I’ve walked the Normandy beaches a few times in my life. It’s a windswept place, damp and desolate in winter even more than most beach towns. Yet on warm summer days people are on the beaches enjoying them. That can seem jarring and almost disrespectful if you consider a place like Omaha Beach to be sacred ground given what Americans did and gave there. But it’s not disrespect if you think returning France, and by extension Europe, to normalcy and something better was part of the sacrifice and why they did what they did there. I was thinking about that while reading about the debate about Juneteenth as a holiday. It seems like a pretty logical choice for a national holiday (more logical than some), loaded with layers of symbolism, and will pretty quickly become part of the fabric of the season. Today’s kids will ask, soon, ‘so why was that controversial?’
While we’re on controversy there are people who genuinely disagree with Robert “Panic at the” Pondiscio, there are others who use him as an easy way to signal and score points. Thing is, agree or not, he’s an incisive thinker and has proven to be a good forecaster. So I’d pay attention to this caution whether you agree or not. I’ve heard more than a few non-profit leaders, charter folks, privately expressing misgivings about the disconnect between elite progressivism and what parents want and the implications of that. And concern about the role of funders and others in driving this and where you can go to have a conversation like that.
On some key issues of the day, if you don’t appreciate the disconnect between the political progressive left and the median Black American on a host of issues you should either familiarize yourself with some public opinion research or get out more. Even better, both. That’s not a commentary on who is “right,” about various issues. Just because only 12 or 20 percent of people support something doesn’t mean it’s self-evidently wrong. It’s just not popular right now – and it’s hard to miss how ideas what were considered wildly implausible not long ago are now mainstream political positions. So instead, this is just an observation about the political landscape. And why, for instance, you’re going to run into a lot more people on a non-profit education zoom who want to defund or abolish police, or whatever, than you will out in communities around the country right now. And given that politics turns on the here and now, it matters.
…Indeed the debate about critical race theory is filled with the Selfish Fallacy. CRT is now a completely floating signifier thanks to the motivated reasoning of those who defend it. Conventional center-left liberals feel compelled to defend CRT because conservatives attack it, but some aspects of that academic field are sufficiently extreme to make advocacy for them unpalatable, so the definition of CRT simply morphs to fit their boundaries for legitimate opinion. For many or most of the people defending critical race theory today, the tradition is just a vague assertion of the prevalence of racism, dressed up in a little academic jargon – because this conception is far more convenient for them than grappling with what CRT actually is..
…In 6 months the CRT debate will be over and nobody will talk about it and we’ll be on to a new bullshit “conversation about race” that never admits to the fact that our supposed racial reckoning has accomplished nothing. Because the very purpose of all of this culture war is to distract from that failure.
And in six months we’ll still be doing a lousy job teaching history.