It’s up to us to ensure progress serves our ends.
Which Way, Western Mom?
When Tik Tok teachers want to trans your kids
Having returned to America after fifteen years in Pakistan, Mehreen Kasana has noticed a cultural trend that stands out against the background of a middle eastern experience. As she shared on Twitter this week, she sees in American culture “an unrelenting disrespect for the parent-child bond. It’s increasingly spearheaded by teachers under the auspices of progressivism, and it’s clearly fracturing something extremely delicate and hard to repair.”
The clip that caused her to reflect on the fractal family situation in our country was featured by the popular Twitter account “Libs of Tik Tok,” which often exposes activists employed as schoolteachers who use their platforms to access children and magnify the message that sexual deviancy and racial hatred are the true and only foundation of a proper modern curriculum. In the clip, a teacher explains to her audience that she likes to initiate conversations about sexuality, especially transgenderism, with “her kids” so that they know that “it’s normal.” She explains that her compulsion to spread this disinformation “can be life-changing for them” and that, in fact, all teachers should engage in such forms of evangelization. The kids “need” it.
The clip and Kasana’s response weren’t the only ones representing the growing tension between parents and teachers to go viral this week. Nikole Hannah-Jones also appeared on NBC News to address widespread opposition to critical race theory and her own modest proposal for making the 1619 Project into state curriculum: “Parents shouldn’t be in charge of their kids’ schooling. I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught. I’m not a professional educator. I don’t have a degree in social studies.”
Institutions like NBC and janissaries like Jones run cover for less subtle extremists in the education industry by insisting on this particular presentation of the issue as a conflict of expertise. They insist that expertise is inherently neutral, because experts are given their gold stars by essentially objective, practically god-like credentialing authorities. This—the myth of neutrality—is the assumption upon which the whole system of rule by liberal experts relies. Using this presupposition as a starting point, education itself is presented as merely the neutral administration of fact. The mark of expertise acts as a protective shield for educational institutions and their foot soldiers alike. If problems emerge, they are easily attributed to the hubris of uncredentialed and ignorant parents. When crazy teachers emerge, they can either be defended as quirky or minimized as outliers. In all cases, implicit and explicit insistence on expertise as the central point of contention distracts from the much deeper and more important question, which is about authority.
Who has authority over children? From where does this authority derive? And, along a similar vein, what are children for?
This is the real dividing line between the faction represented by frustrated parents and that represented by NBC clowns (officially) as well as wild-eyed Tik Tok teachers (unofficially). Parents know, consciously or subconsciously, that they are the natural authority over their children in all things. Parental authority over children is inscribed through natural law by the Creator, and this reality is easily intuited and understood by children and parents alike. Children are for families and families are for children, and both of them together work toward happiness domestically and in the public square–but they do not belong to the public.
On the question of children and authority, the other side is engaged in an artful propaganda war, and their true purposes are veiled by several layers of more palatable options. They often suggest the child has authority over himself, but in reality, this sleight of hand is meant only to shift the locus of authority from parent to state. Under this worldview, the state and all its functionary industries (health, education, childcare, social services, information media) hold the practical and real authority over the child, while parents are reduced to temporary and essentially fungible custodians of state property. In the words of Noah Berlatsky “parents are an oppressor class.” To the extent they have authority over children, it is to be challenged and dismantled primarily by negating that from which the authority derives: God. Meanwhile, the state’s authority is said to come from that earlier diversion: the myth of neutral expertise. Of course, in reality, state authority to the woke has much more narcissistic origins.
When you’re fighting a battle, it is essential to know what the goals of the enemy are. One of the biggest mistakes of well-meaning, mostly apolitical but temperamentally conservative people over the past fifty years has been to believe their enemy’s stated purposes rather than discern their real ones. Nice, malleable American parents chose to believe that the outwardly crazy leftists were the anomalies rather than the vanguard. Nice, malleable American parents felt uncomfortable by Howard Zinn’s influence over textbooks, but passively minimized his spin on history to a mere “difference of opinion,” and then happily continued to submit their own children to the authority of ideological foot soldiers whose real purpose was always to drive conflict between classes, expanded now to include parents as oppressors. Parents, be warned. The revolution marches on.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.