Teacher Laura Morris’s “I Quit” Address

Laura Morris, a fourth and fifth grade teacher in the Loudoun County (Virginia) Public Schools resigned dramatically in front of the county school board yesterday as the climax of an emotional speech condemning its “highly politicized agendas.” “[I]n one of my so-called equity trainings, [I was told] that White, Christian, able-bodied females currently have the power in our schools and ‘this has to change,’”she said in part during the public comment period of the board meeting. “Clearly, you’ve made your point. You no longer value me or many other teachers you’ve employed in this county. So since my contract outlines the power that you have over my employment in Loudoun County Public Schools, I thought it necessary to resign in front of you.”

“I quit,” she said, her voice breaking. “I quit your policies, I quit your training, and I quit being a cog in a machine that tells me to push highly politicized agendas to our most vulnerable constituents – children.”

She also also alleged that the county ordered her not to express dissenting views. Several teachers in the system, anonymously (of course), have told news outlets that they were intimidated in the school’s mandatory equity trainings. Teacher Monica Gill, who also spoke at the meeting, told Fox News that the County’s embrace of Critical Race Theory, had damaged and divided the community. By her account, teachers like her and Morris were told their mission was to “disrupt and dismantle this systemic racism.” She continued, “And I can tell you, one thing that’s for sure, it has been disruptive because there are parents who disagree with this ideology, there are teachers who disagree with it, there are students who disagree with it — and it is harmful.”

Loudoun County is ground zero for CRT infestation in the public school battle in Northern, Virginia

Morris’ speech is less than two minutes long, and worth watching. It has gone viral, and should help spark public debate until YouTube takes it down. Vegas odds are running about 50-50 on whether it lasts the week. (I’m kidding. Those are my odds.)

Observations:

1. Quitting like that is grandstanding to be sure, and legitimately a cause for skepticism. If we find out later that Morris is getting married and was planning on quitting anyway, or had inherited a fortune, got a bonus from Christopher Rufu, or has a secret lobbying contract, such developments will put her performance in a very different perspective. It is one of the many tragedies of the digital age that we just can’t trust what we see, hear, and are told.

2. If, however, the speech is what it purports to be, Morris has to be deemed an ethics hero. She has made herself a target, quit her job, and said in a public forum what she had been unethically told she could not say. You never know when such moments become catalysts for important shifts in opinion and tipping points in policy debates. Usually, they are quickly forgotten. Sometimes, they are not.

3. It is unfortunate that Morris couldn’t avoid bringing her religion and her own beliefs into the discussion. This helps the censors, the indoctrinators and the demonizers of the religious, conservatives, and dissenters immensely. She is now subject to being classified as one more religious bigot who wants to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens. This is a trap too many conservatives fall into. The issue is schools, and local governments, that are dominated by political activists and ideologues forcing their beliefs and agendas on any student, any teacher, and anybody.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: American Federation Of Teachers President Randi Weingarten [UPDATED]

Public-School-Indoctrination

“Critical Race Theory is not taught in elementary schools or middle schools or high schools.”

—-AFT President Randi Weingarten, engaging in the now-routine leftist activist tactic of Rationalization #64, “It isn’t what it is.

This claim is deceit, like “I did not have sex with that woman” (“because I don’t consider blow-jobs ‘sex.'”) A school does not have to teach the technical “Critical Race Theory” as it was originally formulated by Derek Bell and other politically-motivated academics to be teaching the substance and assumptions of the movement, which is that the United States is a racist nation and that white supremacy has been and continues to be a primary force causing systemic inequality and oppression of black Americans.

Weingarten and other progressive indoctrination proponents know this very well, and the deception is deliberate. Slavery, Jim Crow and the struggles of the civil rights movement are history, and legitimate topics for study in the schools. Using those historical events to advance a narrative of racial guilt and continuing oppression of African-Americans is not history, but sinister and divisive child abuse. The cavil that such a curriculum isn’t literally CRT is misdirection, and the fact that one of the major teachers unions would engage in such deceit is signature significance. Continue reading

Return Of The Hedgehog

Angry hedgehog

Recently I have been pondering whether Donald Trump, in the parlance of philosopher Isaiah Berlin in his famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox”, is a hedgehog, one who, in words of the Greek poet Archilochus, “knows one big thing,”or a fox, which knows many things. The thrust of the essay (and a later book) is that history teaches that the hedgehogs tend to prevail over the foxes.

In 2019, I announced that I had figured out that Trump was indeed a hedgehog, and that the one big thing he knew was that

“Despite decades of indoctrination to the contrary, most Americans are proud of their country and do not believe it has been a force for evil in the world. They recognize that capitalism has been responsible for the much of the nation’s success, and they do not want to emulate the European nanny states. Most Americans also regard the office of the Presidency as an inherently good institution. The Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse, as the President now calls them, do not believe these things, and by clearly opposing a group that is deep, deep in negative territory on the scale, the President is certain to derive a net benefit. Although I have heard the Stage 5 Trump Deranged argue that he does not love his country and does not have its best interests at heart, that is an unsupportable position fueled by dislike alone. Nobody becomes President who isn’t a patriot, and no President wants to go down in history as a bad one. Now the entire Democratic Party is tying itself to these four repulsive, anti-American extremists, which is the equivalent of the party tying itself to an anchor on the [Cognitive Dissonance] Scale.”

For the record, I’m still not completely convinced that Trump isn’t a fox in spiny clothing.

Now the “Fox or Hedgehog?” game has emerged again in an essay by Lance Morrow in The Wall Street Journal. He attributes Critical Race Theory to hedgehogian reasoning. The One Big Thing: slavery was bad. He writes in part,

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Why Is Banning The Teaching Of Critical Race Theory In Schools Ethically Justifiable When Banning The Teaching Of Evolution Is Not?

Critical Race ban

On this, the 96th anniversary of the beginning of the Scopes Trial in 1925, let’s consider attorney Clarence Darrow’s opening statement. Here is the crux of it:

“…Along comes somebody who says ‘we have got to believe it as I believe it. It is a crime to know more than I know.’ And they publish a law to inhibit learning. This law says that it shall be a criminal offense to teach in the public schools any account of the origin of man that is in conflict with the divine account in the Bible. It makes the Bible the yardstick to measure every man’s intellect, to measure every man’s intelligence and to measure every man’s learning. Are your mathematics good? Turn to Elijah 1:2. Is your philosophy good? See II Samuel 3. Is your astronomy good? See Genesis 2:7. Is your chemistry good? See – well, chemistry, see Deuteronomy 3:6, or anything that tells about brimstone. Every bit of knowledge that the mind has must be submitted to a religious test. It is a travesty upon language, it is a travesty upon justice, it is a travesty upon the constitution to say that any citizen of Tennessee can be deprived of his rights by a legislative body in the face of the constitution.

Of course, I used to hear when I was a boy you could lead a horse to water, but you could not make him drink water. I could lead a man to water, but I could not make him drink, either. And you can close your eyes and you won’t see, cannot see, refuse to open your eyes – stick your fingers in your ears and you cannot hear – if you want to. But your life and my life and the life of every American citizen depends after all upon the tolerance and forbearance of his fellow man. If men are not tolerant, if men cannot respect each other’s opinions, if men cannot live and let live, then no man’s life is safe, no man’s life is safe.

Here is a country made up of Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotch, German, Europeans, Asiatics, Africans, men of every sort and men of every creed and men of every scientific belief. Who is going to begin this sorting out and say, “I shall measure you; I know you are a fool, or worse; I know and I have read a creed telling what I know and I will make people go to Heaven even if they don’t want to go with me. I will make them do it.” Where is the man that is wise enough to do this?

If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private school, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it from the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism are ever busy and need feeding. Always they are feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lecturers, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, Your Honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until, with flying banners and beating drums, we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted torches to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.

As mentioned in the post earlier today, the issue of whether a state could ban the teaching of evolution was never settled in Scopes, but many years later in the Supreme Court case of Epperson v. Arkansas (1968), which struck down a state law that criminalized the teaching of evolution in public schools. Epperson, however, was narrowly decided on the basis that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a state from requiring, in the words of the majority opinion, “that teaching and learning must be tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma.” It was not based on freedom of speech, or as Darrow termed it, “freedom of thought.” The Theory of Evolution and “Critical Race Theory” are both theories, though one is based in scientific research and the other is a product of scholarly analysis. Though the latter seems to carry the heft of religious faith in some quarters, freedom of religion is not the issue where banning critical race theory is involved. Nor, realistically speaking, is freedom of speech as Darrow describes it.

School districts, which are agents of the government, have a recognized right to oversee the content of what is taught in the public schools, within reason, and when the purpose is defensible. Teachers are not free to teach whatever they choose, though their controversial choices cannot be made criminal, just grounds for dismissal. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals made this clear in Evans-Marshall v. Bd of Ed of Tipp City Exempted Village Sch Dist. (6th Cir. 2010), a case involving a high school English teacher who was fired for using classroom assignments and materials without following the appropriate steps for approval. The court stated, “Even to the extent academic freedom, as a constitutional rule, could somehow apply to primary and secondary schools, that does not insulate a teacher’s curricular and pedagogical choices from the school board’s oversight.”

School districts still can’t define a curriculum so narrowly that it violates students’ constitutional rights. In Board of Island Trees v. Pico (U.S. 1982), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the school district could not remove books from the school library without a legitimate pedagogical reason, because doing so violated students’ free speech rights of access to information.  Districts and schools are also limited to what they can require children to study, though most cases in this realm again involve religion. However, once school districts and schools have defined a legally permissible curriculum, courts will give them broad discretion to implement it even over community and parental objections. For example:

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Andrew Sullivan

CRT2

“[T]he sudden, rapid, stunning shift in the belief system of the American elites…has sent the whole society into a profound cultural dislocation. It is, in essence, an ongoing moral panic against the specter of “white supremacy,” which is now bizarrely regarded as an accurate description of the largest, freest, most successful multiracial democracy in human history.”

—-Blogging pioneer Andrew Sullivan, yet another exile at substack, in his eloquent, brave, important and accurate essay, “What Happened To You?”

That’s probably not the best ethics quote in Sullivan’s latest essay. It’s just the earliest. There is also this bitter truth, as Sullivan’s brief approaches it’s climax:

Look how far the left’s war on liberalism has gone. Due process? If you’re a male on campus, gone. Privacy? Stripped away — by anonymous rape accusations, exposure of private emails, violence against people’s private homes, screaming at folks in restaurants, sordid exposés of sexual encounters, eagerly published by woke mags. Non-violence? Exceptions are available if you want to “punch a fascist.” Free speech? Only if you don’t mind being fired and ostracized as a righteous consequence. Free association? You’ve got to be kidding. Religious freedom? Illegitimate bigotry. Equality? Only group equity counts now, and individuals of the wrong identity can and must be discriminated against. Color-blindness? Another word for racism. Mercy? Not for oppressors. Intent? Irrelevant. Objectivity? A racist lie. Science? A manifestation of white supremacy. Biological sex? Replaced by socially constructed gender so that women have penises and men have periods. The rule of law? Not for migrants or looters. Borders? Racist. Viewpoint diversity? A form of violence against the oppressed.” 

I hate to drop spoilers with a master essay like Sullivan’s but I know a lot of people don’t follow links, and attention, as Willy Loman’s wife said, must be paid. Sullivan writes like an angel, so I quote him in fond hopes that readers will allow his persuasive prose to unfold as he designed it. Andrew begins by writing,

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Ethics Rant Of The Month: Ty Smith

A few notes:

  • Smith, a father attending a school board meeting in Illinois, gave his rapid fire dissection of Critical Race Theory, and the video has “gone viral.”
  • They have played it on Fox News, naturally. Why wouldn’t it be equally worthy of airing on other news shows? The show kitten videos on HLN, and SNL skits on NBC and CNN. I’d say this is more germane to understanding current events.
  • Smith is conservative radio talk show host, which, as I read some comments on line, means that his opinion here should be discounted. Why?

Friday Ethics Dry-Off, 6/11/2021: Apple Pie, The Duke, “Lillibet,” The “Only If You’re The Right Kind Of Black Caucus” And Shut Up, Donald

It’s raining like crazy here, so…

1. And now for something completely stupid…Poe’s Law is getting a workout as The Great Stupid heads into its final stage, and I have to discipline myself not to write about too many episodes like this one, which once would have been regarded as parody because it would have been parody. Raj Patel, an apparent communist, explains in this unhinged piece by The Guardian about “food injustice,” that the apple pie is a symbol of American imperialism and white supremacy, like this…

Not that apples are particularly American….Apples traveled to the western hemisphere with Spanish colonists in the 1500s in what.. is now better understood as a vast and ongoing genocide of Indigenous people….

Not that the recipe for apple pie is uniquely American….By the time the English colonized the new world, apple trees had become markers of civilization, which is to say property….John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, took these markers of colonized property to the frontiers of US expansion where his trees stood as symbols that Indigenous communities had been extirpated.

Not that the gingham on which our apple pie rests is uniquely American….this war capitalism enslaved and committed acts of genocide against millions of Indigenous people in North America, and millions of Africans and their descendants through the transatlantic slave trade. In the process, cotton laid the basis of finance, police and government that made the United States.

Since this is quite a lot to acknowledge, it is easier to misremember. In the drama of nationalist culture, the bloody and international origins of the apple pie are subject to a collective amnesia.

This, though extreme, is the weaponization of the cognitive dissonance scale that has become a prime part of the strategy to unmake the United States, cancel its freedoms, and turn its values inside out. Consistent with Critical Race Theory, literally everything in our culture, including the best and most innocent of it, must be traced to something evil.

Even apple pie. Conservative websites are having fun mocking this article. They are foolish. Patel is deadly serious, and our children will be taught this perspective unless there is relentless resistance.

2. John Wayne died on this date in 1979. “The Duke” had the biggest impact on American culture and ethics of any performer; there really isn’t anyone close. And it was a positive impact; John Wayne (really Marion Morrison) the man is an interesting subject, but what mattered was his art. He dedicated his career to portraying the independent American male individualist with all his virtues and flaws, aided by some of the greatest film-makers in Hollywood history, notably John Ford and Howard Hawks. Even before Hollywood took its disastrous turn to the hard Left, Wayne suffered because of the enmity liberals and the academic elite held (and hold) toward the core American values that Wayne’s characters, often incompletely, tried to embody. Pauline Kael, much idolized as a film critic (I detested her), refused to do anything but ridicule Wayne’s performances out of pure political bias. For me, especially as I became more experienced as a stage director, Wayne’s acting impressed me more the more I watched him, and I have watched him more than I have watched anyone.

There has been an effort of late to “cancel” the Duke, but they’ll have more luck with apple pie. The John Wayne character remains strong, inspiring, and complex. Over 40 years after his death, Wayne’s movies are still featured on TV regularly; no actor made more great ones, and the good ones are still entertaining. My favorites? “Stagecoach” (of course), “Red River,” “Rio Bravo”, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon,” “The Searchers,” “Hondo,” “True Grit”, “The Quiet Man,” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence,” with Hawks’ “Hatari!” as a special guilty pleasure.

I miss him. America misses him.

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Ethics Hero: Private School Teacher Dana Stangel-Plowe

protesting teacher

Dana Stangel-Plowe, a teacher at the Dwight-Englewood School in Bergen County, New Jersey, resigned from the private school in a damning resignation letter subsequently published by the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism. FAIR is an organization created to oppose the teaching of Critical Race Theory teachings in schools. Among her other accusations in the letter, Stangel-Plowe wrote that the head of Dwight-Englewood, Rodney De Jarnett, told the faculty that he would fire everyone if he could to replace them with non-white teachers. She also revealed that $52,000 a-year school segregated its teachers by skin color and asked students to segregate themselves “within the oppressor or oppressed group.’

Upon reading the letter, John McWhorter, an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, called the news media’s attention to her protest by tweeting his support, writing,

“All hail Dana Stangel-Plowe, who has resigned from the Dwight-Englewood School, which teaches students “antiracism” that sees life as nothing but abuse of power, and teaches that cringing, hostile group identity against oppression is the essence of a self,” and added,

MacWhorter tweet

The entire resignation letter is below.

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Andrew Sullivan

CRT

“Every time a liberal institution hires or fires someone because of their group identity rather than their individual abilities, it is embracing a principle designed to undermine the liberal part of the institution. Every university that denies a place to someone because of their race is violating fundamental principles of liberal learning. Every newspaper and magazine that fires someone for their sincerely-held views, or because their identity alone means those views are unacceptable, is undermining the principles of liberal discourse. Every time someone prefers to trust someone’s subjective “lived experience” over facts, empiricism and an attempt at objectivity, liberal society dies a little. And every student who emerges from college who believes that what matters is whether you are on “the right side of history” rather than whether your ideas can be tested by the ruthless light of open debate is a student who does not have the ability to function as a citizen in a liberal society. The ability to respect and live peaceably alongside people with whom you vehemently disagree is a far harder skill than cheering on one of your own. And yet liberal institutions are openly demonstrating that it is precisely this kind of difficult toleration they will not tolerate….[I]f we remove the corner-stone of liberal democracy — the concept of a free, interchangeable citizen using reason to deliberate the common good with her fellow citizens, regardless of any identity — then it is only a matter of time before it falls….”

—Andrew Sullivan, in his essay “Removing The Bedrock Of Liberalism: What the “Critical Race Theory” debate is really about.”

Do read it all.

Andrew is spot on this time.

A Critical Race Theory Primer

Guest post by JP

(From an Ethics Alarms Open Forum)

A while ago I told you all about my opportunity to run for the school board. I didn’t win (not even close). The incumbent and a teacher at the local university were the winners. I (and another conservative candidate) decided that we were going to do our civic duty and attend the meetings anyway (they are open to the public). We learned that the next one was going to have someone there proposing CRT for our school system. This worried me and the other woman a lot, so we decided to prepare a rebuttal.

CRT (Critical Race Theory) is a ideology that asserts that at its core the United States is a fundamentally racist country. This means that all aspects and institutions such as our system of government, our laws, our economy, and equal protection are built upon protecting white supremacy and keeping down black people and minorities. However, CRT does not limit itself to only white supremacy; it also seeks to protect people from so called white institutions such as capitalism and patriarchy, and the nuclear family.

The idea of CRT is not new, going back at least 40 years. It is typically attributed to two CRT scholars, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. Theirwork is built upon a twisted definition of racism that isn’t what the average person would understand. Most people understand racism to be prejudice against a particular person or group of individuals based on skin color (or perhaps even culture). Going back to their book, “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” Stefancic and Delgado argue there is no objective way to define racism, essentially arguing that it is whatever the everyday experience is for a person of color in this country. This leads us to our first two big problems with CRT: Interest convergence and  lived experience. Continue reading