A deliberate attempt by the Left to completely rewrite American history, motivated by bitter activism and postmodern ideals, continues to take place at an alarming rate. Though once isolated to the ivory towers of higher academia under the guise of Critical Theory, such revisionism has now made its way into our mainstream culture. Our educational system, alongside the legacy media, now present much of American history – with all its triumphs and tribulations – as more of an abomination than as a momentous struggle that allowed our nation to become one of the most just and egalitarian in all of human history. In doing so, they seek to supplant traditional American culture and values with what can only be defined as “woke” totalitarianism informed by Marxist thought.
Critical Theory and its offshoots are rooted in Marxism
While Critical Theory carries an exhausting, broad, and ever-evolving definition, at its root, it’s an ideology and outlook developed in the early part of the twentieth century by the Marxist Frankfurt School.
“The Critical Theory of the…Frankfurt School,’” New Discourses details, “focused on power analyses that began from a Marxist…perspective with an aim to understand why Marxism wasn’t proving successful in Western contexts. It rapidly developed a ‘post-Marxist’ position that criticized Marx’s primary focus on economics and expanded his views on power, alienation, and exploitation into all aspects of post-Enlightenment Western culture.”
This focus on “power, alienation, and exploitation” led to the “study of various types of power relations within myriad aspects of culture.” This resulted in Critical Theory branching out to form a seemingly endless array of lesser so-called theories including “queer Theory, critical race Theory, intersectional feminism, disability studies, and fat studies.”
These are no longer simply fringe ideas relegated to academia and obscure corners of the internet. Corporations and branches of government on state and federal levels are actively integrating such “theories” into their various training protocols. City Journal reports that “NASA spent half a million dollars” for workshops on male privilege and that the FBI holds “weekly ‘intersectionality’ workshops.”
Most importantly, these offshoots of Critical Theory have moved away from the traditional Marxist critique of capitalism in favor of an overarching indictment of “liberal Western culture.” As such, they serve as the galvanizing force behind such extremist movements as Black Lives Matter and Antifa which seek to eradicate traditional American history and culture as we know it.
Critical Theory has invaded our schools
The most pernicious influence of Critical Theory is occurring in our public schools. Teachers have now been trained for years in various colleges and universities to indoctrinate their students with these neo-Marxist ideas — and often unwittingly so.
The National Review reports that “colleges of education are the training grounds for translating this leftist academic theory into K–12 pedagogy and practice.” This is having a harmful effect on young minds all across our nation as “prospective elementary and secondary teachers are steeped in the philosophy of Critical Theory.”
“Some school districts have become proud indoctrination factories” for critical race theory, according to Max Eden of City Journal. Some of the lessons being taught to elementary kids include “What is the Black Lives Matter Movement and what is our role in it?” and “Think About It George Washington: The Beginnings of 273 Years of Hypocrisy in America.”
“Parents may wonder how our public schools became propaganda mills,” Eden continues. “The answer…is two ways: gradually, then suddenly. Critical race theory was largely pioneered in U.S. schools of education; a generation of teachers has been trained in its toxic assumptions. Then, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, a host of major education trade associations publicly vowed to imprint this ideology onto the next generation.”
Generations of young Americans are now being educated through the filter of Critical Theory to actively despise our nation, its history, and even themselves if they cannot effectively categorize themselves as marginalized “victims” under some definition of Critical Theory and its various offshoots.
The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) recently released a statement rife with the “woke” totalitarianism of Critical Theory by echoing the zealotry of Ibram X. Kendi in order to “dismantle systemic racism” in our schools:
“We are living at a time of obscene inequities and merely trying to compensate is not enough. Equity is more than making things more accessible and AASA’s work on equity must go further and become actively anti-racist. The perpetual traumas of inequality and discrimination manifest as more than the acts themselves, taking a significant toll on the mental health and well-being of all those impacted. Now is the time for all educational leaders to intensify our commitment to address inequities and work to dismantle systemic racism.”
The legacy media and the inherent failings of The 1619 Project
Nikole Hannah-Jones, an investigative journalist and creator of The 1619 Project for The New York Times, doesn’t just seek to revise American history for the storied newspaper. She wants to rewrite it from the ground up along distinctly racial lines.
“The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
Hannah-Jones argues that “The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie.” She insists that the founding proclamation of our nation that “all men are created equal” was a falsehood “the white men who drafted those words did not believe…to be true for the hundreds of thousands of black people in their midst.”
In a concerted effort to counter the many glaring inconsistencies and half-truths in Hannah-Jones’ ambitious project of outright revisionism, a coalition of black scholars has formed 1776 Unites that includes such notable names as Glenn Loury and Coleman Hughes.
Writing for 1776 Unites, scholar John H. McWhorter excoriates The 1619 Project as an “outright misrepresentation” of history, as well as being “simplistic” and “anti-intellectual.” Most importantly, McWhorter reminds the likes of Hannah-Jones that the very ideals our nation was founded upon are what led to the abolishment of slavery.
“America has always been an experiment, ever imperfect, always in rehearsal,” McWhorter writes. “That its beginnings 400 years ago were founded in casual bondage of other humans is appalling from our viewpoint, but should surprise no one given what was ordinary in all human societies worldwide at the time. That in this nation, slavery gradually was abolished, via a movement in which white people vigorously and crucially participated, was a kind of miracle in itself. It demonstrated that the rehearsal was a progressive one, moving ever towards justice even if never achieving its quintessence.”
Coleman Hughes also offers tremendous insight into the failings of The 1619 Project. While quick to “support teaching Americans of all ages about the horrors of slavery,” Hughes argues that Hannah-Jones’ ungainly attempt at blatant revisionism “is an attempt to weaponize that history to fight ideological wars in the present.”
“Instead of teaching black children lessons they can use to improve their lives — such as the importance of education and geographic mobility — the 1619 Project seems hellbent on teaching them to see slavery everywhere: in traffic jams, in sugary foods and, most surprisingly, in Excel spreadsheets…Without doubt, America would be a very different place — in ways both large and small — if not for slavery. Yet the arguments marshalled in support of this fact too often rely on an intellectual sleight of hand that would be plain to see if applied to any other historical event.”
Such “weaponizing” of historical facts remains at the root of what many in the legacy media engage in as evidenced by The 1619 Project. Journalistic integrity and academic rigor are now being replaced by fervent, dogmatic activism, devoid of fact and substance.
Howard Zinn’s Marxist retelling of American history
First published in 1980, the late Howard Zinn’s wildly popular work, “A People’s History of The United States” ushered in a deluge of Marxist tropes into mainstream American culture. Daniel J. Flynn of City Journal refers to Zinn’s work as an “unremittingly Marxist retelling of the nation’s past” that was “[f]ueled by enthusiastic professors who made the book required reading and by pop-culture name-dropping by the likes of The Simpsons, Good Will Hunting, and The Sopranos.”
The Atlantic defines Zinn’s work as a relentless critique of “capitalism and American nationalism” that “has been taught in countless middle school and high school classes.”
In a 1998 interview for the Communist newspaper, The Revolutionary Worker, Zinn himself echoes many of the underlying objectives of Critical Theory embodied in his work stating, “I wanted my writing of history and my teaching of history to be a part of social struggle.” Zinn viewed the teaching and writing of history as a fundamentally “political act.”
The website, In Defense of Marxism, compares Zinn’s approach to writing history to the abject radicalism of Leon Trotsky. Both abandoned any attempt of a “traditional, mainstream telling of history.” In fact, the title of Zinn’s autobiography, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” very much echoes Trotsky’s disdain for what he viewed as “treacherous impartiality” toward historical facts.
In his review of Mary Grabar’s book, “Debunking Howard Zinn,” Professor Wilfred McClary offers the most searing and eloquent critique of Zinn and his work emphasizing that “Zinn was not an original scholar and, in fact, not even a historian by training.”
While arguing against the “patently untruthful 1619 Project,” McClary also insists that Nikole Hannah-Jones is following directly in the footsteps of Zinn in her zealous, dogmatic pursuit of rewriting American history to accord with the radical Left.
Though McClary laments that if “young Americans are being taught their history at all, Zinn is likely to be what they are being taught,” he finds some solace in Grabar’s critique of Zinn that depicts the radical author as an “utter charlatan and naked partisan, an admirer of Stalin and Mao, a relentless self-promoter and self-mythologizer, and a media-savvy celebrity of the Left.”
“Through it all Grabar is unsparing in her treatment of Zinn’s historical distortions,” McClary continues. “From his unfair depiction of Columbus as a genocidal maniac, to his comic-book romanticizing of American Indians as residents of nonviolent hippie communes, to the depiction of the Founding as the creation of a preserve for wealthy white males, to his depiction of the “good war” of World War II as a war between morally equivalent sides, he had to play fast and loose with the facts to support his fantastical assertions — and Grabar calls him on every one of them. She is devastatingly effective.”
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.