We are seeing aggressive regional and national campaigns against public educators in K-12 schools, colleges and universities. This deliberate disinformation campaign uses fear to claim that educators are using “critical race theory” to demean white students, resulting in a guilt complex for these students. The real motive behind these fear campaigns is to sow division and distrust among the American people.
We have a long history in the United States where extremist groups, individuals and certain politicians use fear tactics to manipulate segments of the population in order to gain and maintain political power. One need only review the history of the United States to see the effectiveness of fear as a tool of control, as the following examples demonstrate:
(1) After the reconstruction period ended, the southern states enacted unjust laws (ie Jim Crow laws) to deny minority communities their God-given rights;
(2) The use of a fear campaign during the historic Great Migration from Europe to the United States against Irish and Italian Catholics;
(3) The more recent use of fear towards immigrants in the United States; and
(4) The concerted campaign organized to oppose equal rights for the LGBTQ community.
Recently there have been social media posts and letters to the editor of our region calling social justice and diversity communist doctrine. The real facts are the teachings of social justice, civil and human rights, equality and the merits of diversity are in fact well-established democratic principles guaranteeing the right of every individual to liberty, equality and freedom. justice under the law with an emphasis on respect and dignity for our fellow human beings.
The late and emblematic civil rights leader Nelson Mandela put it well when he said: “To deny people their human rights is to question their very humanity. “
I have had the honor and privilege of teaching these democratic principles to over 12,000 students during my nearly four decades as an educator, working with distinguished educators and scholars across America, and having spent many years touring and lecturing to college and university students from coast to coast. During these experiences, not once have I seen an educator use any of these principles to demean or give a student a guilt complex because of their race, ancestry, national origin, etc. their ethnic origin or other categories.
Rather, I have witnessed the use of these principles by educators to uplift individuals and demonstrate the worth, dignity and worth of each student.
I have great optimism for the future after meeting, working, lecturing and communicating with thousands of students from this region, nationally and in some cases internationally. I find that students have great intelligence, wisdom, compassion, love and concern for their fellow human beings. Students understand and support the principles of a free society which include social justice, human rights, and equality while embracing diversity.
The research of scholars of history has shown that the American public education system and the creation of the middle class are key factors in the establishment and continued protection of our democratic system.
In order to maintain our democratic republic, we must be diligent, dedicated and determined to oppose all threats to these ideals.
In protecting our representative form of government, we will need to be informed, active in civic affairs, and avoid the dangers that come from apathy.
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Tony Stewart is a Coeur d’Alene resident and political scientist.