Virginia Child Victims in the Left’s War on the Enlightenment and Science

Richard Bernstein, a founder of American critical theory.

by James C. Sherlock

Modern progressivism is religion, defined by Webster as “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”

The critical theory progressive, that is to say the modern American progressive, rejects proudly and publicly, root and branch, both the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolutions of the 16th through 18th centuries in Europe.

Critical Theory developed into a synthesis of Marx and Freud. The Frankfurt School which birthed it studied the sources of authoritarianism. Their followers, as in much of human experience, wound up as practitioners.

By contrast, the leading lights of Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution awakenings, bravely in their time, stressed the belief that science and logic give people more understanding. And with understanding came freedom and the rights of man.

Logic is the principles of reasoning; science provides the principles of investigation and proof.

They led much of Europe, and the American colonies, to develop more successful systems of governance, economics, mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, and education than did tradition and religion.

One development, capitalism, has raised more people out of poverty than any economic system ever.

Some of the rest of the world followed. Some did not. Those that did, prospered, and improved the lives of billions of people.

But success in those twin intellectual revolutions came too slow for some.

To that table came two prominent 19th and 20th century experiments in rejecting the Enlightenment: communism and national socialism.

They proved the deadliest political movements in human history.

Modern progressives, sure that these tragic experiments had the right idea but just didn’t execute successfully, are giving rejection yet another try. Critical theory focuses on power structures, not human choices, success or happiness.

They labor to order the world in accordance with human needs, which they do not trust individuals to define and seek. Only the state. Meaning themselves.

Modern critical theorists forget, or ignore, the fact that critical theory itself was developed first in Europe. For them, European origin is a self-explanatory basis for rejection of everything else.

The new left, lacking examples of success of its philosophy, ennobles form over substance. Proponents “feel” rather than measure. They elevate narrative over logic; assertions over replicable results.

A founding principle denies the requirement for facts as a legacy of White (a flexible term for all oppressors) supremacy.

As a result, they have gotten what they seek.

Marxism, repackaged as critical theory, is nearly unchallengeable in today’s academia that promotes intellectual cowardice and incompetence and cancels individuals and ideas that challenge the new religion.

Critical theory is offered with the caveat that it need not be proven, just asserted. And that those who would try to measure its effects with the scientific method are racist. Or some other form of phobic.

Critical theory is designed to tear down the entire fabric of society and replace it with cultural and economic Marxism. It divides humans into oppressed and oppressors.

The American left does not care about human outcomes, only governance.

The only progressive winners so far are the race and gender hustlers.

Some have written best-selling books that insult both broad swaths of American society and the intelligence of readers.

The priests and priestesses of that religion have taken some of the top positions in academia with thin track records of assertions posing as research. Even when those assertions themselves are plagiarized.

“Work” in race or gender studies are resumé enough. They are seldom asked to show how their “work” has measurably improved anything at all.

Many more have found work as DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) overseers. By doing so, they assuming roles as oppressors positing themselves as defenders of the oppressed.

Virginia is not unique in suffering from the left’s rejection of the science, but rather darkly illustrative.

The most prominent, but hardly the only, victims in Virginia so far are children.

  • Black children “educated” in our public schools;
  • tens of thousands of child victims of the orchestrated leftist panic over Covid; and
  • disturbed children coached into and treated for gender dysphoria in our public medical systems.

The left does not care.

Medicine. I published a series of articles a while back in which I objected to the off-label use of puberty suppressor drugs by UVa physicians to “treat” gender dysphoria.

UVa Hospital is the center of gravity of that practice in Virginia.

There is a reason puberty suppressors are “off-label” for that use.

The Food and Drug Administration, established as the scientific method gatekeeper to protect Americans from unproven drugs and drug uses, has seen no evidence of either their efficacy or of their long-term consequences in the treatment of children for gender dysphoria. So, it has not certified the use of those drugs for those patients.

The left, led by the national headquarters of a couple of American medical associations, does not care.

They labeled scientists who disagreed with them “transphobes” who opposed “gender affirmation.”

The get-out-of-jail-free card played by the American Psychiatric Association is.

As with any medical treatment, the anticipated risks and benefits should be considered by a patient and prescribing doctor on an individual basis.

The public health services in Britain and France have rejected the practice pending evidence of “risks and benefits.” Others include Sweden, Finland, Norway and some U.S. states.

Yet the left remains utterly uninterested in discovering consequences before subjecting children to their political doctoring.

They don’t care.

UVa, in response to my series of investigative articles, simply took offline all of the information I cited from their websites as proof of their practices.

That is the left’s new scientific method.

Covid and the schools. Progressives did not let the Covid crisis play out with scientific interventions in the schools. They saw it, as ever, as an opportunity. An opportunity in this case for disruption of the oppressive, structurally racist educational system.

Everywhere the left held sway school boards closed the schools and kept them closed for in-person learning for as long as 18 months. Without any experience in the distance learning alternative.

The city of Richmond kept its public schools closed a full year after the Diocese of Richmond reopened theirs safely and successfully.

Hard left teachers unions bullied the nation’s medical gatekeepers and school boards in left-leaning districts into submission.

They destroyed thousands of kids’ lives in the process.

They don’t care.

Scientific method and standards of instruction. The latest dustup here on BR is the denial by the progressive education establishment of the applicability of the scientific method to educational practice.

They typically claim:

  • Teaching is always and everywhere an art, not a science;
  • The use of the scientific method for identifying more effective and less effective teaching practices is White;
  • Homework is White;
  • Discipline of kids in school is oppression;
  • Order in the classroom is White;
  • Discipline of parents who do not ensure their kids go to school is, of course, oppression; and
  • Riots in the hallways are not a subject for the police or even an indicator of systemic failure requiring fundamental change.

So what else have they wrought, or failed to fix?

Asian-heritage kids excel in Virginia public schools. But only 60% of Black kids read, less than half write, and just above half demonstrate math understanding at grade level statewide.

So, Asian kids, a problem to critical theory, are re-defined as White. The oppressor class.

The left has no answer for improving the reading, writing or math performances of poor minority children. Only more of the same teaching methods. Whatever those may be, since there are no state standards of instruction for the 100,000 teachers in Virginia public schools.

Science can and has isolated and reported on the best methods for teaching, as example, children struggling to learn math in early grades. The evidence is strong for every recommendation in that Practice Guide.

The left, unimpressed, rejects the concept of outcome-based standards of instruction arrived at by the (White) scientific method. They deny that standards of instruction are needed, or even worthy of discussion.

They don’t care.

Charter Schools. Those of us who offer the unavoidable observation that the best American charter management organizations (CMOs) turn poor minority kids into scholars are rejected as badly motivated.

Those are, after all, outcomes. And the left doesn’t care.

Somehow those charter schools, and indeed their proud and high-performing while economically disadvantaged Black and Hispanic students, are as White as successful Asian kids.

The half-dozen public charter schools that Virginia does have are local special interest tokens stripped of both their independence to innovate and the funds to succeed.

The Jews. Jews are also labeled White oppressors. Even though:

  • Jews are the most generous and successful group of people in America, and most vote left;
  • most Jews in Israel are not White; and
  • history records that Jews are the people most murdered for who they are. Ever.

Modern progressives don’t care.

Petersburg City Public Schools. To drill down to a single example, I earlier ran a series on Charlottesville, its schools and the University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development.

The outcomes have been tragic.

This time, we can note that Virginia law gives Petersburg City Schools, the worst-performing school division in Virginia, a veto over its own salvation. Like all of its peers.

Under those laws, only the Petersburg School Board can admit failure and ask those CMOs to bring either charter schools or charter school teaching methods to its students.

For the gatekeepers of the left, admission of failure is not permissible.

Confirming, if there was ever any doubt, that they absolutely don’t care about human outcomes.