Wednesday, November 26, 2008

21st-century indoctrination

Mark Steyn:
A few months back, my little boy came home from Second Grade and said to me, "Guess what we learned today?" I said: "Rosa Parks." He said: "How did you know that?" I said: "Because it's always Rosa Parks."
I'd laugh, except it's no joke. The Historic Victimhood Narrative is virtually the only history or civics taught in American public schools today. "America The Beautiful" has been replaced by "America The Oppressive." Parents who send their offspring to these government-run indoctrination camps should be prosecuted for child abuse.

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias offers the excuse that the "greater attention given in recent decades to the contributions of women and ethnic minority groups is about trying to expand the circle of people who feel invested in the national narrative."

This is what Marxists call "social history" or "people's history," and is the sort of thing that leftist academic activists like Howard Zinn have made popular in America. Scouring history for relatively obscure figures who can be made into political heroes -- role models for The Movement, as it were -- is the sort of propaganda tactic that anyone familiar with the Soviet Union will recognize: "Comrade Pavlik -- be like him!"

Children are taught to reverence a pantheon of symbolic personalities whose biographies are didactically rendered in such a way as to ignore whatever fundamental reality might contradict their function as symbols. The student/subject of these thought-control projects develops a conditioned response to the invocation of the holy names. Obversely, social didacticism requires certain demon characters who symbolize oppression and injustice, who are subjected to the same kind of one-dimensional treatment.

The student subjected to such politicized "history" cannot be said to think about history. Rather, he has an autonomic reflex, and reacts instinctively as he has been trained to react.

One of the reasons that women and minority conservatives are so vilified is that they contradict the Left's narrative of women and minorities as "change agents" on the side of Progress. Our Marxist indoctrinators teach children to reverence a catalog of non-white-male symbolic heroes whose martyrdom and/or courageous protests are exalted as archetypes of progressive activism. This is why college leftists always react so furiously when they encounter a Michelle Malkin or a or Shelby Steele or a Star Parker contradicting today's latest leftist dogma.


  1. You censored my innocuous comment about how Rosa Parks wasn't a victim? What a coward you are!

  2. The student subjected to such politicized "history" cannot be said to think about history.

    Whether the student thinks about history will depend entirely on the student, and not at all about the subject matter.

    All presentations of narrative invite critical thinking. Critical thinking is as apposite and appropriate about the story of America the Oppressive, as you call it, as it is about the story of Manifest Destiny.

    If on the other hand you're saying that the left doesn't permit criticisms about its versions of history while the right does, that's a purely factual claim that can be evaluated with the available evidence.

  3. Growing up I learned about George Armstrong Custer (whose birthday is next week), Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and George Washington. Man I feel old for 46. On another note, Glenn Beck had a story where a school thought that dodge ball was too violent and replaced it with competitive cup stacking. Jefferson is rolling over in his grave. American Exceptionalism? Not so much.

  4. God, I saw all of this bull, especially that freaking communist Yglesias.

    You're generous to indulge these idiots.

  5. In 1955, when 42 year old Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to vacate her bus seat for a white man, she had been a member of the NAACP and active in the civil rights movement for 12 years.

  6. And I bet she was a republican...

  7. Obscure historical figures have been turned into symbolic figures since before the history of oppressed groups was taught at all (remember Paul Revere?): that's the problem with the cult of personality. Even major historical figures like the founding fathers aren't the white male gods students are still taught they are.

    About the "demon characters"--major historical figures generally get a pass on oppression of minorities if we like them for other reasons (take Andrew Jackson). The most demonized character I can think of is Hitler, and I will continue to treat him as a one-dimensional villain.

  8. "On another note, Glenn Beck had a story where a school thought that dodge ball was too violent and replaced it with competitive cup stacking. Jefferson is rolling over in his grave."

    Jefferson would care what kids play during recess? Really?

  9. The reason why women and minority conservatives are vilified is because they are conservatives, members of the group who are angered by the fact that is not 1954 any more.

  10. That makes no sense at all Michael. The reason they are vilified is that they do not conform to a social standard that is expected of them from the social group they were born into.