Over a one-half century ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a plea for unity and an end to racism in the United States. He dreamt of a country where all people were judged by the content of the character and not by the color of their skin.
As an infantry platoon leader amidst 485 days of fierce fighting on the Afghan-Pakistan border during the War in Afghanistan, my men and I lived that aspiration. Eighty-five percent of my “Outlaw Platoon” earned Purple Hearts for wounds received in combat from those determined to kill us all. But we stuck together and eliminated 350 enemy combatants, on our way to becoming one of the most celebrated platoons since September 11.
Looking back now at those life-or-death in combat, the last thing on my mind was the skin color of the people fighting alongside me. The only thing that mattered was knowing I could trust a fellow soldier with my life. And to be sure, our platoon included just about every race, creed, and religion you find in our great country. But we all wore green, and we all bled red. Those were the only colors that mattered.
This sense of obligation and loyalty to my platoon kept me alive. But it is now what has me so disheartened by the far-left extremists insistent on teaching our students to view everything through the lens of race through an idea known as critical race theory.
At its core, critical race theory teaches our students that our language, culture, and idea of merit-based learning are inherently racist and must be scrapped. It seeks to elevate divisions and identity groups while sacrificing the individual and content of their character. It’s gotten so bad that some education officials in California argue that grading a math question as incorrect is a form of white supremacy.
And now we are learning that the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teacher’s union, recently approved a plan to teach critical race theory in every state in America across 14,000 school districts.
But this insanity goes beyond the classroom. The U.S. Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff recently defended the teaching of critical race theory in our military. I find it personally offensive that we have allowed the greatest military in the world to be taken over by leftwing activists more concerned with pronouns and skin color than they are with winning wars. Our military has been the model of integration in American society, and we break that model at our peril.
Enough is enough.
If I am fortunate enough to serve the people of Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate, I will immediately sponsor and support Senator Ted Cruz’s bill blocking federal funding for any agency or recipient of federal funds from teaching critical race theory in workplace training. I will do the same with Senator Tom Cotton’s bill prohibiting it in the United States Military.
Telling a student that one plus one does not equal three is not a form of white supremacy. But a woke culture on the extreme left salivates at the opportunity to make the objectively objective suddenly objectively subjective, and this needs to stop.
This educational abomination is not just from some far-off school district on the west coast. It is happening right here in Pennsylvania. The website “What Are they Learning?” highlights materials and lessons that are popping up all over Pennsylvania’s schools. From teachers being asked to “acknowledge their whiteness” to teaching Kindergarteners that sympathizing with law enforcement is racist, this radical infection is spreading throughout our great state.
Polls are showing just how toxic this ideology is. A recent survey conducted by Parents Defending Education found that 74 percent of Americans oppose teaching students that white people are inherently privileged and that black and other people of color are oppressed. Meanwhile, 69 percent opposed teaching that America was founded on racism and was systemically racist, while 80 percent oppose the use of classrooms to promote political activism.
I have three beautiful children. I know at their core that they are good people who would never think twice about helping those in need no matter what color their skin is. I do not need our schools teaching them that despite being raised to judge a person by their character, they are racist simply because of their skin color.
Teaching an entire generation of children to see everything through the lens of race is regressive, divisive, and destructive. And it certainly will not put an end to racism.
We need to get back to the wish of Dr. King, that the character of a person is what matters the most. And as a soldier who knows the greatness of our country depends on it, I’m ready to lead that fight.
• Sean Parnell is a candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. He is a New York Times bestselling author and a highly decorated combat veteran who was awarded was awarded two Bronze Stars, one for Valor and the Purple Heart.
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