Critical Theory or Critical Thinking?

These two terms sound very similar, don’t they? Nothing could be further from the truth. Today I would like to explore their differences, as well as the danger of one and the importance of the other.

Critical Theory

Critical theory (CT) can be traced back to the Marxist-inspired movement in social and political philosophy known as the Frankfurt School in the 1920s. Since the 1970s, CT has become immensely influential in the study of history, law, literature, and the social sciences.

From the 1980s, it has gained an even bigger following on the back of ‘critical race theory’ (CRT), which has proven to be the central backbone of the CT movement. Recently, CRT came to the fore in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. He was a black man, killed in the US city of Minneapolis by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, the tragedy igniting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests around the globe.

CT focuses on the twin dynamics of ‘power’ and ‘submission’. It challenges the assumptions of power and seeks to liberate those in slavery. That sounds good, doesn’t it? However, in contrast to the traditional concept of a ‘theory’ that relies on evidence and data to prove or disprove, CT simply relies on ‘perspective’ and a ‘person’s lived experience’ alone. That’s where it gets dangerous.

A theory is, by definition, a cold hard, unemotional objective ‘theory’, until proven to be true. Then it can become a cold hard, unemotional objective ‘fact’. But CT and CRT are ‘right’ only because someone says so. There is no debate, questioning or discussion. What is more, so many in society are following it, not even aware that they are.

CT has its roots firmly in Marxism, a left-wing social and political movement that favours communism and socialism over capitalism. As such, it is at pains to stand up for the underdog, the minority, and those perceived to be discriminated against. That’s good, yes?

Yes, laudable goals, I agree. But with the goal to demolish capitalism and the abolition of the need to provide objective evidence, the outcomes of CT can be tragic for the individual and for civilisation as a whole. I will give a few examples of the effects of CT from the state of Victoria, Australia, under the leadership of Daniel Andrews. You may say I am being extreme. Well, this short piece does not have the space to explore the full chain from CT to the premier of Victoria, but it is quite clear that his regime is firmly rooted in far-left socialism, Marxism without the name:

  1. So as not to discriminate, Victoria became the first state in Australia to adopt same-sex adoption laws.
  2. Again, supportive of minorities, the establishment of the Pride Centre in St Kilda to encourage LGBTIQA+ activism.
  3. The introduction of Hate Speech laws.
  4. In 2008, Victoria was the first state in Australia to introduce abortion on demand right up to birth.
  5. The introduction of a criminal offence for offering alternatives to those seeking abortion.
  6. The “conversion therapy” laws prohibit parents from being able to object to a child wishing to change their gender.
  7. The abolition of Special Religious Education in schools and its replacement with ideological classes which have resulted in an explosion in the number of children with gender dysphoria.
  8. The banning of Christmas Carols in schools.
  9. The funding and promotion of the compulsory Safe Schools Program for children with its overt emphasis on anti-Christian views on morality.
  10. Employment laws are making it extremely difficult for Christian schools to employ teachers who can support their own ethos.
  11. The introduction of doctors into schools so children can consult a doctor without their parent’s knowledge or support.
  12. The politicisation of the police force, that no longer supports the keeping of law and order around Christian events.

These are just some of the legacies of the Daniel Andrews government in Victoria that I have collated from a piece by Martyn Iles, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).

Critical Thinking

In a study on critical thinking and education in 1941, Edward Glaser defined critical thinking as the ability to think critically, involving three elements:

  1. an attitude of being disposed to consider, in a thoughtful way, the problems and subjects that come within the range of one’s experiences
  2. knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, and
  3. some skill in applying those methods

Critical thinking expects a persistent effort to examine any belief or form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it. It also generally requires an ability to recognise problems, find workable solutions for those problems, gather and marshal pertinent information, recognise unstated assumptions and values, comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination, interpret data, appraise evidence and evaluate arguments, recognise the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions, and draw warranted conclusions and generalisations. (Glaser, 1941, An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking, Teacher’s College, Columbia University)

critical thinking

This figure is from a modern take on critical thinking by Jennifer Herrity (2022). It always starts with careful observation of the facts; it is never sidetracked by a subjective perspective or individual lived experiences alone. The second step returns to the first observation and seeks to collect a deeper understanding of the issue or circumstance.

The third stage is very exciting — it is an exercise in lateral thinking. Namely, an examination of the implications for others and apparently unrelated situations if we progress along this line of thinking. In essence, it is being careful and thoughtful about the impact of our thinking on those around us and society at large.

The fourth stage can be described as testing out our thinking with trusted others, a safeguard against self-deception. And finally, at stage five, the problem is solved, or the situation is understood.

Further, I would like to add an additional dimension to critical thinking, namely the ‘scientific method’ (I wrote about this in the Daily Declaration, 22 December 2021). It seems to me that the rationality, and objectivity of the scientific method of enquiry is a natural partner with critical thinking. At the heart of this method is the assumption that something is ‘not true’ until it can be ‘proven’ by the evidence.

It seems to me that as a society and as individuals, we have lost our appetite for the scientific method and for critical thinking and as a result, we have become prey to the onslaught of critical theory (CT).

I would argue that if we have lived our own lives unaware of the advance of CT into our own lives, our families, and our communities, it is because we have neglected or ignored critical thinking and the scientific method. For me, critical thinking is the clear first line of defence against CT and the march of modern Marxism into every aspect of our lives.

Cosying Up to the CCP

Let me conclude with the story of the Belt and Road Initiative. This is an investment strategy developed nearly ten years ago by the Chinese. This initiative seeks to form a network of Chinese infrastructure and investment that covers the globe an empire in all but name. It has often focused on the takeover of key ports such as Haifa in Israel and Piraeus in Greece, to say nothing of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia.

With great fanfare, the Victorian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese government on October 8, 2018, and later a ‘framework’ agreement on October 23, 2019, to develop one of the Belt and Road Initiatives for Victoria. This was done behind the then Prime Minister Morrison’s back; he swiftly wound it back. What does this say about Daniel Andrews’ agenda? Not just the concept of facilitating even greater Chinese investment/ownership in Australia, but his seeking to do this international trade deal without the federal government’s approval!

Let’s never give up on the importance of critical thinking and always be aware of the dangers inherent in critical theory (CT).

___

Photo by cottonbro.

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What is the ‘Jewish Question’ and Why is Kanye Getting Censored for Asking it?

What is the ‘Jewish Question’ and Why is Kanye Getting Censored for Asking it?

The Red Elephants – Vincent James – October 18th, 2022


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Is The GOP Finally Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is With Pro-Family Policy?

Is The GOP Finally Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is With Pro-Family Policy?

It’s not easy being a parent these days. We live in a culture that has become hostile to the family. Modern media seeks to divide parents and children, confusing them with woke ideology and turning them into screen junkies. Modern education seeks to do the same, not only in its curriculum, but also in its insistence that government employees have more right to raise and teach children than parents. The general public, in which childless adults now outnumber parents, either casts children as a vanity project at best or a shameful burden at worst.

Then there’s the great financial cost of being a parent. Actual single-family houses are prohibitively expensive for most young parents. Basic necessities like food, clothing, health care, and all the rest continue to present huge challenges for cash-strapped households. Most parents both have to work to cover so many of these expenses, but this introduces the additional expense of childcare. Unless the parents are wealthy, most of them simply have to accept a life of austerity.

Fortunately, Republicans are noticing and saying something about it — if not actually doing anything or even running on it. RealClearPolitics recently reported that the Republican Study Committee has released a “Family Policy Agenda” that “includes over 80 specific recommendations that they will try to make law if the GOP wins control of Congress.” Finally, the self-proclaimed pro-family party is articulating an agenda to actually support the family — and desperate conservatives won’t have to pine for a pro-family politician like Giorgia Meloni to come their way.

Unfortunately, some of these recommendations have already been adopted by the GOP — they’re just putting the “family” label on it. And other recommendations fall woefully short of addressing real challenges facing American families.

In the first category, many of the recommendations concern the myriad attempts of institutions adopting what Rep. Jim Jordan calls “radical gender theory.” The committee called for outlawing transgender surgeries and treatments for minors along with educators who secretly encourage students with gender dysphoria to seek such treatments. Moreover, it advocates defunding schools that use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns without parental consent and creating a legal definition of the sexes. The committee recognizes that the gender issue is being used as a wedge between parents and their children, empowering organizations to exploit the situation and break up the family.

Similarly, it suggests pulling funds from schools that push Critical Race Theory in their instruction. Because CRT is a somewhat nebulous idea whose meaning shifts depending on the context, the committee makes its language clear, prohibiting any instruction claiming “that race is all that matters” and “categorizing children as either victims or privileged racists depending upon the color of their skin.” One would hope that this applies to school equity policies in addition to what’s said in the classroom.

Perhaps the best recommendations regard placing limits on social media companies and protecting children. In line with the legislative proposals of the Institute for Family Studies, the Family Policy Agenda would also require age and parental consent verification on social media. Such measures would definitely help children who can’t safely use the internet because the risks of being morally corrupted and brainwashed are too great and Big Tech companies can’t bring themselves to do anything about it.

As far as directing the economy in a more pro-family direction, there are recommendations about allowing working parents to have more flexible hours and changing the tax code. For some reason the agenda also includes ideas about labor unions, universal basic income, and licensing laws. This is probably the weakest aspect of the agenda since it falls short of providing meaningful financial assistance to families and dilutes the recommendations with unrelated Republican priorities. Some of us would’ve liked to see more policies like those of Victor Orban in Hungary, which give cold hard cash and tax credits to couples who marry and have children.

However, taken altogether, the Family Policy Agenda is a great first step to helping families, mainly in giving purpose to current policies that mostly seem reactive. It addresses many of the challenges constraining parents and threatening children. Even if many of these points should be common sense to anyone, they have been mostly forgotten by elected officials on both the right and the left. Now, they just have to put their money with their mouth is and go even further.

Of course, even if Republicans somehow succeed in retaking control of the federal government and actually enact these policies, there’s still much more progress on the cultural front that needs to happen. It’s not enough to clear away some of the obstacles that hamper families; our whole idea of parents needs to change. Instead of treating parents as a cumbersome subpopulation in need of government handouts and regulations, they deserve to be recognized as necessary, and indeed heroic, members of society. Parents sacrifice so much of themselves for a greater cause: bringing up the next generation.

More than material support, mothers and fathers need to be honored. When they are taken for granted, as they have been for the past few decades, fewer families are formed, and the ones that exist eventually break down. All too often, parenting is seen as a thankless task that prevents adults from having fulfilling lives of self-indulgence, social activism, and shameless narcissism.

Whatever the cost, this whole dynamic must be reversed. A pro-life outlook should not only be a matter of sustainability and long-term benefits — which it is. At its heart, it’s about promoting the good, both for the individual and the community.


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Maine Democrat Mills’ Education Dept. Refuses to Remove Video Calling ‘MAGA’ Covert Racism, White Supremacy

Maine Democrat Mills’ Education Dept. Refuses to Remove Video Calling ‘MAGA’ Covert Racism, White Supremacy

The Maine Department of Education has doubled down on allowing one of its taxpayer-funded online learning programs to instruct high school students that the term “MAGA” is an example of covert racism and white supremacy.

The department, under the leadership of Gov. Janet Mills (D), refused to remove or condemn the controversial video content uncovered Wednesday by Breitbart News, according to a response from the department published Friday in the Bangor Daily News.

“Pushed about whether state officials had endorsed the content of the video or reviewed it before it was included in the module, [Education Department spokesman Marcus] Mrowka said it is parents, teachers, community members and school boards who decide what is taught in the classroom, not the department,” the Bangor Daily News reported.

The Education Department’s Maine Online Opportunities for Sustained Education (MOOSE), funded by President Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” and approved by the federal government, offers a number of online modules to students.

The module in question, a publicly available lesson geared toward high schoolers on what makes communities “welcoming and inclusive,” featured a video on slide 19 describing “MAGA,” “All Lives Matter,” “colorblindness,” and dozens more mainstream and ideological terms and concepts as examples of “covert racism and white supremacy.”

A screenshot from the video is below:

covert racism slide

(Maine Department of Education/screenshot)

The video within the module was created by the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine.

Mrowka noted to the Bangor Daily News the fact that the Education Department did not create the video in the module and that students are not required to watch it in classrooms.

“MAGA” was the slogan of former President Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign. More than 60 million Americans voted for Trump in 2016, including more than 360,000 Mainers, which is 44 percent of those who voted in the state that year.

The Maine GOP called the discovery that the Mills administration was teaching that “MAGA” is covert racism and white supremacy a “truly shocking development about Maine’s ultra-progressive governor” amid Mills running in a tight reelection race against former Gov. Paul LePage (R).

AUGUSTA, ME - FEB 16: Former Gov. Paul LePage, joined by his wife Ann and former Congressman Bruce Poliquin, walks to the State House to submit signatures to the Secretary of State to qualify and have his name placed on the 2022 ballot. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Former Gov. Paul LePage, joined by his wife Ann and former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, walks to the State House to submit signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) also chastised Mills for the “woke curriculum … that teaches kids that they are inherently racist for the beliefs they or their parents support.”

Mrowka dismissed the outrage over the lesson as mere campaign “attacks,” telling the Bangor Daily News, “​​The Department of Education will continue to empower teachers, parents and elected school boards to make their own decisions about public education in Maine, despite attacks like these.”

The Education Department’s approach to the slide conflicts with the department’s approach to the last controversial lesson discovered within MOOSE’s learning modules.

That MOOSE module, uncovered in May and geared toward kindergartens, contained content about transgenderism and gay relationships and was promptly removed once news broke of its existence.

A Mills spokesperson told the Portland Press Herald at the time, “The governor was not aware of the lesson, but she understands the concerns expressed about the age appropriateness, and agrees with the Department of Education’s decision to remove the lesson.”

Breitbart News reached out to the Education Department and Mills’ office multiple times for comment on the new module and the department’s refusal to remove the module video but received no response.

“Janet Mills thinks people who supported the Republican nominee for President in 2016 and 2020 are racists,” RGA spokesman Will Reinert said in a statement. “This is the second time we’ve seen the Millis [sic] administration push a woke curriculum on students and voters won’t forget she’s more loyal to the most extreme wing of her party than mainstream Mainers.”

Write to Ashley Oliver at aoliver@breitbart.com. Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.

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Exclusive: Private School Lies to Parents About Teaching Critical Race Theory Following Breitbart News Investigation

Exclusive: Private School Lies to Parents About Teaching Critical Race Theory Following Breitbart News Investigation

Maryvale Preparatory, a private all-girls Catholic school in Baltimore, recently sent a letter to parents lying about the presence of Critical Race Theory in response to an article from Breitbart News that exposed their diversity director for making racially inflammatory remarks targeted at white students. 

The article from Breitbart News cited videos that featured Kalea Selmon, the school’s diversity director, endorsing anti-white discrimination and advocating for segregation in order to protect non-white students from what she called the “white gaze.”

Selmon shockingly endorses discrimination against white children when she says “it is absolutely okay to give black and brown students things you’re not giving white children.”

@ExposeNAIS / Odysee

In another video, Selmon discussed leveraging racially exclusive affinity groups to find young activists, or as she calls them, “boots on the ground.”

@ExposeNAIS / Odysee

One clip features Selmon saying that her work is motivated by what she calls “70 0ver 460,” a reference to “the number of BIPOC students” at the school.

@ExposeNAIS / Odysee

In an attempt to do damage control, the Chair of the Board of Trustees and the President of the school sent an email to parents addressing the article.

The email did not, however, address the racially inflammatory comments made by their diversity director. Rather, the letter lied to parents about the presence of Critical Race Theory at the school, claimed that the article was inaccurate, and even said that Maryvale was being “unjustly treated.” 

The letter claims, “The article inaccurately suggests that Maryvale teaches critical race theory. We do not.” 

The article from Breitbart News does not suggest that Maryvale teaches Critical Race Theory. It says it outright. The article in Breitbart News reads unambiguously, “The school teaches Critical Race Theory to its students.” 

The article cites lessons for middle school students such as “The Historical Construction of Race and Current Racial Identities Throughout U.S. Society,” and “Racism as a Primary ‘Institution’ of the U.S. – How We May Combat Systemic Inequality.”

These lessons clearly seek to teach the core tenets of CRT — that America and its institutions are systemically racist and that race itself is a social construct that has been used to maintain a hierarchy that privileges white people. 

Breitbart News has reviewed even more resources from the school that prove that Maryvale Preparatory is teaching Critical Race Theory to its students. One page of the school’s website notes that “Pollyanna Curriculum is being introduced into the Middle School curriculum.” 

Pollyanna is an education firm that created “racial literacy curriculums” for both middle school and high school students. 

One aspect of the curriculum, intended for eighth graders, is titled “Racism as a Primary ‘Institution’ of the U.S. — How We Combat Systemic Inequality.” In this curriculum, “students will unpack sophisticated ideas like white privilege and white supremacy.”

Another part of the curriculum, intended for sixth graders, is called “The Historical Construction of Race and Current Racial Identities Throughout U.S. Society.” It claims that “race is a social construct, designed to provide some people with advantage and to create a disadvantaged status.” The curriculum also cites infamous Critical Race Theorist Robin DiAngelo as a source.

According to Pollyanna’s website, their racial literacy curriculum is meant to encourage “a movement to empower people of color to reject racist socialization and to empower White people to be allies for racial justice work” as well as to “challenge structures and practices of racial inequality and racist ideas that assign inferiority to some and superiority to others.”

Pollyanna’s “racial literacy” Critical Race Theory curriculum begins in kindergarten and goes all the way through high school.

According to Maryvale’s website, administration at the school have also taken a course called “Factuality,” which describes itself as a “facilitated dialogue, crash course, and interactive experience, that simulates structural inequality, in America.”

Participants encounter “a series of fact based advantages & limitations based on the intersection of their race, class, gender, faith, sexual orientation, age, and ability,” the description reads. 

As documented in the previous article, teachers at Maryvale Preparatory have undergone professional development training that teach the tenets of Critical Race Theory, which indicate that Selmon’s comments were not just offhand remarks, but rather part of a wider agenda. 

Information on both these lessons — for middle school students and the professional development sessions — have been archived here

Breitbart News reviewed one of the professional development sessions, which is made available for teachers on the Maryvale website. The webinar was titled ”Let’s Talk: Discussing Whiteness.” It was hosted by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

One slide from the lesson claims that “whiteness refers to an unmarked and unnamed place of advantage, privilege, or domination,” also calling it an “organizing principle that shapes institutions, policies, and social relations.”

It also defines white privilege as “an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day.”

The webinar goes on to ask attendees, “What are some examples of the lessons, media, literature, or art that you may have introduced to students in a classroom that help them to critically examine whiteness?”

An article about the training seminar was titled “Why Talk About Whiteness?” and claimed that “we can’t talk about racism without it.” The article went on to assert, “It’s impossible to see the privilege and dominance associated with white racial identity” unless we discuss whiteness.

One presenter hoped to turn attendees into woke activists, remarking that “a positive white identity begins with acknowledging white privilege for sure, but it cannot end there. It must result in antiracist action.”

This is just one example of the Critical Race Theory-inspired trainings that were made available to teachers at Maryvale.

Four other workshops were completed by teachers in 2020, including one from infamous Critical Race Theorist author of White Fragility Robin DiAngelo titled “Healing the Racial Water: a half-day Anti-Racist workshop with Dr. Robin DiAngelo.”

A description of this session reads, “DiAngelo will explore topics including white socialization, systemic racism, breaking with white solidarity, the specific ways racism manifests for white progressives … and white fragility.”

It is undeniable that Critical Race Theory is present at Maryvale Preparatory and that it informs the curriculum and the diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda at the school. 

Maryvale’s letter did not just lie to parents about the presence of Critical Race Theory, however. It also claimed that “Maryvale has focused on building an inclusive learning community.” The letter did not address how Selmon’s goal to create racially exclusive spaces to shield students from the “white gaze” of other students factored into the construction of a racially inclusive environment.

Breitbart News reached out to Maryvale Preparatory’s leadership for comment, asking what their message was to students and families who fear they may be discriminated against because of their race.

Maryvale did not respond to the questions posed by Breitbart News, but instead provided a copy of a new email they sent to parents. This email had a markedly different tone than the first, which attempted to discredit the article that brought to light the comments made by Selmon.

The new email began by saying, “The past week has been incredibly difficult for all of us.” It went on to articulate the steps that Tracey Ford, the president of the school, will take to address the concerns of parents and students “given the legitimate concerns raised by our community.” 

Ford stated that she would be hosting “listening sessions” with students and parents and that she would be “assuming direct oversight of the Maryvale Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion efforts and securing expert advisors.”

Ford also states that she will “establish a diverse advisory group” that will “assist in leading us as we move forward.”

It went on, however, to say “We must not let this current situation undo the good work that has been done by so many in moving our mission forward. And we must not let forces divide our community.”

Ford also told the community that they should expect more media coverage, and told parents “posting on social media tends to add heat, not light, to most situations.”

The letter did not mention Kalea Selmon by name, nor did it address the contents of her comments, which expressed support for segregation and maligned white students. The letter also did not address the presence of Critical Race Theory at the school.

Maryvale Preparatory School is associated with the National Association of Independent Schools  (NAIS). This accrediting organization has a history of pushing both Critical Race Theory and “queer inclusive,” transgender ideology on young students, as Breitbart News has investigated and documented. In fact, Selmon’s comments took place at an NAIS conference.

Maryvale Preparatory School received over $1.2 million dollars in federal money through the Paycheck Protection Program. The all-girls school is a 501c3.

A covert network of concerned parents called Undercover Mothers has formed to fight back against the indoctrination of students at the hands of NAIS. The organization describes indoctrination in the private school system as a form of “elite capture.”

Following exposés by the Undercover Mothers, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) pledged to investigate NAIS if the Republicans retake the majority in Congress. Banks specifically scrutinized the organization’s role in political advocacy given its 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit.

Spencer Lindquist is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerLndqst and reach out at slindquist@breitbart.com.

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“She will be missed”: A Tribute to the Queen by an Australian Indigenous Leader

“She will be missed”: A Tribute to the Queen by an Australian Indigenous Leader

In light of the recent death of Queen Elizabeth, Australian Indigenous leader James Dargin has paid tribute to her, saying he has great respect for the Queen and urging Indigenous Australians to honour her as a mother and a grandmother. See my full interview with Ps James below.

As the Canberra Declaration covered recently, Queen Elizabeth II passed away late last night. Numerous world leaders were quick to honour her legacy.

However, many have not been so gracious. As The Blaze reports, numerous extremists took to Twitter to decry the Queen, and her death became quickly politicised. The vile comments ranged from “I will not mourn a colonizer” to “Good riddance to any and all murdering colonizers”.

One academic took out the award for most disgusting comment, wishing Queen Elizabeth an “excruciating” death and then refusing to apologise, even when Twitter removed her tweet.

An Australian Indigenous Leader Honours the Queen

In this context, Australian Indigenous pastor James Dargin has honoured Queen Elizabeth. He called for forgiveness and respect, saying that the Queen would be “missed”. Radically, Ps Dargin even asked for forgiveness for the way he had spoken about the Queen in the past. At that time, he viewed her as responsible for the persecution and racism that his people had faced.

James’ message is a radical one. He is calling on all people to forgive one another, regardless of skin colour or cultural background. Only then can we achieve reconciliation and true unity.

In the interview, James told me about his own background. He was abused as a child, suffered all kinds of ill-treatment, and was enslaved to alcohol and drugs. Incredibly, though, he was freed from this. Not only was he released from alcohol and drugs; he was empowered to forgive those who had wronged him.

Only the Gospel has that kind of power.

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Despite Opposition From Parents And Board Members, Grove City College Doubles Down On Woke Educators

Despite Opposition From Parents And Board Members, Grove City College Doubles Down On Woke Educators

Few institutions of higher learning can match Grove City College’s (GCC) legacy of conservatism and independence. During the Reagan Revolution, the college famously sued the Department of Education over government overreach and walked away from federal funding to safeguard its self-determination. Today, Grove City’s official bulletin declares that the college “unapologetically advocates preservation of America’s religious, political, and economic heritage of individual freedom and responsibility.” 

Yet ferocious cultural headwinds now threaten to destroy even the most stalwart conservative institutions. Those lacking leaders who understand the severity of the storm will be tossed about by the waves and knocked off course. Some will sink. This time last year, Grove City seemed destined for that fate.

Woke programming has made its way into the chapel, the classroom, and the dorms at Grove City. For months, concerned parents tried to sound the alarm that GCC was drifting from its historic mission. When those concerns fell on deaf ears, they banded together, launched an online petition, and spread the word on social media. After the administration stonewalled, current and former faculty issued a letter to the school’s board of trustees asking them to intervene. 

In response, the board took the unprecedented step of establishing a committee to investigate CRT and mission drift. Its subsequent report is a sterling example of conviction and clarity. The board reaffirmed the college’s conservative legacy and denounced CRT as incompatible with the college’s mission. It further detailed exactly how CRT had made inroads into the institution and gave clear instructions to President Paul McNulty on how to remediate matters. 

Conservatives cheered. It appeared that a passionate constituency and a vigilant board had rewritten the age-old tale of leftward mission drift within Christian higher education. All that remained was the follow-through of the college administration. 

Four months after the board issued its report, the results are in, and they aren’t pretty.

In contrast to the board’s unambiguous posture and clear directives, the college’s administration appears less assured in GCC’s identity and more concerned with not rocking the boat. The board’s report declared GCC to be a “conservative, independent, and Christ-centered college standing athwart the increasingly progressive higher-education environment.” 

But Grove City’s president Paul McNulty expressed a conflicted view of the situation in recent reflections on the CRT controversy. He said, “I worry that our polarization is extended to the point where I don’t know how we come out of it. It seems to be much different than in the past. Students come in seeing themselves as culture warriors. They see everything through that lens.”

Where McNulty lacks resolve, his Provost, Peter Frank, lacks confidence. In a recent video, Frank stipulated that it is hard to explain what makes Grove City special, but it has something to do with how GCC balances the conflict between free enterprise and the common good, a remarkable admission from the chief academic officer of Freedom’s College

In short, Grove City’s constituency and its board want a bold, counter-cultural institution, but key administrators appear hesitant. The school’s befuddling and now-reversed decision to remove the word “conservative” from its vision statement — reportedly motivated by a desire to distance itself from baggage associated with the word — makes sense in light of academic leadership’s tepid defense of the conservative intellectual tradition.

Perhaps reservations among top administrators account for the dearth of personnel change at GCC over the summer. Every single member of the cast of characters who brought CRT into the school will be returning: Don Optiz (chaplain who oversaw a series of woke chapel talks), Justin Jose (Director of the Office of Multicultural Education & Initiatives), Christopher Merrick (Residential Director who gave a CRT-lite chapel talk and disparaged Grove City on a student-run podcast), and faculty in the Education Department who approved and taught CRT-infused courses. It is difficult to square this reality with the board’s directive that McNulty address situations where staff are not aligned with the college’s mission. Two such cases are particularly noteworthy.

The first was renewing the contract of Psychology Professor Warren Throckmorton. Last week, Throckmorton announced he would be retiring from Grove City at the end of the 2022-23 academic year in a tweet that garnered sympathy from prominent ex-evangelical lefties. His misalignment with the school was evident as early as 2017 but came into focus again via his copious blogging and tweeting in support of CRT and his numerous media appearances in which he belittled the parents’ anti-CRT campaign. In the grossest instance, he tried to shame GCC Board Chair Edward Breen in an interview with Inside Higher Ed.

It’s unclear whether Throckmorton chose to retire or is being retired by GCC’s administration. Either way, a competent administration should have realized the risk inherent in Throckmorton’s return this fall. With nothing to lose, he could become toxic and act as a ringleader for other pro-CRT malcontents. Early reports suggest this is exactly how he intends to behave.

According to a current GCC student who commented on the condition of anonymity, Throckmorton announced on the first day of class that he would spend his final year voicing his disagreements about CRT along with other like-minded professors on campus.

The second instance is the astonishing case of Cedric Lewis, previously a guest lecturer in the school’s entrepreneurship program and something of an entrepreneur himself, with apparent business interests in a hemorrhoid treatment company, according to his Twitter bio. Lewis helped design and teach a one-sided pop-CRT course for Grove City’s Education Department. After the board released its report, Lewis took to Twitter to tell his story, stating the board exhibited disturbing bias and their interviews — which were conducted by a committee including two sitting federal judges — “wouldn’t pass the smell test in a legal setting.” 

Lewis also gave interviews to Religion News Service, Inside Higher Ed, The Young Turks, and a Grove City alum turned progressive activist and tarot reader. While Lewis was busy demeaning the board and its investigation to anyone who would listen, it came to light that he’d been disbarred in Florida for failing to cooperate with an investigation into whether he’d mishandled client funds. To the surprise of many, GCC’s Business Law instructor had personally experienced the business end of the law.

For the reform-minded administrator, allowing Lewis’ part-time contract to lapse should have been low-hanging fruit. However, according to the Grove City website, not only has Lewis been brought back to campus this fall, he was promoted to Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship. What’s the message? If you accuse GCC’s administration of being nasty closed-minded conservatives vociferously enough, they will forgive all your trespasses and give you what you want.

All this leads to one conclusion: despite the board’s moral clarity and strong leadership, Grove City’s administration has not lived up to its responsibility. In retrospect, it was foolhardy to imagine that the campus leaders who oversaw and covered up GCC’s initial mission drift could have been capable of steering the college straight. If the board wishes to conserve Grove City’s extraordinary legacy and extend it into the future, it should find new administrators who understand what needs to be done and have the courage to do it. 


Josh Abbotoy is the Executive Director of American Reformer. He is also a Managing Director at New Founding. A seasoned private equity lawyer by background, Josh is the grateful beneficiary of Christian education, having been homeschooled, then earning his B.A. (History) from Union University and an M.A. (Medieval and Byzantine Studies) from the Catholic University of America before earning his J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a member of University Park Baptist Church in Houston, TX and splits his time between Texas and the hills of Middle Tennessee.

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Exclusive: Florida School Boards in for ‘Major Reset’ After Conservative Wins

Exclusive: Florida School Boards in for ‘Major Reset’ After Conservative Wins

After massive wins in school board elections across Florida, conservative board members Bridget Ziegler and April Carney told Breitbart News Saturday that public education in the Sunshine State is in for a “major reset.”

“We’re going to restore the integrity of public education because we’re focusing on educating — math, civics, you know, reading, writing — and not focused on inappropriate — sexualizing our children, inappropriate material, and any kind of political agenda just has no place there,” Ziegler, a Sarasota County board member who won reelection on August 23, said.

The Sarasota County School Board flipped from a 3-2 leftist majority to a 4-1 conservative majority.

Ziegler described Sarasota County as a “conservative county, but we had a liberal majority for decades.”

“A lot of times people didn’t pay attention,” she explained. “We have a great school district, but you have a liberal majority where they started to really push it — the gender ideology and the CRT components. And so flipping it to a 4-1, like super majority conservative is incredibly exciting.”

Listen:

When asked what steps need to be taken and how far the boards need to be willing to go to represent Sarasota parents, Ziegler said many of the reforms passed by Florida’s legislature and enacted by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) are a big step in the right direction. One of the issues is teacher training.

“So even the most amazing educators have had professional development, and then they don’t even realize that this has been pushed as much as it has been,” she explained. “Vendors are pushing a lot of this stuff more so than educators, I always try to make this distinction. People are trying to attack teachers. It really isn’t, lot of times, teachers — we have great educators out there, you know, especially the ones who’ve been there for a while.”

“It’s the instructional materials,” Ziegler continued. “So you really, as a board, setting that tone and saying, ‘This is not allowed. We need to vet our material. It is our responsibility to make sure we know what is accessible to our students. That’s what parents expect of us.’”

Carney, a newcomer to the school board, who won the election in Duval County which includes the city of Jacksonville, also said teacher training needs to come under control. Her school board also flipped from liberal to conservative on August 23.

“It’s not in your face,” she said of Duval County regarding some of the indoctrination schemes put in place by left-wing boards across the country. “It’s something that you’re seeing in teacher training and how the teachers are being taught to teach the curriculum.”

Listen:

“Just recently, over the summer, during a teacher training, I had spoken to a teacher that says, ‘You know, we’re getting all this information that’s a supplement to the state curriculum that’s coming from the Anti-Defamation League, and a lot of it was very concerning — basically, teaching activism in the classroom,’” Carney explained.

She also said there are new sexual education materials up for approval that are “really concerning.”

“We just have some new materials that are up for approval that are really — for the age groups that they’re being introduced — really concerning,” she said. “I don’t think a fifth grader needs to know how to put a condom on. I just don’t think that at that age, that that’s appropriate at all.”

“We should be teaching abstinence, and we shouldn’t be teaching, you know, how to protect yourself from pregnancy when you’re 11 years old” Carney continued. “That’s just not something that an 11-year-old should even be thinking about.”

Gov. DeSantis was a major figure across Florida for bringing awareness to the education issues and to school board races, Ziegler and Carney told Breitbart News Saturday.

Regarding her endorsement from DeSantis, Carney said, “I think that it brought awareness to the importance of local races, and, you know, specifically school board races. I mean, I think we all know, four years ago, a lot of us just weren’t paying attention to down-ballot races.”

Ziegler said DeSantis “shined a light on this.”

The Associated Press

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference, Feb. 1, 2022, in Miami. Gov. DeSantis has signed a bill that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

“He knows how important it is,” she continued. “I mean, I think because he’s a parent of young kids, he understands the impact of how important it is that we have quality education. Floridians overwhelmingly support his agenda and his education agenda.”

“I think it’s so funny that there’s so many, especially like hard-left liberals that are shocked by this,” she continued. “And then you say, ‘I’m not because, at the end of the day, these are common sense issues.’”

“[Liberals] have been the loud, loud, minority — but loud, loud — and really pushing everything, and everyone’s terrified to speak up,” Ziegler said. “But you have bold leadership, like DeSantis, who’s hitting it on the head, and then this is the outcome, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Conservatives continuing to move forward on the education issue, to Ziegler and Carney, is contingent upon continued awareness, involvement, and political action at the school board level from parents and community members.

“For too long, so many people have just kind of been asleep at the wheel and handing their children over to public school and expecting them to raise their children at the same time,” Ziegler explained. “And I think that the school districts and certain special interest groups have exploited that, and use that as an opportunity to push an agenda, which we now see the backlash on that.”

“We have diverse communities, which we represent, that have different religious backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, and we respect that our job is to educate,” she continued. “Their families, they can raise their children based on the beliefs … however, they want to raise their children. … I’m a huge supporter and advocate of parental rights, but I also, you know, I think we need to refocus on parental responsibility.”

“In my mind, if we as conservatives don’t maintain our focus on education, we’re doing a disservice to the principles of this country,” she said.

“You know, everybody has a little piece that they can get involved in, it doesn’t have to be necessarily running for office,” Carney said. “I think you know, if you just get out in the community, get involved in your schools, get involved in your local government, find out the schedules of these club meetings where people are getting involved, or you know, showing up and just voicing your opinion to your local city council or school board, it makes a huge difference. Because, you know, as soon as one person stands up, and other people see what you’re doing, then it rallies other people to do the same thing.”

Grassroots efforts to educate communities about issues regarding the school board and helping candidates run for office are essential to finding success nationally in school board elections, Ziegler said, but it will take a dynamic shift among conservatives who previously had not paid much attention to the issue.

“We [conservatives] talked about education, or you’d hear conservatives talk about education, but really not focus the time and attention on school boards, which have a huge impact in the direction, the trajectory of our children, their communities, and the future of our country,” she said. “I’m sorry that this is where it starts.

The Associated Press

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses the crowd before publicly signing HB7, “individual freedom,” also dubbed the “stop woke” bill during a news conference at Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens, FL, on Friday, April 22, 2022. (Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald via AP)

“The grassroots movement has been hugely impactful to this across the country,” she continued. “Groups like Moms for Liberty have made a huge impact in this and really helped push this forward and, mind you, that it’s organized and led by former school board members.”

“Liberals have had control of our school systems for decades,” Ziegler said. “And so, there’s a lot of people, especially in the conservative movement, that are not necessarily privy to the playbook.”

Liberal control is why it is so important for prospective candidates to be educated, trained, and shown grassroots support on the issues because “when you get on these boards, they’re going to try to make you succumb to groupthink,” Ziegler warned.

“So many conservatives care deeply about our country, believe in the principles, understand why our country is so great if we do not step up,” she said. “And like I said, the grassroots movement has been pivotal to this and we need to keep that momentum up. People do need to step up, and school board local elections are absolutely where it’s at. There’s nothing more important than the education of our future generations and there are thousands and thousands, if not millions, of people there to help you. You’re not alone.”

Running, however, is not an easy feat. Carney faced fierce opposition from her opponents and local media who tried their best to distort her image to the residents of Duval County.

“If the other side doesn’t agree with you, they’re going to come after you hard and they don’t have any problems making up stories or telling untruths and putting things out there that not only hurt you as a person but hurt your family or your friends,” she explained. “And they came at me really hard.”

“Running ads, putting words in my mouth that weren’t there, you know, splicing video to make me look like I was saying things I wasn’t saying,” she continued. “Really, at the end of the day, all I am is a mother and a small business owner that just wants the children in our community to get a proper education.”

Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.

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