As we approach the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I am reminded of the imperious cult of “truthers”—disparagingly renamed “troofers”—who rejected the accepted explanation of the events of 9/11, but instead contended the U.S. government committed the acts of terrorism against itself. Now, 20 years later, the nation’s teachers’ unions are attempting to position themselves as avatars of the truth.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten got the truth ball rolling in July when she claimed at an online conference that critical race theory is not taught in elementary or high schools and added, “Teaching the truth is not radical or wrong. Distorting history and threatening educators for teaching the truth is what is truly radical and wrong.” She made this bizarre claim despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary, and the fact that she had already asked Ibram X. Kendi—probably the most vocal and aggressive CRT proponent in the country—to speak to K-12 teachers at the very same conference. Hmm. Not very truthy, Randi.
At the same time, the National Education Association warned, with virtually no evidence, that “an increasing number of U.S. teens are getting ‘radicalized’ online by White supremacists or other extremist groups, and the best place to prevent that radicalization is in U.S. classrooms.” Shortly thereafter, the union added a post, “Teaching in an Era of Polarization,” which insists the stakes are way too high for teachers to stay strictly “neutral” in the classroom. As an example of getting the truth to the nation’s schoolchildren, the union referred to a teacher who talked to his class about “President Donald Trump’s shocking comments that the neo-Nazis who marched on Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, included ‘some very fine people.’”
This is, of course, unabashed baloney. A simple Google search reveals who Trump was really referring to in his “fine people” comment. He said that there are good people on both sides of the debate as to whether or not Charlottesville, Virginia should remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. Trump, at the time, had already condemned White supremacists on several different occasions.
More union “trooferism” is on display in NEA’s “Racial Justice in Education,” a “resource guide” which is, in fact, a CRT manifesto that treats various crackpot theories as the truth. We learn, for example, that structural racism is everywhere. That being colorblind is racist. That only whites can be racist. That failure to take antiracist actions is racist, etc.
Then, in early August, a Rhode Island mom, whose daughter will be going into kindergarten, sought public records to learn the extent that CRT was being taught in her child’s school. But the school board refused to respond to the reasonable inquiry from Nicole Solas, and then the NEA state affiliate—NEARI—sued the parent who was simply trying to learn the truth!
Solas’ attorney, Jon Riches, explained that the lawsuit was an unprecedented intimidation tactic. “The law just doesn’t contemplate a third party suing someone trying to get public records out of a government entity.” I guess the NEA’s truth campaign hasn’t reached the Ocean State just yet.
Then there are the boots on the ground troofers. Though it is not clear how many demonstrations actually took place, teachers planned to hold “Teach Truth Pledge Days of Action” rallies in 115 cities nationwide this past weekend to protest “the anti-race education and anti-critical race theory legislation being proposed across the country.” Lawmakers in 27 states have introduced or implemented legislation that bans teaching that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” or that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously.”
The irony here is that the planned protests were hosted by the Zinn Education Project, whose approach to history is based on Howard Zinn’s best-selling book A People’s History of the United States. Published in 1980, the book became extremely popular and still dominates our nation’s classrooms. Zinn maintained that teaching history “should serve society in some way” and that “Objectivity is impossible and it is also undesirable.” When called on the carpet for writing a history book that played very fast and loose with the facts, the author freely admitted it, saying that his hope in writing the book was to cause a revolution.
At least Zinn was honest enough to admit that he was a liar. There’s no indication that the union troofers will go that far. Or perhaps they really believe that their lies are the truth. Either way, the troofers’ actions are very much akin to those of the Big Bad Wolf, and the nation’s children are Little Red Riding Hoods. That story had a happy ending, but the current version has yet to reach its climax.
Editor’s note: This article appeared originally at the California Policy Center.