Ed Bejarana was generous enough to invite me onto his Podcast, “Idaho Speaks”. There, I discuss why the only real antidote to propaganda in schools like Critical Race Theory is the coherent teaching of the history of our Western Civilization. It is about 35 minutes; enjoy!
Last night, I chose to speak with our local School Board about Critical Race Theory (by any other name). My comments are from 12:00 through 15:37. They address the betrayal of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King’s dream of a colorblind society.
However, every other member of the public made eloquent defense of our traditional notions of schooling against these attempts to convert education into indoctrination. The best answer to notions akin to Critical Race Theory is the robust and effective teaching of the history of our Western Civilization as a High School Graduation Requirement. This meeting is illustrative of what is happening in front of School Boards across our great Republic.
Do souls exist? They are intangible, unquantifiable, and the closest thing that modern science acknowledges is our own body’s individual bioelectric field. Yet, any one of us can intuit when a person around us is soul-sick. Their very essence seems trammeled by a depression that transforms every aspect of their being. Most of us also viscerally react when in the presence of genuine evil. While we may not be able to empirically analyze the soul, we each are wired by evolution and blessed by God to instinctively detect when another’s soul is troubled.
Cultures and civilizations are, like individuals, possessed of a soul by any other name. The pre-Communist Confucian heart of East Asian cultures is unmistakable in its emphasis on social harmony. Japanese Shinto has created a national essence (“kokutai”) that is defined by a thoroughgoing belief that they inhabit an awake landscape full of sentient spirits. Reincarnation shapes every aspect of the Hindu homeland of India and its widespread religious descendant, Buddhism.
My vocation is to teach the history of our shared Western Civilization. I have practiced it for over twenty years. Each school day, I am privileged to help acculturate the next generation of young Americans, introducing them to their own cultural identity. As the philosopher Ortega wrote, every person is an alloy of themselves (their own individual nature) and their circumstances (their culture). At my best, I help to fight cultural amnesia, wherein a nation or society literally forgets itself. Those values which make us American and of the West are not inherited; they must be taught by people like me.
It is nothing less than our own kokutai that is at stake in the struggle over the core philosophies that guide curriculum in our public schools. Naturally evolved American culture, the core beliefs which define us, combine Greek creativity, Roman virtue, Christian compassion, and Germanic independence. Our Western Civilization transcends all parochialism, including race. Alone of the world’s great civilizations, we of the West developed and practice concepts of individual freedom and the primacy of conscience in a manner that allows each of us to pursue our dreams.
Our society evolved in order to give us, each and all, an opportunity to develop our own sensibilities about the meaning of life. More than that, the American variant of Western Civilization is defined by our shared commitment to the proposition that each one of us should be able to live according to the dictates of their conscience within the broadest possible limits. Human history demonstrates just how difficult it is to craft and perpetuate a virtuously free society which invites the best to come out in every citizen.
We are not defined by slavery, racism, sexism, or intolerance! We are instead defined by our thoroughgoing insistence on struggling to evolve a proverbially “more perfect union”. As a Conservative who both loves and appreciates Liberals, I know that such a proud heritage as ours, of expanding the definition of who is a fully enfranchised human being, requires both the ideals of the Left and the Right. Without Progressives, we would not scrupulously address our shared faults. Without Conservatives, we would abandon the practical realities of freedom for the nowhere of “utopia”.
The various ‘isms of woke education are a betrayal of American and Western core beliefs, both Conservative and Liberal. Where we see individuals, they impose group identity. Where we see the value in heterodox convictions, they demand adherence to one ideology. Where we revel in the froth of free discourse over essential meaning, they impose speech codes and shame dissenters into silence. Most importantly, where we teach how to think, they teach what to think. This is not education, it is indoctrination.
Today’s educational establishment is not to be trusted. The core American principles of meritocracy and fair play have been decried as “whiteness”. The postmodern deconstruction of the Western Heritage is now in full swing. Today, good Teachers, Administrators, Boards, and Schools exist despite Teacher Training Programs, not because of them. Like all of Higher Education, contemporary pedagogy has been reinterpreted in a manner designed to produce a doctrinaire ignorance, a tribalized populace, and an all-encompassing mission for government to rule rather than serve us.
Unless everyday Americans intensify their control over School Boards, curricula, and guiding principles, the professional class of Educators will reform a living memory of what it means to be an American out of existence. They will teach students to conform to their one truth in thought, word, and deed. They cannot help themselves; they genuinely believe that they are building a better world by destroying the past. They uncritically see themselves as agents of change that will transform the cultural essence of the United States into something more communitarian, collectivist, and controlled. To them, the biggest barrier to building equity and sustainability is the very fact that common folk insist on being free. We abuse our choices, in their eyes, by not agreeing with their self-evidently superior solutions to the problems of the human condition.
They do not see that they are dragging us back into a world of rank bigotry and serfdom. This is what has been characterized as the struggle over Critical Race Theory in our schools. It is nothing less than a struggle for the soul of our Republic. Yes, we are soul-sick, vulnerable to deconstruction. Unless we awaken and take back our schools from the entrenched professionals who have brought us to this crisis, our very soul is lost. This is not a fight we can afford to lose.
Ralph K. Ginorio
As a veteran High School History Teacher, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Idaho Legislature’s measure to bar the teaching of doctrines analogous to “Critical Race Theory”. One might rightly wonder if this censors schoolteachers, College Professors, and school curricula. By forbidding a certain doctrine from being taught, am I not engaged in a blatant hypocrisy?! As a critic of “Cancel Culture” am I not engaged in censorship?!
Fair question! I do not think that censoring a censorious propaganda is restricting free speech. I have no problem with anyone mentioning “critical race theory” in a classroom, as an alternative interpretation of reality. I do not believe that the legislation forbids all mention of it.
I abhor and oppose any circumstance where any such theory is taught as being factual, valid, or the primary analytical tool for studying anything. As I would oppose a requirement to teach any religious or political theory as fact, I oppose both “critical race theory” and “intersectional feminism” as I would oppose any Theocratic curriculum.
Such models do not in any fashion foster intellectual curiosity nor do they abide creative insights. Both of these ideological philosophies engage in the overt suppression of alternative and dissenting viewpoints. Both demonize disagreement as evil, by characterizing them as “racist” or “sexist”.
“Critical Race Theory” and its analogues do not teach HOW to think. These ideologies teach WHAT to think. They close minds, rather than opening them. I oppose all efforts to turn History into Totalitarian Propaganda.
Ralph K. Ginorio
P. S. This Blaze Article, linked below, deals with the sort of things that can happen when one ideological interpretation of reality replaces objective reality. It is what I fled when I left Maine.
Once again, Idaho’s entrenched Educational establishment has demonstrated its active hostility to the values held dear by most Idahoans. On 9/12/20, in a 14-0 (with 3 “neutral” votes) decision, the Idaho School Boards Association’s Executive Committee voted down a measure designed to establish a Western Civilization component to Idaho’s High School Standards. This vote was not merely an expression of neutrality towards the notion. In the words of Nezperce School Board member Ken Hart, the ISBA did not want to give any impression that they were open to such a notion.
A lobbying group for all Public School districts and many (but not all) Charter Schools, the ISBA’s Executive Committee is composed of members elected by School Boards from regions around the state. This body does not itself set policy, but it exists to exert influence over state educational legislation and to manipulate public opinion.
Michelle Lippert of Post Falls School District concisely summed up the negative votes’ contention that Western Civilization need not be systematically taught; because it is “the dominant culture”. There are several state standards that mandate a detailed study of Native tribal customs and symbols, but none dealing with how the West uniquely constructed a functional system of freedom. Several more focus on the struggles of indigenous peoples against the West, but nothing on the qualities within the West that led it to be both the first global and the first industrial civilization.
In our American Republic, we are neither unified by a shared bloodline nor by long holding a common homeland. Cultural ideas, as expressed in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution hold us together. These ideas did not just spring into being in the late 1700s. Our Founders were inheritors of notions of freedom that had been percolating in Europe and the Near East for at least three thousand years. One cannot really understand America without first understanding Judaism, Greece, Rome, Christianity, Medieval Christendom, and England. In these crucibles, our notions of freedom were forged.
A mutual love of individual freedom and personal choice help Americans make common cause. Public Schools were established to ensure that the children of an immigrant nation developed a distinct understanding of what it means to be an American. Only through a serious commitment to teaching the history behind these shared ideals will a recognizably free American Republic survive.
The ISBA is merely the most recent institution to express hostility to this fundamental educational mission of acculturation through historical education. For many reasons, in the century since Progressive Education Guru John Dewey, American schools and their stewards have gone increasingly off-mission. Citizens, through their representatives and perhaps through a statewide initiative, need to reclaim their schools from ideologically-driven Oligarchs and their policies of socially re-engineering our society into their utopia.
As a salty old History Teacher, I’ve given serious thought to this issue and similar issues for decades.
The worst thing that can be done in the study of History is for its details to be used out of context to sell the fashionable ideas of the day. That is precisely what the collective letter from a small group of Graduates advocates. They specifically reference matters and issues that typically form a “Shame on the United States of America” narrative. The events that they referenced did happen, but they happened within a broader context that denies their guilt-ridden meta-message.
Is the USA guilty of having racialist crimes in its History? Yes! So is absolutely every other culture and civilization in human history. We Homo Sapiens Sapiens are tribal beings, capable of brutality in service to preferring “us” to “them”. Their litany of crime neglects to show this universal human trait, making it seem as if we in the USA and in the West are uniquely guilty. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Furthermore, what seems to be their cultural masochism neglects the most important trait of both Western Civilization and American history; we reform ourselves. No other society in our species’ recorded history has built itself up aspiring to such lofty ideals and then ripped itself apart to better grapple with achieving them.
We in America are born in the hope of building “God’s New Israel” in the wilderness, we later fight ourselves free of Empire to more fully pursue notions of freedom, we later fight our bloodiest war to set other men free, and we later still ripped ourselves apart and watched our cities burn in hopes of reforming our society as a place where we are each judged by our choices rather than our birth characteristics. We have spent over a Century protecting the whole world from would-be conquerors, and instead of making our own empire after World War II we spent our profits in a Marshall Plan which built up our allies as free partners.
No, it is nothing less than political propaganda to insist that our History be couched in such simplistic and racist terms as, “White people bad, everyone else good!” Unique among historical and current human civilizations, we in the West are intensely self-critical. We sacrifice mightily to live up to our visions of freedom, and re-open old wounds when we fail so that we may start anew and be true to our hopes.
Bowing to their demands would be to teach all students to uncritically “Blame America” and “Shame America”. While many Colleges have succumbed to an intellectual monoculture that insists that objective standards of decency naturally conform to a fervent belief in both identity politics and Marxist/revisionist History, this school must maintain its commitment to a genuinely educational mission. We introduce students to their Western cultural heritage, but not uncritically. We do this because the Western tradition is our shared heritage. It is our shared culture, and its aspirations inspire Americans whose ancestry comes from six continents and hundreds of subcultures. What unifies us is neither blood nor soil; it is a shared belief in the ideals of freedom expressed in our Constitution, in the Federalist Papers, and in the Declaration of Independence. Liberal Progressives rightly point out where we fail and must rededicate ourselves if we are to remain true to our high ideals. Conservative Libertarians tend to appreciate the unique freedoms bestowed on individuals in our society; a scope for creativity that places few barriers in the path of each of us being true to our conscience.
In our courses, we acquaint each student with the record of controversies between traditionalists and reformers that is uniquely Western and American. And, we do so in a manner that encourages a genuine inquiry, beyond the fashionable groupthink of contemporary “Woke” political correctness. We value intellectual honesty and integrity. Ours is a community where students and Teachers wrestle with the underlying meaning behind our classroom lessons. Each individual student must draw their own conclusions about significance. Our curriculum introduces students to the ongoing conversation about essential truth and meaning that is at the heart of Western Civilization, and of all human culture. Students are encouraged to follow lines of reasoning to their natural conclusions, assessing both the contextual and objective validity and limitations of these ideas. This is intellectual honesty; fairly considering matters on their merits independent of their popularity. No idea is or should be beyond the pale of thoughtful consideration, and no assertion is or should be beyond constructive criticism.
This school values free-ranging discourse between thoughtful and well-motivated participants who sometimes honestly come to irreconcilable conclusions. Civil and productive conversation involving people who advocate mutually exclusive notions, being requisite to both successful study in Higher Education and active citizenship in our Republic, is at the core of our school’s mission.Intellectual integrity involves our refusal to allow voices to be silenced when participating in the free exchange of ideas. Not all ideas have equal merit, but without the ability to fairly assess the implications of ideas by exploring them freely, any genuine and creative dynamism to the discussion will be lost. As we are dedicated to teaching students how to think and not what they must conclude, we insist that no thoughtful expression be banned.
Now more than ever, it is crucial for our school to be a place where students are encouraged to fully participate in a vigorous, unscripted, uncensored, and freewheeling exploration of facts, ideas, context, and essential meaning. Within traditionally recognizable standards for formal interactions on a Middle and High School Campus, we rededicate ourselves to foster a campus culture of genuine intellectual inquiry which inspires students to aspire to nothing less than the virtues of truth and excellence in their own dealings.
As Martin Luther said famously at Wurms, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason (I do not accept the authority of popes and councils because they have contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.” As Luther staked his all on the convictions of conscience, we must stand against the Mob-of-the-moment’s insistence that we bow to their new Orthodoxy. So long as we do this, ours will be a school that is both worth attending and worth working for.
The following scene seems relevant to questions of intellectual integrity as it relates to groupthink. The whole movie, “Hannah Arendt” is also well worth seeing, as is her book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem” (about the trial of Adolf Eichmann). To me, the heart of her speech is this line, paraphrased here. “The product of the winds of thought is not knowledge. It is the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly!”
If I have gone on here at length, and have mixed my own personal reaction with my stance as a professional, that is because I have seen the standards of my particular profession (History Teacher) degrade decade by decade at Universities that have betrayed their mission to build free-thinking minds capable of independent reasoning and judgment. I have seen this propagandistic poison infect so much of K-12 Education. This matters, because without the proper transmission of cultural values from generation to generation, a form of cultural amnesia sets in. As a relative of several loved ones who suffer(ed) from dementia and Alzheimer’s, and as a Historian who has seen what happens to cultures that succumb to this schism between past and present identity, I oppose such matters with everything in me.
I love this school, and I love my students, and I believe that it is nothing less than my Vocation to do my level best to pass on our cultural heritage, intact, to the next generation. Intact means warts and all. If you’ve read this far and have viewed the clip, then I think that you’ll understand how I approach these issues in my courses and in my wider professional life. Fallible as I certainly am, as with so very many of you, I can give this task nothing less than my very best, and I expect that many of you feel the same way. I will give unreservedly to this school and these kids so long as it remains what it now is, a beacon of reason and integrity in a devolving world.
by Ralph K. Ginorio
| July 22, 2020 1:00 AM
As the third year of my initiative to restore the coherent teaching of Western Civilization to our schools dawns, I am happy to report real progress thanks to several partners. Thanks to Les Atchley and Beverly Guenette, I have had several opportunities to speak about this to, among others, Syd Albright’s History Club, the North Idaho Pachyderms, and the Reagan Republicans.
I addressed Idaho’s State School Board at their October session in Lewiston, explaining why it is necessary to establish a four-year High School Graduation Requirement in History. Nothing less than two years of Western Civilization (before and after 1492) and two years of United States History (before and after 1898), will give young Americans a clear understanding of their own traditions and shared national identity. History is our common cultural memory, reminding us moment-by-moment who we are and for what we stand. Without it we are as vulnerable as any amnesiac.
Most recently, thanks to Bjorn Handeen, the Idaho Republican Party has added the following Plank to its 2020 Party Platform. “We believe we are inheritors of a distinct Western Civilization, and that our traditional culture safeguards our identity as a free people.” These words affirm that we are stewards of the only human culture that developed a functional system of individual freedom. This legacy comes to us from the Jewish, Athenian, Roman, Christian, Germanic, English, and Enlightenment traditions, which together assert the supremacy of individual conscience over any other priority.
The heart of Jewish culture was and remains the worship of a singular omniscient, omnipotent God, whose regard was more important than anything on Earth. This gives us a dedication to transcendent values beyond mere pragmatism.
Athenians asserted the intrinsic value of unfettered human creativity in pursuit of authentic excellence. Neither they nor we abide any limit, other than to our imagination.
The Roman Republic offers a blueprint for a popular government that slowly expanded political rights and lasted twice as long as our current American Republic. No man could serve in political office who did not first place his life at risk for the Republic. Then and now, no freedom exists without bravery.
The Roman Empire is an example for our immigrant nation of a diverse society that became unified by a shared culture. Rome and America are both based on the proposition that neither race nor religion are determinative; a person’s choices define who they are.
Christianity offers hope in a physical world whose only outcome is death. By making the radical claim that the Creator of everything personally loves each one of us, believers overcome logical despair with simple faith. Such a person is self-governing.
When Germanic peoples conquered Western Rome, they saw themselves as free men who chose to follow worthy Kings. They expected and received legal rights to make wide-ranging personal choices without government interference.
Medieval England placed the Church beyond the power of secular rulers. Further, Englishmen limited the power of their Kings and built a Parliament which eclipsed their monarchs with popular sovereignty.
The Enlightenment developed philosophies of inalienable rights and a social contract into our Constitution. Americans need to understand how and why our free system balances the rights of the individual with the needs of society. We need to appreciate how our choices can save or damn our Republic.
Preserving a living memory of these traditions is essential to our ongoing freedom. Much of today’s bitter divisiveness stems from the fact that for half a century, our schools have de-emphasized the study of the history of Western Civilization. This must change!
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Ralph K. Ginorio is a Coeur d’Alene resident. See: https://restorethewest.org.
“We believe we are inheritors of a distinct Western Civilization, and that our traditional culture safeguards our identity as a free people.” This new Idaho Republican Party Platform Plank, which I co-authored, declares that we are stewards of the only culture that developed a functional system of freedom. The legacy of Jewish, Athenian, Roman, Christian, Germanic, English and Enlightenment traditions together assert the supremacy of individual conscience.
The Jewish faith exemplifies a dedication to transcendent values beyond pragmatism. Athenians asserted the intrinsic value of creativity in pursuit of excellence. Rome’s Republic offers a blueprint for a popular government that lasted twice as long as ours. Rome’s Empire is an example for our immigrant nation of a diverse society where a person’s choices, not their race, determines identity.
Christianity makes the radical claim that the Creator personally loves each of us, inspiring a hope that helps people be self-governing. Rome’s Germanic conquerors saw themselves as free men willingly serving worthy Kings. Englishmen limited the power of their Kings; eclipsing them with a sovereign Parliament. The Enlightenment developed philosophies of inalienable rights and a social contract into our Constitution.
Preserving a living memory of these traditions is essential to our freedom. Much of today’s bitter divisiveness stems from the fact that we have forgotten Western Civilization. This must change!
Ralph K. Ginorio
Great news! Thanks to Bjorn Handeen of the Idaho Virtual Academy, the Idaho Republican Party has approved affirming the importance of Western Civilization. The whole Convention voted to pass this proposal and it is now a part of Idaho’s Republican Party Platform. The wording is:
“We believe we are inheritors of a distinct Western Civilization, and that our traditional culture safeguards our identity as a free people.”
Next, we hope to specify increasing High School Graduation Requirement for Idaho’s High Schools to include Western Civilization.
Idaho’s Republican Party has become the very first organization to associate themselves with this initiative. Thusfar, Idaho’s Democrats at all levels have shown no interest in even hearing about this proposal at any level.
This fine article was written between the time when the Committee passed the proposal and the whole Convention’s approval.