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The New Children’s Crusade

The New Children’s Crusade
Goodbye, Dr. Seuss. Hello, woke books for kids.
By Bruce Bawer

On March 2, 2021 – celebrated as Read Across America Day – Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which manages the estate of the late children’s author, announced that after consulting “with a panel of experts, including educators” it had decided to cease publication and licensing of the following books: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.

What was the problem with these books? According to DSE, they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” This was, in any event, the conclusion reached in a 2019 academic paper, “The Cat is Out of the Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss’s Children’s Books,” by Katie Ishizuka of The Conscious Kid Library and Ramón Stephens of UC-San Diego. Read every word of this turgid paper if you wish; if not, suffice it to say that these six titles, originally published between 1937 and 1976, contain material that offends contemporary woke sensibilities. And that can’t be allowed.

These aren’t the only children’s books being canceled these days. Former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss recently noted the removal from high school curricula of such classics as The Scarlet Letter, Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Lord of the Flies.

But fear not! To commemorate Read across America, the National Education Association (NEA) has compiled a list of recommended titles for kids, most of which are explicitly designed to indoctrinate children in some aspect of woke ideology.

Some are more innocuous than others. For example, the short picture book All Are Welcome (Knopf, 2018, 44 pages), written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, sends grade-school pupils “the important message that school is the place where every child is welcome.” It is composed in quatrains – three rhyming tetrameter lines followed by “All are welcome here.” Move over, Dr. Seuss:

We’re part of a community.

Our strength is our diversity.

A shelter from adversity.

All are welcome here.

The banal message of diversity is repeated on every page. Kids of every color waving, smiling, playing, holding hands. One of them is a little girl in hijab. Her mother’s in hijab too. Her dad wears a regular sweater and blue jeans. What message is that sending?

As a kid I read James B. Garfield’s Follow My Leader (1957), a young adult novel about a boy who loses his sight. The book affectingly captured his emotional pain and his slow acceptance of his disability thanks to the help and love of his new guide dog. A recent grade-school picture book called Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You (Philomel, 2019, 32 pages), purportedly written by liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, introduces kids who are blind, deaf, asthmatic, wheelchair-bound, and so on. But there’s nothing touching about it. Here’s the deaf kid describing his situation: “Most of the time I communicate with people using my face and hands through sign language. It’s cool to know another language.” Hard to believe a sitting Supreme Court Justice wrote these words. In woke world at its wokest, there is no human tragedy – only group oppression and power – and disabilities are just one more identity box to check.

Written in a mixture of English and Spanish, Jessica Love’s Julián is a Mermaid (Candlewick, 2018, 40 pages) is a beautifully illustrated picture book that tells its story with incredibly few words. It’s about a New York boy, about six or seven years old, who’s on the subway with his “abuela” when he sees some drag queens in mermaid costumes heading for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and decides that he, too, is a mermaid. Arriving home, he strips to his underpants, turns flowers into a headdress, and uses a window curtain as a skirt. When abuela sees his outfit, he thinks he’s in trouble, but instead she gives him a pearl necklace to wear and takes him to the parade.

Love has said publicly that he’s transsexual, and the goal here is apparently to nudge little boys who like fun costumes into thinking they were born in the wrong body. Reviewers lavished praise on Julián, and uniformly referred to him as trans. Kirkus referred to Julián’s “gender noncomformity.” The Guardian praised Love for not putting Spanish words in italics. (This is apparently a thing now. See below.)

Less concerning than Julian Is a Mermaid is Jen Wang’s graphic novel The Prince and the Dressmaker (First Second, 2018, 288 pages). Set mostly in Paris during what looks like the Belle Époque, it tells the story of 16-year-old Belgian Crown Prince Sebastian and Frances, a young seamstress who learns his deep dark secret: that he likes wearing women’s clothing – the more fabulous, the better. With the help of her spectacular designs, he becomes a star performer under the stage name Lady Crystallia. Transvestite theme aside, it’s refreshingly free from politics – old-fashioned, even – and charmingly told and drawn. (The ending is a bit over the top: Sebastian’s father, the king, a macho tyrant, not only ends up accepting his son’s peculiarity but puts on a frock himself.) Movie rights have been bought by Universal.

Forbes called The Prince and the Dressmaker a “Genderqueer fairy tale.” It’s a popular category in today’s kid lit. Another example: Heather Gale’s Ho’onani: Hula Warrior (Tundra, 2019, 40 pages), the story of a girl who “doesn’t see herself as wahine (girl) OR kane (boy)” and wants to lead the traditionally all-male hula troupe.

Immigrant children are also a common topic. Take Americanized: Rebel without a Green Card (Ember, 2019, 304 pages) a YA memoir by Iran-born San Jose resident Sara Saedi, who learned in 1993, aged 13, that she was an “illegal alien.” This is a typically breezy, colloquial story of a relatively affluent American girlhood, complete with boy crushes and zits and hanging out at the mall. But stirred into it are some very foul political perspectives. While recounting her quest to become a U.S. citizen, Saedi smears America as an “empire,” bashes Israel, asserts that “there were…benefits to the Islamic Revolution” under Khomeini, states flatly that if you ever saw Iran as part of an “axis of evil” then you’re “a horrible xenophobe,” and describes the moving 1991 Sally Field movie Not without My Daughter, about a real-life American woman married to an Iranian bully, as “overtly racist” and “Islamophobic.” (In woke America, it’s de rigueur to accuse Western men of patriarchy, but to recognize that the Islamic world is explicitly patriarchal is verboten.) Saedi also detours from her story to bash Donald Trump, recalling that she wept heavily on Election Day 2016 because of his promotion of “racism and misogyny and xenophobia.”

The narrator and protagonist of Kelly Yang’s semi-autobiographical YA novel Front Desk (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019, 320 pages) is Mia, a 10-year-old Chinese-American girl whose parents manage a motel in Anaheim for its miserly, hard-driving owner, Mr. Yao. Mia herself mans the front desk and becomes involved in the lives of the “weeklies,” the down-and-out folks who reside there full-time, and ultimately figures out a way for them to buy the place. Along the way she experiences classism and racism; she learns from Hank, a black “weekly,” that American policemen routinely accuse innocent black people of committing crimes; and she discovers that in America, unlike in the People’s Republic of China, “everything has a price, even kindness.”

Still, this is one of the less woke books on the NEA list: Mia’s mother explains that in America, unlike China, “people are innocent until proven guilty,” and reveals to her that the family moved to America because of the Cultural Revolution, during which her grandparents “were locked up and shipped away” for no reason. “America may not be perfect, but she’s free,” says the mother. “And that makes all the difference.”

They Called Us Enemy (Top Shelf, 2019, 208 pages) by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott, with illustrations by Harmony Becker, tells in comic-book form the story of the years that Takei (the actor who played Sulu in Star Trek) spent in World War II internment camps for Japanese-Americans when he was a boy. For young George, it was mostly an adventure, although when he grew up he was angry – justifiably so – at the way the U.S. government had treated his family.

One detail, however, is puzzling: he remembers two questions that internees were required to answer. First, would you serve in the U.S. armed forces? Second, do you swear allegiance to the U.S. and forswear loyalty to Japan? Takei’s parents answered “no” to both. Why? He represents the questions as offensive, explaining that if they’d said yes to either it could have been “used to justify our wrongful imprisonment.” I don’t get it. Another detail is just plain dishonest: Takei, an ardent Democrat, presents Barack Obama as a symbol of America overcoming racism and attributes the “caging” of children at the Mexican border – which was initiated under Obama – to Donald Trump.

Like Takei’s book, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States for Young People (Beacon, 2019, 272 pages) is a YA adaptation by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese of an adult book by Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz. The authors explain that they’re out to challenge most U.S. history books, which “say that America was discovered by Christopher Columbus and other Europeans, settled by courageous English citizens seeking religious freedom, and expanded by brave settlers who moved westward in search of adventure and a better life.” On the contrary, most U.S. history books today are just like this one – determined to malign America and paint the European colonization of the New World as (to quote the title of Kirkpatrick Sale’s 1990 book, which kicked off this pernicious trend) a “conquest of paradise.”

The book is every bit as bad as you would think. It teaches that America was founded on white supremacy, slavery, and genocide, and that Native American tribal governments were “based on valuing what was best for the community over the needs or preferences of individuals.” It encourages kids to question the values taught in “songs like ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘God Bless America.’” It dismisses the notion of “American exceptionalism,” maintaining that “exceptionalist ideology has been used from the very beginning to justify appropriation of the continent and then domination of the rest of the world.” It lambastes George Washington for being a surveyor, who “measured and mapped the land in preparation for selling it out from under the Native people.” Thomas Jefferson also gets castigated.

It’s one thing to acknowledge the dark side of the American story. It’s another to depict America as uniquely evil and to utterly whitewash the history of Native Americans, who were fighting and killing and enslaving one another long before the Europeans came along.

I’ve mentioned that Spanish words in Julian Is a Mermaid are not rendered in italics. The same goes for Indian words in An Indigenous People’s History of the United States for Young People. What’s this about? you may be wondering. “For a long time,” the authors explain, “textbooks and other print media have put non-English words in italics. Setting words apart in that way signals that English is the normal way to speak and write and other languages are ‘different.’ But many people now see this use of italics as a way of ‘othering’ languages and the people who speak them. We are strong advocates for the shift away from italics. You will not see Native words in italics in this book.” In other words, today’s language police are at work to “decode” and “decenter” America’s majority culture and language for even the youngest readers. In what other country is such silliness so rampant as it is in the U.S.?

There are plenty of other titles featuring American Indians, who are invariably presented as deeply respectful of all creatures and as living in perfect harmony with nature – unlike the execrable palefaces. In the grade-school picture book We Are Water Protectors (Roaring Brook Press, 2020, 40 pages) by author Carole Lindstrom and illustrator Michaela Goade, an Ojibwe girl tells us that water “nourished us inside our mother’s body” and that her people warned of a sinister “black snake” that would destroy the land and water. Now, she warns, that snake is here – in the form of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The propaganda here could hardly be more blatant.

A running theme through many of these books is the urgent need for children – no matter how young – to become active in politics. Vote for Our Future! (Schwartz & Wade, 2020, 40 pages) is a picture book about kids (including the inevitable little girls in hijab) who, dismayed learn that they can’t vote till they’re 18 (“Kids have to live with adult choices!”), run around town encouraging adults to vote – and that’s about it.

Far more insidious is Carol Anderson’s One Person, No Vote (2019, 288 pages), a young-adult version of her book for adults in which she charges that in 2016 “Republican legislatures and governors…systematically blocked millions from the polls.” At the same time, she dismisses GOP demands for secure voter identification as racist (she makes no mention of other countries’ stringent voter-ID rules) and pooh-poohs accusations of widespread ballot fraud by Democrats: “There were, of course, the same old tried-and-true anecdotes, but the stories had been debunked….The charge that waves of folks impersonate the dead to cast ballots in Georgia has been disproved repeatedly.”

This bald-faced lie is particularly maddening. There is plenty of evidence of election tampering and manipulation in Georgia and elsewhere. But it is repeated ad nauseam in the media, so many people believe it is true. Now your kids will be among them.

Feminist uplift for young girls is also a major theme in children’s publishing. Pénélope Bagieu’s picture book Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World (First Second, 2018, 304 pages) recounts the stories of such admirable women as actress Margaret Hamilton, explorer Delia Ackley, and singer Josephine Baker (who left the U.S. to escape “racial segregation” and “puritanical morals”). Also profiled are Las Mariposas, four sisters who rebelled against the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic and whose fervent Communism is presented positively; bearded lady Clementine Delait (whose story provides an opportunity to discuss gender fluidity); lawyer Jesselyn Radack, who was “haunted” by the “injustice” done by the Justice Department to John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban”; and pioneering transsexual Christine Jorgensen. Chinese empress Wu Zetian is celebrated for being ruthless (a bad trait in men, but apparently not in women), while French “utopian realist” Therese Clerc is eulogized for turning from a “stay-at-home mom” into an anti-capitalist radical who proclaimed that “Jesus and Marx had the same ideals.” Praising Afghani rapper Sonita Alizadeh for standing up to the Taliban, Bagieu describes that group as enforcing its “own severe interpretation of sharia law” and uncritically quotes Alizadeh as saying that “forced marriage is forbidden in Islam” and as singing the words “Read the Koran again! It never said women are for sale!” Nonsense, of course – but one mustn’t disrespect the Religion of Peace.

We’ve looked at books about disabled kids, trans kids, immigrant kids, American Indian kids, political kids, and heroic women. But perhaps the largest category of woke children’s books consists of those about black kids. To start with the most innocuous, My Hair is a Garden (Albert Whitman & Co, 2018, 32 pages), written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera) is a picture book for grade-school kids – especially black girls – about Mack, a schoolgirl with a gender-neutral name whose messy hair gets a friendly makeover from a neighbor, Miss Tillie, who in doing so helps her to see herself as beautiful. It’s one of several books on this list in which black girls worry about their hair and have to deal with white kids who inappropriately ask if they can touch it.

Why must the innocent curiosity of white children in a majority white society about someone who looks a little different, and whom they are actually trying to include, be reinterpreted as an act of aggression and privilege? Whose interest does this serve? Yet if you say this anywhere you will be shouted down and canceled and may be subjected to forced reeducation in a diversity training course.

The weird woke obsession with this issue brings us to Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship (Carolrhoda Books, 2018, 40 pages), written by Irene Latham and Charles Waters and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. (It’s one of three recently published children’s books with the same title.) In these highly politicized poems for grade-school pupils, a white kid apologizes to a black kid for asking, “Why do you always try to act like one of us?” (i.e., by doing homework and speaking grammatically). A black kid is amazed to discover that blacks are being “killed by police.” A black mom tells her kid not to use the N-word. And two kids write to their teacher saying “[w]e are so much more than black and white!” Okay, fine. Then why is this book all about being black or white? The BLM messaging is thick enough to cut with a knife.

In Jason Reynolds’ preface to Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice (Roaring Brook, 2020, 56 pages), yet another short picture book aimed at grade-school pupils, he describes it as “a collection of proclamations” encouraging young people “to talk back, to speak up” (otherwise known as being disrespectful to your elders) and praises the authors as “beacons shining light on prejudice, resistance, self-acceptance, friendship, intersectionality, and inclusion.” The “young poet” of the title is Mahogany L. Browne, who turns out to be 45 years old, and shares writing credit with Elizabeth Acevado and Olivia Gatwood.

Browne’s mediocre free verse, which she has read to audiences as young as pre-K age, depicts an America that still denies blacks access to homes and jobs. One poem is a litany of “leaders,” including Malcolm X, Sonia Sotomayor, and Colin Kaepernick; another lists Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, and other blacks killed by whites. The poem “What is an Intersection?” states that “We all have multiple identities – / you might be in a room full of girls, / but no two are exactly alike.” This used to be called individuality, but in the woke era, the individual is nothing but a sum of group identities.

In one of the book’s illustrations, people hold signs reading I AM THE FUTURE and BLACK LIVES MATTER. Likewise, the cover of Say Her Name: Poems to Empower (Little, Brown, 2020, 96 pages), written by Zetta Elliott and illustrated by Loveis Wise, also features a drawing of several black people, one of whom holds a BLACK LIVES MATTER sign. Elliott’s poems are not only aesthetically worthless but ideologically toxic, predicated as they are upon the divisive and dangerous lie that rampant police violence is killing innocent blacks by the thousands. This used to be considered controversial, but after last summer’s riots in the wake of the death of George Floyd, it is assumed by many liberals to be a proven fact. Thus it is no surprise to see it being peddled to kids as soon as they learn how to read.

Aimed principally at black grade-school students, these poems explicitly call for “revolution,” paint blacks as “a race destined to redeem humankind,” and teach black kids to hate and fear whites as the enemy. A poem called “Don’t Touch My Hair” urges kids to be “a panther…a fierce fighter.” “How to Resist” advises them not just to be enraged – rage is good – but also to “cure the rage so / it lasts even longer.”

Also selling the lie of killer cops is Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Ghost Boys (Little, Brown, 2020, 240 pages), a novel for middle schoolers about an innocent, unarmed 12-year-old black boy who’s shot in the back while running from a white cop. (“How many times had I heard: ‘Be careful of police’; ‘Be careful of white people.…’”) He becomes a ghost, and soon meets another – none other than Emmett Till, who plays, in effect, the Ghost of Lynchings Past. He also meets the (living) daughter of the cop who killed him, and duly notes that her house, school, and neighborhood are all much nicer than his. Eventually he encounters thousands of ghost boys – all of them blacks killed by whites, including Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. Where are the ghosts of the far more numerous black kids killed by black gang members – or the white kids killed by blacks? Designed to make kids believe that white-on-black murder is an epidemic – even as it deep-sixes the very real problem of inner-city gang violence – this is one more volume of truly dangerous propaganda.

But no other book of fiction that I examined for this essay compares to Watch Us Rise (Bloomsbury, 2020, 368 pages), a YA novel written by Renée Watson and illustrated by Ellen Hagan. It’s about three girls and a boy who attend a high school in Harlem and who call themselves “artivists” – that is, activists and artists. We’re told that “Isaac’s grandparents were part of the Young Lords Party, a Puerto Rican civil rights group.” (In fact, as many New Yorkers recall, the Young Lords were a gang of violent revolutionaries.) Jasmine’s dad, who “works at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,” encourages her to learn about “brown art.” At these kids’ school, “all students have to join a social justice club.” Chelsea belongs to Poets for Peace and Justice, which is called that “because we want to use our art to disrupt society.” Of course! Why else would anyone want to be an artist? She and Jasmine also start a Women’s Rights Club so they can talk about “colorism and body shaming.” They also write a blog packed with woke clichés (which we’re expected to regard as brilliant) and with praise for such woke heroines as Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and Frida Kahlo. Jasmine, an aspiring thespian, belongs to the August Wilson Acting Ensemble and says proudly, “Everything we do is about race.”

That’s for sure. Day and night, these kids are talking and thinking and writing about race. And racism. And sexism. And fatism. (Jasmine insists: “I am not beautiful in spite of being big. I’m beautiful because I’m big.”) Even their STEAM (Science Tech Engineering Arts Math) class is about identity groups: the teacher lectures on “gender and race within these fields” and “how we can fight against these issues.” Another teacher pushes them to be even more intersectional than they already are: “you have to come together over race and class and color and nationality and sexuality and size and ability, and so on.” Their school wins a prize for its social-justice record, but that’s not good enough for our heroes, who interrupt the awards ceremony to demand a more “inclusive curriculum” – for which a teacher congratulates them: “Wow. This is powerful.” Meant to be a how-to manual for would-be student revolutionaries, Watch Us Rise reads like a nightmare portrait of a claustrophobic woke dystopia run by fanatical children.

By comparison, the other books about black girls on the NEA’s list seem almost – almost – harmless. In Janae Marks’s YA novel From the Desk of Zoe Washington (Katherine Tegen Books, 2021, 320 pages), 12-year-old Zoe, a Boston girl, learns that her father, who’s been in prison since she was born, was wrongfully convicted of murder. She didn’t know such things happen; then she reads about all the innocent blacks who’ve been wrongly convicted. Her friend Trevor comments: “My parents have all of these talks with me – like, because I’m Black, I have to be extra careful around the police.” And her grandmother helpfully explains that it’s all a result of “systemic racism.” In the end, Zoe tracks down a witness whose testimony frees her father. A ridiculous yarn, but again, compared to Watch Us Rise it’s a breath of fresh air.

Ditto Alicia D. Williams’s YA novel Genesis Begins Again (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, 2020, 384 pages). Genesis is a Detroit teenager who hates her “thick lips, big nose, nappy hair, and blacker than black” skin, which earns her nasty nicknames like Eggplant and Charcoal. After having to move several times because her dad buys booze instead of paying rent, things seem to be looking up when the family’s new home turns out to be in an affluent suburb where she attends her first decent school, makes her first really good friends (including Sophia, a Greek girl who asks: “Can I touch it – your hair?”), and, thanks to a nice music teacher who introduces her to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, discovers her own singing talent and begins to glimpse a rewarding career path. As in Zoe, the wokeness factor here (Genesis’s mother tells her about Angela Davis, who “fought for civil rights”) is considerably lower than in Watch Us Rise, and the story is actually charming and the message largely positive.

Probably the best-known race-related title on the NEA’s list is Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You (Little, Brown, 2021, 176 pages), Jason Reynolds’s youth version of Ibram X. Kendi’s bestselling Stamped from the Beginning. One of its messages to young readers is that “talking about race is one of the most important things to learn how to do.” Another is that, well, America is racist, Thomas Jefferson was racist, even the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe were racists. Lincoln too. And the hell with the white Union soldiers who fought and died to free the slaves, because they subscribed to a racist white-savior narrative, when in fact black people “emancipat[ed] themselves.” It is hard to square this kind of statement with anything approaching reality.

Meanwhile the woke historical paintbrush smears everyone it touches. Thus according to Kendi, pioneering black leaders like W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and Frederick Douglass were no heroes either, because they were too impressed by the white man and encouraged blacks to pursue European-style educations and careers. Also unheroic are black leaders who’ve dared to suggest that perhaps some problems in the black community might, at least in part, be the fault of black people themselves. In woke-world, such thoughts are haram. Who are the heroes of Stamped? The usual list of violent Marxist radicals. The Black Panthers. Angela Davis. Audre Lorde. The founders of Black Lives Matter.

Marley Dias isn’t mentioned in Stamped, but perhaps Kendi and Reynolds would sing her praises, too. Now 16, Marley became an activist at 10, and she’s both the author and the subject of Marley Dias Gets It Done (Scholastic, 2018, 208 pages), a primer in activism for children that might best be described as a non-fiction pendant to the noxious Watch Us Rise. Marley’s road to fame began when, angry at the lack of books on her school syllabus “that featured black girls as the main characters,” she “came up with the idea to launch a campaign to collect a thousand books featuring black girls as lead protagonists.”

An appearance on the daytime talk show Ellen launched her career as a public lecturer. And now there’s this absurd product, which is padded out with dozens of photos of Marley in various outfits and poses as well as sidebar tributes by other luminaries. The text is a mishmash of inane woke bromides. She reflects that “Black girl hair has so many meanings. So much history.” She refers to “the supreme Michelle Obama.” She writes: “Hard things come and go, but it seems like racism always stays.” (This from a teenager who’s been on Ellen and got a book deal from a leading children’s publisher.) She advises that if you want “suggestions on how to discuss racism, sexism, micro-aggressions, and other touchy subjects with friends or family members,” go to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website. She advises kids to “GET WOKE!” One photo shows a bunch of black girls raising their fists.

That’s the mental image you come away with from these NEA-recommended books: a sea of kids raising their fists. What ever happened to childhood? To read these works one after another is to recognize them as parts of a broad and malevolent effort to recruit children into the far left. Forget about reading, writing, and arithmetic; forget sparking young imaginations with fanciful tales of the kind written by Dr. Seuss, Astrid Lindgren, Maurice Sendak, Beatrix Potter, J.K. Rowling, and Lewis Carroll; forget teaching children objective historical facts and critical thinking. All of these things are inimical to the all-important act of enlisting them in a children’s crusade.

In the view of the people who write and publish and promote these books, America’s children need to be turned against their country; they need to learn to place group identity, especially race, at the center of their thoughts; they need to be made to view American society as a battlefield on which members of oppressed groups struggle to snatch power from their oppressors. Instead of learning to admire the virtue and wisdom of our founders, to emulate the courage and tenacity of our early settlers, or feel a sense of sacred obligation to honor and safeguard their legacy, America’s children must be taught to hate their forebears, to see our nation’s heroes as monsters, and to regard themselves as morally superior to everyone who came before them. They must be taught to be little totalitarians, giving their fealty to a nefarious ideology before they can properly understand what an idea is. They must be encouraged to feel rage over things they have not seen or experienced and have yet to understand.

The less they know, the better. The more they’ve learned to parrot narrow woke slogans, the better. How, after all, did Stalin get the goods on many of the Soviet people who were talking trash about him in the privacy of their homes? He got their kids to turn them in. What fueled the Cultural Revolution in China? The zeal of tens of millions of young people whose ignorance made them easy to brainwash – and to turn into a rabid Red Guard that blindly carried out the Maoist mission of mass murder.

To read these books – and to know that the NEA is recommending them, that teachers across America are assigning them, and that millions of children and teenagers are reading them – is to despair for the future of American freedom and social harmony. For those of us who recognize these books as the poison that they are, the only remedy is to oppose their vile influence in every way we can.

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