Calling Out Narrative Hijackers and Woke “Activists”
Did you have a chance to catch the homeschool debate featuring Harvard’s resident anti-education-choicer, Elizabeth Bartholet, and Cato’s Kerry McDonald on Monday? Kerry did a fantastic job laying out a solid argument in favor of education choice. If you missed it (or if you just want to watch again because it was awesome) you can find it here.
I was thinking earlier about how much we are living in a culture of “woke activism.” In response to the tragic death of George Floyd a few weeks ago we saw the world rise up in support of recognizing and ending police brutality, but as the weeks have passed and the language has evolved, we have seen a focus shift from police brutality to race, and even further in some cases to equating problems with race and police brutality to… capitalism?
I’ve seen several social media posts by accounts with really large followings saying things like this:
This is Philadelphia. This is not a moment. This is a movement to end the era of police brutality and white supremacist capitalism and begin the era of racial and economic justice in American.
“White supremacist capitalism”? That’s just entirely made up! It’s like he took random words that leftists hate and just married them together willy nilly. You can’t just put “white supremacist” in front of something and suddenly make it bad. Anyway…
The guy who tweeted this uses the handle @ProudSocialist and has 376,000 followers. That is a lot of people who are liking and sharing this type of messaging. And he is far from the only account creating content like this. @theunapologeticstreetseries got over 28,000 “likes” on an Instagram image that read, “Black Lives Over Property Black Lives Over Capitalism” and was captioned in part, “Prioritize black lives—redistribute your wealth and privileges.” Her Instagram has about 170,000 followers.
This type of narrative is creeping in all over the place right now. Although, if we’re being honest, it’s been creeping in a lot longer—it’s just now being wrapped in the latest crisis. I’ve written about it here and here just in the last several months.
It seems to me that the socialists and communists who have been hard at work winning the hearts and minds of today’s youth—with evidently a shockingly great deal of success—have taken a page from the old playbook and are not letting this crisis go to waste. They are attempting to wrap racism and police brutality into the economic system that has actually lifted more people out of poverty and made more people free to live their lives without dependence on government support than any other system.
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
And while it would be easy to just dismiss these socialist/communist influencers as inconsequential or representative of a fringe belief system, I fear that they are far more successful in spreading their lies than many are ready to believe. The truth is that capitalism is the perceived enemy of many people who will use any crisis and and means available to pull the youth of our country into a hatred of the “bourgeois” and an entitlement to the fruits of the labors of others through the seizing of the means of production and the redistribution of wealth.
Those who don’t learn from the past are condemned to repeat it, right?
One of the reasons we created our Free Market Rules economics curriculum was to help parents combat the rebranding as some sort of “evil” that free enterprise has undergone in media and even in many schools in recent years. Children are learning that “capitalism = selfishness and greed” and that “socialism = compassion and sharing”—and if we as parents don’t teach them the truth, they may never learn it. Even worse, they could be more easily dragged into the influence of people like @ProudSocialist and his ignorant ilk.
I’ve watched virtually every company come out in recent weeks to make their stance on racism and police brutality known. Long social media posts are artfully crafted, press releases are made with promises of supporting this, or doing better at that, celebrities make eyeroll-worthy video compilation after eyeroll-worthy compilation virtue signalling their support for various organizations and causes—all of it so seemingly impassioned and committed to change… but in reality pretty much useless.
And yet when Rand Paul and Justin Amash within a few days of each other produce bills to end no-knock warrants and qualified immunity—two things that would actually drastically protect black lives (and all lives) and essentially end police brutality—there is nary a peep from any corporation, Etsy shop, @ProudSocialist, or woke celebrity.
As someone who has spent the better part of his adult life working to change bad laws and protect people’s lives and liberties it has become rather infuriating to watch chance after chance for real change wasted and lost because people would rather make showy displays of their goodness rather than throw their influence behind ending the laws that perpetuate the very injustice they pretend to despise.
I sometimes get ugly emails from people who have heard of what we are doing with our Tuttle Twins series. They tell me that I’m teaching politics to children and that I should be ashamed of myself. They tell me that children should be allowed to just experience childhood without being burdened by political education. And yet when I look around, practically all I see is politicized marketing and education aimed at children. What these people really mean is that I’m not toeing the line they’re walking.
Our books aren’t teaching the leftist-approved narrative and that makes us the enemy to people who would like to see an end to private property, individualism, personal responsibility, and entrepreneurship. So yeah—I guess maybe our books are political. I guess they do have an “agenda.”
Guilty as charged.
I want to help parents raise kids whose activism looks like that of Amash and Paul—not like those who think that posting a selfie with a catchy tagline and hashtag counts for something when there is actual injustice to fight.
If that gets us booed by some then that’s okay. I’ve seen what makes them cheer. 😉