A Reply to Michelle Goldberg’s ‘The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness’

The lady doth protest too much

Photo by moren hsu on Unsplash

I found Michelle Goldberg’s New York Times op-ed (‘The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness’, Feb 28, 2021) confusing. She correctly states that some politicians in the United States, France and Britain are trying to legislate against critical race theory being taught in schools, but her article seems to frame this as a threat to free speech. It’s not uncommon for certain topics to be either banned or mandated in public school curricula. Children are impressionable, and lack the maturity and experience to evaluate complex and contentious theories, an activity better suited for a university setting.

Why is not teaching children critical race theory a threat to free speech? Children are not taught complex scientific or economic theories either. Is that a threat to free speech? A precocious child is free to study such theories outside school hours. Some critical race theorists have made controversial claims: for example that Whites are racist by default, or that Whites should pay reparations for slavery. Such claims could be interpreted as singling out Whites for demonization, so the concern is understandable that children were being exposed to a divisive, and some would argue racist, ideology at an age when they were ill-equipped to evaluate it critically.

Ben writes on the theory and social science of communication, and anything else that comes to mind

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store