Sunday, March 3, 2024

Weak to Woke. The Risk of Giving an Inch


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Lately, it seems as though our newsfeeds are riddled with horror stories about teachers who have gone mad with power. From drag queens to Marxists and everything in between, our culture has unfortunately witnessed the rise of a madhouse of progressive teachers. Through social media and news outlets, we get the opportunity to see the worst of the worst; villains of indoctrination who often appear as caricatures of the woke left’s boldest fantasies. They are easily identifiable because they embody the most severe qualities of insanity. The obvious detriment of these occurrences is their sheer existence, but if nothing else, they are easily identifiable. The clearest pictures of evil are simple to pinpoint and therefore are not as effectively dangerous because their potential threat is weakened by their ability to be detected. When danger is in clear view, we know it is time to raise our weapons up in opposition and prepare for combat. While these people may have a larger direct threat on the children they have been erroneously allowed to educate, at the very least, we have the potential to weed them out. However, the more serious threat perhaps lies in the risk of educators who have merely allowed themselves to lean, ever so slightly, into the woke, progressive agenda. The teachers whose curriculum was once based on the fundamental principles of truth have lost their footing. Steadily, the values which they teach have begun to slip into the messy milieu of socialist propaganda. 

The term ‘slippery slope’ generally refers to a logical fallacy. It raises the question of whether a conclusion has been reached by reasonable, subsequent predictive steps or if a conclusion has been settled upon by means of over-assertive, irrational jumps in connective rationality. Often, it is something to direct a considerable amount of caution toward because it can be highly deceptive. Yet, the nature of the American cultural climate is not necessarily aligned with probable conclusions and reason. There has been a steady uptick in the likelihood of what society may have once deemed unlikely. Therefore, the ‘slippery-slope’ fallacy slowly begins to shed its fallacious qualities in favor of being a foreword thinking safety measure against the absurdity of the left. 

Those who pose the greatest threat of falling down the slippery slope of “woke” ideology are teachers. Their proclivities toward well-meaning cultural sensitivity frequently snowball into a total defense of the liberal agenda at the cost of dignified scholarly pursuits. The culprit of such nonsense is the inclination towards subjectivity. 

At its core, subjectivity is not an inherently negative concept. It is entirely true that every individual has unique traits and experiences that combine to form a distinct persona. We all have different fingerprints; we all have different minds. The amalgamation of these qualities drives humanity forward by consciousness and is a vital part of our distinction as a species from the animal class. Subjectivity, therefore, is not a bad thing in and of itself. However, the post-modern world has championed subjectivity to a degree that poses a serious threat to citizens of supposedly democratic societies. Cultural standards have been swapped out in favor of individual truths. How often do we hear the phrase “my truth”, “speak your truth”, or “be true to yourself”. From a surface-level perspective, these phrases seem inspiring and empowering. However, upon further inspection, they reveal a much darker underpinning. 

The acceptance of subjectivity erodes a shared belief system. General concepts that society deems “good”, such as art, virtue, and work, are suddenly open to criticism. If your “truth” does not align with your neighbor’s concept of “truth”, there is no tether that binds you together. We parse up individuals into unitary boxes that forge divisions incapable of leading toward any common, “good” American culture. By the principles of supposed “acceptance”, we are actually drawing numerous more divisions between one another. Worse, the liberal mantra of toleration above all else calls for every individual to accept each person’s subjective form of truth, regardless of how vile it may be. In other words, acceptance of the subjectivity of “goodness” on a societal basis is essentially a free pass for people to disregard laws, neighbors, and the best interest of the state as a whole in favor of personal pursuits.

Schools are the breeding ground for the embrace of individual truths. It has begun to creep into even the most conservative schools and districts because of the willingness of teachers to give in- just a little. Admittedly, most well-meaning teachers are in a tough spot. Radical leftist agendas have pressed issues such as race, gender, and sexuality into schools at an exhausting rate. Even the schools that have done a fairly good job of keeping woke indoctrination out of their curriculums have, at the very least, had to address that tidal wave threat that these ideologies are constantly looming around academic institutions. Teachers are often forced to have tough conversations with parents, students, faculty, and administration about topics that likely do not belong in a classroom setting. The relevancy of topics that were formerly taboo for elementary school children is now being presented to young people at an age when they are incapable of comprehending the complexities of these topics. Unfortunately, teachers are left to deal with cleaning up this unfortunate social predicament. 

However, the sympathy these teachers are showing towards the subjectivity of truth and the radical agenda is constantly on the rise. At first, there was a clear, solid line of demarcation between what was acceptable in a classroom and what was not. Then, through persistent efforts to champion acceptance over truth, the central concepts that education was predicated on began to erode. The classical virtues of honesty, accuracy, and validity have been set aside in favor of allowing everyone a space to explore “their truth”. 

Perhaps this threat can be observed most explicitly from the presentation of literature in schools. Take, for example, the revered and timeless texts of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Both of these texts have long been considered essential to the American literary canon and are cornerstones of our heritage and culture. Both of these texts deal with the sensitive issue of race. Neither book is a manifesto, but each fictitiously presents accounts of the African American experience at various times in United States history in a manner that is emotional, raw, and integral to the American experience. Yet many teachers, including those who claim not to subscribe to woke dogmas, have begun to leave these texts out of their lesson plans. Although the texts themselves are not too difficult, the discussions surrounding them are apparently too much for these educators to endure, even if the teachers themselves have no personal vendettas against them. It is easier for teachers to just ignore these books as a whole instead of attempting to navigate the potential backlash that may ensue from teaching books that radicals have canceled. 

The slippery slope fallacy is gradual, and its consequences are unintentional. Teachers willing to give in, ever so slightly, to the demands of subjective education that bars vital pieces of literature from academic settings are doing more harm than they realize. Perhaps it is easier for them to avoid possible tricky and unwarranted conversations about race, but perhaps it is their duty to address those topics. Denying children the opportunity to confront these texts simply because they have come under the woke chopping block is tragic. It robs children of the emotional, empathetic, and moral goods which Lee and Twain presented in their works of fiction. It strips the meat of American culture down to its bones. It conceals a history that is both real and relevant. These teachers risk the beautiful fruits of the American tradition in favor of preserving themselves. It is an unfortunate sacrifice that the United States bears witness to on a daily.

One of the main features of subjectivity is that it likes to dig; it wants to burrow down, deep into our heritage, and rip it apart. Subjectivity is not content with the safety of groups coming together in favor of a common good. Instead, it prods at the hubris of the individual, elevating the personal pride of multiple truths over the shared disposition toward goodness. As our educators steadily give in to it, our schools steadily lose their merit. It is a give-and-take with dire stakes: the hearts and minds of the next generation. By giving in, even if it is just by an inch, teachers give up the ethical integrity with which our country was founded, and without our roots, we fall. 

Brooke Brandtjen
Brooke Brandtjen is a writer, artist, and passionate defender of liberty. She is currently an undergraduate student at Concordia University Wisconsin, where she is majoring in English

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