Thursday, April 04, 2024

UCLA medical school's 'structural racism' class featured 'quite disturbing' prayer to pagan god

Another episode in the relentless Leftist attempt to make mainstream people feel uncomfortable about who and what they are. They hate what they call "complacency" -- when people feel pleased and comfortable to be part of something successful and flourishing. When crowds proudly chant "USA, USA" that is anathema to them. It's "structural racism", apparently. Very twisted

A mandatory "structural racism" class at The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA led a prayer to Mother Earth, which disturbed some who attended the lecture.

The UCLA Jewish Faculty Resilience Group spoke to numerous witnesses from the lecture and penned a letter to the administration Friday, calling for an "urgent and thorough external review" of its curriculum to put an end to "political indoctrination."

"We write to bring to your attention disturbing events that unfolded two days ago on the UCLA campus… based on the first-hand eyewitness reports presented to us by multiple first-year students," the letter, signed by Professors Kira Stein and Elina Veytsman from the medical center as well as David Mimmer from the law school, said.

The letter went on to describe that an invited speaker "instructed students to touch the floor, 'mama earth with a fist' while she made a 'non-secular' prayer to ‘mama earth’ and our ‘ancestors,'" the letter said.

The end of the class featured an additional prayer to the pagan deity, this time asking them to stand up. According to the faculty's letter, the speaker "instructed students to get out of their seats and stand upright with her for a closing prayer, once again to ‘mama earth’ and the ‘ancestors.’ Of those gathered, a handful of students who were visibly uncomfortable declined to participate, remaining seated throughout."

A witness of the event who spoke to Fox News Digital on the condition of anonymity described experiencing intense feelings about the "idolatry." "I was very deeply offended and disgusted," the witness said.

"She starts with like ‘Thank you, Creator. Thank you for this day of life.’ And then she starts praying to like the spirits mom and stuff," the witness said. "It was crazy."

The witness went on to say the speaker asked the class to get on to the floor to participate in the prayer.

"It's quite disturbing but also hilarious, actually," the witness said.

The witness – who has monotheistic religious beliefs – said the presentation to "pagan gods" made for an uncomfortable situation.

"I think even probably all students who stood up there [during the prayer], a good number felt unsettled regardless of your religious persuasion," the witness said. "I think a lot of students have the sense that this is weird or out of place."

UCLA began implementing a new curriculum called HEALS in 2020. The entire first year of medical school has a particular focus on "Structural Racism and Health Equity." The curriculum was "redesigned" "to empower students to become physicians committed to… advocac[y] and humanistic care."

"Diversity isn't a buzzword. It’s a requirement to treat our communities with clinical excellence. Our community is made up of talented leaders who care deeply and work to impact the world for good. We have a collective commitment to combat structural racism. That commitment spans healthcare, education, and our society at large," UCLA says about the equity classes.

The invited speaker also chanted for Palestinians, the UCLA letter alleged, sparking accusations of antisemitism from the professors.

Elan Carr, the former Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism under the Trump administration, responded to the incident. He called the class "indoctrination."

"Many universities have become intolerable places for Jews," he said on X, referring to the pro-Palestinian element of the presentation. "Here is yet one more example of the vile, poisonous indoctrination to which students are forced to submit, this time at UCLA Medical School."


Seattle Public Schools shuts down gifted and talented program for being oversaturated with white and Asian students

More Seattle craziness

Seattle Public Schools is dismantling its gifted and talented program, which administrators argued was oversaturated with white and Asian students, in favor of a more “inclusive, equitable and culturally sensitive” program.

The district began phasing out its Highly Capable Cohort schools and classrooms for advanced students in the 2021-22 school year due to racial inequities, the school district notes.

It will now completely cease to exist by the 2027-28 school year, with a new enrichment-for-all model available in every school by the 2024-25 school year.

“The program is not going away, it’s getting better,” school officials said on the district website. “It will be more inclusive, equitable and culturally sensitive.

“In particular, students who have been historically excluded will now have the same opportunities for services as every other student and get the support and enrichment they need to grow.”

The enrichment program currently only allows students who placed in the top 2 percentile on standardized exams would be placed in the Highly Capable Cohort to receive enriched learning.

The students would then be sorted into one of three elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools.

But in 2020, the Seattle school board voted to terminate the program, after a 2018 survey found that the students in the Highly Capable Cohort were 13% multiracial, 11.8% Asian, 3.7% Hispanic and just 1.6% black. Nearly 70% of the students were white.

“Numbers would suggest that within our city … predominantly white children are more gifted than other cultures and races, and we know that is absolutely not true,” Kari Hanson, the district’s director of student support services, told Parent Map at the time.

Under the new program, dubbed the Highly Capable Neighborhood School Model, teachers will be required to come up with individualized learning programs for all 20 to 30 of their students — a task they argue they do not have the time and resources for as the district faces a $104 million budget deficit, according to the Seattle Times.

The district said it is working to provide teachers with curriculum and instruction on how to make it work, but an estimate from 2020 suggested an enrichment-for-all program would cost the district $1.1 million over the first three years.

One teacher said she worries it will become more difficult under the new program to teach math to students with a range of abilities, and that the whole-classroom approach won’t properly prepare students for Advanced Placement math and science courses.

Parents also expressed their concerns that the new model could lead to children getting overlooked.

“It seems to me that kids on maybe both extremes are going to be underserved,” Erika Ruberry told the Seattle Times.

Karen Stukovsky, who has three children in the gifted program, added that each teacher “can only do so much differentiation.

“You have some kids who can barely read and some kids who are reading ‘Harry Potter’ in the first grade or kindergarten,” she said.

“How are you going to not only get those kids up to grade level, and also challenge those kids who are already easy above grade level?”

Some parents of black students in the program even argued against ending it.

“My request is that you please consider the disservice you would be doing to the minorities that are already in the HCC program,” one father said at the school board meeting to approve the new program in 2020, according to The Stranger.

“The program does more for black children, particularly black boys, than it does for their peers.”

But then-school board vice president Chandra Hampson shot back: “This is a pretty masterful job at tokenizing a really small community of color within the existing cohort.”

Over the past few years, though, more and more minority students have joined the ranks of the Highly Capable Cohort.

In the 2022 – 23 school year, 52% of the students were white, 16% were Asian and 3.4% were black, according to the Seattle Times.

Supporters of the new program say it will create a stronger sense of community because all of the students are from the same geographic area.

“They bring their home experience and their culture, and that is really unique,” View Ridge Elementary School Principal Rina Geoghagan told the Seattle Times.

“Is it going to be perfect? No. But any time there is a change, it’s not perfec


Australian School Principals Report Record Near 50 Percent Jump in Student Attacks

Australian school principals are experiencing a record-high surge in physical attacks from students, driving many perilously close to the brink of self-harm.

A survey conducted by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) of 2,300 school principals found 48.2 percent experienced physical violence in 2023, up 76.5 percent from 2011.

Students perpetrated almost all (96.3 percent) of the attacks, followed by parents (65.6 percent).

“It is deeply concerning that offensive behaviour towards school leaders and teachers persist and appears to be on the rise,” ACU co-lead investigator Professor Herb Marsh said.

Nearly all principals who were attacked (42.6 percent) triggered a “red flag” email, indicating they were at risk of self-harm, occupational health issues, or a significant impact on their quality of life.

One in five school leaders reported moderate to severe depression, particularly among early career leaders, with others facing risks of serious mental health issues such as anxiety, burnout, stress, and sleep problems.

Growing Teacher Shortage

Around 60 percent of those with six to ten years of experience want to exit the profession, and experienced school leaders with over 15 years of experience are at the forefront of the impending departure.

“Assuming only half of those who agreed or strongly agreed to quit acted on this response, there would be an exodus of more than 500 school leaders—the data strongly suggests this would be experienced school leaders,” Ms. Marsh said.
The upcoming departure would add to the existing shortage of teachers nationwide.

Education Minister Jason Clare recently mentioned that while there are around 300,000 teachers currently working in our schools, there are an additional 100,000 registered teachers with qualifications who have chosen not to teach but maintain their registration.

Urgent Call for Action

Despite challenges, the survey revealed that some school leaders still exhibit strong dedication, commitment, and commendable resilience.

Their grit was independent of state education department policies or other regulatory body policies, indicating that these entities’ formal policies or guidelines failed to aid their ability to cope.

Paul Kidson, ACU investigator, and former principal, called on education ministers to urgently take collective action to address the significant threats facing principals.

“We’ve had a national spotlight on teacher education and workloads, disruptions in the classroom, campaigns to boost the profession’s status, and a continued focus on students’ mental health and academic outcomes—all noble and necessary,” Mr. Kidson said.

However, he said, “Principals are being asked to do more with less.”

“It’s been over a decade since the Gonski Review, and we still do not have full funding based on student needs. It is naïve to think this does not translate into the increasing stress among school leaders today,” he explained.

The Australian government commissioned the Gonski Review in 2010 to comprehensively review school funding in the country.

Businessman David Gonski led the review to address inequalities in school funding.

The review’s final report, released in 2011, recommended reforms to improve the quality and equity of education across the country.

A new funding model was proposed called the “Gonski model,” which advocated for needs-based funding to ensure that all students, regardless of their socio-economic background, receive the support they need to succeed in school.

However, leading school wellbeing expert Associate Professor Theresa Dicke said there is an urgency for education ministers to make a priority of responding to the data in this report.
She proposed a national summit to coordinate strategies and resources, warning that failure to address these issues could lead to a mass exodus of school leaders.

“Many of them will act on their intention to leave and it will make achieving important policy initiatives very unlikely,” she said.

Since 2011, this survey has aimed to understand and support the health and well-being of school leaders by providing personalised reports based on data collected from a large sample of participants.

This year’s report categorises data by different career stages and represents nearly a quarter of all Australian school leaders.




Charlie and the Social Justice Factory: Is Harvard right to teach chocolate is racist?

Amazing. The guy must be nuts. A spoof?

If you’re white and you buy your children chocolate eggs to eat this Easter, aren’t you training them to become infant white supremacists? This question is so incredibly stupid that it could only be posed by someone with a PhD.

Sad to say, even chocolate has now been tarred with the brush of “white supremacism” – at least according to the Harvard African and African-American Studies (AAAS) module E119, “Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food”. This subject at Harvard Extension School, a continuing education division at the University, now appears to have been discontinued. But its legacy lives on in high-school lesson plans.

Looking up the course’s content online, it would appear to be entirely free of any known nutrients, intellectually speaking. Particularly notable is the warning to students with chocolate allergies that the course does involve eating chocolate, especially in “Unit 4: Eating Chocolate”.

As useful as a chocolate teapot

How can chocolate be racist? You would have to ask Carla D. Martin, PhD, the designer of the course in question, founder of the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute, which bills itself as “a scholar-led research organisation that seeks to reduce information asymmetry in the cacao and chocolate value chain.” What does this actually mean? Having spent some time looking through their extensive website, I’m none the wiser.

I suppose this is why I never managed to get into Harvard.

A “social anthropologist with interdisciplinary interests that include history, agronomy, ethnomusicology, linguistics” and saying silly things about chocolate, which she does at length on her Bittersweet Notes blog, Martin is an academic specialising in the vital field of chocolate politics.

Operating both as an “open enrolment class” for info-hungry members of the general public, and as a module for full-time students, her E119 course would set scholars back between $1,250 and $2,200 in course fees.

That’s an awful lot of chocolate coins to spend. Nonetheless, Martin says, the module proved highly popular, as “the course does not involve any traditional written papers or exams”, and instead allowed students to pass simply by turning up, taking part in quizzes, talking about chocolate with “a phenomenal team of graduate student teaching fellows … [with] expertise in Haitian Vodou, the American prison system [hopefully not actual convicted criminals?], the history of Islam, and medieval European food culture” and then producing blog posts and a “multimedia presentation”, involving things like drawing posters or imaginary new anti-racist advertising campaigns for chocolate bars.

What, precisely, would you be getting for your money? Well, if you head over to a special website, Chocolate Class, you can find numerous blog posts and multimedia presentations from Professor Martin’s students.

One essay, “European Appropriation of Chocolate“, condemns “Christopher Columbus, the founder of chocolate”. The Aztecs used cacao beans in their religious ceremonies and white men appropriated this ancient foodstuff for their own nefarious colonial ends. It is “only those with power who get to write history” and this fact applied to chocolate as much as to everything else.

Another student organised a chocolate-tasting for fellow students and asked them to criticise brands upon weird identitarian lines, as shown by his or her valuable account, “Exploring Cultural Appropriation Through a Chocolate Tasting”, which features sentences like the following: “When prompted to comment on the fact that the Spicy Mayans [brand of] chocolates were not, in fact, made by Mayans, a chorus of ‘UGH!’ ensued.” How could they have been made by the Mayans? Their civilisation has been extinct for centuries. It’s like complaining Arctic Roll isn’t made by actual Eskimos.

Another blog post, “Misogynoir and Cocoa Throughout History”, uses the ultra-obscure 1976 comment of a random magazine editor that the black supermodel Iman resembled “a white woman dipped in chocolate” to condemn white Western capitalism wholesale on the grounds that “This association of a person with an edible object further solidifies the idea that black people are false commodities.” Meaning what, exactly? Another post, “The Consumption of Black Bodies as Chocolate“, explains:

“When we look at the history of chocolate production, we are looking at a history of African slave labor. Between 10 and 15 million slaves were stolen from Africa and brought to work in various farms and plantations that manufactured cacao … and sugar … [This] has led to the fetishization and fantasy of black bodies as representing the products that they create …

In a sense, the black body has been so ‘delicious’ for whiteness to consume that it has become a deeply embedded aspect of our culture, because its consumption has been associated with the sweetness of sugar and chocolate and not the bitter truth of slave labor … Look at … the hyper-policing, monitoring, and brutalization of black youth by police. These are all current manifestations of the notion that black bodies are meant to be owned, controlled, exploited, and consumed, just like the association between chocolate and blackness … Black people are not made of chocolate, but chocolate is made of black people, in the sense that it has been historically created through their oppression and forced labor.”

According to the student, there is a tradition in Belgium of selling severed chocolate hands, which represent the right hands of Congolese slaves chopped off by their Belgian colonial overlords in the late 1800s. Horrific, if true … but it isn’t. The Belgians did chop off black slaves’ hands, but the link with the cookies is an urban myth. They actually nod back to a legend about the founding of Antwerp.

Chocolate spread of discord

Possibly the most interesting item on the website is a lesson plan for high school students. This aims to help children “to understand race and racism through the lens of chocolate”.

But how?

There is a disease called “colourblind racism”, which seeks to treat people of all skin-colours just the same, but this is wrong. People are not all the same, white people are all evil, and black and brown people are all brilliant, without any single exceptions, not even Idi Amin or Emperor Bokassa. Thank God, therefore, that Carla D. Martin discovered “how chocolate can be used as a salient pedagogical tool for constructing anti-racist knowledge not only at the university level, but for all learners, especially those who are white and middle-class.”

The best way to do this, apparently, is to make children spend THREE WHOLE DAYS watching racially “offensive” clips from one of the film versions of Roald Dahl’s classic kids’ novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, before asking them, “Who Is Willy, Really? The Racist Origins of the Chocolate Factory”.

Slaves to their own appetites

Willy is really just an avatar of Nazi death-camp doctor Josef Mengele: “he also performed unethical experiments on them at his own leisure, such as turning them into blueberries. This treatment reflects the real violent ways that enslaved Black and Brown people have been treated by Europeans and the United States in the production of chocolate both historically and even in many ways in today’s world.”

Even worse is the way Herr Wonka transported his Oompa-slaves across to his English factory/death-camp in the first place. According to Dahl’s original account, the imperialist fiend “shipped them over here, every man, woman, and child in the Oompa-Loompa tribe. It was easy. I smuggled them over in large packing cases with holes in them, and they all got here safely.” Supposedly, this reflected the way real black slaves were once transported across to America during the days of the Middle Passage. Granted, this stuff may seem unlikely to the likes of you or me – but it must be true. After all, it’s being taught at Harvard, the world’s most prestigious university.

Do you think teachers waste their time delivering pathetic nonsense like this in China? Possibly not, but, the Harvard-born lesson plans reassure readers, once the children have learned to condemn Willy Wonka as a neo-Nazi, they will go out and begin “creating a community action project to address an issue of racial inequality in their community in partnership with a local chocolate shop/producer”, thereby remaking their society into one every bit as Communistic in its nature as President Xi’s own currently is.


Arkansas Announces Major Expansion of School Choice Options for Children of Veterans...

Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas announced Monday that the state Department of Education was expanding its education savings program to include veteran and first responder families.

The Arkansas Education Freedom Account program, which was launched in 2023, helps fund families who wish to send their children to private schools or homeschool them and previously included “Homeless students, current or former foster care students, students with disabilities” and “first-time kindergarteners.” For the 2024-2025 school year, “veterans, military reserve members, first responders, law enforcement officers and students from D-rated schools will now be eligible, according to a press release.

“I’m a mom of three, so I know that every child in our state learns a little bit differently. Education Freedom Accounts recognize that parents’ choice, not random geography, should be the primary determining factor in where a child goes to school,” Sanders said at an event at Harvest Time Academy in Fort Smith, according to the press release. “I’m proud that we are prioritizing Arkansas’ heroes and their families in this year’s expansion.”

The department started accepting applications on Monday for the upcoming school year, and families can receive up to $6,856 per savings account, according to the press release. Over 5,000 students enrolled in the program during the 2023-2024 school year and over 100 schools also participated.

“We are pleased to extend EFA program eligibility to these additional categories of students,” Jacob Oliva, secretary for the Arkansas Department of Education, said in the press release. “For most parents, public schools will be the first and best choice for their child, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not meet the needs of all students and families. Parents want and deserve options. The EFA program provides that, and now additional children will be eligible for those opportunities.”


Female teachers reveal how Andrew Tate has infiltrated the minds of young boys in Australian schools and is driving a culture of 'sexism': 'I don't feel safe anymore'

In physics we see many equal and opposite reactions and there is often something similar in sociology. The pervasive feminist claim that masculinity is "toxic" is undoubtedly in part behind the popularity of Tate among young males -- an understandable reaction by them to feminist poison

Female teachers have spoken out about how young boys are being influenced by controversial social media star Andrew Tate.

The self-proclaimed champion of 'misogyny' and 'toxic masculinity' presents himself as an advocate for a self-reliant, 'alpha' mindset to his legions of followers.

He is currently facing criminal charges in Romania, including organised crime, human trafficking and rape - but the ex-kickboxer turned influencer remains hugely popular across the globe.

Now, teachers in Australia are concerned about the growing number of young men idolising him.

Grace (not her real name) told the ABC's 7.30 program on Tuesday that she heard one of her students at the Sunshine Coast school where she was teaching in 2022 speaking about how much they 'love' Tate.

'I had just said, "Look, I don't want to hear that name in this classroom". I could see some of the girls rolling their eyes and sighing,' she said.

Although there were only a handful of boys who were fans of the British-American TikToker, Grace said it set a 'disturbing tone' for the class.

'Most of what was happening in my experience was of a sexual nature,' she said.

'Students making moaning noises in my classes, asking me inappropriate questions, asking personal questions about my age or my appearance.'

Grace was instructed to use 'teaching techniques' to quell the behaviour but was ultimately unable to control them and decided to quit her career.

'It's very disappointing that I don't really feel safe in a classroom anymore,' she said.

'Even though I want to be there to stand up for the young girls… my mental health was suffering.'

Dozens of other teachers across the country have suffered similar experiences.

Researchers from Monash University interviewed female teachers about the impact of Tate in Australian classrooms and found that he was 'showing up' everywhere from rural towns to metropolitan schools.

The study, which included 30 female teachers, found 'widespread experience of sexual harassment, sexism, and misogyny perpetrated by boys towards women teachers, and the ominous presence of Andrew Tate shaping their behaviour'.

'The consistency is one of the most extraordinary things about what we found in this study,' Stephanie Wescott, one of authors of the report said.

'What they were telling us is that Andrew Tate was showing up in their classroom in a range of ways.'

Tate has nearly 9million followers on X, and was the fourth-most-searched topic in Google Australia's news category last year.

According to Jaidyn Davis, 21, he is most popular among men in their teens and early 20's because of the way he talks about men and women.

Mr Davis and many other young men who follow Tate online said they see nothing wrong with the influencer's core ideology because he's trying to convey the idea that 'guys' should be masculine.

Ethan Slater, 25, agreed, saying Tate resonates with younger men because that's what they aspire to become.

He went on to explain that he believes Tate's views are often taken out of context.




Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Bizarre moment Rutgers gender study professor tells seminar that it's 'homophobic and violent' to flag how badly LGBT people are treated in Gaza

A Rutgers University professor told a seminar discussing the Israel-Hamas conflict that it is 'violent' and 'homophobic' to raise the issue of how LGBT people are treated in Gaza.

Maya Mikdashi, associate Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at New Jersey's State University, told students earlier this month that she has been approached by people at pro-Palestine protests who tell her that she would be treated horribly by Hamas.

'So I've been at protests where I'm then told "don't you know what Hamas would do to you, if you were in Palestine",' she said.

'We have to start naming this as homophobic. You cannot rehearse violence to queer people. It's violent.

The event, entitled 'Palestine is a Feminist and Queer Anti-Imperialist Abolition Struggle', took place on March 20 and was co-hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago's Nadine Naber.

'If you were to say you were experiencing sexism in the SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] they would say "there goes those Palestinian's again, silencing women in their communities",' Naber told attendees.

'So no one is going to say it. And if you do say it [others] will say you're a "traitor and collaborating with Zionism".'

Naber also argued that rape had been well-documented in the founding of Israel.

Reading from text she said, 'indeed the practices of rape and sexual assault that have been well-documented during the founding of Israel and continued today are not an exception or a secondary impact of colonial violence.

'[They] are part of the settler, colonial white supremacist logics and practices of Israel that conflate colonized women with the land and nature and assume that therefore to dominate the land necessitates dominating Palestinian women's bodies and their reproductive capacities from 1948 until today,' she explained.

Speaking more on why the event focuses on queer people within the Palestinian movement, Naber said: 'We're going to need our organizing to center queer and trans people not only because they are especially vulnerable to colonial violence and the racism and the doxxing, but they also embody exceptionally nuanced wisdom about Zionism because they are living it in all its complexity.'

Queers for Palestine' events and marches, which have proliferated across the US since the start of the war, have been criticized as a misguided show of support for a regime that does not support gay rights.

The Islamic Middle Eastern state follows sharia law, and as noted by Amnesty International, it is not safe for the queer community.


Why Is Marxism—But Not Madison—Being Taught at Montpelier?

James Madison is the Father of our Constitution, and the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at Madison’s Montpelier provides educational programming for teachers, law enforcement officers, and others.

That seems appropriate. After all, not only did Madison—our country’s fourth president—help draft the Constitution, but he also served as a key delegate at the Constitutional Convention, authored the Bill of Rights, and urged ratification of the Constitution through his practical and philosophical arguments in The Federalist Papers.

But these accomplishments are, at best, downplayed at his historic home. Montpelier has no exhibits dedicated to Madison and his contributions.

Worse still, Montpelier is equipping educators to teach Marxist-based theories to elementary, middle, and high school students. And the programs doing this are, in part, funded by the state of Virginia.

Issues surrounding policing and prosecution could be fair game for seminars at Montpelier. The Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Fifth Amendment, among other protections, guarantees that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” The Sixth Amendment guarantees the “right to a speedy and public trial” by an “impartial jury” and the ability to confront those testifying against you. And the Eighth Amendment protects against excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments.

Madison drafted all of those.

Yet next week’s “Educator Seminar: Policing and Public Safety” will instead focus on the “history of policing, civil rights, and Constitutional change in African American contexts for the purpose of providing educators with key strategies and historical tools to teach topics in black history about law enforcement, social justice, and the Constitution.”

It will “help teachers be more inspired to teach hard histories that invite students in their classrooms to imagine equitable possibilities for promoting public safety for all.” And it will explore “why community approaches to public safety surfaced to counteract police violence and discrimination within the criminal legal system leading up to today’s age of mass incarceration.”

There’s a lot to unpack in those statements, but underlying all of them is the belief that our criminal justice system is systemically racist and that, as a result, we lock up too many people—particularly too many young black men.

But that’s not true. Our criminal justice system isn’t systemically racist, and mass incarceration is a myth.

If someone commits the crime, they should do the time. And it’s a sad fact that a disproportionate number of young black men commit violent crimes in the United States and often victimize other young black men in the process.

But these aren’t the only terms that stand out. Of particular note in the description are the phrases “equitable” and “hard history.” Equity is about equality of outcomes, not opportunity. And “teaching hard history” is a mantra of the radical Southern Poverty Law Center, which often labels those it disagrees with as “hate groups.”

In fact, the SPLC’s “teaching hard history” curriculum and initiatives are not simply about discussing slavery’s role in American history. Like “The 1619 Project” and other critical race theory programs, they place slavery as the central animating force in America’s Founding. The preface of the curriculum states that “Some say slavery was our country’s original sin, but it is much more than that. Slavery is our country’s origin.”

This curriculum is also about forming students into activists. For example, it notes that those in K-2 should “examine how power is gained” and be able to “contrast equity and equality, identifying current problems where there is a need to fight for equity.”

This overlap is no coincidence. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, the host of the SPLC’s “Teaching Hard History” podcast as well as an author of the curriculum standards quoted above, also serves as the chairman of the board at Montpelier, which is the historic home’s governing body. (Currently, no Madison scholars are on the board.)

Jeffries—the brother of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.—helped develop and appears in a video in Montpelier’s basement featuring encounters with police officers and protesters carrying signs that read “Stop police brutality,” “I can’t breathe,” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Per the Montpelier website, “[f]rom mass incarceration, to the achievement gap, to housing discrimination, and the vicious cycle of poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity throughout America’s inner cities, the legacies of 200 years of African American bondage are still with us.”

It’s sad that Montpelier has chosen to focus on a Marxist-motivated movement fueled by critical race theory, instead of on the many astounding achievements of the home’s former owner and the Father of our Constitution, James Madison.

It’s a disservice to the public, teachers, and students


Colorado Liberals Chip Away at School Choice

Liberal Democrats introduced a bill to tighten the state’s grip on charter schools in Colorado.

House Bill 1363 would tighten regulations on Colorado’s 260 charter schools bringing rules in line with public schools, The Colorado Sun reports.

The bill would allow school districts to limit the number of charter schools allowed to operate in the state. Public school districts would have the authority to limit their existence. Any district that is losing students would have the right to eliminate the competition presented by charter schools.

School boards would also have the power to refuse to renew an existing charter school. Even if a school has been operating for years, they can be denied renewal at the discretion of the school board. Appeal options are limited.

HB 1363 would also require charter schools to pay rent to use public school facilities. Under current Colorado law, charter schools are allowed to use facilities owned by the public school district and fees cannot exceed $12 per year. The proposed bill would eliminate the $12 cap.

Advocates for the bill say it will provide more transparency. Charter schools will be required to post any laws and policies they are exempt from in an accessible and understandable manner.

Opponents to the bill say that they will lose the autonomy and independence that have made charter schools successful.

Under HB 1363 charter schools would lose freedom to make decisions such as hiring and firing of teachers, The Federalist reports. It would eliminate waivers that currently allow charter schools to choose curricula and study materials.

Under the new law, all decisions will be made by Colorado State Board of Education, which is dominated by Democrats.

“The sponsors’ intent is clear: to end Colorado’s longstanding, highly successful charter school movement,” write Rob Moulton and Tim Hannan for The Federalist. “Effectively every line in the 55-page bill represents a full frontal assault on charters and the hundreds of thousands of families they serve across Colorado.”

Colorado is already facing declining enrollment in seven out of ten of the largest school districts. If this bill passes, those districts immediately have the authority to deny a request to open a new charter school or reject an existing school charter renewal.

“Declining enrollment suggests more choice and innovation, not less, would be a strategy worth pursuing,” Moulton and Hannan write. “The sponsors clearly disagree, preferring to add an extra padlock to the chains holding families in their traditional public schools.”

Charter schools are very popular in the state of Colorado, Fox 13 reports. They continue to grow, but this bill would make expansion of charters far more difficult.

The office of the Governor, Jared Polis (D), provided a statement expressing his opposition to the proposed bill.

“Colorado is a national leader in education access, innovation, and choice,” the statement reads. “Public charter schools are a popular option in Colorado, serving around 15 percent of our school-aged children. This bill would weaken, rather than strengthen, school choice in Colorado and the Governor strongly opposes it.”

The bill’s sponsors say they want to require charter schools to be transparent with the state and the public, KOAA reports. They would like to track enrollment, teacher retention, and finances for the schools.

They would have the right to require that charter schools submit their expenses and report revenue. Any school that does not submit the required reporting could have their charter revoked.

The Colorado League of Charter Schools says that the freedom from reporting requirements and the ability to choose learning materials is key to the success of Colorado’s charter schools.

“Our current public education system is ill-equipped to consistently provide high-quality options to all learners because of its top-down, overly static, overly bureaucratic approach,” the organization’s website states. “What we need instead is a bottom-up approach that empowers educators, families and communities and allows for new ideas in the public education space.”

“Autonomy and accountability lie at the heart of what makes charter schools successful. Without school-level control over such key factors as staffing, budget, and educational program, charter schools would not have the tools necessary to innovate and be responsive to their students and families in the way their communities need.”

Democrats control both houses in the legislature and the Governor is a Democrat but, on this bill, there is not uniform support from Democrats. It is expected to be reviewed in committee in April.




Monday, April 01, 2024

Higher Ed’s DEI Plagiarism Dilemma

Academic culture is facing a crisis of its own making.

The now myriad plagiarism and other scandals rocking the ivory tower increasingly are being waved away by left-wing media. But this growing phenomenon represents an existential crisis for institutions that have long coasted on flimsy claims to their exalted position in our society.

Following the January resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay, who a month earlier had had a disastrous performance before a House committee hearing on antisemitism, several other professors and diversity, equity, and inclusion administrators have been hit with serious accusations of plagiarism.

The latest is influential Harvard sociology assistant professor Christina J. Cross, whose writing on families and race have appeared in The New York Times. She’s been accused of lifting huge sections of uncited work and claiming it as her own—among other, smaller infractions.

The Left’s message on these scandals—copied and pasted, it seems—is that plagiarism has been “weaponized” by the Right.

“As the culture wars lurch on, the Right has found a perfect weapon with which to hit the university—taken straight from the academy’s arsenal itself: claims of plagiarism,” wrote the editorial board of The Harvard Crimson in February.

Yes, how dare those mean conservatives use basic academic standards against academics for the purpose of the “culture war,” which our unbiased and totally meritocratic universities surely never engage in.

Defenders of the academy have also gone with the old standby of crying “racism.”

Tiresome, but all very predictable.

I will have to concede one thing, though: In a certain sense, plagiarism has been “weaponized,” by the Right, which holds no power in academia outside of a handful of small, isolated bastions. This method of criticism has only become possible because higher education has made itself so open to attack.

To use a historical comparison, the peoples conquered by Islam in the days after the rise of Muhammad were typically preyed upon and powerless. What those living under dhimmitude had was the Quran. Their only protection came from pointing out the violations of faith by their new rulers. That forced a choice on their Muslim overlords: Weaken their rule or weaken their faith, which was ultimately tied to their power and status.

That’s the dilemma facing academia.

While universities don’t punish leftist students for shutting down politically incorrect speakers and other kinds of illiberal conduct, they still—for now, at least—make an attempt to punish those who have violated their most basic standards.

Here’s a question, though: Would plagiarism and other kinds of scandals have been such a problem if our elite institutions weren’t filled with so many superfluous, underwhelming hacks?

That may sound mean, but it’s impossible not to notice that the quality of our most elite schools—and of the people who staff them—is quickly dropping.

Stories about left-wing insanity on college campuses became run-of-the-mill generations ago. But now, something new is happening.

Now, many Americans, even ones who placed a huge amount of faith in higher education despite its flaws, are coming to see that they aren’t even providing the most fundamental service they—at least in theory—promise to provide; namely, an elite education delivered by scholars in pursuit of the truth.

With the costly, borg-like takeover of DEI initiatives that have bled into all disciplines, it’s become obvious to all who are not wholly blinded to reality that higher education now places more emphasis on ideology and identity politics than teaching and scholarship.

In the end, those who hired and appointed the DEI administrators and “anti-racism” swamis like Ibram X. Kendi didn’t expect them to produce high-quality research. No, they are there to demonstrate institutional commitment to leftist beliefs. Nothing else has mattered, and now the original product that allowed them to amass such power is slipping away.

Consider this: Harvard University’s history department finally brought back an introductory history course after going nearly 20 years without one. The previous yearlong survey course was dropped in 2006 for being too “Eurocentric,” according to The Harvard Crimson.

A description of the class makes it sound more like an NPR podcast than a high-minded instruction at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. It’s apparently been designed to teach “empathy,” and according to one of the professors, “on Wednesdays, they will ‘riff’ on recent headlines for a portion of the lecture.”

I only wonder what famed Harvard alum John Quincy Adams would think about this kind of coursework. In his day, its students used to be required to know Latin and have a deep understanding of the classics before they attended the school.

Now, they don’t even require courses in Latin or Greek to complete a degree in the classics.

The dirty open secret is that higher ed has abandoned its role of providing trustworthy research and transmission of Western ideas to new generations. It is increasingly an environment more committed to enforcing extremely narrow left-wing ideology and ensuring that all other governmental, political, and civic institutions throughout the West maintain the same level of ideological gatekeeping.

Legacy admissions may be on the decline, but they are being replaced by new, smugger so-called meritocratic pseudo-elites who lecture America about all its problematic history while making excuses for genuine evil in the here and now.

As the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel starkly revealed, these institutions hardly have claims to moral authority. Hating the West and excusing savagery are just part of the overall package.

While the power that elite academic institutions have in Western societies is immense—perhaps greater than it has ever been—they nevertheless have a collective weakness.

These schools are ultimately dependent on the support, both social and material, of the rest of society. They’ve operated for decades with nearly a blank check of private and public funding. And higher education has run up a massive bill on their graduates, too, that they expect taxpayers to pay.

Let me ask: Would you rather pay for your groceries with money to spare or ensure that a Starbucks employee with pronouns on his or her name tag can get his psychology degree paid for? Exactly.

The goodwill from times past is long gone. In its place is well-earned doubt and hostility.

Higher education is now left with a choice: Abandon the path of DEI and ruthless ideological enforcement in a return to genuine merit or double down on them with the fading support from the rest of society.


Mississippi Schools Push Radical Ideology, Often in Secret. A Parental Bill of Rights Would Remedy That

Some school officials in Mississippi seem determined to keep parents out of their child’s education. But state lawmakers have a chance to join about two dozen other states that have prevented that from happening.

Mississippi legislators are considering a proposal that would create a parental bill of rights, reinforcing parents’ authority even when a child is on school grounds.

The proposal is simple, but powerful: Public employees, such as teachers and school administrators, cannot substantially burden a parent’s right to direct a child’s upbringing and health care.

What does this look like in practice?

When children start the school year, moms and dads typically have to sign forms stating a child’s allergies, directing the school to administer painkillers if a child is injured at recess, and consenting to basic medical treatment if a child is in need.

In today’s upside-down culture, however, school officials are allowing minor-age children to “change” their name and whether they want to be addressed as a boy or girl, regardless of his or her sex, while at school.

In some states, teachers do not have to tell parents that a child is making these choices during the school day.

What results is “social affirmation,” in which adults tell a child that yes, the child was born in the wrong body and should act as if they are someone they are not. That can foster a child’s desire to seek medical interventions, such as puberty blockers and hormone treatments and perhaps even surgeries that will damage their reproductive organs.

An exaggeration? Whistleblowers have exposed centers such as the St. Louis Children’s Hospital for prescribing children as young as 11 to take puberty-blocking drugs.

The results were horrific in some cases: Young women would return to the hospital bleeding through their clothes because testosterone treatments thin the vaginal wall, and the wall can then tear open. Some males experienced liver toxicity after taking drugs to make them appear more feminine.

Researchers continue to raise alarms as they find an overlap between mental illness or special needs such as autism and claims of sexual confusion among youth.

In the U.K., England’s National Health Service has recommended that doctors not encourage young people to assume a different “gender” because autism and anxiety and depression were often found in children expressing confusion over their sex. And research finds that this confusion resolves on its own as children progress into adulthood in 80% to 95% of cases, which means watchful waiting is far healthier for children than social affirmation.

Yet some Mississippi educators are still pushing the dangerous “gender” agenda.

Parents Defending Education, an advocacy organization, uncovered that a school in Jackson received a grant to promote gender ideology. Oxford School District officials surveyed students and asked children if they identified as queer or “trans.” In Tupelo, teachers were trained to allow students to change their name and pronouns. Educators were instructed to call the child by his or her given name and pronouns when talking to parents unless the child gave a teacher permission to tell parents that the child had assumed a different gender—a secretive technique that hides information from families.

When a child is confused about their sex, social affirmation can have lasting consequences. Some medical treatments are irreversible and can lead to sterility and other complications.

For at least these reasons, school personnel should not be allowed to keep parents in the dark about what is happening to their young children in the classroom.

State legislators can help. For more than a decade, state lawmakers around the country have been adopting parental bills of rights similar to the proposal before Mississippi lawmakers. Legislators should state plainly that parents are a child’s primary caregivers and that public officials cannot burden, or obstruct, a parent’s role.

Teachers have a responsibility to report abuse or neglect, but that does not mean educators should accept a child’s self-diagnosis that he or she needs drugs to alter their body chemistry.

The reports from Jackson, Tupelo, and elsewhere demonstrate why Americans are increasingly skeptical about K-12 education.

Mississippi officials should increase academic transparency and strengthen parental rights, restoring a civic value in short supply today between local communities and their schools—specifically, public trust.


Top Journalism School Mandating Diversity Course to Earn Degree

Mandatory wokeness has crept into one of the top journalism schools in the United States.

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is requiring students to complete the course Diversity and Civility at Cronkite (DCC) in order to earn their bachelor’s degree in journalism.

The course, which also applies to students studying sports journalism and digital media, redefines such traditional phrases as “America is a melting pot” as race-based microaggressions and teaches future journalists to avoid assuming “unearned benefits” that come with “heterosexual privileges.”

Examples of outdated heterosexual privileges given in the curriculum include excluding biological males who identified as female from traditional sex-segregated places like women’s locker rooms and women’s prisons.

“To object to a man using a women’s bathroom is an example of discrimination against transgender individuals,” reads a chapter in the course entitled “Sexuality and Gender Identity.”

Also part of the seven-unit course is required reading material entitled “A Guide to Gender Identity Terms.”

“You should offer your own pronouns first and then ask for the other person’s pronouns,” the reading material states. “While it can be awkward at first, it can quickly become routine.”

The course also teaches students to view statements like “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” as a microaggression that translates into “People of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race,” and “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough,” as implying that “People of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.”

In response to inquiries from The Epoch Times, the state-run college described the mandatory course as “an entry-level course intended to bring thoughtful, open-minded discourse to issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, income, geography and other aspects of personal identities.”

“The goal of the course is to help students appreciate people’s differences and to channel disagreements toward civil discussion,” the college said in a statement. “With that view, students should be better able to approach reporting and communications projects with a multicultural perspective and inspire mutual respect among students from various backgrounds and beliefs while at the university, and beyond.”

Opt-Out Possible

A spokesperson for the Walter Cronkite School, which is part of Arizona State University (ASU) also told The Epoch Times that students may opt out of specific discussions by sending their professor a private email requesting to do so.
Timothy Minella, Senior Constitutionalism Fellow at the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy told The Epoch Times that the required journalism course is especially disturbing because it is being mandated by a public, taxpayer funded college.

“Students who decide to major in these subjects are not necessarily signing up to be progressive activists,” he said. “A public university that should be serving the entire public, not just the liberal slice of it, needs to return to its core mission of education, not indoctrination.”

Mr. Minella, who recently wrote a critical analysis of the course after obtaining student assignments and teacher syllabuses through a public records request, said he was especially shocked by an assignment for students contemplating a career in public relations.

The assignment, as shown by records obtained by Mr. Minella, was based on an NPR interview with Demi Lovato, a pop star who has changed her gender identity multiple times.

It asks students: “Imagine you’re working at a PR firm and you have a client whose first album is about to drop. Your client’s gender identity is nonbinary and they use they/them pronouns. They have a massive press tour planned. How do you prepare journalists to talk with your client?”

Mr. Minella said the designers of the course “seemingly attempted to include every aspect of leftist identity politics” they could think up.




Sunday, March 31, 2024

Minnesota School District Affirms Students’ Right to Walk Out of LGBT Lesson

A 40-page demand letter from Liberty Counsel, a national Christian advocacy organization, persuaded a Minnesota school system to acknowledge the rights of teachers, parents, and high school students to opt out of a lesson celebrating and honoring the LGBT lifestyle.

The lesson, called “LGBTQIA+ History and Culture,” is scheduled to be taught to high schoolers during the first week of April.

Liberty Counsel became involved at the request of local parents and teachers who were concerned about the upcoming activity, describing it as “one-sided LGBT political indoctrination.”

A group of teachers said that they objected to teaching the lesson on religious grounds and feared retaliation for refusing to do so.

Liberty Counsel analysts reviewed the LGBT lesson and found that it proclaims the students’ multiple controversial, political LGBT positions and opinions as truth. They said that some of the lesson’s questions violate the teens’ privacy, instill confusion, unconstitutionally compel speech, and serve as a “call to political action.”

Attorneys for Liberty Counsel wrote in the demand letter (pdf), a device used by lawyers to achieve their purpose without litigation, “Government is not permitted to establish a government orthodoxy on matters of sexuality and identity.”
The District’s Reaction
In response to the demand letter, Osseo Area Schools, the fifth largest school district in Minnesota, announced on March 28, 2024, that “students themselves may choose to leave prior to or during the lesson.” An alternative class centering on college and career readiness will be available for them to attend instead.

The district stated that the request by Liberty Counsel for accommodation for teachers who decline to teach the material based on sincerely held religious beliefs “has been approved and will be provided.”

According to the announcement, parents and caregivers will continue to be allowed to sign up for an appointment to physically visit the school to review the LGBT “learning materials” and, if they so desire, opt their children out of the class by filling out a form,

In their demand letter, Liberty Counsel attorneys took issue with the physical visit requirement in the digital age and questioned whether the Osseo District “was trying to prevent as many parents as possible from exercising a meaningful review of the curriculum.”

Purpose and Content of the Lesson

According to a March 8 bulletin from the district, the purpose of the main 40-minute lesson is to help students “gain a deeper understanding of LGBTQIA+ histories and identities.”

The lesson is designed to instill in students an appreciation for “the importance of using correct pronouns and respecting diverse identities.”

After the class, students will help create “a brave space that is respectful of all members of our community,” the bulletin said.

A “brave space,” differs from a “safe space,” in that it is designed to manage conflict among equals rather than avoid it, with an emphasis on mutual respect.

On June 21, 2022, the Osseo Area Schools Board of Education laid the foundation for the annual lesson by formally resolving to “acknowledge the value of the lives of our trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex, two-spirit, asexual, nonbinary, and gender-expansive scholars and staff.”

According to the district administration, 2.7 percent of the school system’s 20,609 students fall into at least one of the 10 categories mentioned above.

The resolution recognizes the need to observe Pride Month and to “value the student’s gender identity and gender expression” in an inclusive learning environment in which “all students feel safe and supported.”

The resolution noted that 52 percent of LGBTQ youth enrolled in its middle schools and high schools “reported being bullied either in person or electronically in the past year.”

The school board resolved to “eliminate transphobia and homophobia” of all forms. Toward that end, the board promised to continue its support for such student-led clubs as the Gender Sexuality Alliance and the Queer Straight Alliance.

The board resolved to establish an “LGBTQIA+ employee affinity group,” along with a “school/parent/caregiver/ally advisory group.”

A promise was also made to “Ensure that all facility design standards include increased privacy and greater student choice in restrooms and locker rooms.”

The resolution stated that Osseo Schools would establish an entire month, sometime before Pride Month each year, “to observe LGBTQIA+ History and Culture Month,” because “it is essential for our education system to teach the experiences, honor the history, and highlight the contributions of transgender, expansive gender, and non-binary people.”

The Osseo Schools Board of Education also committed to raising the “Progress Pride Flag” at all district buildings and in the board room on June 1 every year. It also invited the entire community to do the same as “a symbol of support to our LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and their families.”

According to its website, Liberty Counsel is a national, nonprofit, litigation, education, and public policy organization dedicated to restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and the family.


New Zealand University Criticised for ‘Designated Area’ for Indigenous Students

The University of Auckland has come under criticism from the ACT Party over a photo of what appears to be a segregated space that only allows access to Maori and Pasifika students.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on March 26, ACT, headed by David Seymour and part of the country’s tri-party government, posted a picture of a sign that read, “This is a designated area for Maori and Pasifika students. Thank you.”

In a media release published online, ACT party Tertiary Education spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar said, “Blocking access to spaces based on ethnicity has an ugly past and has no future in New Zealand @AucklandUni and any others with segregated spaces owe an explanation to the Kiwis who pay their bills."

In the lead-up to last year’s general election, ACT campaigned heavily on ending the perceived division created by race-based policies. This includes campaigns against separate Maori Electoral seats and a Maori Health Authority, the latter was set up by the previous Labour Government.

At the time, ACT leader David Seymour, who is of Ngapuhi Maori descent, said ACT was committed to “remove the Māori Health Authority and turning policy away from Labour’s race obsession. Instead, we should be focused on the best public services that get results for New Zealanders from every background, including Māori.”

A separate Maori Health Authority was recently abolished by the new government as part of its 100-day plan.

Maori make up 7 percent of students currently studying at the University, while Pasifika students are at 9 per cent. Asian students make up the majority with 47 percent, while Caucasians (labelled as Pakeha) are at 32 percent.

Collin Tukuitonga a doctor and associate dean at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Science, made headlines in December 2023 when he resigned from government advisory roles after the National Party won the general election.

“I really don’t want to work for this government. I have no confidence. They are not going to treat Pacific people well and I want to be free to speak up and speak out, ” Dr. Tukuitonga said.

Online Reaction Mixed

The picture drew the ire of many online, with one X commenter saying “The depraved divisive socialist agenda is alive and well at New Zealand’s biggest University.”
On Reddit, one poster said the University had also tried to create a Maori-only floor in its halls of residence:

“As a Maori person, this is crazy what is it with uoa and trying to have segregation the halls (which) also have an option for (a) ‘Maori only floor.’”

Another said the move to designate a space for Maori and Pasifika was not a new concept:

“When I was at uni they had these spaces, but it wasn’t a rule that was enforced or anything. It was more that if you weren’t Pacific or Maori you might feel a bit awkward in those spaces as you would be less familiar with the culture and vibes, which is how some Pacific and Maori feel in a lot of their classes.”

Dr. Parmjeet Parmar also alleged the practice is prevalent at other New Zealand academic institutions.

“ACT has seen similar accounts from other universities. If true, this is nothing short of segregation. Universities must front up and be open about whether they are engaging in these practices.”

It is understood the sign has now been removed,


What’s lacking from today’s schooling? Any grounding in the New Testament


Years ago, I was still playing rugby football, in Oxford, England, and there were lineout calls, requiring the recognition of particular letters. If the captain called a word starting with the letter “t”, the ball went to the back. If he called a word starting with “s”, it went to the front. But on this occasion, the captain called “Tchaikovsky”. The resulting chaos among the students of a great university highlighted the need for a well-rounded classical education, even for those who took their sport as seriously as their studies.

What’s mostly lacking from today’s schooling is any grounding in the New Testament, even though it’s at the heart of our culture. There’s an absence of narrative history: our story from Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, our fathers in faith, through the ancient Greeks and Romans, to Alfred the Great, Magna Carta, the Provisions of Oxford, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Glorious Revolution, an American Revolution for the rights of Englishmen in the New World and a French one based on worthy abstractions that ultimately descended into tyranny, and through the struggles of the 20th century to our own times with the illusory ascendancy of market liberalism because man does not live by bread alone. There is, of course, an abundance of critical theory that’s turned great literature and the triumphs of the human spirit into a fantasy of oppressors and oppressed and regards the modern Anglosphere as irredeemably tainted.

Above all, contemporary schooling hardly conveys a spirit of progress, even though there’s still much to be grateful for. In 1990, for instance, more than 30 per cent of the world’s population lacked access to safe drinking water; by 2020, that figure was under 10 per cent. Likewise, in 1990, more than 30 per cent of the world’s population lived in absolute poverty; that too, had declined to under 10 per cent by 2020. And in 2020, more wealth had been created, at least in dollar terms, over the previous 25 years than in the prior 2500.

Prior to the pandemic, the world at large was more free, more fair, more safe, and more rich, for more people than at any previous time in human history, largely thanks to the long Pax Americana, based on a preference for whatever makes societies freer, fairer and more prosperous under a rules-based global order. But while the Western world has never been more materially rich, it’s rarely been more spiritually bereft. Relieved of the need to build its strength and assert its values against the old Soviet Union, like a retired sportsman it has become economically, militarily and culturally flabby.

The pandemic was a largely self-inflicted wound, with the policies to deal with it more destructive than the disease itself. For years, we will face the corrosive legacy of mental illness, other diseases that were comparatively neglected, economic dislocation, the surrender to authoritarian experts; and worst of all, two years of stopping living from fear of dying.

And now there’s the ferocious assault on Ukraine; the renewed challenge of apocalyptic Islamism, especially against Israel; and Beijing’s push to be the world’s dominant power by mid-century, with all that means for free and democratic Taiwan, for the rest of East Asia and for the continued flourishing of the liberal order that has produced the best times in history so far.
In the face of an intensifying military challenge from dictatorships on the march, militarist, Islamist and communist, it might seem trivial, almost escapist, to stress the life of the mind but, in the end, this is a battle of ideas: the power of the liberal humanist dream of men and women, created with inherently equal rights and responsibilities, free to make the most of themselves, individually and in community; versus various forms of might is right, based on national glory, death to the infidel, or the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In most Western countries, people’s faith in democracy is shrinking. Mental illness, especially among young people, is a new epidemic. And while this may or may not be related to the waning of the Christian belief in the God-given dignity and worth of each person, which incubated liberal democracy, and that armoured its adherents against pride and despair, it’s noteworthy that the Christianity that was professed by some 90 per cent of Australians just a few decades back is now acknowledged in the Census by well under half.

Politics, it’s often said, is downstream of culture, and culture is downstream of religion. It’s the coarsening of our culture, exacerbated by “the long march through the institutions”, that’s at least partly to blame for the feeble or embarrassing leadership from which we now suffer, and for the triumph of prudence over courage, and weakness over judgment, that has produced virtue-signalling businesses, propaganda pretending to be learning, the elevation of every kind of diversity except intellectual diversity, eruptions of anti-Semitism, out-of-control social spending and a drug culture in parts of Western cities that can only be the product of moral anarchy.

In the long run, the antidote to this is to rediscover all that’s given meaning to most people in every previous generation: a knowledge of our history, an appreciation of our literature, and an acquaintance with the faith stories that might not inspire every individual but have collectively moved mountains over millennia.

I was lucky enough to be schooled under Brigidine nuns, and then under Jesuit priests, and the lay teachers who took inspiration from them: fine, selfless people, who saw teaching as a calling more than a career, encouraging their charges at every turn to be their best selves. Their lives were about our fulfilment, not theirs, as reflected in the Jesuit injunction of those days to be “a man for others”, because it’s only in giving that we truly receive.

Later, at Sydney University, and especially at Oxford, I had teachers who valued their students’ ability to assimilate the authorities and to create strong arguments for a distinctive position, rather that regurgitate lecture notes and conform to some orthodoxy. Indeed, this is the genius of Western civilisation: a respect for the best of what is, combined with a restless curiosity for more; a constant willingness to learn, because no one has the last word in knowledge and wisdom. The whole point of a good education is not to “unlearn”, as Sydney University has recently put it, but to assimilate all the disciplines, intellectual and personal, that make us truly free “to have life and have it to the full”.

The Oxford tutorial system, where twice a week you had to front up to someone who was a genuine expert in his field, with an essay demonstrating familiarity with the main texts and the main arguments on a particular topic, plus a considered position of your own, was the perfect preparation for any form of advocacy, especially politics, where you always have to be ready to apply good values to hard facts.

These days, as a board member of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, I’m conscious of the many elements of the Western canon that I’ve largely missed, in over-focusing on politics, with only a smattering of philosophy and theology, from a brief pursuit of the priesthood; but am still immensely grateful for an intellectual, cultural and spiritual inheritance that I’ve now been drawing down over 40 years of advocacy, journalism, and public life. I have few claims to specific expertise, save in political decision-making, and certainly no claims to personal virtue because an inevitably imperfectly and incompletely practised Christianity doesn’t guarantee goodness – but it does make us better than we’d otherwise be, this constant spur to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.

Still, example and experience are often the best teachers of all. A mother who welcomed everyone into our family home. A late father who urged me to look for the good that’s present in almost everyone. An inspirational teacher, the late Father Emmet Costello, who encouraged me to set no limits on what could be achieved. A boon friend, the late Father Paul Mankowski, my Oxford sparring partner, a kind of internal exile within the Jesuit order, who showed that a celibate priest could also be a real man. And the luminous George Cardinal Pell, of blessed memory, who endured a modern martyrdom, a form of living crucifixion, and whose prison diaries deserve to become modern classics. One day, I hope again to enjoy the communion of these saints.

I was lucky to have a reasonably broad experience beyond the classroom and beyond the confines of political life. Coaching football teams was an early introduction into managing egos. Running a concrete batching plant was a great antidote to pure economic theory, and to corporate flim-flam, and a goad to unconventional problem solving. Plus serving in a local volunteer fire brigade for more than two decades has been a wonderful lesson in grassroots community service.

My Jesuit mentor, Father Costello, had a favourite phrase – “genus humanum vivit paucis” – which he translated as “the human race lives by a few”.

Of course, there’s no discredit to being among the many who largely follow, because no one can lead unless others fall in behind. And whatever our individual role, large or small, public or private, sung or unsung, our calling is to be as good as we can be, because even small things, done well or badly, make a difference for better or for worse. Everyone’s duty, indeed, is to strive to leave the world that much better for our time here: our families, our neighbourhoods, our workplaces, our classrooms, our churches, everything we do should be for the better, as best we can make it.

Still, some are called to more; more than worthily performing all the things that are expected of us. Leaders are those who go beyond what might be expected; who don’t just fill the job, but expand it, even transcend it; who aren’t just competent but brilliant. To paraphrase the younger Kennedy, they don’t look at what is and ask why; but ponder what should be, and try to make that happen.

In my time as prime minister there were decisions to be made every day, expected and unexpected. Ultimately, the job of a national leader is to try to make sense of all the most difficult issues, and to offer people a better way forward. Inevitably, there’s much that can only be managed, not resolved, because much is more-or-less intractable, at least in the short term. The challenge is to keep pushing in the right direction so that things are better, even though they may never be perfect or even especially satisfactory. No matter how many changes you make, and how much leadership you try to provide, economic reform, for instance, or Indigenous wellbeing, is always going to be a work in progress. There’s no doubt leadership can be more or less effective depending on the character, conviction, and courage of the leader. This is the human factor in history that’s so often decisive, such as when the British Conservative Party chose Winston Churchill rather than Lord Halifax to invigorate the war effort against Nazism. In the end, leadership is less about being right or wrong than about being able to make decisions and get things done.

In providing leadership, what matters is the judgment and the set of values brought to decision-making, at least as much as technical knowledge. The same set of facts, for instance, namely the surrender of France and the evacuation from Dunkirk, would have produced different leadership from Halifax than from Churchill. It would hardly be fair to claim that Churchill’s education at Sandhurst was better than Halifax’s at Oxford. It was their character, disposition and judgment that differed. Just as the respective characters and judgment of presidents Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky so sharply differed when one offered an expedient escape from Kyiv, and the other resolutely refused it.

Still, there’s no doubt that education can help to shape character, and that judgment can be enhanced by the knowledge of history and the appreciation of the human condition that a good education should provide.

I’m sometimes asked by young people with an interest in politics what they should do to be more effective, and my answer is never to join a faction, to consult polling, or to seek any particular office. It’s to immerse yourself in the best that’s been thought and said, so that whatever you do will be better for familiarity with the wisdom of the ages.

In particular to read and re-read the New Testament, the foundation document of our culture, that’s shaped our moral and mental universe, in ways we can hardly begin to grasp, and which speaks to the best instincts of human nature.

And to bury yourself in history, especially a history that’s alive to the difference individuals make, and to the importance of ideas, of which a riveting example is Churchill’s magnificent four-volume History of the English-Speaking Peoples, that’s also pretty much a global history, given that so much of the modern world has been made in English. And which Andrew Roberts has brought more or less up to date with his History of the English-Speaking Peoples in the 20th century.

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