Thoughts on Life, Love, Politics, Hypocrisy and Coming Out in Mid-Life
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Gay Men Have the Highest Rates of Degree Attainment
While it's been widely documented that women have been outnumbering men in attaining bachelor's degrees at currently a 60:40 ratio, a new study by a Notre Dame researcher considers how those numbers change according to sexual identity.
Ultimately, the study, "Intersecting the Academic Gender Gap: The Education of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual America," found that gay men earn significantly more degrees than straight men, while the overall number of lesbian women earning degrees is declining.
"Across analyses, I reveal two demographic facts," . . . "First, women's rising academic advantages are largely confined to straight women. . . . . Second, boys' well-documented underperformance obscures one group with remarkably high levels of school success: gay boys."
According to Mittleman, 52% of gay men in the U.S. have a bachelor's degree, a total of 16 percentage points higher than the national average. Putting that number into a global perspective, Mittleman writes, "If America's gay men were considered on their own, they would have, by far, the highest college completion rate in the world: easily surpassing the current leader, Luxembourg, at 46.6 percent."
Additionally, the study found that 6% of gay men in the U.S. have an advanced degree (J.D., M.D. or Ph.D.), which is 50% higher than the number of straight men with degrees and, notably, is a trend that remained true across the four largest racial/ethnic groups (white, Black, Hispanic and Asian).
Just why gay men are earning more degrees than straight men, is a question Mittleman explores, hypothesizing that gay men may respond to societal homophobia by "overcompensating" academically.
"Whereas the rules of masculinity may feel obscure or unattainable, the rules of school can feel discrete and manageable," he writes. "Whereas the approval of a parent may be uncertain, the praise of a teacher can be regularly earned with the right amount of effort."
Meanwhile, Mittleman found that lesbian women were twice as likely to report dropping out of high school than straight women — a trend, he hypothesizes, that could be indicative of teacher discrimination.
The study will be published in the American Sociological Review.
The Right's Frightening Beatification of Rittenhouse
The strangest thing about Donald Trump and the GOP's increasingly open embrace of political violence is how unnecessary it is, even by the right's own grotesque standards.
Ever since Trump's failed coup that culminated in the January 6 insurrection, Republicans have been carefully laying the groundwork for a bloodless destruction of democracy. They've commandeered election offices and filled them with Trump lackeys eager to break the law for their leader. They've gerrymandered elections so that Republicans "win" even when Democrats have strong majorities. And they toss on a robust amount of voter suppression so Democrats can't get to the polls in the first place. Even Trump's path to retaking the White House despite quite likely losing in 2024 is laid out without the need to fire a single gunshot: Republican-controlled state legislatures and Congress could nullify the vote in districts Joe Biden wins and throw the election to Trump.
"Democracy's primary assailants today are not generals or armed revolutionaries," Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt explained in The Atlantic, but rather politicians "who eviscerate democracy's substance behind a carefully crafted veneer of legality and constitutionality."
But even though a bloodless fascist takeover is in the works, Trump and other leaders of the Trumpist movement have spent the past years ratcheting up enthusiasm on the right for political violence. For months, Trump and his allies have been trying to rewrite the narrative of January 6, casting the insurrectionists as heroes and martyrs. Now, in the wake of the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse — who shot three people, killing two, at a Black Lives Matter protest in August 2020 — they're doing the same. Rittenhouse is cast on the right as a noble hero, instead of what he is, an unsettling creep who had no business swinging an AR-15 around in a volatile situation.
As soon as the trial was over, Fox News host Tucker Carlson brought Rittenhouse on for an interview, praising him as "the kind of person would you want many more of in your country." (As a reminder, Rittenhouse was photographed in a Michigan bar in January, partying with Proud Boys and flashing a white nationalist hand gesture.) Trump also brought Rittenhouse to Mar-A-Lago to pose for pictures in front of a wall showily festooned with a photograph of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Trump called Rittenhouse — who shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26 — a "nice young man."
Trump and Carlson are doing this, even though they know full well that it's encouraging more insecure men to view political violence as a way to ameliorate their own gnawing fears of mediocrity. Indeed, manipulating men into committing violence appears to very much be the point. As Mark Follman wrote in Mother Jones last week, "Trump has made freshly evident, in other words, that he is serving as the inspirational leader for a domestic terrorism movement."
But again, the question is why?
Most available evidence suggests that not only can Trump's desired fascist takeover happen without violence, it would actually be more likely to work if it was bloodless. The best weapon of the 21st-century autocrat is not violence, but demoralization — wearing down the opposition by making it seem there's no legal avenues to save democracy.
Without violence, the Trumpist right can pretend their gutting of democracy is above-board and grind their opponents into a state of learned helplessness. Violence, however, makes it very hard to pretend that rising fascism is anything but what it is. Without the Capitol riot capturing the public's attention, Trump's attempts to steal the 2020 election through bureaucratic corruption could have been shoved down the memory hole. Right-wing violence, on the other hand, is unambiguous. It solidifies the left's resistance instead of undermining it.
Part of the infatuation with violence is due to Trump's personality. Unlike his father, who was arrested in a KKK riot in 1927, Trump is a physical coward. He loves the idea of violence, however, and adores sending minions out to commit violence in his name. That was true when he praised rioting neo-Nazis as "very fine people" in 2017, when he sent cops to tear gas peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park in 2020, and when he incited the Capitol riot in 2021.
Trump likely understands that his most ardent followers also love violence and are also caught up in fantasies of beating and killing liberals — and of getting away with doing so. An analysis from Media Matters released Tuesday shows that the Rittenhouse verdict was a traffic bonanza for right-wing pages on Facebook. . . . . Clearly, the base is really into the idea of cracking skulls in the name of Trumpism.
To be certain, Republicans have other uses for political violence.
The beatification of Rittenhouse, like the tear-gassing of protesters in Lafayette Park, is about scaring progressives away from protest. That could matter if and when progressives take to the streets in response to efforts to steal elections. Cleaning house of honest election officials, to replace them with Trump stooges, is also being aided through violence, as demonstrated by the number of election officials quitting rather than put up with death threats.
But mostly, the violence seems to be about motivating the Trump base. The idea of a bloodless fascist takeover doesn't really get the right-wing juices going. What fires them up is memes celebrating the deaths of political opponents. A lot of these folks have been spending thousands of dollars for years, even decades, building up arsenals. Destroying democracy through paperwork probably feels unsatisfactory. As one man at a Turning Point event in October plaintively asked: "When do we get to use the guns?"
Keeping these folks activated and engaged means dangling the fantasy of political violence. Trump and Carlson get that, which is why they're determined to turn Rittenhouse into a right-wing hero.
Be very afraid for the future.
Friday, November 26, 2021
Thursday, November 25, 2021
Happy Thanksgiving to My Readers
On a side note, shortly before the beginning of the pandemic, the husband and I bought a 102 year old home that needed much love and renovation. After 19 months of nonstop work, we are going to celebrate our first real Thanksgiving in our home entertaining a number of LGBT friends (we get together with my daughters and grandchildren tomorrow). Here are some photos of our handiwork and our table scape for today.
Republicans Fuel the Pandemic Then Blame Biden
Over eight hours last Thursday night and into Friday morning, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California hit on many issues as he spoke on the House floor in an unsuccessful effort to thwart House passage of President Biden’s social safety net and climate change bill. But among his most audacious assertions was that Mr. Biden was to blame for the country’s failure to quell the pandemic.
Mr. McCarthy used this line of attack even as members of his own Republican Party have spent months flouting mask ordinances and blocking the president’s vaccine mandates, and the party’s base has undermined vaccination drives while rallying around those who refuse the vaccine. Intensive care units and morgues have been strained to capacity by the unvaccinated, a demographic dominated by those who voted last year for President Donald J. Trump.
As of mid-September, 90 percent of adult Democrats had been vaccinated, compared with 58 percent of adult Republicans.
As cases surge once again in some parts of the country, Republicans have hit on a new line of attack: The president has failed on a central campaign promise, to tame the pandemic that his predecessor systematically downplayed. Democrats are incredulous, dismissing the strategy as another strand of spaghetti thrown at the wall.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates hit back hard: “If Covid-19 and inflation had lobbyists to help them kill more American jobs, Kevin McCarthy would be their favorite member of Congress,” he said. “He is actively undermining the fight against Covid, which is driving inflation.”
The partisan gap in infection and vaccination rates is only slightly narrowing. The most Republican counties have 2.78 times as many new cases than the most Democratic counties, down from three times as many a month ago, according to the Democratic health care analyst Charles Gaba, using data from Johns Hopkins University. The death rate in those Republican counties is nearly six times as high as the death rate in the Democratic counties.
To be a Republican nowadays, one needs to be both a racist and an idiot with a death wish.
Georgia and Charlottesville Judgments Offer Hope
The three White men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery in coastal Georgia last year were convicted of murder Wednesday in a case that many saw as a test of racial bias in the justice system.
Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were found guilty of felony murder in the shooting of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man. Travis McMichael was also convicted of malice murder, or intent to kill. All three men, who still face federal hate crime charges, will receive life in prison, potentially without parole.
A prosecutor initially found the defendants justified in killing Arbery, saying they were carrying out a “citizen’s arrest” for neighborhood break-ins when Travis McMichael shot in self-defense.
For more than two months, Arbery’s family pushed for consequences in vain. Then a leaked video of the Feb. 23, 2020, killing thrust the case into the national spotlight, weeks before Floyd’s murder by a White police officer in Minneapolis ignited mass protests against police brutality and racism.
That national conversation hung over the trial, which stretched more than five weeks, as lawyers fought over the courtroom presence of Black civil rights leaders and selected a nearly all-White jury over the prosecution’s protests. For many, the trial took on even more weight after the acquittal last week of Kyle Rittenhouse.
A bipartisan uproar over Arbery’s killing eventually spurred changes to Georgia law and a criminal indictment for the first prosecutor to touch the case. The verdict drew immediate reactions Wednesday from lawmakers, who praised the ruling but also called for criminal justice reform and said there was more work to be done. Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) called the verdict accountability but not “true justice,” saying that real justice “looks like a Black man not having to worry about being harmed — or killed — while on a jog.”
President Biden, who once compared the killing to a lynching, called Arbery’s killing “a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country.” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said in a statement that Arbery “was the victim of a vigilantism that has no place in Georgia.”
For 74 days, there were no arrests in Arbery’s case. The first prosecutor recused herself but was indicted this year on allegations she helped protect the defendants, allegedly instructing police not to arrest Travis McMichael. The second prosecutor argued against charges even as he, too, recused himself under pressure from Arbery’s family.
After the May 2020 leak of the video — which had been in police possession for months — the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case and announced arrests.
One can only hope the murderers spend the rest of their lives in prison and a message is sent to other would be vigilantes.
The other welcomed ruling is the crushing damages awards against the organizers and white supremacist groups that terrorized Charlottesville and the University of Virginia in August 2017 and lead to the death of an anti-neo-Nazi protester, Heather Heyer. Donald Trump, of course, had called these foul individuals "very fine people." A piece in Slate looks at this blow to hate mongers. Here are excerpts:
After four weeks of arguments, 36 witnesses, and three long days of deliberations, a federal jury in Charlottesville, Virginia awarded more than $26 million in damages against two dozen white supremacists and violent right wing organizations who had organized the 2017 Unite the Right rally that ended in the death of a counter-protester and injuries to many others. The jurors deadlocked on two federal conspiracies charges rooted in the 150-year-old Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute that allows parties to sue for damages in response to race-based violent actions, but they did find the defendants had violated Virginia state civil rights laws against racially motivated harassment and intimidation.
The plaintiffs were nine individuals who had mostly been injured either when the car driven by James Alex Fields killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer on a Charlottesville street, or during a torchlit march on the University of Virginia grounds the night before. The defendants—including white supremacists Richard Spencer and Chris Cantwell—had spent the weeks before the rally amassing foot soldiers to march, making plans to arm themselves with makeshift weapons, and chatting online about the legality of running over protesters with cars.
They claimed at trial, two of them ostentatiously representing themselves, that this was all just big performative hilarity and protected First Amendment speech. But as the plaintiffs showed, the far-right groups were always planning for racial violence, and claiming that everyone in a bandana was part of an Antifa plot to entrap them. As one of the organizers, Jason Kessler, put in a text to Spencer: “We are raising an army, my liege, for free speech but the cracking of skulls, if it comes to it.”
That these jurors ultimately deadlocked on the federal claims is frustrating for anyone hoping that the Klan Act might serve to protect vulnerable racial and religious minorities by way of federal civil rights law. That’s in part because racially motivated violence appears to be everywhere and yet so rarely named as such, and the KKK Act has recently been invoked against some of the January 6 insurrectionists as well. For that one reason, the sense that there is a huge white hole at the burning center of federal civil rights law seems inescapable today.
Yet $26 million in damages is a sobering amount. It’s isn’t everything, but it’s a whole lot. While these defendants will seek to have the amounts reduced, the fact is that the jury saw fit to condemn their actions wholeheartedly and substantially. Several of the defendants have already declared bankruptcy and some may be unable to pay. Fields is in jail for the rest of his life and Cantwell will return to prison, where he is serving a term for violent sexual threats against another white supremacist. Spencer is broke and his wife has left him, alleging violent abuse. This isn’t about squeezing blood from a stone. It’s about widespread agreement that the stone sucks.
If the purpose of this lawsuit was to unearth the web of connections and funding among Nazi groups, it was a resounding success. If the purpose was to tarnish the once fresh-scrubbed flat-front khaki “alt-right” and to reveal them for what they really are, reconstructed Nazis and aging klansmen as boring as the original iterations of white supremacy, it was also a success. . . . The jury saw them for what they were: sad little violent white men begging for relevance if nothing else. They failed even at that.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
The Terrifying Future of the American Right
One of the ideas she’s absorbed is that the conservatives who came before her were insufferably naive. They thought liberals and conservatives both want what’s best for America, disagreeing only on how to get there. But that’s not true, she believes. “Woke elites—increasingly the mainstream left of this country—do not want what we want,” she told the National Conservatism Conference, which was held earlier this month in a bland hotel alongside theme parks in Orlando. “What they want is to destroy us,” she said. “Not only will they use every power at their disposal to achieve their goal,” but they’ve already been doing it for years “by dominating every cultural, intellectual, and political institution.”
As she says this, the dozens of young people in her breakout session begin to vibrate in their seats. Ripples of head nodding are visible from where I sit in the back. These are the rising talents of the right—the Heritage Foundation junior staff, the Ivy League grads, the intellectual Catholics and the Orthodox Jews who have been studying Hobbes and de Tocqueville at the various young conservative fellowship programs that stretch along Acela-land. In the hallway before watching Bovard’s speech, I bumped into one of my former Yale students, who is now at McKinsey.
Bovard has the place rocking, training her sights on the true enemies, the left-wing elite: a “totalitarian cult of billionaires and bureaucrats, of privilege perpetuated by bullying, empowered by the most sophisticated surveillance and communications technologies in history, and limited only by the scruples of people who arrest rape victims’ fathers, declare math to be white supremacist, finance ethnic cleansing in western China, and who partied, a mile high, on Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita Express.”
She’s giving the best synopsis of national conservatism I’ve heard at the conference we’re attending—and with flair! Progressives pretend to be the oppressed ones, she tells the crowd, “but in reality, it’s just an old boys’ club, another frat house for entitled rich kids contrived to perpetuate their unearned privilege. It’s Skull and Bones for gender-studies majors!” She finishes to a rousing ovation. People leap to their feet.
I have the sinking sensation that the thunderous sound I’m hearing is the future of the Republican Party.
The movement has three distinctive strains. First, the people over 50 who have been hanging around conservative circles for decades but who have recently been radicalized by the current left. Chris Demuth, 75, was for many years president of the American Enterprise Institute, which used to be the Church of England of American conservatism, but now he’s gone populist.
The second strain is made up of mid-career politicians and operatives who are learning to adapt to the age of populist rage: people like Ted Cruz (Princeton, Harvard), J. D. Vance (Yale Law), and Josh Hawley (Stanford and Yale). . . . . eventy-three-year-old Glenn Loury, a Brown University economist, was a conservative, then a progressive, and now he’s back on the right: “What has happened to public discourse about race has radicalized me.”
The third and largest strain is the young. They grew up in the era of Facebook and MSNBC and identity politics. They went to colleges smothered by progressive sermonizing. And they reacted by running in the other direction. I disagreed with two-thirds of what I heard at this conference, but I couldn’t quite suppress the disturbing voice in my head saying, “If you were 22, maybe you’d be here too.”
Conservatives have always inveighed against the cultural elite—the media, the universities, Hollywood. But in the Information Age, the purveyors of culture are now corporate titans. In this economy, the dominant means of economic production are cultural production. Corporate behemoths are cultural behemoths. The national conservatives thus describe a world in which the corporate elite, the media elite, the political elite, and the academic elite have all coagulated into one axis of evil, dominating every institution and controlling the channels of thought.
At the heart of this blue oligarchy are the great masters of surveillance capitalism, the Big Tech czars who decide in secret what ideas get promoted, what stories get suppressed.
The idea that the left controls absolutely everything—from your smartphone to the money supply to your third grader’s curriculum—explains the apocalyptic tone that was the dominating emotional register of this conference. The politicians’ speeches were like entries in the catastrophism Olympics:
“The left’s ambition is to create a world beyond belonging,” said Hawley. “Their grand ambition is to deconstruct the United States of America.”
“The left’s attack is on America. The left hates America,” said Cruz. “It is the left that is trying to use culture as a tool to destroy America.”
“We are confronted now by a systematic effort to dismantle our society, our traditions, our economy, and our way of life,” said Rubio.
The first great project of the national conservatives is to man the barricades in the culture war. . . . Hawley delivered a classic culture-war speech defending manhood and masculinity: “The deconstruction of America depends on the deconstruction of American men.” Listening to Hawley talk populist is like listening to a white progressive Upper West Sider in the 1970s try to talk jive. The words are there, but he’s trying so hard it sounds ridiculous.
Ofir Haivry, argued that Americans shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that a nation is built out of high-minded liberal abstractions, like the Bill of Rights. A nation is, instead, a cultural tradition, a common language, a set of rituals and beliefs, and a religious order—a collective cultural identity.
Hazony argued that the American cultural identity is Christian—and has to be if it is not going to succumb to the woke onslaught. If 80 percent of Americans are Christian, Hazony reasoned, then Christian values should dominate. “Majority cultures have the right to establish the ruling culture . . . . The problem in America, Hazony continued, is that LGBTQ activists today, like American Jews in the 1950s, are trying to expel Christianity from the public square.
Conservatives have lately become expert culture warriors—the whole Tucker Carlson schtick. This schtick demands that you ignore the actual suffering of the world—the transgender kid alone in some suburban high school, the anxiety of a guy who can’t afford health care for his brother, the struggle of a Black man trying to be seen and recognized as a full human being. It’s a cynical game that treats all of life as a play for ratings, a battle for clicks, and this demands constant outrage, white-identity signaling, and the kind of absurd generalizations that Rachel Bovard used to get that room so excited.
Conservatives have got the culture-war act down. Trump was a culture-war president with almost no policy arm attached. The question conservatives at the conference were asking was how to move beyond owning the libs to effecting actual change.
Christopher Rufo, the architect of this year’s school-board-meeting protests against critical race theory, argued that conservatives had erred when they tried to slowly gain power in elite cultural institutions. Conservatives were never going to make headway in the Ivy League or the corporate media. Instead, Rufo argued, they should rally the masses to get state legislatures to pass laws embracing their values. That’s essentially what’s now happening across red America.
This is where Viktor Orbán comes in. It was Dreher who prompted Carlson’s controversial trip to Hungary last summer, and Hungarians were a strong presence at the National Conservatism Conference. Orbán, in Dreher’s view, understands the civilizational stakes of the culture war; he has, for instance, used the power of the state to limit how much transgenderism can be taught to children in schools. “Our team talks incessantly about how horrible wokeness is,” Dreher said at the conference. “Orbán actually does something about it.”
The culture war merges with the economic-class war—and a new right emerges in which an intellectual cadre, the national conservatives, rallies the proletarian masses against the cultural/corporate elites. All your grandparents’ political categories get scrambled along the way.
Will it work? Well, Donald Trump destroyed the Reagan Republican paradigm in 2016, but he didn’t exactly elucidate a new set of ideas, policies, and alliances. Trump’s devastation of the old order produced a grand struggle on the right to build a new one on Trumpian populist lines.
[I]f Hazony thinks America is about to return to Christian dominance, he’s living in 1956. Evangelical Christianity has lost many millions of believers across recent decades. Secularism is surging, and white Christianity is shrinking into a rump presence in American life. America is becoming more religiously diverse every day. Christians are in no position to impose their values—regarding same-sex marriage or anything else—on the public square. Self-aware Christians know this.
Finally, there is something extremely off-putting about the NatCon public pose. In person, as I say, I find many of them charming, warm, and friendly. But their public posture is dominated by the psychology of threat and menace. If there was one expression of sympathy, kindness, or grace uttered from the podium in Orlando, I did not hear it. But I did hear callousness, invocations of combat, and whiffs of brutality.
Be very afraid for the future if these people gain more power.
Monday, November 22, 2021
Sunday, November 21, 2021
Pride and Prejudice: Whites Can't Hide the Truth of History Forever
You want to know what the whole brouhaha about critical race theory is about? It's about people not wanting their children taught stuff they're not proud of. They're not proud of racism. It's nasty. It's not "who we are," to use a common political phraseology. Besides, it's behind us. We dealt with that part of our history. Let's move on!
Sure, let's move on to studying the founding fathers, who we are proud of, but heaven forbid we should mention their messy aspects, like the fact that a bunch of them owned slaves. Let's move on to teaching about the wars we won, rather than those we lost. Let's move on to teaching about the Great Expansion West as our country grew from 13 colonies to encompass a continent, but let's leave out the genocide of the people who were already living here and the inconvenient truth that it was at least in part the debates over the expansion of slavery into the territories that ultimately led to the secession of the South, the collapse of American democracy and the Civil War.
It's said that parents in hotspots like Sugar Land, Texas, and Loudoun County, Virginia don't want their children to be made to feel uncomfortable because they are white. Aside from the fact that discomfort is a rather odd criterion for what to teach or not teach children, I cannot recall a single instance during the 12 years I attended public schools of anyone being worried whether or not the Black kids I went to school with felt uncomfortable attending majority-white schools.
But let's talk about pride for a moment. I'm proud to be a descendant of Thomas Jefferson. That doesn't mean I have to be proud of the fact that along with the Declaration of Independence, he laid out in his only book, "Notes on the State of Virginia," what you might call the founding ideology behind white supremacy: Blacks were inherently inferior to whites and were incapable of being educated, and thus it was proper that they remain chattel owned by whites. Nor am I proud of the fact that over his lifetime, Jefferson owned more than 600 human beings and upon his death freed only those with the last name Hemings, among whom were the children he had fathered with his slave, Sally.
That's the thing about pride. It belongs to you, so you get to pick and choose what you're proud of.
"Black Pride" . . . . "Gay Pride." In the summer of 1969 when those words rang out from the crowd outside the Stonewall Inn after a police bust, it was extraordinary to hear it said out loud in a public place, much less during what amounted to a police riot against the people saying it. By a quirk of fate, I was there the night the Stonewall was busted. I wrote the Village Voice cover story on the two days of demonstrations that followed. The words "Gay Pride" and "Gay Power" were scrawled on the boarded-up windows of the Stonewall. Until that moment, being gay was hardly a source of pride. It would not be until 1987 that homosexuality was officially removed from the DSM, the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," and it took many more years for sex acts between adults of the same gender to be decriminalized. Proud of being a criminal and having a mental illness? It was instead the reason many gay and lesbian people chose to stay in the closet and hide their sexual identity.
It's not just an irony but a crime that Black pride and gay pride are what lie behind much of the hysteria about "critical race theory," especially in the red states where the madness over transgender bathrooms and racial history really broke out. The attitude among so many of those who scream threats at school board meetings and demonstrate outside the homes of school principals and superintendents seems to be that gays and Blacks were OK — back when they weren't proud of who they are. Protesting parents seem to long for a time when "they" weren't in your face with ridiculous demands like teaching the subject of slavery in history classrooms and allowing LGBT students to form pride clubs and hold hands in the hallways. The arguments over critical race theory reflect a desire among certain parents for all that icky stuff to just go away. Let's get back to cheering at football games and decorating for prom, they seem to say.
Here's just one problem with that. In places like Sugar Land, Texas, those football games are being played on land that was deeded to homesteaders in the 1820s and '30s by Stephen F. Austin from a land grant of more than 97,000 acres he received from Mexico as a deal for cotton and sugar plantations. If settlers brought one slave with them, they received 80 acres for a homestead. With two slaves they got 160 acres, and so on. For his role in helping to settle the territory of Texas and for leading the Texas revolution against Mexico, which opposed slavery, the state capital was named after him.
Loudoun County, Virginia, one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing counties in the country, was similarly farmed by slave-owners. Ruth Basil, who worked for my grandparents on their Loudoun County farm in the early 1950s, is the great-granddaughter of slaves and was raised in a log cabin built by her great-grandparents, after they won their freedom in 1865, on land that was sold to them by the man who had owned them. Ruth was raised in that log cabin, from which she walked to school each day along the dirt roads that formed the boundaries of the farm where her great grandparents were slaves. She was frequently passed on her way to school by yellow school buses that carried white children to the all-white schools they attended. Ruth and her Black classmates studied from used schoolbooks that had been passed down to the segregated schools she attended. Loudoun County was part of Virginia's program of "massive resistance" against integration after the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education, and its schools would remain segregated, along with most the others in the state, until the mid-1960s.
Massive resistance to school integration in Virginia has morphed into massive resistance against critical race theory and was a leading factor in the contest for the Virginia governorship, won by Republican Glenn Younkin over Democrat Terry McAuliffe earlier this month. The state that used to hide its Black students in inadequately financed, poorly supplied and out of the way all-Black schools is now trying to hide the critical race facts of those years from its students.
Here is a new "note on the state of Virginia": Opposition to critical race theory won't save you from the ugly truths about white supremacy.
Interestingly, the author of the piece, Lucian K. Truscott IV, is a graduate of West Point (he comes from a multi-generation military family), has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. Thomas Jefferson, was Truscott's 6th-great-grandfather. You could say that Truscott does know true history.