WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2021
Ways to lose elections: This very morning, at 6:22 A.M. Eastern, John Heilemann went there again.
Heilemann was appearing on Morning Joe. He was discussing the outcome of the Virginia gubernatorial race.
At this point, we can't show you exactly what he said. We can paraphrase his remarks with substantial accuracy:
Heilemann returned to an extremely tired old saw. He told Joe Scarborough that Governor-elect Youngkin hadn't been able to name a single place in the entire state of Virginia where so-called "critical race theory" had been taught in the public schools.
Truly, we blue tribe members can't see ourselves! Forgive us, Father, because we know not what we do—and we know not how we appear.
As soon as Heilemann started in with this extremely familiar old saw, Scarborough began to interrupt him. Eventually, Scarborough relented, letting Heilemann recite his Storyline.
What was wrong with Heilemann's recitation? Duh:
In fairness, it's true! The academic framework known as "critical race theory" actually doesn't get taught, in any type of literal sense, in the nation's public schools.
It's also true, as Zak Cheney-Rice says in this new column at the Intelligencer, that "conservative activists...started using CRT as a catch-all term for the supposed excesses of the left."
It's true, as Cheney-Rice says, that conservatives started using the term that way "last year."
Duh! When Republicans and conservatives talk about "critical race theory" in the schools, they're using that as a "catch-all term" for what might otherwise be derided as "excessive Wokeism."
It's dumb when conservatives refer to "critical race theory" that way. Arguably, it's vastly dumber when people like Heilemann insist on going on TV and pretending that they've countered conservative complaints by sarcastically saying, for the ten millionth time, that no one is teaching "critical race theory" in Virginia's public schools.
It's very dumb when our tribe does that—and we do it all the time! It's one of the ways we arrange to lose elections, something we did last night.
Our behavior is obnoxious—but mainly it's very dumb. Heilemann was being very dumb this morning as he recited our mandated talking-point. Scarborough kept trying to show him the error of his ways.
Meanwhile, what has been happening in some of Virginia's public schools? What are some voters talking about when they speak, with a troubling lack of perfect accuracy, about "critical race theory" in those schools?
What has transpired in some of those schools? To answer that question, let's take ourselves back to Loudoun County, but also to yesterday's "Conversation" between columnists Gail Collins and Bret Stephens of the New York Times.
We suffered through the painful attempts at humor issued, on a weekly basis, by Collins and Stephens. Eventually, though, Stephens offered this report straight outta Loudoun County:
STEPHENS (11/2/21): Our colleague David Brooks had a terrific column the other day that touched on this question. He noted that in Virginia’s affluent Loudoun County, near Washington, a training for public school administrators claimed that “fostering independence and individual achievement” was a feature of “white individualism.” No wonder so many parents of any background are worried about what their kids might be taught in school.
Really? Fostering independence and individual achievement is a feature of “white individualism?”
Sadly, inanities of that type have been common in anti-racist training programs in various public school districts across the land.
Red tribe voters hear about such foolishness. In our tribe, the foolishness gets disappeared. We're told that The Others are only concerned about public schools because of their flagrant racism.
This is the story we tell ourselves here in our very dumb tribe. During yesterday's Conversation, Collins offered a non-response response to what Stephens said, and Stephens continue apace:
COLLINS (continuing directly): Parents being worried about what their kids are being taught is hardly new. But thanks to the wonders of modern communication, every worrisome anecdote is now being disseminated from sea to shining sea.
STEPHENS: In New York City, the former schools chancellor Richard Carranza implemented training on “white supremacy culture,” which supposedly includes things like “perfectionism” and “objectivity.” It’s why people like The Atlantic’s George Packer, not exactly a fire-breathing conservative, have also publicly despaired of public schools.
Of course, schools need to teach and explore the shameful sides of our past. But parents have a right to expect that the schools their tax dollars pay for don’t blur the line between pedagogy and ideology. I’ll bet many readers would agree if the shoe were on the other foot and a conservative school district tried to foist, say, a creationist science curriculum on kids over their parents’ objections.
As you can almost surely see, Collins failed to respond to Stephens' statement on the merits. Instead, she offered a rather typical, sniffing remark concerning what These Worried Parents Have Always Done In This Country.
For his part, Stephens proceeded to offer a second example. He cited another example of the sort of ridiculous conduct which gets described, with something less than perfect accuracy, as "critical race theory in the public schools."
Stephens correctly noted that Packer, a figure of the center-left, publicly despaired over this specific example from the Gotham schools. He went on to say that students should of course be taught about "the shameful sides of our past."
Collins had nothing to say about any of this. Our tribe almost never does.
Instead, we go on TV and sniff about a particular technical term. We've been doing this all year long. In such ways, we rolled up our silken sleeves and arranged to elect Glenn Youngkin.
For the record, something else happened this year in the Loudoun County schools. Kevin Drum referred to it as a "trivial local story." We know he didn't for that to sound the way it did.
We refer to the sexual assaults which were conducted against two different high school girls. We also refer to the way Loudoun County's superintendent and school board handled this trivial matter.
We wrote about this topic last Saturday. We expect to return to the topic before the week is done. But when we wrote about the topic, we were noting the way Michelle Goldberg had failed to mention one of the reasons why so many parents were so upset about what had occurred.
Those parents went out and voted for Youngkin. Our tribe simply muscled ahead, saying there's nothing to look at there except for the transphobia.
Why were some parents upset about the Loudoun County schools? Why did thousands of students take part in protests about the handling of the pair of assaults?
Within our tribe, we all know the general answer. Loudoun County is full of racists (or transphobes). The county is simply crawling with Others. That's why these lessers protest!
In the 1999 film The Sixth Sense, a little boy could see dead people. Here within our failing tribe, we can't see ourselves.
We can't see the ways we behave. We can't hear the things we say. We're unable to see the way we routinely appear to Others.
Tomorrow, we'll return to this topic, exploring the way Rebecca Onion and Assistant Professor Knox advanced our mandated Storyline concerning that "older blond woman." Her complaint was trivial too—and needless to say, the older blond woman was racist, our tribe has endlessly said.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Like all human tribes through the annals of time, ours is extremely dumb.
Our self-assured tribe is very dumb, especially those of us who emerged from the finest schools. That little boy could see dead people.
We can't see ourselves.
Tomorrow: Onion and Professor Knox perform The Otherization Rules