to turn players into addicts, with fancy gimmicks designed to give them the feeling they are winning even as they keep losing, as MIT Professor Natasha Dow Schull showed in her thoroughly researched 2014 book Addiction by Design. Again, players are offered ineffectual counsel against overdoing it.

Aside from raising hopes of a personal bonanza, the gamblers, and the public at large, were told that the revenues generated by taxes on the casinos would help finance public goods. Indeed, in New York State, former governor Andrew Cuomo, while refusing to allow fracking in the Marcellus Shale (from which people in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania have gained a considerable boost in employment), authorized several casinos to be opened in the impoverished western part of the state as a substitute. (The casinos have not so far delivered any portion of the promised wealth, any more than they brought prosperity to Atlantic City, where they opened decades earlier). Now, New York City is preparing to open casinos in Manhattan to share the good fortune of being able to try your luck. To listen to its advocates, gambling is almost a public duty. Don’t you want your state to prosper?

The most dangerous iteration of the legalized-gambling craze is the spread of sports gambling, advertised on every major televised sports event and accessed through smartphones. Bettors can wager not only on which team will win, or beat the “spread,” but on all sorts of mini-bets within the game, like whether a particular player will hit a home run. Minors are technically banned from betting, but sports journalism and commentary has now become so saturated by the culture of sports gambling that sports fans cannot avoid the message that the real thrill of sports is in the supposed financial gains from gambling on the outcome. Of course, in the long run it’s always the “house”—including the state—that wins. And every ad comes with a mandated warning to gamble “responsibly” and a number to call if you need help in curing your addiction.

The legalization—or at least the effective decriminalization—of drugs, an undoubted vice that has the potential to cause severe physical as well as psychological harm, is either being downplayed (in the case of marijuana) or “decarcerated” (in the case even of the often-fatal drug fentanyl), for the sake of enhancing public revenues (through taxes on pot); supposedly assisting the past “victims” of the now-regretted War on Drugs, or supposedly mitigating the dangers of an overdose in the form of “safe” injection centers, which are taking root in major cities.

In 2018 (following a popular referendum legalizing marijuana), Massachusetts’s newly established Cannabis Control Commission adopted a “social equity program” in the name of compensating individuals and communities that had been “disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs.” Under the program, state authorities prioritize giving “professional training, technical services, mentoring,” and “access to capital” to individuals who had previously been convicted of drug crimes (most of whom will have been found guilty of selling drugs considerably more harmful than marijuana), are married to or the offspring of such persons, or inhabit an area where the War on Drugs (not drugs themselves!) had “disproportionate impact.”

Leave aside the fact that to the extent the War on Drugs—including manifestly life-threatening and life-ruining substances like heroin and fentanyl—has succeeded in mitigating the rate at which such drugs are used, it has particularly benefited, not harmed, the areas where such use was most widespread. How can anyone seriously maintain that the way to combat poverty, family instability, and crime in low-income or minority neighborhoods where drug sales and use are most widespread is to train residents of those neighborhoods to more effectively manufacture, market, and profit from a mind-weakening and potentially addictive drug that also serves as a “gateway” to harder drugs?

As reported in the New York Times at the time Massachusetts initiated its program (since imitated in New York and elsewhere), a scholarly analyst of the problems associated with marijuana, Professor Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon University, observed that beyond the drug’s correlation with a wide variety of negative outcomes in terms of physical and mental health, “the real issue is that more than half of marijuana is consumed by people who are high more than half of all their waking hours,” while “Americans with a household income of less than $20,000 accounted for close to 30 percent of all marijuana use, even though they make up less than 20 percent of the population.” Do poor people really need to be encouraged by state-trained drug pushers to consume even more marijuana? And to think of drug-pushing as a respectable career choice?

Promoting the sale and use of marijuana in poor and minority communities is just one more instance of misguided social policies in which public officials, ostensibly aiming to serve the public good, in fact threaten to do the greatest harm to those who can least afford to endure it. Our poor and minority communities stand in need of improved public schools (including more charter schools and expanded programs of vocational training), effective law enforcement, and opportunities to succeed in legitimate, pro-social occupations. They also need encouragement to marry before becoming parents; to work their hardest both on their jobs and as parents so as to benefit both themselves and their offspring; and to become sober, thoughtful, and public-spirited citizens—not people who aim to spend their lives in a drug-filled haze.

But in perhaps the ultimate expression of the “hair of the dog” principle, the New York Post reported on December 4 that three major nonprofit agencies that provide services designed to assist addicts to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction had just won licenses from the state to sell marijuana. The CEO of one of the organizations, Housing Works, told Politico that he aimed to employ “justice-involved” individuals (that is, people with previous criminal records) and create a “vocational training” program that would enable them to open their own “weed businesses.”

In 1714 the Anglo-Dutch political theorist Bernard Mandeville famously argued in The Fable of the Bees that private vices (may) lead to public benefits. He had chiefly in mind such vices of character, condemned by both classical and Judeo-Christian morality, as vanity and avarice. (Both of those vices, unattractive in themselves, benefit others, for instance, by providing employment to others who serve their material desires.) Modified (less shocking) versions of Mandeville’s thesis were subsequently taken up by such liberal political thinkers as Montesquieu, Adam Smith, and Friedrich Hayek. But none of these thinkers can have meant that it would be beneficial to encourage poor people to gamble their earnings away, let alone blow their minds, damage their bodies, and waste their lives using addictive drugs—or even worse, to provide capital and training to assist them in purveying such drugs to others. This dog will just keep biting you, your family members, and your country.

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This article was published by The American Mind and is reproduced with permission.

Shadows on the Wall [A Start to Defeat Woke Tyranny]

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

With each new batch of the “Twitter Files,” it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Twitter censors were not only duplicitous scoundrels aiming to advance an agenda but also incompetents who failed to see the consequences of their actions. Whether it was suppressing the Hunter Biden story, shadow banning and de-amplifying popular conservative figures and certain medical professionals, and removing a sitting president of the United States from the platform, they convinced themselves that they were making the world a better place.

At no point did they seriously question themselves beyond violating their own rules. It never dawned on them that their constant gaslighting jeopardizes the freedom, health, and safety of all Americans. It seemed to matter little that they oversaw a platform that promised open public discourse but degenerated into a leftist propaganda outlet infested with bots and child pornography.

Not only did these censors do real damage at the bidding of a corrupt FBI but they ruined a potentially successful business. Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, there were few real conversations happening on the platform, and Twitter was relatively small compared to other social media platforms. For the great majority of users, scrolling through one’s Twitter feed was never an enlightening, connective, or even fun experience but more a mindless habit to pass the time.

Seeing that this is the case, it’s fair to ask what really drove the moderators to do what they did. They could have easily let the First Amendment be their standard for content moderation and sipped their lattes while attending useless meetings. Why did they feel the need to risk their cushy careers by setting into motion a hostile takeover by Elon Musk and an incoming onslaught of lawsuits from users?

From any angle, this seems utterly foolish—that is, except from the woke angle. While rational actors would have understood the sheer destructiveness of censoring users without cause, facilitating the rigging of elections, and endangering the public by denying them important information on a pandemic, woke actors lack this capacity. They operate on feelings and self-regard, not evidence and logic.

Elon Musk famously called wokeness a “mind virus.” It infects people’s mental faculties and drives them to act and express themselves irrationally. Gad Saad expounds upon this in his book The Parasitic Mind. He bemoans the decline of academic scholarship and intellectual debate at today’s universities all in the name of establishing social justice. Of course, rather than create a more equitable and just world, the woke swarm only achieves the opposite—a world of unforgiving hierarchy and hypocrisy. But instead of learning from their failure, they double down and become ever more unreasonable.

For Saad, this is less an ideology and more an “idea pathogen.” In his scientific opinion, victims of wokeness specifically suffer from “Ostrich Parasitic Syndrome (OPS),” substituting for reality a fiction in which “science, reason, rules of causality, evidentiary thresholds, a near-infinite amount of data, data analytic procedures, inferential statistics, the epistemological rules inherent to the scientific method, rules of logic, historical patterns, daily patterns, and common sense are all rejected.”

Unfortunately it’s still an open question of how to “defeat wokeness,” as Elon Musk recently declared. Anyone who has experienced an encounter with the woke infected knows that exposing their falsehoods and contradictions (“sunlight is the best disinfectant,” or, in the new favored expression, “democracy dies in darkness”) only makes them sicker and more dangerous. This is why the “Twitter Files” have mostly elicited silence from the corporate media. Maybe a few of them are pleading the Fifth and hoping the story goes away, but it’s more likely that most don’t understand what these revelations mean, nor do they really care.

So does that mean that releasing and discussing the “Twitter Files” is worthless? Not at all. Even if it doesn’t cure the woke censors or their woke supporters, it fortifies the intellectual immune system of everyone else. Americans now know that they are not crazy; in truth, they are living through a new kind of totalitarianism where Big Tech platforms control speech, impose a social credit system, and fabricate overarching narratives out of thin air.

While this is not exactly a consoling thought, it’s at least the beginning of a solution. The problem has now been identified, and there are now enough informed members of society to have a constructive conversation about the issue. This in turn could lead to finding a cure to the woke pandemic. If these problems continue going ignored and unchecked, the civilized world will surely crumble into ruin, adopting the same chaos, stupidity, and hypocrisy inherent in today’s woke culture.

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This article was published by FEE, Foundation for Economic Education and is reproduced with permission.

DeSantis Goes to War

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

On election night, I was half-watching Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s victory remarks when something quite extraordinary and encouraging caught my attention. DeSantis evoked Churchill’s “fighting on the beaches” speech, in which Churchill stirred the resolve and patriotism of the British people in anticipation of the invasion of their homeland by the Nazis. DeSantis, of course, was not warning against Nazism: he was warning against wokeism, which he was implicitly equating with Nazism. I had never heard a national political figure treat wokeism with such (deserved) gravity.

Before rephrasing Churchill, DeSantis said:

States and cities governed by leftist politicians have seen crime skyrocket. They’ve seen their taxpayers abused, they’ve seen medical authoritarianism imposed, and they’ve seen American principles discarded. The woke agenda has caused millions of Americans to leave these jurisdictions for greener pastures.

People do not uproot themselves and leave the rhythms of home “for light and transient causes.” These people are not coming to Florida just for the weather. They are fleeing the woke regime of blue America—an abusive, lawless, totalitarian regime which is waging war against American principles and the American way of life.

DeSantis continued:

Now, this great exodus of Americans, for those folks, Florida, for so many of them, has served as the promised land. We have embraced freedom. We have maintained law and order. We have protected the rights of parents. We have respected our taxpayers, and we reject woke ideology. We fight the woke in the legislature. We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.

In evoking Churchill’s speech, DeSantis lets us know that the woke regime is bearing down on America. In the urgent cadences of war, DeSantis tells us that America will not survive unless she defeats the woke regime. He believes this regime is so evil and powerful that he can, without bathos, compare it to the Nazi regime.

Some Unsolicited Advice

DeSantis has made a good start. He has told us that we are at war with a deadly regime, the woke regime. You cannot win a war unless you know you are in one.

But at some point soon, he must go further. He must show a voting majority of Americans that wokeism is the challenge of our generation, as Nazism was the challenge of the WWII generation and Communism for two generations thereafter.

And he must back up his claim. He has given us at least one piece of substantial evidence: in large numbers, people are fleeing their homes. Still, we need more. We shall not address the problem with the right strategies and people or the necessary resolve until we believe the country’s life truly is at stake. DeSantis needs to put America on a war footing.

In today’s environment, where there is a keen and deepening generalized awareness of danger, I think there is a hunger for a reasoned account of that danger. DeSantis’s most important role—the role of any statesman who is to rise to the historic challenge of this crisis—is to give such an account, one that calls a morally indifferent nation back to the principles of the founding.

So far as I can tell, there is no national Republican elected official who fully understands the threat except for Trump and DeSantis. The national figure not in politics who best gets it probably is Tucker Carlson. Night after night, in artful, insightful monologues, Carlson flays some aspect of the woke regime. He is the best we have, but he is not going to lead a major political movement. For that we need a statesman. That could well be DeSantis. And so I presume to offer him advice he hasn’t asked for:

He should make defeating wokeism his central purpose, with the goal of making it the central purpose of the Republican Party (which currently has no central purpose). Presumably DeSantis will run for the presidency. But even if he doesn’t, his first goal should be the mobilization of America. He should make anti-wokeism (and its opposite, pro-Americanism) the theme of the next Republican administration, whether it is his administration or not.

To develop an anti-woke (pro-American) agenda, DeSantis must first help us understand the woke regime, the woke way of life. He must explain that this way of life cannot possibly coexist with the American way of life. The two regimes have utterly irreconcilable understandings of a just society.

For the American regime, a just society is one in which free men and women pursue happiness according to their abilities and according to nature. Such a society is one where merit rules. For the woke regime, on the other hand, a just society is one where the regime imposes identity group quotas based on victimhood rankings. Such a regime makes war on merit.

It’s one regime or the other. You can’t offer admission to college (or anything else) according to group quotas and, at the same time, offer admission according to merit. I suggest DeSantis frame the debate accordingly: the merit regime vs. the group quota regime (or simply, merit vs. group quotas).

DeSantis should be very clear: woke revolutionaries attempt not to improve our culture, or remake aspects of it, but to destroy it or lead us to destroy it ourselves—not partially but completely. Like (crazed) revolutionaries everywhere, they believe the world must be purified, no matter the cost.

But DeSantis should not overestimate the threat either. The woke regime is a totalitarian regime in the making. Our side is outgunned almost everywhere, but there is still room to maneuver. America is not yet a one-party state; we still have some open communication channels; our intelligence agencies can (conceivably) be reformed; wokeness in the military can probably be reversed by a strong president, and businesses (one must hope!) will come around if they see America gaining the upper hand on woke tyranny. Even in education, where the woke revolutionaries have us tied to a chair, our hands are still free.

In addition to a framing, we need a simple theory or model of the woke regime: its composition, its goals, and the means for achieving those goals. Without a model we cannot anticipate where the woke revolutionaries are going next, and so we are always playing whack-a-mole, each new woke initiative catching us by surprise.

DeSantis might use the 2020 riots as an example of the woke regime in action. Radicals, intellectuals, media, businesses, Democratic politicians, and the criminal justice system conspired to create mayhem. They ignited, justified, hid, funded, fanned the flames of, and freed the rioters. There is no overarching organization. There is some informal coordination among players, but mostly the regime is a revolutionary cabal of the anti-American elite, who want us to believe they are liberating innocent victims.

The objective of the woke regime—group quotas—requires the woke revolutionaries to make Americans deeply ashamed of their past, thereby making them inclined to trade in the merit regime for the group quota regime. This requires a big lie. Every totalitarian regime has one. The woke regime’s big lie is that America is systemically racist and about to be overrun by racists, a.k.a. Trump voters. (That Trump voters are racist is, regrettably, a view also held by many neoconservatives.)

DeSantis should call this the “Big Lie” and, like Trump, dismiss it without apology or qualification. DeSantis should explain that the phony white guilt of the elite is killing the rest of us, black and white, that racism is low on the list of problems confronting black citizens, and, as Frederick Douglass counseled, the way to help blacks is to encourage them to help themselves.

DeSantis must tell Republicans they should forget about defending themselves against charges of “racism” (it cannot be done). Instead Republicans need to explain that the central problem facing the nation is not racism, but the trumped-up charges of racism that hound us from morning to night. The goal of conservatives should be, as David Azerrad has pointed out, “not to solve the race problem but to prevent the race problem from crushing the country.”

DeSantis needs to explain that the doctrinaire egalitarianism of wokesism denies the natural differences in abilities among people and so is evil. DeSantis should say just that: “evil.” Although the elite will cringe, as it did when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “evil,” most Americans will find it both bracing and reassuring.

In addition to telling lies, the woke revolutionaries must, as most everyone knows by now, censor anyone who challenges the lies. In a totalitarian regime there can be no space for dissent. This requires, among many other things, erasing from memory totalitarian regimes and their evil. DeSantis gets it. To his great credit, he signed a bill last year that requires the teaching of “communism and totalitarianism.”

Republicans recognize the Big Lie, censorship, and the corruption of education, but like many pieces of the woke regime, these are not usually seen as part of the larger woke strategy. We see the pieces but not always the picture. That’s DeSantis’s role: to put the pieces together.

DeSantis should make us understand all the woke regime’s actions through this totalitarian lens. Take, for example, Biden’s decision to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The woke revolutionaries tell us this has to do with climate change, but it is difficult to see how destroying American energy independence can be other than part of an attempt to destroy America. Whether done with conscious intent or simply allowed to happen, the result is the same.

Or take open borders. We usher in millions of illegal immigrants, distribute them around the country, encourage them not to assimilate, and sometimes even allow them to vote. This too is an attempt to destroy our country with the additional benefit for the woke revolutionaries of swelling Democratic voting rolls. Another example is the breaking of the country into identity groups (tribes), each competing for the highest ranking in the victimhood sweepstakes. This will almost certainly lead to tribal warfare. When has it not?

Yes, Republican politicians usually object to such policies. But they don’t generally identify and denounce them as parts of the woke strategy for destroying our country. Unless they do, we will lose our country without even a fight.

A Time for Statesmanship

DeSantis should help us follow the logic of wokeism. For example, if we know group quotas for innocent victims is the goal of the woke regime, then we know that the woke revolutionaries need to bring the black prison population (currently about 33 percent of the total prison population) more in line with blacks’ percentage of the overall population (13 percent). That is the purpose of defunding the police and failing to prosecute certain crimes and other criminal justice “reforms.” For the most part, people with common sense—in particular black Americans who must endure the consequences in their own neighborhoods—see these things simply as very stupid ideas. But DeSantis should keep reminding us that wokeism is not a jumble of stupid ideas but a coherent set of stupid ideas in the service of the group quota regime, one that is completely at odds with the merit regime.

And DeSantis should help us anticipate the woke revolutionaries’ next steps. In the case of prison population, the next step might be disparate sentencing, where blacks get lighter sentences than whites for the same offense, or perhaps the elimination of prison altogether. As loopy as these ideas sound, they are logical extensions of woke theory. Moreover, each has been talked about by leading woke revolutionary intellectuals like Ibram X. Kendi. Sometimes all we have to do is listen.

Very importantly, DeSantis must keep reminding us that war requires different strategies than peace time. War is not a time for trying to persuade the independents, reach across the aisle, or even reach out to the Republican accommodationists. DeSantis knows the best way to get these groups on board is not to woo them but to win the war. He knows as well that any concessions made to the woke revolutionaries will be pocketed, not reciprocated—something even Trump may have failed to fully appreciate.

War also requires different personnel. Trump, an almost unthinkable option at any other time in American history, was the right man for these times, and may still be the right man. Trump was a great war time president. DeSantis must help us understand that Trump’s flaws were not—perhaps are still not—disqualifying.

The easy way out for Republicans, and the temptation for DeSantis, will be to say Trump’s policies were good, but not the rest of him. I think this assessment of Trump is wrong. As I have written elsewhere, Trump advanced many important policies, but the “rest of him” is where one finds the virtues that have inspired a movement. His willingness to fight, his abundant courage, strength, independence, optimism, confidence in America, and absence of white guilt are examples of virtues that made him both effective and dear to patriotic Americans. DeSantis should resist his advisors who tell him he should not speak well of Trump. Now is the time for statesmanship.

And when the Republican establishment dismisses the Trump movement as “populist,” DeSantis should demur and explain to that establishment that when the elite undermines the American way of life, and the voices of ordinary people cannot be heard, populism is not only healthy but vital. Trump’s populist base has just what the Republican Party lacks: purpose, the passion that can match the ideological zeal of the woke revolutionaries, optimism, and confidence in itself and the country. And the base doesn’t have what the party has altogether too much of: white guilt. Trump’s base is a fighting force we cannot afford to lose.

In his election night victory speech DeSantis imagined that he, like Churchill, was a great leader fighting the forces of evil. If DeSantis is to actually follow Churchill (and Lincoln), he must be magnanimous, as they were. Voters will rally to magnanimity coupled with courage and resolution.

DeSantis’s immediate goal is to make America vs. the woke regime (merit vs. group quotas) the central theme of American political discourse. Perhaps that begins with a speech. Like Churchill and Lincoln, DeSantis should appeal to our patriotism in order to stir our resolve. We are still a patriotic people. Where patriotism has waned, I suspect its embers would burst into flames. DeSantis must remind us we are part of a noble and honorable tradition. He must call attention to the great successes of our past. In doing so he reminds us that we are still capable of greatness. As in times before, the future of freedom everywhere rests on our shoulders, a fateful burden we carry as the “almost” chosen people. DeSantis must give us hope but not let us forget the possibility of darkness. As a peroration, he cannot improve on Lincoln who faced a crisis not so dissimilar to the one we face today:

LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.

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This article was published by The American Mind and is reproduced with permission.

Arizona Senate Panel Debates Parental Rights’ School ‘Pronouns’ Bill

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Arizona state Senate Education Committee met Wednesday [1/18/23] to consider SB 1001, The Given Name Act, a one-page, 21-line bill that states that any individual involved in the Arizona public education system would be required to use the pronoun associated with a student’s biological sex unless the student’s public school or charter school received other instructions from the student’s parent or parents.

No public or charter school staff member, full time or contractor, would be able to use alternative pronouns for a student without the written permission of the student’s parents.

The legislation would reinforce parents’ ultimate authority in deciding what names their children should and should not be called by staff members, providing a stopgap via parental approval before public districts attempt to treat or affirm gender dysphoria with only the minor’s limited understanding of what they are going through.

State Sen. John Kavanagh, Scottsdale Republican, the sponsor of SB 1001, said that if a child had serious psychological distress as a result of the gender dysphoria he or she was dealing with, then parents need to be alerted immediately so that the child can be given immediate medical and psychological care parents deem necessary.

Kavanagh disputed the common counterargument that many parents would be unsupportive and would therefore be a danger to their “transgender child.”

“The vast majority of parents will want to help their child,” he said, “What a horrible condemnation of the average American parent” to suggest otherwise. He added that Child Protective Services was still obligated, as always, to investigate any concerns of child abuse.

At no time during the committee hearing was Kavanagh’s concern for the high rate of student-suicide correlation addressed by Democratic members.

State Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales, Tucson Democrat, said, “For lots of indigenous children, their names were changed without parental permission—Maria got changed to Mary, Roberto got changed to Robert. I think that’s wrong for that to be happening. I’m not sure what the intent is for allowing … contractors and employers also not to say their names.”

Kavanagh responded that the bill would allow students to go by nicknames.

State Sen. Christine Marsh, Phoenix Democrat, suggested that the bill would go against the rights of parents who might agree with a child wanting different pronouns. “What if the parent agrees to a child having alternative pronouns?” she asked.

Kavanagh countered by citing the first sentence of his bill, which states that parental permission would allow a child to go by whatever pronouns the parent wishes.

Marsh took issue with the second portion of the bill, which states that a teacher or contractor could not be required to use a student’s pronouns, protecting their religious and moral liberties. She said that as a teacher for 33 years, she never had to fall back on “religious beliefs” as a standard for how she would respond to a student. “Are there other examples or situations in which a teacher’s religious beliefs override the parent’s?” she asked.

Kavanagh responded with an example of a Jewish or Muslim cafeteria worker being exempt from having to serve pork to students at school lunches. He also cited dress code considerations for students of different religions. After providing those examples, Kavanagh asked whether Marsh would agree with him that parents should be notified of potential mental health issues associated with gender dysphoria.

“No, I don’t agree, I just want the hypocrisy of the bill to be pointed out,” Marsh replied.

Several testimonials were offered by concerned parents, students, and activists, both for and against the bill.

One educator from Scottsdale praised the bill, claiming that as a Jew, she has religious objections to using pronouns or names that conflict with a student’s biological sex.

One activist claimed that parents should be involved and be aware of what their kids are going through, but suggested that students should be allowed to decide when their parents are ready to find out about it.

One critical point ignored by those opposing the bill is the inability of a minor under severe mental distress to safely self-treat gender dysphoria or any severe mental health issue or trauma. Encouraging minors to decide how best to treat themselves sets a dangerous precedent—and risks a very real threat of suicide or self-harm without the parent having an opportunity to aid his or her child.

One transgender advocate claimed that “no one commits suicide because they are gender dysphoric,” but implied that bullying was the cause.

While 20.2% of students claim to have been bullied, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 8.9% have admitted attempting suicide. In contrast, while 51% of transgender individuals have claimed to be victims of bullying, 40% of transgender individuals admitted attempting suicide.

One opponent of the bill called Kavanagh “Senator Coward,” during his testimony, to which Kavanagh quipped, “You’re free to call me that [under this bill], as long as you get written permission from my parents.”

With only a one-seat advantage on the Senate Education Committee, Republicans will likely revise The Given Name Act and clarify a few points of language via amendments over the next several weeks.

*****
This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

The Rise of the Single Woke (and Young, Democratic) Female

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Soccer Moms are giving way to Single Woke Females – the new “SWFs” – as one of the most potent voting blocs in American politics.

Unmarried women without children have been moving toward the Democratic Party for several years, but the 2022 midterms may have been their electoral coming-out party as they proved the chief break on the predicted Republican wave. While married men and women as well as unmarried men broke for the GOP, CNN exit polls found that 68% of unmarried women voted for Democrats.

The Supreme Court’s August decision overturning Roe v. Wade was certainly a special factor in the midterms, but longer-term trends show that single, childless women are joining African Americans as the Democrats’ most reliable supporters.

Their power is growing thanks to the demographic winds. The number of never married women has grown from about 20% in 1950 to over 30% in 2022, while the percentage of married women has declined from almost 70% in 1950 to under 50% today. Overall, the percentage of married households with children has declined from 37% in 1976 to 21% today.

The Single Wave
A new Institute for Family Studies analysis  of 2020 Census data found that one in six women do not have children by the time they reach the end of their childbearing years, up from one in ten in 1990. Single adult women now total some 42 million, comparable to the key African American voting bloc (46 million), while vastly larger than key groups like labor union members (14 million) or college students (20 million).

The Pew Research Center notes that since 1960, single-person households in the United States have grown from 13% to 27% (2019). Many, particularly women, are not all that keen on finding a partner. Pew recently found that “men are far more likely than women to be on the dating market: 61% of single men say they are currently looking for a relationship or dates, compared with 38% of single women.”

There’s clearly far less stigma attached to being single and unpartnered. Single women today have many impressive role models of unattached, childless women who have succeeded on their own – like Taylor Swift and much of the U.S. women’s soccer team. This phenomenon is not confined to the United States. Marriage and birthrates have fallen in much of the world, including Europe and Japan. Writing in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, columnist Emma John observed that, “Singleness is no longer to be sneered at. Never marrying or taking a long-term partner is increasingly seen as a valid choice.”

Rise of Identity Politics
The rise of SWFs – a twist on the personal ad abbreviation for single white female – is one of the great untold stories of American politics. Distinct from divorced women or widows, these largely Gen Z and Millennial voters share a sense of collective identity and progressive ideology that sets them apart from older women. More likely to live in urban centers and to support progressive policies, they are a driving force in the Democratic party’s and the nation’s shift to the left. One paradox, however: Democrats depend ever more on women defined in the strict biological sense while much of the party’s progressive wing embraces the blurred and flexible gender boundaries of its identity politics.

Attitudes are what most distinguish single women from other voters. An American Enterprise Institute survey shows that married men and women are far more likely than unmarried females to think women are well-treated or equally treated. As they grow in numbers, these discontented younger single women are developing something of a group consciousness. Nearly two-thirds of women under 30, for example, see what happens to other women as critical to their own lives; among women over 50, this mindset shrinks to less than half.

This perception of linked fate stands in contrast to survey results regarding single men, who report that they are increasingly disconnected from each other while women bond more closely. This is not a temporary phenomenon, and it is much bigger than the bohemian movements of the past. There is even a sense in which women are redefining families, and themselves, by choosing to neither get married nor have offspring. And social observers such as Bella DePaulo, a University of California, Santa Barbara professor and singles advocate, are all in favor…..

*****

Continue reading at Real Clear Investigations.

‘Cripple Children’: Parents Protest Against Gov. Katie Hobbs’ Move To Scrap Key School Choice Program

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

With signs reading “education for all” and “support for all students,” a coalition of about 150 parents protested Tuesday over newly-elected Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs’ plan to dismantle the nation’s largest school choice program, parents told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Hobbs’ executive budget released Jan. 13 called on state legislators to roll back the state’s expansion of its school choice program which currently makes Arizona K-12 students eligible to receive taxpayer-funded scholarships if they choose to leave or are already outside of the public education system. Education for All, a group of parents backing the state’s current school choice program, rallied against Hobbs’ announcement at the state capitol, voicing their concern that ending the program would strip their children of opportunities, parents told the DCNF.

“It would rip away essentially thousands of dollars that we as taxpayers already pay into the system, that is for our children already,” Stacey Brown, the organizer of the rally, told the DCNF. “It would mean that it would cripple some homeschoolers, it would cripple children who wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise to possibly go to a private school and to receive extra aid in areas that they need aid. It really, really, really, really would hinder Arizona as a whole and the leg up that we have compared to other states to provide and to produce excellent educated children. We truly want education for every child in Arizona, whatever that might be to fit their needs.”

Former Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey created the nation’s largest school choice program in July, making more than 1.1 million Arizona students in public and charter schools eligible to receive up to $7,000 in order to transfer schools.

Hobbs’ plan includes returning to the state’s previous school choice program which only provided taxpayer-funded vouchers to disabled children, students living on American Indian reservations and students attending low-performing public schools, Fox 10 reported. Under the previous program, just one-third of Arizona students were eligible, with about 11,800 students utilizing the vouchers, according to the AZ Mirror.

Since expanding the school choice program more than 45,000 students are currently enrolled, according to the Arizona Department of Education.

Bella Viner, an organizer of the rally and Arizona parent, has worked with Latino, African American and Hispanic students within the state’s school choice program to place them at the school that will best benefit them, she told the DCNF.

“Through this program, they are able to choose a better education and school that will concentrate on their needs, especially special-needs children,” Viner told the DCNF. “So they take away this program, they are going to take away the opportunity to have a better education in the future, to have a professional job and to be able to fulfill the dream that their family has come to this country for. Because we come to the United States for the American dream and we can not get out of poverty without a proper education.”

Due to a “high volume” of applications when the program opened, users received error messages, the Arizona Free News reported.

Save Our Schools Arizona, an organization that advocates for public schools, petitioned to put Ducey’s expansion of the school choice program on the general election ballot. The effort against the school choice program failed in September after the organization failed to collect enough signatures.

“For decades, Arizona’s public schools have gone chronically underfunded by our state leaders,” Save Our Schools Arizona said in a statement. “We applaud Hobbs for sweeping universal voucher funds and harmful results-based funding to add $198 million in addition base-level support. School districts will be able to use these desperately-needed funds to raise teacher pay and provide critical resources and extracurriculars for all 1.1 million Arizona students.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kevin Gemeroy, an Arizona parent and member of Education for All, was able to take his son out of a remote learning environment and enter him into an education that best addressed his dyslexia, Gemeroy told the DCNF. Since, Gemeroy has advocated for the school choice movement to help students who did not have the same opportunities his son had.

“I’m so grateful for what happened to us but I’m so sad for the families that don’t have the ability to buy their way out of it,” Gemeroy told the DCNF. “And ever since I’ve been advocating for school choice. There’s too much at stake for the kids.”

Hobbs’ office did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

*****
This article was published by The Daily Caller and is reproduced with permission.

Why Only 16% of Gen Z Are Proud to Be an American, and What We Should Do About It

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Only 16% of Gen Zers are “proud” to live in the United States.

That finding comes from a recent Morning Consult poll, which assessed generational attitudes about the United States. The poll shows that there has been roughly a 20-percentage-point drop of pride in country every generation since the Baby Boomers, 73% of whom express pride in the country.

Many on social media noted with exasperation that those who say they have no pride in country are in no hurry to move somewhere else.

It’s true, our success as a nation has apparently led to a great deal of ingratitude and navel-gazing. However, the poll points to a deeper problem.

Even if the poll is off or exaggerated, it’s hard to ignore the reality and the trend. With each passing generation, there’s less connection to country and less patriotism. With this comes enormous—and likely terrible—implications.

First, for those insistent on upholding the “liberal international order,” as some call it, that’s going to be hard to do when so few people are willing to support or defend even their own nation. It also should come as no surprise that the military is having a recruitment crisis. Could you imagine what would happen if we had to reinstate the draft?

Second, with less attachment to country, there will be fewer things to bind people together in a society that is now ruthlessly sorting out ideologically.

In earlier times, we could argue about issues and policies, but accept that our neighbor was still fundamentally American. But as the philosophical gaps among us widen, and political victories and defeats become a zero-sum game, there is less incentive to maintain and defend the rights of the other “tribe.”

President Donald Trump said in his inaugural address that “when you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” In a society devoid of patriotism, there will be a whole lot of room to hate.

So, the question is, why is this happening? To me, the answer seems clear.

We’ve failed to reinstitutionalize “informed patriotism” in this country. That’s what President Ronald Reagan called for in his farewell address in January 1989, and what was clearly most important to him. In the 1980s, the U.S. was riding high, the economy was booming, patriotism was returning, the Soviet Union—an evil empire, if there ever was one—was just a few years away from collapse. It was morning again in America.

However, Reagan warned that while the policy victories he achieved during his presidency were good, it wasn’t nearly enough.

Reagan said that “younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children.” But it wasn’t just parents. For those who created popular culture, “well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style.”

He warned that while our “spirit” was back, we hadn’t “reinstitutionalized it.”

Reagan was right. Worse—as it’s now become quite clear—we have institutionalized something quite different from “informed patriotism” and love of country. We have institutionalized the ethos of the new left, of the woke, of the purveyors of “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Concepts such as critical race theory and radical gender theory are quite real, but they aren’t new. They’ve been floating around academia for more than half a century. What’s new is that these ideas have reached a critical mass, and they have pushed traditional American ideas out of every institution they’ve taken hold of.

Many Americans have no idea what the details of these concepts are, but they absorb and internalize them because they are continuously reinforced. The modern elite university is the temple of this new, dominant ideology, but its tentacles reach into everything, from colleges to K-12 schools (both public and private) to media and entertainment, to the corporate world, and certainly to government.

At one time, the managerial class merely promoted its interests; now, it promotes this quasi-religion, too.

To remain a member of the elite in good standing, you must acknowledge your faith in the new creed or risk losing your career, being canceled, and personally attacked.

Most comply. Those who don’t believe do so quietly, secretly for fear of risking their status and livelihood.

Is that freedom?

Reagan also said that every generation had to reaffirm our American principles, or we would someday have to tell our children what it was like when men were free. Have we not reached that point?

And if you tell your children about a time when Americans were freer in the past, can you do so without being called a racist?

Victory in the Cold War, a moment of triumph for the United States and the West worthy of celebration, nevertheless concealed the rot within.

In 2020, when mobs hit the streets and statues fell, the institutions of our country showed their true colors. They joined the mob and pulled down what the rabble missed. Jacobins in the street joined Jacobins in government agencies and air-conditioned boardrooms. The pride flag and the BLM flag replaced the American flag as the symbols of the new regime.

As Jeremy Carl wrote at The American Conservative, “the transgressive has become not just mainstream, but the establishment itself.”

So, for those who didn’t join the revolution, who may be dazed by, and disbelieving of, the transformation that’s taken place, we must acknowledge that our cause is currently one of dissenters. It’s the people versus the institutions, and many people now side with the institutions.

But if the Left can transform America from the inside out through a long march, so can the rest of us. It begins with informing ourselves and our children. It gets serious when we organize and use real political power to shape and change the institutions that have become corrupted.

When we look to Florida, we see a model of how to fight back and how to hit the radical left where it hurts the most. From going after woke indoctrination in K-12 schools to reintroducing instruction in American principles in those schools to changing school boards to getting DEI out of colleges and changing their boards of trustees, these are the kinds of institutional changes other Republican governors and other political leaders need to emulate.

The woke think they have the right to be the gatekeepers of all debate, speech, and pedagogy in this country. Let’s show them otherwise.

Mobs and unelected bureaucrats don’t have a right to rule; you do. If we go on the offensive, we will likely find that there is a whole lot more common sense in this country, even at this late hour, than one would think, given the slide of the past several decades.

To win this battle, to restore pride in country, and prevent the United States from slipping into a dark age of decline and possible dissolution, we must make a sustained effort to retake institutions now.

We must do this while there are still Americans left who know what it was like to live in freedom and who wish to hand that down to posterity.

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This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

Arizona Governor’s Plan To Undo Nation’s Largest School Choice Program Will Harm Students, Advocates Say

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Newly-elected Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs’ plan to undo the nation’s most expansive school choice program could affect thousands of students and families who are already utilizing the state’s voucher program, school choice advocates told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Hobbs’ executive budget released Jan. 13 asked state legislators to reverse the state’s expansion of its school choice program which currently allows all Arizona students in grades K-12 to receive taxpayer-funded vouchers if they choose to leave or are already outside of the public education system. The proposal would have a severe negative impact on Arizona families already utilizing the school voucher program to pursue other educational opportunities, school choice advocates told the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: The School Choice Movement Is Picking Up Steam Across The Country)

“It’s an assault on the families and the parents,” Steve Smith, Arizona State Director of American Federation for Children (AFC), a group working toward school choice, told the DCNF. “Especially now when education options are needed more than ever in the wake of COVID-19. You must let these these families flourish. These programs have been a lifesaver to so many and to take that away or even threaten to take it away, it’s just flat out wrong.”

In July, former Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law creating the largest school voucher program in the country, making more than 1.1 million Arizona students in public and charter schools eligible to receive up to $7,000 in order to transfer schools. Under the previous program, disabled children, students living on American Indian reservations and students attending low-performing public schools were eligible for the taxpayer-funded vouchers.

As of Jan 9., more than 45,000 students have enrolled in the state’s school choice program, according to to Faith Prep Arizona, a group that advises families using the school choice program. Originally just one-third of Arizona students were eligible for the program, with about 11,800 students enrolled, according to the AZ Mirror.

Through the program, students can receive up to $7,000, enough to potentially cover a private school education, according to AZ Free News. Upon the opening of the program application, the state’s Department of Education reported that due to a “high volume” of applications, users may receive an error message when applying.

Reversing the school choice program could affect thousands across the state who are already utilizing the voucher program, Amy Carney, Scottsdale Unified governing board member and deputy director of Building Education for Students Together, a group focused on parental rights in education, told the DCNF.

“It’s unfortunate that Governor Hobbs is so ideologically blinded that she doesn’t understand or care why over 45,000 children are already benefiting from Arizona’s newly expanded Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program,” Carney told the DCNF. “Instead of threatening to tear apart a program helping children across our state, our governor should try to listen and learn why this is needed and use the information to strengthen our local public schools to better serve the children in our local communities.”

Save Our Schools Arizona, an organization that advocates for public schools, tried to halt Ducey’s expansion of the program in September but failed to collect enough signatures to place the issue on the general election ballot. The state’s current school choice program is estimated to cost Arizona tax-payers more than $140 million in the 2024 fiscal year, according to Hobbs’ executive budget.

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This article was published at Daily Caller and is reproduced with permission.