Last month, University of Arkansas-Little Rock professor Robert Steinbuch wrote an opinion piece in the local paper offering his musings on primary education and society. Because you’ve heard the words “opinion piece in the local paper” before, you know where this is going.
It’s a real journey of an article as he starts out trying to put a smiling face on lazy anti-Trans tropes, dialing up a veneer of civility and reasonability while implicitly reinforcing the false premises that justify the ugliness of this bigotry. But then, halfway through the piece, he decides to just give up and explain how the “Leftist” “Nazi” “racialized-Trotskyite” “Marxists” — don’t even try to figure out how all of those go together — are attacking our schools.
The impetus for this piece is the local school district decision to force students to use facilities for their birth-assigned sex and to ban a bunch of books for being “critical race theory” as they loosely define it.
The professor is a big fan!
Privacy concerns call for separation in communal restrooms, showers, locker rooms, and similar environs between the sexes. That doesn’t preclude offering alternative options, such as private or transgender- denominated facilities. But the absence of the latter doesn’t mandate the elimination of the former.
This is wrong for the same reason Plessy was wrong because creating separate but “equal” options does not cure bigotry. However, this rhetoric never fails to come up whenever someone wants to gussy up prejudices as a civil discussion on the topic. What made segregation so pernicious was its rhetorical power to make a lot of otherwise reasonable people complacent about the issue when they could say “look, I don’t agree with discrimination, but… at least it’s still equal and that’s something.” Remember when “civil unions” were how cool kids talked about denying marriage equality? It’s that all over again.
But for a guy supposedly concerned about protecting children from naughty sexual stuff, maybe don’t make teenagers take open air showers… at all? His argument rests soundly on the idea that teen boys standing around looking at each other’s junk is wholesome and not at all problematic. Addressing “privacy concerns” might be a bit more involved than just stigmatizing Trans kids.
Yes, it costs some money, but school renovations should endeavor to wholesale eliminate shared facilities. It’s a proven design concept. A lot of newer bars and restaurants build giant unisex bathrooms with shared sinks and mirrors and a ton of full length stalls. This solves everyone’s problems and has the advantage of getting people back to class faster because Sally can’t stand around the mirrors and complain about her mundane drama with Johnny for fear of being overheard.
How has society still not caught up with Ally McBeal?
Second, the board adopted a policy for overnight school trips, assigning all students shared rooms based on their sex. In addition to the same logic from above applying here, opposite-sex students sleeping together poses a real risk of pregnancy irrespective of gender identity.
I guess if the only thing parents worry about is the possible impact of pregnancy divorced entirely of the probability of sexual activity then… this is true. Is this guy on board with putting same-sex couples in the same room? That seems a more credible vector for shenanigans.
But, of course, that’s not the point. This isn’t about regulating likely activity, it’s about fanning fever dreams that Trans folks are both universally and the only predators in high school despite empirical evidence and sitting Supreme Court justices to the contrary.
Finally, the board adopted a policy prohibiting the teaching and promotion of critical race theory (CRT) and divisive topics. It’s about time!
Oh, here we go!
There’s a cavernous difference between teaching and brainwashing. For example, colleges teach the history of WWII. Students learn the Nazis falsely claimed that Jews were responsible for German suffering. In contrast, the Nazis brainwashed German children on Aryan superiority. German children were inculcated that Jews are evil.
Hm. Nazi politicians attacked schools that had been teaching about Jewish contributions to the arts and sciences and then enforced upon children a new curriculum that pure white people were superior… wait, how is his analogy supposed to work?
Because it flows a lot better if the schools stay the schools and the white politicians stay the white politicians.
But as a piece of written advocacy, this is a wild pivot. After going to such lengths to pump up an ethos of reasonability — even sprinkling in a nod to finding new ways to “do more to articulate our love for all people, including members of the LGBTQ community” — it’s like he can’t stand the effort any more and jettisons any imagined middle in favor of culture warrior red meat.
It’s the lawyerly equivalent of a brief that meticulously tries to stitch together a facially respectful way to distinguish a judge’s past opinions and then offers the heading “II. In The Alternative, This Court Is F*$king Stupid.”
Should you have any doubt, just consider a pro-CRT article on the progressive Brookings Institute website that, in seeking to rebut conservative critiques, declares: “Simply put, critical race theory states that U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race … There are also people who may recognize America’s racist past but have bought into the false narrative that the U.S. is now an equitable democracy.”
Remarkable how their “explanation” proves the opposite…
OK. Lay that proof on me!
… American institutions are not laced with racism, and this country–the greatest in human history–is a veritable equitable democracy.
Friends, I’m concerned about the level of legal education at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Because that’s not so much “proof” as an empty, conclusory statement.
A couple paragraphs later he offers an addled argument that it’s circular reasoning to contend that silencing discussion about ongoing acts of racial prejudice is itself evidence of racism.
But this fails to “prove” what he’s trying to prove! At the very best, the proposed circularity cannot be the foundation of the claim that institutions are inherently racist, but it can’t prove the opposite that institutions are not racist. Since he’s comparing racism to a conspiracy theory, let’s use the UFO example: closing off Area 51 is not necessarily proof of an alien coverup, but also the claim’s insufficiency does not by itself negate the possibility of aliens.
Yet, the only proof he’s offering that “American institutions are not laced with racism” is branding it an “internally consistent delusion” to think that banning books about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks amounts to racism. Which doesn’t disprove the premise and… is fairly strong supporting evidence of racism.
Schools throughout the country have been attempting to indoctrinate our children in Marxist racialized claptrap known as CRT under the fake claim that the progressive propaganda purveyors are “teaching” something. They are not.
Missing the part where CRT is concerned about alienation from the means of production, but whatever.
Leftists can save their racialized-Trotskyite sermons for their CRT convents. Their church doesn’t belong in our schools. The Conway school board is entirely correct in eschewing CRT Shinola.
You know, “Shinola” is a mark of quality, right? The old idiom is that someone “doesn’t know shit from Shinola” meaning they’re so stupid that they can’t tell the difference between useless crap and a high-quality product.
Apparently, Professor Steinbuch does not know the difference between shit and Shinola.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.