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Column: HB 544 would help stop the spread of some very bad ideas

For the Valley News
Published: 5/14/2021 10:10:16 PM
Modified: 5/14/2021 10:10:13 PM

As HB 544, the “divisive concepts” bill, continues to gain publicity, many of the arguments levied against it do not stand up to scrutiny, including New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility’s public statement and some recent letters and op-ed columns. There is ample testimony available online that directly addresses criticism against the bill and explains why it is needed.

One common argument is that it would prevent discussion or training toward “diversity and inclusivity” efforts. The bill itself says clearly that it would do no such thing. Nor would it ban teaching about race and sex. All it would ban is teaching — as fact — race or sex superiority, scapegoating, stereotyping, discrimination and collective guilt.

Generally, HB 544 would simply prevent agencies that receive state money from presenting or teaching as uncontestable fact any of the “divisive concepts” specifically defined in it.

These “divisive concepts,” if anything, increase racism, sexism, hatred and division, and they absolutely should be banned from institutions that are taxpayer-funded.

Another more recent argument against the bill is based on free speech. Robert J. Lynn, former chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, has publicly stated that it would not stifle free speech and, further, that it has nothing to do with free speech at all. Employees of government-funded institutions do not have a First Amendment right to say whatever they want whenever they want — that is why teachers, for example, cannot throw around any expletive they choose in front of students.

Should we allow state-funded institutions to stereotype and scapegoat people by their race or sex? To assign collective guilt? To teach racial superiority? To blame, as the Bible forbids, the son for the sins of his father? To teach that meritocracy and a good work ethic are rooted in white supremacy? That you should feel psychological anguish just because of how you were born? And that the state should use your taxes to inculcate such ideas?

The bill is essentially a restatement of the 14th Amendment and the 1964 Civil Rights Act, geared toward a new ideology that did not exist at the time but would gladly undermine both.

Yet, many local companies and powerful institutions like Dartmouth College openly oppose it — though, in the case of Dartmouth or the public school systems, I can understand their opposition. That’s because HB 544 would buffer their continued actions of indoctrination to the pernicious ideology behind the growth of these “divisive concepts.”

In this ideology, everything is some power game that must be “deconstructed,” and there are only oppressors and oppressed people. How much of an oppressor or how oppressed you are is determined by some combination of the demographic criteria chosen, in the order and weighting seen fit. Additionally, any outcome difference that is not in favor of a selected “oppressed” demographic is taken as evidence of some systemic -ism. This line of thinking posits that the only “just” society would have every single element of it perfectly population proportional, which is technically impossible without full totalitarianism. The great Thomas Sowell wrote a book directly addressing this fallacy when it comes to race, Discrimination and Disparities, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, on the topic, wrote that “Liberty, by its very nature, undermines social equality, and equality suppresses liberty — for how else could it be attained?”

It is no coincidence that those perpetuating the indoctrination that HB 544 would make illegal are using every argument they can find, including playing the “racist, white supremacist” card, to push back against it. Consider what one is capable of who thinks this way — that something close to half the nation is legitimately white supremacist — especially when in a position of authority and influence.

The only logical endpoint from there would be the rubble of most free, equal (yes, equal), prosperous, and opportunity-rich nation in the history of humanity, which is exactly what we have today in the U.S. The ingratitude, arrogance and blindness shown by those who may actually wish to see that rubble is impossible to understate.

Such is the way, unfortunately, of postmodern critical theories — the most prominent current embodiment being critical race theory, some of the ideas of which are what HB544 really gets at.

Critical theorists, with their hyper-focus and totalization of selected demographic characteristics, believe that they are working against the evil they are perpetuating.

Lily Tang Williams, co-chair of the New Hampshire Asian American Coalition, has been warning of the consequences. She grew up in Communist China and has been advocating for HB 544 because it would ban the instantiation-as-fact of these concepts that she saw used en masse to justify China’s bloody Cultural Revolution under Mao.

We need HB 544 to help stop the spread of these very bad ideas, which are being presented in a gilded package. I encourage your support of it.

Daniel Worts lives in Windsor.




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