Capitol Review column: Teaching ‘intersectionality’ poisons America’s future
For the first time in history, legislators are writing the progressive doctrine of “intersectionality” into Colorado law. They want our schools to teach that the groups we belong to — our race, sexuality and religion — are more important than our shared achievements, our character and the way we treat each other.
House Bill 1192 mandates that history lessons in Colorado public schools include the “social contributions” of a people who are identified with certain ethnic and sexual minorities. Then it specifically requires teaching “the intersectionality of social and cultural features within these communities.”
If you’re asking, “What the heck does that mean?”, then you’re probably busy raising a family, running a business and enjoying life. That is, you’re not a “progressive” with a chip on your shoulder.
For progressives, intersectionality is foundational to their doctrine of victimhood — the belief that society is divided between oppressors and the oppressed and that the deck is hopelessly stacked against all but a lucky few.
To progressives, the American dream is a fool’s errand.
Intersectionality teaches people to maximize their grievances against the oppressor class, which consists predominantly of people who look like America’s Founding Fathers.
The more grievances a person can claim (gender, race, class, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity), the more preferential treatment they theoretically deserve, usually at the expense of the “oppressors.”
To progressives, “equality under the law” is unfair because “neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”
Intersectionality stands in direct opposition to America’s motto, E pluribus unum, translated “Out of many, one.” Though our ancestors’ heritages were diverse, as Americans we have unity. Become an American and you have the same rights under law as the most powerful or wealthy. In other countries, an immigrant always remains an outsider.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., an advisor to President Kennedy, wrote, “The unstated national motto was: Never look back.”
By contrast, intersectionality is a pernicious doctrine of score-settling that borrows heavily from Marxism, pitting “us” against “them” as if one person’s success comes only at the expense of someone else. That is fundamentally un-American.
“For most of the history of the United States, social justice was focused on ensuring that minorities were able to achieve the American dream,” writes Noah Rothman in “Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America.” Then a “toxic idea sank in” and activists “went from fighting for the American dream to determining that it was unattainable.”
This isn’t the first time that politicians have tried to use identity politics for their advantage. However, not that long ago traditional liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans agreed that doing so was injecting a cancer into the American bloodstream.
Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm warned that a key to destroying America is to “start a grievance industry” and to “get all minorities to think their lack of success was all the fault of the majority.”
Now progressives want to divide us by enlisting the public schools that once unified us.
In his farewell address, Ronald Reagan described being taught “what it means to be an American. We absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country.” He added, “You could get a sense of patriotism from school.”
“Our public schools have been the great instrument of assimilation and the great means of forming an American identity,” wrote Schlesinger. “What students are taught in schools affects the way they will thereafter see and treat other Americans.”
Both Frederick Douglass, who grew up a slave, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledged a debt of gratitude to our Founding Fathers — not for creating a perfect country but for creating one in which all citizens have the inalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Our schools should cultivate unity, cooperation and patriotism. Using them to stoke envy, division and recrimination is poisoning our children’s future.
Mark Hillman served as Senate Majority Leader and State Treasurer. He serves on his local board of education. To read more or comment, go to http://www.MarkHillman.com.
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