There's a lengthy article out today by Bari Weiss that's trending strongly. The easiest way to provide a feel for the article is to simply provide the link:
Affluent parents, terrified of running afoul of the new orthodoxy in their children’s private schools, organize in secret.
I can't imagine any concatenation of themes to grab the interest of concerned Americans of even moderately traditional views than those that Weiss evokes in her title and subtitle: Education of our children is where we all either live currently or lived in the past; Elitism in this Age of Trump resonate strongly, too; The terror inspired by the organized and Woke Left, in increasing control our lives and on the march in the streets and in the culture (especially the schools). Wrapping all that together with an inside view of how our ruling class itself is increasingly concerned by these trends is sure to get the attention of the rest of us.
Few current writers are more qualified than Weiss to present the concerns of the these affluent, and increasingly concerned, parents. Many readers may know Weiss's name as the ousted editrix at the NYT--ousted by a woke journalistic mob of her co-workers there. In fact there's much more to her career than her tenure at the NYT, so I urge you to read the Bari Weiss Wikipedia page.
What you'll quickly realize is that Weiss is anything but a conservative, herself, and abominates all things Trump. That pedigree allowed her to encourage the parents she interviewed to speak freely--even if anonymously. Before we get into the substance of the article, however, it may be well to paste in here the entire Wiki section on Weiss's political views--no editing:
According to The Washington Post, Weiss "portrays herself as a liberal uncomfortable with the excesses of left-wing culture," and has sought to "position herself as a reasonable liberal concerned that far-left critiques stifled free speech." Vanity Fair has described Weiss as being "a provocateur". The Jewish Telegraphic Agency said that her writing "doesn't lend itself easily to labels." Weiss has been described as conservative by Haaretz, The Times of Israel, The Daily Dot, and Business Insider. In an interview with Joe Rogan, she described herself as a "left-leaning centrist".
Weiss has expressed support for Israel and Zionism in her columns. When writer Andrew Sullivan described her as an "unhinged Zionist", she responded saying she "happily plead[s] guilty as charged." In 2018, she said she believed the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but questioned whether they should disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court because he was 17 when he allegedly committed the assault against Christine Blasey Ford. After backlash in the press, Weiss conceded that her sound bite was glib and simplistic, and said instead that Kavanaugh's rage-filled behavior before the Senate Judiciary Committee should have disqualified him. Also in 2018, she criticized the #MeToo Movement.
Following the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, Weiss was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher in early November 2018. She said of American Jews who support President Donald Trump: "I hope this week that American Jews have woken up to the price of that bargain: They have traded policies that they like for the values that have sustained the Jewish people—and frankly, this country—forever: Welcoming the stranger; dignity for all human beings; equality under the law; respect for dissent; love of truth." In 2019, The Jerusalem Post named Weiss the seventh most influential Jew in the world.
The article begins cleverly, with an ironic portrayal of the privileged parents--whose children attend LA's Harvard-Westlake School (tuition $40K+ per year)--
as "rebels" engaged in an underground guerilla war against their woke antagonists. By day, as it were, they operate in disguise as good liberals, but by night they communicate securely with like minded parents, or meet in secret.
Steve Sailer, from whose blog I got the photo above, provides the setting. Noting some liberal critics of these parents who suggest that they should simply start their own school, one more to their tastes, Sailer writes--and, by the way, please take a moment to follow the link to Holmby Hills:
The angst of these parents, therefore, is very real--$40K+ to have your child brainwashed by Leftists? And, as Weiss quickly points out, the anti-capitalism their kids are imbibing is far from the worst of it, as far as these very wealthy parents are concerned:
For most parents, the demonization of capitalism is the least of it. They say that their children tell them they’re afraid to speak up in class. Most of all, they worry that the school’s new plan to become an “anti-racist institution”—unveiled this July, in a 20-page document—is making their kids fixate on race and attach importance to it in ways that strike them as grotesque.
These are the parents Weiss spoke to:
This Harvard-Westlake parents’ group is one of many organizing quietly around the country to fight what it describes as an ideological movement that has taken over their schools. This story is based on interviews with more than two dozen of these dissenters—teachers, parents, and children—at elite prep schools in two of the bluest states in the country: New York and California.
That, of course, is the interest in the article for conservatives. How many of these liberal parents are out there, and how far will they go to fight this racist ideology that masquerades as "anti-racist"? Will they organize to toss their congressman--Ted Lieu--out of office? Will they donate to conservative causes that are leading the fight against the ascendant Left?
To say that these liberals, who increasingly feel as if they're being mugged, feel conflicted is to put it mildly:
The parents in the backyard say that for every one of them, there are many more, too afraid to speak up. “I’ve talked to at least five couples who say: I get it. I think the way you do. I just don’t want the controversy right now,” related one mother. They are all eager for their story to be told—but not a single one would let me use their name. They worry about losing their jobs or hurting their children if their opposition to this ideology were known.
“The school can ask you to leave for any reason,” said one mother at Brentwood, another Los Angeles prep school. “Then you’ll be blacklisted from all the private schools and you’ll be known as a racist, which is worse than being called a murderer.”
One private school parent, born in a Communist nation, tells me: “I came to this country escaping the very same fear of retaliation that now my own child feels.” Another joked: “We need to feed our families. Oh, and pay $50,000 a year to have our children get indoctrinated.” A teacher in New York City put it most concisely: “To speak against this is to put all of your moral capital at risk.”
Parents who have spoken out against this ideology, even in private ways, say it hasn’t gone over well. “I had a conversation with a friend, and I asked him: ‘Is there anything about this movement we should question?’” said a father with children in two prep schools in Manhattan. “And he said: ‘Dude, that’s dangerous ground you’re on in our friendship.’ I’ve had enough of those conversations to know what happens.”
That fear is shared, deeply, by the children. For them, it’s not just the fear of getting a bad grade or getting turned down for a college recommendation, though that fear is potent. It’s the fear of social shaming. “If you publish my name, it would ruin my life. People would attack me for even questioning this ideology. I don’t even want people knowing I’m a capitalist,” a student at the Fieldston School in New York City told me, in a comment echoed by other students I spoke with. (Fieldston declined to comment for this article.) “The kids are scared of other kids,” says one Harvard-Westlake mother.
The atmosphere is making their children anxious, paranoid, and insecure—and closed off from even their close friends. “My son knew I was talking to you and he begged me not to,” another Harvard-Westlake mother told me. “He wants to go to a great university, and he told me that one bad statement from me will ruin us. This is the United States of America. Are you freaking kidding me?”
Right. I can hear the world's smallest violin playing in the background, too. I doubt these parents groups are the place to look for leadership. They're too busy looking out for Number One. And Weiss lets some sarcasm slip through--gently, so as not to burn bridges:
Power in America now comes from speaking woke, a highly complex and ever-evolving language. The Grace Church School in Manhattan, for example, offers a 12-page guide to “inclusive language,” which discourages people from using the word “parents”—“folks” is preferred—or from asking questions like “what religion are you?” (When asked for comment, Rev. Robert M. Pennoyer II, the assistant head of school, replied: “Grace is an Episcopal school. As part of our Episcopal identity, we recognize the dignity and worth common to humanity.” He added that the guide comes “from our desire to promote a sense of belonging for all of our students.”) A Harvard-Westlake English teacher welcomes students back after summer with: “I am a queer white womxn of European descent. I use [ she | her ] pronouns but also feel comfortable using [ they | them ] pronouns.” She attached a “self-care letter” quoting Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Woe betide the working-class kid who arrives in college and uses Latino instead of “Latinx,” or who stumbles conjugating verbs because a classmate prefers to use the pronouns they/them. Fluency in woke is an effective class marker and key for these princelings to retain status in university and beyond. The parents know this, and so woke is now the lingua franca of the nation’s best prep schools. As one mother in Los Angeles puts it: “This is what all the colleges are doing, so we have to do it. The thinking is: if Harvard does it, it must be good.”
Some of the kids try to navigate through this maze, but the maze-masters increasingly have all angles covered:
One of her classmates says that he tries to take “the fact classes, not the identity classes.” But it’s gotten harder to distinguish between the two. “I took U.S. history and I figured when you learn about U.S. history maybe you structure it by time period or what happened under each presidency. We traced different marginalized groups. That was how it was structured. I only heard a handful of the presidents’ names in class.”
At Fieldston, an elective is offered to high school juniors and seniors called “historicizing whiteness.” At Grace Church School, seniors can take a course called “Allying: Why? Who? and How?” The curriculum includes a ’zine called “Accomplices Not Allies” that declares “the work of an accomplice in anti-colonial struggle is to attack colonial structures & ideas,” alongside a photograph of a burning police car. Harvard-Westlake, in its extensive antiracist plan announced this summer, included “redesigning the 11th grade US History course from a critical race theory perspective,” among many similar goals.
The result is that the kids--those who resist--learn to lie to get by:
So children learn how the new rules of woke work. The idea of lying in order to please a teacher seems like a phenomenon from the Soviet Union. But the high schoolers I spoke with said that they do versions of this, including parroting views they don’t believe in assignments so that their grades don’t suffer.
In Brooklyn, a STEM teacher known to be friendly among skeptical students laughed when he told me the latest absurdity: students told him that their history class had a unit on Beyoncé, and they felt compelled to say that they loved her music, even if they did not. “I thought: they aren’t even entitled to their own musical preferences,” he said. “What does it mean when you can’t even tell the truth about how music affects you?” One English teacher in Los Angeles tacitly acknowledges the problem: she has the class turn off their videos on Zoom and asks each student to make their name anonymous so that they can have uninhibited discussions.
Obviously this is not even remotely education--it's indoctrination plain and simple. And even more tragic than they kids who are forced to live a lie is the fact that so many of these super privileged kids dive into it. And, Weiss notes, it's not as if the parents have no other options for their kids:
The parents in this story are not parents with no other options. Most have the capital—social and literal—to pull their kids out and hire private tutors. That they weren’t speaking out seemed to me cowardly, or worse.
On the other hand, are the government schools any better? You're a fool if you believe that. There may be some slight difference in the degree of wokeness, but the Left is working relentlessly to eliminate that. And so even these privileged parents feel trapped:
“I don’t mean to get emotional, I just feel helpless,” said one mother through tears. “I look at the public school and I am equally mortified. I can’t believe what they are doing to everybody. I’m too afraid. I’m too afraid to speak too loudly. I feel cowardly. I just make little waves.” Another tells me: “It’s fear of retribution. Would it cause our daughter to be ostracized? Would it cause people to ostracize us? It already has.”
But is that kind of life a life that's worth living? It's certainly not a truly human life.
I think we're seeing the same kind of behavior mod tactics being used society wide in this Age of Covid, the New Normal. What a metaphor--the kids have to wear spiritual masks in their school lives, and the rest of us physically mask up to hide from one another! Doctors' orders or Big Brother's orders--is there a difference? The medical profession--and so many others who were considered leaders--have covered themselves with shame in this past year. Will resentment of all this finally coalesce, as Martin Gurri suggested: How Are Popular Uprisings Triggered?
I'll end on a personal note.
I've never attended a post kindergarten government school (except for a summer school class or two). From 1st grade through law school I attended Catholic schools. The Catholic educational system was one of the real glories of America, in the past. They served far more than just Catholics. In a comparative sense, that system has largely imploded. The reasons are complex, as usual. But those schools, that system, offered a very real and a very viable alternative to what Weiss is describing in those privileged private schools for the elite--as well as in local government schools. That's no longer the case for two reasons. The first is that Catholic schools are no longer as affordable as they used to be--due to the lack of religious vocations for those religious men and women who taught us largely for their room and board. The second is that, beginning even in the mid 60s, many of those schools quickly became CINO schools. My belief is that few Catholic schools below the university or college level are actually "woke" in the full sense, but they no longer offer a strong alternative. How long they can hold up is anyone's question.
Weiss quotes a parent: “The dean said to me, basically, it’s important to change with the times,” said the Brentwood parent. That rang a V2 bell for me. That's what we now know to have been the voice of the Deep Church was telling us back in the 60s. Aggiornamento was the mantra--we need to open up to the modern world, change with the times. No longer would the Church offer itself as an alternative to modernity--much less a sign of contradiction. It didn't take long for bishops to realize that the Catholic school system was probably the most visible and most real sign of contradiction to modernity. That system was in the business of offering an alternative worldview without compromise. It had no other real reason for existing. And so, while the system wasn't necessarily dismantled, it was no longer viewed as an essential pillar for the Catholic people. The schools and even the substance of Catholic education were, at best, allowed to wither.
It was a great betrayal, not simply of the faithful but--as we now see--of America.