Op-Ed: Stand up and support public educators
PRESS FILE PHOTO
| October 20, 2021 1:00 AM
We are witnessing organized regional and national aggressive campaign attacks on public educators in K-12 schools and colleges and universities. This deliberate disinformation campaign uses fear to assert that educators are using “critical race theory” to demean white students, resulting in a guilt complex for those students. The real motive behind these fear campaigns is to sow division and distrust among the American people.
We have a long history in the United States of extremists’ groups, individuals and some politicians’ use of fear tactics to manipulate segments of the population with the goal in mind of gaining and maintaining political power. One only has to review history in the United States to see the effectiveness of fear as a tool for control, as the following examples demonstrate:
(1) Following the end to the Period of Reconstruction, Southern states enacted unjust laws (i.e., Jim Crow Laws) to deny minority communities their God-given rights;
(2) The use of a fear campaign during the historical Great Migration from Europe to the United States against Irish and Italian Catholics;
(3) The more recent use of fear toward immigrants to the United States; and
(4) The concerted organized campaign to oppose equal rights for the LGBTQ community.
Recently there have been social media posts and letters to the editor in our region labeling social justice and diversity as a Communist Doctrine. The real facts are the teachings of social justice, civil and human rights, equality, and the merits of diversity are actually well established democratic principles guaranteeing each individual’s right to freedom, equality and justice under the law with an emphasis on respect and dignity for our fellow human beings.
The late icon civil rights leader Nelson Mandela put it best when he said: “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”
I had the honor and privilege of teaching these democratic principles to more than 12,000 college students during my almost four decades as an educator, working with distinguished educators and scholars across America, and having spent many years touring and lecturing to college and university students from coast to coast. During these experiences, not once have I witnessed an educator using any of these principles to demean or give any student a guilt complex due to their race, ancestry, national origin, ethnicity or other categories.
Rather, I have witnessed educators' use of these principles to uplift individuals and demonstrate the worth, dignity and value of each student.
I have great optimism for the future after meeting, working, lecturing and communicating with thousands of students from this region, nationally and in some cases internationally. I find students possess great intellect, wisdom, compassion, love and concern for their fellow human beings. Students understand and support the tenets of a free society that include social justice, human rights, and equality while embracing diversity.
Historical scholars’ research has shown that both America’s public educational system and the creation of the middle class are key factors to the establishment and continued protection of our democratic system.
In order to maintain our democratic republic, we must be diligent, dedicated and committed to opposing all threats to these ideals.
In protecting our representative form of government, it will require us to be informed, active in civic matters and avoid the dangers that come from apathy.
• • •
Tony Stewart is a Coeur d'Alene resident and political scientist.